Joe coaches a course participant through an exploration of self-trust. Beginning with an intellectual question about conflicted inner parts, our guest embraces the underlying emotional experience and touches the essence of who she is.

"What's the ultimate thing that you're running from?" 
"Some sort of spiral effect -- I've seen people I love spiral into depression or spiral into madness."
"There's an abyss in you that you're avoiding, and your fear is that if you go into that, you won't come out. So let's go."


Episode intro:
What’s the ultimate thing you are running from? Some sort of spiral effect. I’ve seen people I love spiral into depression or spiral into madness. Let’s go. There’s an abyss in you that you are avoiding, and your fear is that if you go into that, you won’t come out. Let’s go.
Welcome to the Art of Accomplishment where we explore how deepening connection with ourselves, and others leads to creating the life we want with enjoyment and ease.
Welcome back, everyone. Today’s episode is a coaching session between Joe and somebody in our community who just completed the connection course and was really ripe and motivated for the work and to explore further. She reached out to us to offer to do a session on the podcast, and we really, really love it when people are this devoted to their growth and exploration. We really want to explore it. Without further ado, here is that session.

Joe: Wow, you wanted to come in person.

Person: I did. I wanted the in person feel. Zoom is a huge barrier for me for dropping in sometimes. I have a resistance. All of those other things I didn’t want to do before seem so enticing now.

Joe: That makes sense. R- is a friend.

Person: He is my partner.

Joe: How long have you guys been together?

Person: We thought last year was three years, and we went to our anniversary dinner looking at photos. There were none. This year is three years. It just feels like longer. COVID is a time accelerator.

Joe: Tara and I have been married for over 20 now.

Person: I’ve heard good things about her from Brett and Alexa.

Joe: She is amazing. What are we here for? What do you want to work on?

Person: When I scheduled this, I had a topic in mind that I had been working on with a coach and I had listened to VIEW. Now it is not alive for me anymore. In the last few days, I was trying to figure out another topic. I started to think about intuition. This morning I was meditating and a few seconds before my meditation ended, I had a thought that popped up intuitively. I thought I guess we are going with this. It is not fully formed. The idea is around emotional fluidity, about how labeling our emotions affects the ability for them to transform and change and how labeling emotions puts structure or identity on who we are and how that affects our transformation and change.

Joe: I’m happy to answer those questions, but I notice two things that are happening. First, that’s a really intellectual question and not personal to you. The second thing I notice is because you are here in person, there is actually something personal happening. Your emotional body is not having an intellectual conversation with me, but whatever just happened was intellectual. I am wondering if you have something else you want to work on.

Person: That’s good. I feel like I have been trying to find this perfect question for you, and I don’t really know what that is.

Joe: How about this? What’s the thing that if it shifted in your life would be the most profound, positive movement that you could conceive of?

Person: Being able to trust myself again.

Joe: That sounds like something to work on.

Person: I’ve been doing so much parts work, and now I am so aware of all of these contradictory parts of myself and trying to acknowledge and address them all with compassion. It’s just a mess in there. I see all things as holding truth at once, and there was this fluidity before I was more aware of all of these parts that just allowed me to come to conclusions and live in a flow state regardless of where that took me. Now, I feel not quite paralyzed but that there are so many things I am aware of. It is more consciously going into my choices. I have less confidence in what feels right for me.

Joe: I know what parts work is, but do you want to describe it a little bit because we will have people listening to this?

Person: Sure. Parts work, the way I have been doing is when you recognize yourself as being comprised of different parts that might be of different ages. For instance, there is the inner child, which a lot of people talk about, but there is also, for instance, a protector you have developed in the past as a way to come and make sure you are okay because you have been hurt in the past. You can also have a maternal part that nourishes you and cheers you on. You could have a paternal part that’s a bit more discerning. All of these parts are living inside of you at all times making decisions together, usually under the hood.

Right now, for me, they are less under the hood, and I am speaking to them all more directly. Decisions are taking much longer and becoming less clear.

Joe: What’s you?

Person: All of it is me.

Joe: What’s essentially you? If I took away the protector, would you still exist?

Person: I hear what you are saying. There is an awareness, an essence that’s me.

Joe: What does it think about you being made up of parts, the awareness? How does it react?

Person: Right now it feels it has been fun, meeting those parts. At the beginning, it was like a play, like a dance. There was almost like a pride in being attuned to these parts, these voices in my head that are constantly there. It felt like having more awareness of them would lead to making decisions that felt more in flow or at least with more conscious attention. Now I am not so sure anymore. I think there is a reason some things are left to the subconscious to be decided and filtered without the conscious knowledge. Imagine if breathing was something I had to think about all the time while at the same time thinking about my heart beating or moisturizing my eyes.

Joe: I like parts work. I think it is very useful. I will use it even sometimes. There is a construct that says there are these parts, a protector and inner child. What’s to make it like a different set of constructs? What happens if it is the one-year-old, two-year-old, three-year-old, four-year-old, five-year-old, six-year-old, seven-year-old? What happens if it is the tarot deck? The fool is talking to the queen, which is talking to the, whatever. What would happen then?
Person: This is the other thing that’s been alive for me lately is recognizing many framings are true at the same time. Now it is almost like a multiverse of contradictions.

Joe: The parts thing has brought up something that’s actually bigger it sounds like. Tell me if I am wrong here. It sounds like what’s happening is that you are starting to see that all of your thoughts are both false and true.

Person: There is validity to everything, but also a limitation to everything.

Joe: What’s the problem with that?

Person: It brings me back to something I’ve been dealing with for a while involving trust. How can I trust my intuition or how can I recognize intuition from fear or anxiety projections?

Joe: How do you not trust it?

Person: How do I not trust it? Because all of these other parts are now speaking up, I am asking which one of those things was true. What’s the difference between intuition and a reaction or projection from the past?

Joe: How did you just say that?

Person: What do you mean?

Joe: You just spoke. How did that happen?

Person: I guess I’ve developed a mental model for my experience since being born into this vessel.

Joe: It is happening right now. All of these parts exist. None of them are true. All of them have some truth, and here you are talking. How is that happening?
Person: I guess it will happen whether I want it to or not. It just is.

Joe: How do you not trust your intuition? If you are talking, you are trusting your intuition.
Person: That’s an interesting way to put it. What I am finding is that I’ll have some sort of gut reaction, and then another just as equally strong and sudden gut reaction will come and contradict it and then another one from a different angle.

Joe: How is that just not fear?

Person: That’s where I am left. Am I making decisions out of fear? Am I making decisions out of coming back into my power or feeling more in flow? How do I tell the difference?

Joe: How do you tell the difference?

Person: I don’t know. That was actually my original question. How do I tell the difference? Some people say it is how you feel in your body, and I’ve been doing this reading about it. I’ve been doing reading about it. Some people say if your body is tense, then it is fear and not intuition unless your intuition is about something scary.

Joe: I’ve got another one for you. If you think you are making a decision, you are in fear. You just made 100 decisions in the last five minutes with me, what to say, how to look at me, eye moisturizing, all decisions. They didn’t feel like decisions, but then there are these big decisions that come up or they feel big. As soon as you think there is a decision, you are in fear.

Person: How do I get out of that?

Joe: What would make you want to get out of fear?

Person: Okay. Where do I go from there?

Joe: First the question. What would make you want to get out of fear?

Person: I think I have this story that if I am in fear, I am not in fear because fear is something. Maybe it’s my resistance to fear that actually takes me out of the moment, but I feel less connected, less in the moment. For instance, if I have a thought.

Joe: How do you explain mountain climbers, base jumpers, all of those people who induce fear to get into flow? How does that work?

Person: I think because they are not resisting the fear. Maybe what I am recognizing talking to you right now is the thing that takes me out of flow is fear comes up. I resist the fear, and therefore, I dissociate from my current state.

Joe: What makes you want to resist fear?

Person: It’s scary.

Joe: What makes it scary? I know it’s an annoying question, but what is the actual problem with the sensation of fear?

Person: For me, I think it’s about attachment to outcomes. I am scared I am not going to have this thing that I now find myself yearning for and being attached to.

Joe: Now, it is a whole different thing. You have got all these parts. You are aware of all of this stuff, but what’s actually happening is you don’t know how to interpret them to get the response you want.

Person: Exactly. It is like being in a town hall and there is a lot of people standing up and shouting. I am at the front being like I hear you all. Now what?
Joe: Again, an annoying question, but what makes you want a result? If I was to say to you you get to determine all of your results or you get to determine how you are as a person, which would you choose?

Person: Probably how I am, yeah.

Joe: So then what makes you care about the results?

Person: That’s a great question. This is another thing. I have these attachments to outcomes, and I’ve been wanting to lean more into the want. If I find myself now scared, and I am like what if I don’t get X, Y or Z, I think what do I want out of this, leaning into the want.
Joe: I think it is great to be aware of what you want, but that doesn’t mean that you are attached to the outcome.

Person: No, I am still attached to the outcome. I think maybe I am trying to use leaning into the want as a way to maybe dissociate from how I attached I am to the outcome or to bypass it.

Joe: Without that attachment, it sounds like the fear is gone or it is not resisted, excuse me.

Person: Exactly.

Joe: What’s the core? Right down into it, what’s the reason you care about the outcome? If you are going to be who you are going to be, and the outcome is going to do what it does, what makes you concerned?

Person: I recognize usually when these fears come up and these attachments come up, there is a fear of a loss of something that is a value of mine.

Joe: What do you mean a value?

Person: Fear of a loss of connection, or fear of a loss of authenticity or integrity.

Joe: But that’s all in how you are. I can be connected if somebody is spitting on me. I can be disconnected if everybody is loving me.

Person: That’s true. That’s a good reminder it doesn’t have to be a two-way street. I can feel connected to someone without them being connected to me.

Joe: Or my values or my integrity or any of that stuff.

Person: So much easier said than done.

Joe: That’s what I am trying to figure out. What makes that hard? What makes it hard to focus on how you want to be rather than the results?

Person: It’s interesting. A few folks in my life have been working with me on just saying the scariest thing or ask me what’s the scariest thing and then saying it to me and seeing how it lands in order to get past the fear. If I felt the fear all the way through, will that go away?

Joe: Again, what makes you want to have it go away?
Person: How can one live in a constant state of fear and still?

Joe: I don’t know. How do you do it?

Person: How do you do it?

Joe: You have been doing it. How does it work? If you are resisting the fear, it’s a constant state. If you are embracing the fear, then other things happen.

Person: It manifests in my life if you look at fight, flight, freeze or fawn, I am a flight. I will go somewhere else. I do something else. I will go and find, for instance, that value of connection, bi-directional connection, which is apparently how I’ve defined it, somewhere else.

Joe: Also, the flight happens into dissociation into the thought structure. That is also happening, and it sounds like the flight away from yourself into caretaking others.

Person: Totally. Leaving myself to be with someone else where I can feel of value in service in connection with them.

Joe: What’s the ultimate thing you are running from? What is it that doesn’t make that the thing you are focused on? Another way to ask that question is what you are actually running from on the deepest level.

Person: It feels like sitting with myself.

Joe: You meditate every day.

Person: I do.

Joe: How does that work?

Person: I meditate every day, and it feels really good to just relax into what is myself or the physical, somatic self. I love it.

Joe: When you said that, it was the first time your smile went away.

Person: I have my happiness filter that many of us have developed in this society.

Joe: It was the first time that that mask went away was when you were actually thinking about being
present in meditation.
Person: I feel like a sadness bubbling up, or there’s emotion behind the eyes. I don’t have a story for it.

Joe: Is that what you are running from?

Person: The sadness? It’s an interesting question. I feel like two years or a year ago.

Joe: What just happened?

Person: I’m intellectualizing. I’m in my head now dissociating from it.

Joe: I’m not saying anything you are doing is bad. I am just asking what happened. There was, there behind the eyes, and then I asked you an interesting question.
Person: A really deep well of sadness, and often lately I love it. I have fallen in love with wailing. It’s not crying. It’s wailing. It’s not even just sadness. It’s like anguish, and sometimes I get stuck. Maybe sometimes, like now, I think I am with Joe in his studio. I can’t cry. It’s not appropriate, so let’s go into something else. Let’s distract him by telling him he asked an interesting question.
Joe: I don’t know any place that’s more appropriate. When you wail, is it usually by yourself or with someone you really know?

Person: It is usually with someone I really know, a close friend or a partner, and there is some permissioning in the relational connection we have. Someone says I love your sadness, or it is okay to be down, or it is okay to cry. I am like yes, here it comes.

Joe: How do you feel that same way towards fear? You know what it is like now, the embrace of the emotional experience and how it transforms your life. What makes fear any different?

Person: I guess I can’t remember a time where anyone told me it is okay to be scared.

Joe: It is okay to be scared.

Person: It is okay to not know what to do.

Joe: It is okay to not know what to do. I will go even further. It is okay to be completely helpless. We all are.

Person: I was raised by immigrant Chinese parents who came from a really hard life to an equally, but different hard life here in the States. There is this pride around resiliency and being stoic and strong. I remember the first time I lost my job, I was so scared to tell my parents.

Joe: It’s happening. You are intellectualizing it a little bit. The story is great, and I know the listeners are thinking I want to hear that. Fuck them. The idea is if you will allow yourself to feel helpless, you will be less resilient.

Person: It feels that way, yeah. Lesser is a word that is floating around in my head. Just lesser in general.

Joe: I know this is a weird time to do it, but what’s happened to all of the parts? I just notice far more spaciousness in you now.

Person: My breath feels more like when I am meditating, and it feels like there is a sinking into this moment.

Joe: Where are all the parts when you are here?

Person: I don’t know. I am not sure.

Joe: How about what you are essentially?

Person: It feels more back in just awareness space.

Joe: With the emotional experience.

Person: With the emotional experience. There is a lot of sadness.

Joe: It’s almost like coming out of the closet. I have to admit to everybody I’ve been scared my whole life.

Person: I have to admit to everybody I’ve been scared my whole life of so many different things. It is like finding reasons to be scared, looking.

Joe: Yeah. That’s how you stay safe in a really hard-core environment like your parents grew up in, looking for what’s going to go wrong next.

Person: Yeah, because there is something. Change is the only constant, and if you are scared, then you assume that some change will be threatening.

Joe: There are actually more efficient ways to go about that, but that’s the way most people find to survive.

Person: Why is that? What makes that the way that most people adopt?

Joe: I don’t know for sure, but I think it is a neurological feature where we remember what goes bad more than we remember what’s going well. You are looking for what’s wrong more than you are looking for what’s right.

Person: Is it a biological thing where those monkeys that look for what’s right got eaten by a tiger?

Joe: Probably. I know neurologically they have proven that we look for what’s wrong more. Instead of everything is changing, there is opportunity, where is it? It is everything is changing. Oh, shit. What’s the next thing to come and fuck with me?

Person: Now I am like am I second guessing myself to go into a statement.

Joe: Yes, you just did. In that question, you did. Before that, you didn’t. The second guessing yourself.

Person: This is the second guessing because I am a glass half full type of person often, but now it is like what about this opportunity. Is that just from my ego? Is that from scarcity? Is that from greed? Is that from fear? I am second guessing my desire for this opportunity to see how that could reflect poorly on who I am.

Joe: Who is the authority?

Person: What would you rather have, the ability?

Joe: Who is the authority you are checking with?

Person: I want to say myself and probably those around me. These days a lot myself.

Joe: Then how is it a question? Is that greedy? Am I doing this opportunity because I am greedy? How can that be a question if the authority is you?

Person: It is checking in with myself. Am I motivated by greed? Am I motivated by scarcity? Then this story comes in of if I want to be someone motivated by scarcity. Being motivated by scarcity, what path does that lead me down? There are these layers of questions.

Joe: All of that is binary. All of that is fear. Binary in the fact that is like if it is okay to be motivated by scarcity 50% of the time or 20% of the time, 10% of the time, 5% of the time. Immediately there is binary thinking. I am either that or not that. What if you are all of that?

Person: I am all of that.

Joe: Then how can you second guess yourself? That’s a question. I am not trying to convince you not to.

Person: I think what happened is I have been hurt a few times in the past for wanting things or going after things, and now I’ve put myself in a box. A friend the other day saw me for the first time in a few months. He said where your fire is. You have lost your fire. I recognize I’ve been making myself small to feel safe. Who I was before with my wants and desires and going after them in the world ended in a place where I felt hurt.

Joe: What got hurt?

Person: What got hurt? The way I can explain it now is it felt like there was a reality schism where I thought I was in connection and could trust someone or some people.

Joe: That’s how it happened. I want to know what got hurt. I just watched you coming from your place of essence, and it didn’t seem like there was any hurt there. What is it that got hurt?

Person: Speaking from this tightness that’s somewhere between my chest and my throat right now, I got
hurt. I got hurt. Whatever that means. I got hurt.

Joe: What just happened when you said it? What happened in your system?

Person: It felt like a little bit of a fire kicked up. That’s the thing, and now the second guessing is like in what environment is my fire safe because what if it was my fire that got me hurt, my desires, my drive.

Joe: What if it is? What’s the problem with that? What’s the problem with getting hurt?

Person: That goes back to my fear of fear.

Joe: Let’s take it a little bit more slowly than that, which is you got hurt. You got hurt. We know that it is not the essential you that got hurt, but I like the anger that came with it. Yeah, you got hurt. Fuck them. That’s great. But the part of you that got hurt, there is this Buddhist saying that says, “Offer yourself up to annihilation so you can find out the part of yourself that can’t be annihilated.” What’s wrong with the hurt? What did it do besides clarify anything?

Person: What did it do beside clarify?

Joe: If you weren’t avoiding it, how did it do anything beside clarify who you are?
Person: If I weren’t avoiding it, that is what would happen if I weren’t avoiding it. I would be like great, that avenue is closed. Moving on, now I know which way not to go.

Joe: No, if you weren’t avoiding it, it would hurt.

Person: Say that again.

Joe: If you weren’t avoiding it, it would hurt. It would just hurt all the way through instead of to about two inches in. See what happens. Let the thing hurt. Someone broke your trust. Someone couldn’t accept you. Someone projected their bullshit on you.

Person: It is so hard to not take it personally.

Joe: It didn’t seem hard at all. It seems like taking it personally is much fucking harder. You took it personally.

Person: Yeah, I did and in so many ways.

Joe: That’s the whole thing about hurt. It clarifies all of the parts of you that are taking it personally.

Person: There is a worry that’s coming up that what it would mean to feel this all the way through. What would that mean for the clarity? What would I lose that’s in this?

Joe: You, that’s what you would lose. The thing you said got hurt, that’s what would be gone. Let’s not pretend otherwise.

Person: I’m scared the hurt will turn into anger.

Joe: I hope so.

Person: I’ve recently been told my anger is scary. I haven’t been angry for a while.

Joe: [makes disgusted sound]

Person: I thought there was a way around it. I thought I could find the root, the fear behind the anger and process it as sadness because sadness is safe for women in society. I’ve been like fuck yeah, I am going to cry all the fucking time.

Joe: If you are crying all the time, and it is not resolving, it is because there is another emotion there you aren’t feeling. There is this theory that’s like all of your anger is sadness or hurt or something like that. Bullshit. It’s true and it’s not true. It’s true in the fact that yes, underneath all of the anger is hurt, but it is also true that underneath all of the hurt is anger.

Person: I was so hell bent on proving to my coach I didn’t have anger that I found a neuroscience article about this, about how sadness counteracts anger and maybe it can be felt that way. She responded with what part of yourself needs to prove right now that you are not angry.
Joe: When you suppress your anger, you lose your fire. You lose your determination. You lose your clarity. That’s how it works, but you don’t have to get angry at people. You don’t have to start yelling at people.

Person: I think I am at a point where I know I have been making myself small and detaching from my fire because I know that when I feel it, I will take action and I will do things. Then, things will be different, and that goes back to the change is the only constant. Change is scary and threatening. What’s the next thing to be scared of? This box I have made for myself is familiar now.

Joe: How’s that working for you?

Person: Terribly.

Joe: What makes you keep doing it?

Person: I don’t know if this is true for others, but there is this feeling that’s this is the hurt I know. This one is familiar, and there is a resistance to change even if I think it will be quote unquote better because this is just familiar.

Joe: Resist change. Right now, resist it. Change is happening. There is no doubt your hormonal has changed, your heart rate has changed, your emotional state has changed, so resist it.
Person: There is so much tension in my body trying to even conceptualize resisting it.

Joe: Don’t conceptualize it. Do it. Now start looking around to see if this change that’s happening is dangerous. That’s how you are living. Now do all of that. Keep doing it. You are resisting change. You are looking around now. Stick a smile on your face.

Person: That checks out. That’s most days.

Joe: If you feel it all in a moment, that’s what it is like. Now just feel the opposite of that. Don’t think. Just feel. You don’t need to be looking for anything. There’s no need for focus.
Person: There is a little voice that’s like if you stop running, you’ll die, or they’ll get you or whatever animal instinct. They have to keep going or else.

Joe: Great. Why resist that? That’s part of the change that’s happening right now. Right now there is more pleasure in your system than there was a second ago. How much of whatever is left is just resisting that pleasure? From this space of not resisting the change or all that stuff, what’s the fear? What’s the ultimate thing you are running from?

Person: Some sort of spiral effect. I’ve seen people I love spiral into depression or spiral into madness.

Joe: Let’s go. There’s an abyss in you that you are avoiding. Your fear is if you go into that, you won’t come out.

Person: I won’t come out.

Joe: Let's go. Can you find it?

Person: Oh yeah, it’s there.

Joe: Let’s see what it is like to step into the middle of it. I notice the resistance to change cropping up.

Person: It is like am I doing it right feeling.

Joe: That’s the resistance. This is just being open to the change, just the opposite feeling of that and into the abyss. You got quiet. You are making it the enemy again. Don’t make it the enemy.

Person: It is like all these programs want to run. This is a program that’s worked in the past and that would satisfy what you are asking me.

Joe: It doesn’t work. You are jumping in and finding the experience pleasurable.

Person: I’m not sure I know what I am looking for anymore then. Whatever I thought was the abyss was maybe something else.

Joe: What do you think it might have been?

Person: Just more sadness.

Joe: I don’t see you as sad right now.

Person: What do you see me as right now?

Joe: Irrelevant. I am saying it just so you can check with yourself. Is it really sadness, the abyss that you jumped in? Without resistance, what was it?

Person: Interesting. I think the sadness was the resistance to it.

Joe: What was it when you didn’t resist it. What is the thing that you are currently avoiding in this moment by thinking about it instead of being in it?

Person: It is no thing. There’s nothing.

Joe: What’s the experience of your body right now? Is this pleasure? Is this peace?

Person: Yeah, it is just sensation.

Joe: What if this is what you are avoiding? What if this is the scary thing?

Person: Peace? Huh.

Joe: There was this big scary abyss that was going to eat you alive, a dark spiral, but as soon as you went to non-resistance, there was peace. It makes sense you were resisting peace.

Person: It is funny. It is the thing I crave, and when I meditate.

Joe: Everything we crave, we push away.

Person: There is a subtle agenda for peace, but knowing if I orient toward peace, I won’t find it because it will be a lot then.

Joe: Everything we crave, we are pushing away at the same time.

Person: What makes us push away what we crave?

Joe: Craving is the pushing away. Your whole body relaxed when you were like huh. You got it.

Person: That’s funny. We’re funny.

Joe: Yes, we are. One of my favorite quotes is by Voltaire. He says God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.

Person: It does feel like so much of what we do is try to wake ourselves up to go back to this peace, and we are trying to push the boundaries, to feel the things until we are maxed out and unable to feel all the things anymore.

Joe: Apparently what we were talking about is how you trust yourself. From here, how do you trust yourself? How does the question even make sense?
Person: Exactly. What is there to not trust?

Wow, yeah, what is there not to trust? I really love the arc from the intellectual question to the emotional experience to the essence of who we are. I really want to thank this guest for really going there today, bringing your vulnerability and for really showing up and asking for this. Lastly, I want to thank all of our guests for listening and I am really looking forward to the next one. Take care.


Thanks for listening to the Art of Accomplishment. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please subscribe and rate us on your podcast app. We would love your feedback, so feel free to send us questions or comments. You can reach out to us, join our newsletter or check out our courses at

Healing Shame by Being Ourselves (Coaching Session)

Today’s episode involves a coaching session between Joe and a man in our community who has expressed the desire to have the courage to be himself despite fears of offending the people around him. By exploring triggers and feeling into the shame that underlies conflict avoidance, our guest finds that he can stay in connection with himself, even when others are angry with him.

"To heal my shame, I need to feel it and like feel through it and learn about it."

Follow us on Instagram at @artofaccomplishment to learn more about our guests and share your own experiences.


Episode intro:

To heal my shame, I need to feel it and like feel through it and learn about it.

Welcome to the Art of Accomplishment, where we explore how deepening connection with ourselves, and others leads to creating the life we want with enjoyment and ease.

Joe: Yeah, tell me what’s happening. What do you want to work on? What’s going on? Smile, look at that smile.

Guest: Oh, yeah. I’ve been doing my best to find out where I am stuck and what I have landed on is being myself and like how I do that, for example, at work. How do I interrupt people? How do I say what I want without it feeling like I am attacking them?

Joe: Feeling like it to you or feeling like it to them? What do you mean?

Guest: A projection, I guess.

Joe: There’s actually something you said before, which is really interesting to me. You said I am trying to figure out how I am stuck, but what makes it not obvious? What makes you need to figure that out?

Guest: I was feeling like I was doing great. I am in a good place now, a good process. Things are moving. I am working with Joe. Let’s find a stuck place. I can’t just say everything is going well.

Joe: What makes you not able to say that?

Guest: This is great. Oh yeah. Because I have to deliver quality.

Joe: It is the same thing. It is the same thing. Not being able to say what you think, whether it is positive or negative, whether you think you are interrupting, I am wondering if both of them are around quality. How is your mind conflating, if at all, quality and being polite or quality and offending people?

Guest: I’m sure you are on to something because now my mind just went ooh. I want to deliver quality or maybe I have a ‘should’. Then there is this that I want to be myself.

Joe: What makes you think that who you are isn’t quality?

Guest: I have this belief that people can’t handle me. I am confident within myself. I know shit. I know stuff. I am good at my work, for instance, but people get offended.

Joe: Who has provided quality who hasn’t offended people? Can you point to one person?

Guest: I felt like Martin Luther King was the name that showed up.

Joe: He offended the heck out of people.

Guest: I know so very little about him.

Joe: There were a whole bunch of white folks that were totally pissed at that dude.

Guest: You are right. Maybe he showed up in my mind because it is so clear, the clips I have seen from his speech. He is just himself, one hundred percent. That’s what I am scared of.

Joe: You say it is about quality, but let’s go back to the question. Who has delivered quality who hasn’t offended people?

Guest: No one. That guy, no. People are popping up in my mind.

Joe: It is a bit of a trick question because who do you know that hasn’t offended people.

Guest: Now that you say it like that. What makes me want to?

Joe: Let’s say I could do it. Let’s say there’s a button, and we could push that button. You would never offend anybody again. Would you want me to push that button?

Guest: There is a hesitation. At first, it is like yes, and then quite quickly no. But then I can’t be myself or I can’t say my meaning or do my work.

Joe: What would it look like if you couldn’t offend anybody? That’s it, button pressed.

Guest: There are two versions, the one where I am going out being an ass to everyone and they are all okay with it, but then it is like they don’t accept me. They just ignore me. They don’t deal with me.

Joe: I mean the other way.

Guest: The other way is when I don’t do anything, then I am not myself.

Joe: Beyond who you are, literally what would it look like?

Guest: It would look like what I am trying to do, being this completely different person to everyone, but then once two people other than me get in the same room with people, it collapses because I can’t please them both.

Joe: Right now, say something you know absolutely one hundred percent won’t offend me.

Guest: You have a blue sweater.

Joe: Right. That’s a pretty good guess, but there’s definitely somebody who would be offended if you said you have a blue sweater. Maybe some fashion person is like this isn’t blue. This is periwinkle. You stupid oaf. I put hours into this sweater because it is periwinkle, and you just called it blue. You don’t understand my genius of fashion. It is periwinkle. Somebody somewhere is going to be offended it is a blue sweater. Maybe it is a crip and a blood. I don’t know. Wearing blue could be offensive to some group of people.

Guest: I got afraid of the sweater. Now I can only see your shoes.

Joe: I just don’t even know how it would look because you would have to be able to read everybody’s mind and know exactly what they wanted to say and never say anything besides that or say exactly what they wanted you to say, and you could never say anything besides that.

Guest: Yeah, that doesn’t leave much.

Joe: But feel it for a second. Literally feel what it would be like to walk through the world only seeing things that you knew.

Guest: It is like I am disappearing. I am meeting someone, and there is no me. There is just a reflection of their wants and shoulds.

Joe: Even that would be tricky because a lot of people get really pissed when you reflect who they are back to them.

Guest: That’s true.

Joe: What percentage of the time do you want to not offend people?

Guest: I don’t want to offend everyone all the time. That would even be hard.

Joe: That would also be impossible. The most offensive people still have fans.

Guest: They are doing their best.

Joe: If you could control it, which you can’t control it, how would you control it? What would be the exact dial setting you would put towards your offending of others since it is not no offense?

Guest: I want to not offend others somewhere above fifty percent.

Joe: The dial would be I can offend people fifty percent of the time.

Guest: Maximum.

Joe: Maximum fifty percent of the time. Let’s look at that. Let’s see what that would actually be like. Let’s say there is someone who is just offended by everything. How would you deal with that?

Guest: Then I would have to make up for it with someone else. You are one hundred percent offended. Then I need to find someone.

Joe: Name a person who you think operates in the world with a greater than fifty percent offense rate.

Guest: Okay. I am thinking, going through people at work.

Joe: Just so you know, somebody is offended by you currently listening to this podcast but go ahead. He laughs too much. You smile. Notice you smile. You actually kind of laugh at it.

Guest: Yeah. It is a part of me, smiling.

Joe: Who has the fifty-one or greater net offense average? Just that it is that difficult tells me. Even if you are right, just that it is that difficult tells me the probability of you being that person is pretty low by just knowing who you are.

Guest: Yeah, I am thinking but that’s just my relationship to that person. Also, when I stop to think, I know I don’t offend most people most of the time.

Joe: Even somebody like the most offensive politician you have ever seen somehow, or another gets close to fifty percent of the votes. Even if people aren’t voting for them doesn’t mean they are offended by them. They might find it humorous or disturbing but maybe not offense.

If you had to choose, you could be yourself or you could offend people fifty one percent of the time, you either have to offend people fifty one percent of the time or you have to be yourself and offend people fifty one percent of the time or not be yourself and therefore not offend people fifty one percent of the time?

Guest: If I got that correct, my gut tells me I want to offend people then. I want to be fine with it, and I want to do it in a way.

Joe: How are you not fine with it now? You are offending people now all of the time, daily, and yet here you are, sitting here talking about it. That might offend people more. You are doing this podcast, and that’s going to definitely offend some people. How are you not fine with it currently?

Guest: Okay. I’ll play. I’m fine with it now. Now I am curious. What happens today in a meeting? Someone was talking too much. I am confident. I have the information I need. I want to stop this meeting. I did eventually, but there is this I can’t, she is in the middle of a sentence. There she started another sentence. I will just wait. What happens then? What makes me lose this?

Joe: That’s a great question. What’s the emotion you are trying to avoid in that moment?

Guest: Anger?

Joe: Her anger?

Guest: Fear first and then anger came up.

Joe: The fear you are feeling because you are scared to interrupt her. You are scared she will get angry. What will happen to you, if she gets angry? What’s the internal feeling you are trying to avoid?

Guest: Then my mom showed up.

Joe: What is it? What’s the feeling that comes in you when that person gets offended?

Guest: There is this unconnectedness. I am shut out.

Joe: Often shame is what that feels like, but we will just say unconnectedness.

Guest: Yeah, shame makes sense.

Joe: With humans, shame is basically the feeling you get with disconnection often. A little kid with a whole bunch of aunties, and the little kid farts. The aunties go oh my god, I can’t believe you farted. The kid is going to feel shame because of the disconnection. But if all the aunties laugh and are like you little totter, then they will probably fart again. They don’t feel shame. It is this pulling away, this disconnection. That’s the feeling. You don’t want to feel shame.

Let’s verify this. If I could snap my fingers and you couldn’t feel shame when people got angry at you for being rude or whatever.

Guest: Problem solved. That feels very true.

Joe: What is so uncomfortable about shame? What’s wrong with it?

Guest: It is like the manifestation of unconnectedness, of being alone.

Joe: Can we experiment with it?

Guest: Yeah.

Joe: Your microphone is blowing out. This podcast isn’t going to be usable. You are wasting my time. Don’t disconnect from yourself for a moment.

Guest: There’s sadness. Yeah. First, I smiled and laughed and then there is this emptiness and sadness.

Joe: What happens if you just say that to me? I know you are but as if we are in a real conversation. Not that this isn’t real, but if we were in a more normal conversation, and you were like it makes me sad that we are disconnected right now.

Guest: I am starting to feel disconnected, and that makes me sad.

Joe: Don’t blame me for that. Don’t blame me we are disconnected. It is your microphone.

Guest: I am fighting the impulse to say I am sorry.

Joe: Great. First of all, let’s try that. Try saying you are sorry, but that doesn’t mean to buy into the shame.

Guest: I am sorry. Yeah. I am sorry. There is a different kind of sorry there. I can feel it. I am sorry about it. I am sorry my microphone is busted.

Joe: It is like I am sorry you hurt yourself. It is not like I’ve done anything wrong.

Guest: I am sad about the situation, too.

Joe: Let’s try it again. Don’t blame me that you are sad. It’s your microphone. I am not the one who bought your microphone and said it was fine.

Guest: I am sorry my microphone is busted. I am not sure how we can fix it right now.

Joe: I just can’t believe this. You have wasted my time. We should just end this thing right now, just end it.

Guest: There is this wall coming or a bubble or pressure from my body.

Joe: The only thing that’s happening right that’s different from normal is that you are actually going into the emotional state instead of normally you are trying to.

Guest: End it off.

Joe: Exactly. If you keep on going on, then you keep on being vulnerable. There is sadness, but what’s the problem?

Guest: It stopped. That’s scary.

Joe: It’s not scary or it is not scary?

Guest: It’s not scary.

Joe: Let’s try a different way. A lot of people just won’t get angry like that. Just say something to me that might be offensive as true as you can make it.

Guest: Your hat is a bit off and looks weird.

Joe: Sorry, it is so true.

Guest: Now it is less true.

Joe: No, I love it. It is also so you. Do it again. I have to be in character. Go ahead. Say it again.

Guest: Joe, your hat is a bit off, and it looks weird.

Joe: Okay, fine. I’ve got to go. I’ll see you.

Guest: Yeah, there is this freeze.

Joe: Be with the shame and what wants to be said.

Guest: Don’t go. I don’t want you to go.

Joe: Yeah. I don’t want you to go.

Guest: So vulnerable.

Joe: Right. Yeah. No, I am leaving. No. Don’t guilt me. Now I am leaving.

Guest: I’m sad that you are leaving. I still don’t want you to leave.

Joe: It might even be sometimes okay, yeah. I understand you want to leave. You might actually not want them to stay. It could happen too.

Guest: Yeah. At the other side of this, then both options are more clear.

Joe: It seems to bring us back to that question. What made you have to think there was something wrong? At the beginning, you said I’ve been thinking about what’s wrong.

Guest: Finding where I am stuck.

Joe: It is an interesting thing. In a weird way, what you are doing right now is assuming there is nothing wrong with what’s happening in your system for you to get to the place you are getting to right now. They get upset, and you are like there is nothing wrong with this. There is nothing wrong with the emotional place I am in. How do I want to react?

Guest: Yeah.

Joe: It is the other side of the offense story, too, which is if you never offend anybody, you can never really build trust.

Guest: If I never offend anybody I can never really build trust.

Joe: Think about the least offensive person you know.

Guest: Oh yeah, I am like where is [unclear].

Joe: Trust is built by having conflict and overcoming it together.

Guest: I need to have conflict. I want to have. Oh. That sentence. I want to say it. I want to have conflict. I want to get over it. I want to really make sure that last part of the sentence is there. I want to have conflict and learn how to overcome it so people can trust me, and I can trust myself.

Joe: I am looking at your face. You are like ooh wait, that’s a different reality. The most trustworthy people are not conflict avoidant when you just look at them in the world. The best CEOs you would trust to put your money in aren’t conflict avoidant. The best social activists aren’t conflict avoidant. The best doctors aren’t conflict avoidant. The best CPAs, whatever it is, the best friends, people who tell you what they actually think instead of trying to make you happy, those are the ones we value.

Guest: Then it is like okay, I will go back into the world, and I will make some conflict.

Joe: You don’t even have to make it. It is just what is going to happen if you are human. It seems to be the course of humanity. We have conflict.

Guest: Like self-conflicts, feel into it and through it, and then it is like some friends won’t like it as much as others.

Joe: Correct. Here’s a weird question. How else are you going to heal your shame?

Guest: How else am I going to heal my shame? Other than?

Joe: Conflict.

Guest: Other than conflict and distancing myself from some friends in the process.

Joe: Maybe, who knows what they are going to do. You can’t control that.

Guest: Okay.

Joe: You are going to risk it for sure.

Guest: How am I going to heal? I know it is always a good spot when I lose all thoughts.

Joe: The question is: How else could you heal your shame if it isn’t inviting conflict? What’s another approach?

Guest: To heal my shame, I need to feel it and like feel through it and learn about it. Then there would have to be another way than conflict for me for my shame to get triggered.

Joe: Brilliant.

Guest: I guess I could shame myself. I don’t know. If I am in a desert, I could project my parents or something.

Joe: You are doing that.

Guest: I am already doing that.

Joe: The broader point here is if you love the shame, invite the shame, can’t wait for the shame because that’s the chance to get to know the shame better and to integrate it, it is not to get rid of it. Because if you love it and you want it, then you are not getting rid of it. If you see shame that way, as just a signal you are disconnected, then it is like having a constant reminder whenever you feel disconnected. It allows you to reconnect. It is an amazing feature.

Guest: When you say that, my comment about your hat showed up and I felt shame about it.

Joe: It is a pretty ugly hat. It is.

Guest: It is very American.

Joe: Do you see the creases right here? It is because my head is so huge, and it is sun bleached and crooked. My offense at the hat is about me. This is the other point about it. You want to take away my healing journey.

Guest: How do I know you are not just stuck? How do I know you will actually heal?

Joe: Correct, you don’t. That’s not your business.

Guest: But I take away your opportunity.

Joe: Correct. If you look at Tibetan teaching, like one form of the Tibetan teaching, they take the monks in, and the first stage of the teaching is we are friends. You build this deep connection. The second stage of the teaching is they do everything they possibly can to offend the student.

Guest: Is the student informed upfront?

Joe: No, of course not because if I offend you, then I am pointing to an ego that still is running your life. Granted, that’s a consensual agreement to some degree. You are there for the teaching. You trust the teacher to teach you the way. At the same time, there is truth to it, in every aspect of this. If you are constantly avoiding the conflict, then you are stopping the chance for people to learn. You see this in companies all the time. The conflict avoidant leader does not have a team that is transforming, evolving, overcoming. They just sit on stagnant problems.

Guest: Yes.

Joe: Whereas leaders who aren’t conflict avoidant, Steve Jobs would be a great example of that, innovation all the time. Not that I am suggesting you have to yell at people, I am not, but my point is that conflict avoidance can pretty much guarantee stagnation in an organization and in people and in marriages.

Just to weigh this out, you can be yourself and you can heal your shame. You can give the opportunity for other people to grow. You can have a non-stagnant life, or you can try to not offend people. You can not heal your shame. You can prevent the opportunities for other people to grow. You can have a stagnant organization.

Guest: I will take the first one.

Joe: The choice is quite obvious. However, we don’t make choices logically. We make choices emotionally. If I take the emotional center out of your brain, then you cease to make decisions. You spend half an hour deciding what color pen to use. There is great neuro research on this. It is really not a logical decision. It is just I don’t want to feel that shame. That’s it. We even turn that into a spiritual bullshit thing where we are like I am not doing as good spiritually because I am feeling shame. I am not making progress. There are all sorts of great reasons we have to get rid of our emotional states, whatever they are.

Guest: This is scary as shit, so I want to do it. You said something about choosing the colors. I want to make a joke about choosing what color hat to use. That will lead to shame. I should say it.

Joe: Say it.

Guest: I just did. Also, I felt shame for not saying it because I am not being a good coachee or whatever it is called.

Joe: This is where the voice in the head shows up. If you get mad at me, then I feel disconnected. If I am not myself, I feel disconnected.

Guest: If you get mad at me, I feel disconnected, or if I am not myself, I feel disconnected. It is a lose lose.

Joe: It is a lose lose. That’s why the problem when you showed up was I am not being myself. That’s the problem because that’s disconnection. I don’t know any way to heal that. I don’t know any way that someone can be connected and not be themselves, but I definitely know lots of ways people can feel connected even when someone is raging at them or being conflict avoidant or being passive aggressive or whatever people’s reactions are. Your connection doesn’t require anyone else.

Guest: My connection doesn’t require anyone else. I am thinking about my daughter. She is a good teacher. She gives me a lot of practice.

Joe: How old is she?

Guest: Three and a half.

Joe: Oh yeah. Do you remember in the early days when you were flustered, and she would do something like say I love you?

Guest: What’s flustered?

Joe: Agitated, you would be amped up, agitated or disconnected, and she would come over and say I love you, daddy, or do something to create connection between the two of you. Do you have a recollection of her doing that?

Guest: I have one recollection that comes to me. I got mad because she spilled milk a couple of weeks ago. She is in a very solution mode. That’s some great problem solving.

Joe: That’s how she has found to find connection with you. She has started to realize at three and a half that the way to get connection with dad is to solve problems, to help him solve problems.

Guest: Ouch.

Joe: There is a great book called Parenting by Connection by Patty Wipfler. It is called Listen, but it is based on Parenting by Connection. The whole thesis is if the kid feels connected, your whole job is to help them feel connected. If the kid feels connected, then there are no issues. It is only when a child feels disconnected that there’s a problem. I don’t think it is any different with adults. Teams that feel connected are more functional. People that are connected are more functional. When CEOs connect with themselves better, they become better CEOs. They are not acting out of fear.

Guest: What I am experiencing with her is connecting on an emotional level with her and her emotions, and holding the space, not just saying that’s okay, that’s okay. But now I get the sense that there is also a job for me because she has learned from observing me that when I feel bad, I fix things. I need to stop fixing things.

Joe: You don’t need to do anything. You can just be yourself.

Guest: What if that is fixing things?

Joe: That’s fine. Just notice what happened. You had this recognition that maybe I am hurting my daughter. Shame occurred. You went to fixing things by changing yourself.

Guest: Yeah, it happened just now.

Joe: Instead of sitting with the shame and the sadness as if that’s not going to solve it quicker.

Guest: Yeah. That’s like the shift inside me. It is scary, so scary.

Joe: Don’t worry. You won’t stop solving problems. I promise.

Guest: It’s scary I am not really in touch with all the scariness. It is just I realized there is this huge wall. It is almost unimaginable to stay in the shame and vulnerability.

Joe: How long do you think the shame will last?

Guest: Like minutes. I am glad I said it. No, but on the other hand, time doesn’t exist, so it is an eternity. But I don’t want those minutes. I want them. I am not able to access them. It is difficult. Now there’s that word again. It is hard. It is scary.

Joe: Reps help.

Guest: I need shame reps. No, that’s fixing myself.

Joe: It depends on the approach. Is taking a walk every day fixing yourself? Or is it just more enjoyable?

Guest: I am creating this meta loop. I shouldn’t fix myself because that’s everything, and then everything becomes wrong.

Joe: That’s what happens when you don’t feel the shame.

Guest: What happens?

Joe: Everything becomes wrong.

Guest: When I don’t feel the shame, when I avoid the shame, everything feels wrong. I don’t understand the logic, but I do understand it somehow.

Joe: You get it in your body, and your brain hasn’t caught up yet. That’s totally standard. Just to help with the mental part of it, if you are avoiding shame, if you are avoiding being yourself, then there is always a reason to be shameful.

Guest: Then if I am avoiding shame, then I am also avoiding being myself, which is.

Joe: Disconnected.

Guest: Which is disconnected, and then more shame, a shame loop. I am making it worse.

Joe: You are either looking around the room trying to figure out how not to feel shame, which is a disconnection, which creates shame, or you are saying something that’s not true so that you don’t get somebody upset so you can avoid shame, so that creates shame, whereas if you embrace it, then what’s to avoid? Then you can just be yourself.

Guest: When I embrace it, it flows through.

Joe: If you are happy to embrace shame, then what would you stop from being yourself?

Guest: If I am happy to embrace shame, then there is not much left. Then there is just me. Hello. I am offending you and I, feeling this shame. I am not shameful, but I am shameful. That’s okay. Then what? There’s life.

Joe: There’s just life.

Thanks for listening to the Art of Accomplishment. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please subscribe and rate us on your podcast app. We would love your feedback, so feel free to send us questions or comments. You can reach out to us, join our newsletter or check out our courses at


Parenting by Connection by Patty Wipfler:

Allowing Yourself to Change (Joe Coaches Brett)

This week’s episode took an unexpected turn after co-host Brett Kistler had a difficult week, prompting an unplanned one-on-one session where Joe coaches Brett. In this session, we dive deeper into exploring how the relationship with self is reflected in the relationships with the people around us.


"My mind is flitting around in a million directions, going down rabbit holes, and my body is like hey, we have something important to do."

"Yeah, that's beautiful. That's always the way it works, right? The relationship with the self is reflected in the relationship with the people around us."


Brett: Okay, so this is going to be a really interesting episode. We started the call intending to dive into an episode on attentional black holes or perhaps on engineering our own heartbreak. But I have been having a rough week, and we ended up diving into what turned out to be a session with Joe coaching me. Here it is, raw and unfiltered. I hope you like it.

So throughout my life, I have this pattern of diving into something really, really deeply and hyper focusing on it, and then it starts to become hyper focused to the exclusion of other things and then ultimately to the avoidance of other things. Then, I build competence in the thing that I am getting hyper focused in until I start to get a little bit complacent, and then that thing ends up crashing and then I am left seeing the consequences of all of the avoidance in the rest of my life. Somehow, this has usually ended up happening in such a way that has left me better off than I started over time, but it really just feels like extremely wild swings, big ups, big downs.

Joe: Can you give me an example from like two years ago?

Brett: Yeah, an example from a couple of years ago was in 2017 I started getting, had been interested in, but started seeing a lot of people get interested in crypto, like cryptocurrencies in investing. I started to see all kinds of opportunity, and I just became very deeply interested in it. That seems like a good thing, being interested in something that's new and exciting, and potentially world-changing even if it is such early stages that it might not be world changing for years. But I, like many other people, got really focused on this possible future and kind of hanging my hopes on the financial gain that I was imagining I was seeing and the numbers in my financial accounts.

Also, at the same time, I was starting to feel like they become more important, higher priority to me than what was going on in my life. The numbers and the financial gain became much bigger than the numbers in my business financial gain. Also, the excitement of it became much bigger than my excitement elsewhere, and this has also occurred in other areas, like with base jumping. Just really getting into something that's super, deeply exciting and enlivening for me, or in a relationship, just getting fully swept up in it and disappearing attentionally from other areas of my life.

Joe: What makes you say disappearing intentionally?

Brett: Not intentionally, attentionally. My attention draws away from places that it used to be.

Joe: What would you make you just not say I was disappearing into it? What makes you give the caveat of attentionally?

Brett: I think I have a little bit of a self judgement around my attention. Throughout this process, there is a part of me that's like no, don't fully go here. There are other things you care about, and then there's sort of a negative feeling associated with not paying attention to the things I care about or finding that I care less than I did a moment ago about them.

Joe: How does that tie into, say, commitment? What's your experience of commitment?

Brett: My experience of commitment has over the course of my life been something that generally starts in the same way as I just described with a lot of fire and a lot of excitement. I am a very flowy person. I kind of go from one thing to another thing, and I am following some threat that just cuts across all these different areas of life. Very commonly, for me, the thing that I am following shifts or changes shape, and that doesn't mean that I am not interested in the thing that I was interested in before. But I start to feel like obligated not to change, like put myself into an obligation not to change in order to keep the commitment.

Joe: I see, so what's the difference between what you are describing as far as going down an attentional rabbit hole and being committed to something?

Brett: I mean going down the attentional rabbit hole is being committed to the exploration of that rabbit hole. It also feels like a disowning of other commitments, and there is shame in that.

Joe: If we were to ask, let's say, any woman in your life over the last 20 years, what would they say your relationship to commitment was?

Brett: That's a really good question. You would have to ask some of them.

Joe: If you had to guess, maybe they even said something to you at some point.

Brett: I mean they say various things. I would say they say I am a deeply committed partner, and also that I change. Something that they have said is that like when they are with me, they feel the commitment really strongly and then when I am not with them, then they feel the lack of it.

Joe: So this is the thing you are pointing to. You get into something. You are fully in it. That's all you are focused on. It's like a strong sense of an immediate commitment, but then the things that you have already started to some degree fall by the wayside. You don't feel the commitment towards them in the same visceral way, and they don't feel the commitment from you during those times of going deeply down the attentional rabbit hole.

Brett: Yeah, which then creates shame around that rabbit hole itself.

Joe: If you take the shame out of it, what's the problem with all this?

Brett: I guess the problem is that it just feels unstable, and that also looking back through my life, the consequences of it have been just these wild oscillations, which is something that I actually really enjoy. I do really enjoy having a life that just varies wildly from thing to thing, and I just go super deep into a direction that and go farther than most people might go in that direction.

Joe: Separate for me the difference between what you like about having a highly varied and I will call it intense life, and what you don't like about having a highly varied and intense life.

Brett: What I like about it is that I learn a lot, and I collect a wealth of different experiences. I grow. What I don´t like about it is there are these periodic tectonic shifts that I experience as painful where there is just a lot of resistance and I go into a period of perhaps months of feeling disconnected but not noticing how disconnected I am feeling until all of a sudden it just shows up, and I recognize how I disconnected I have been from things I actually do love and how much I have actually narrowed into a stressful relationship with a thing I am focused on.

Joe: Aha, so the thing is, what I am hearing you say is that you love going down these rabbit holes and the fact that you learn and you grow, but somewhere down the rabbit hole it moves from passion to stress. It moves from passion to obligation, and then in that you start becoming so single minded that you forget to live a life that's enjoyable through balance or through some of your other commitments. Is that what you are saying?

Brett: Yeah, absolutely, and I find myself unaware of basic logistical things that are important for kind of keeping my life together.

Joe: Right, and I am just curious. What if nobody ever gave you shit about that? What if like you did this and everybody was like that's cool, that's Brett being artistic or that's Brett doing his thing, that's Brett providing for the family, whatever? Whenever you did all that, nobody guilted you or shamed you or said you weren't there for me. How would your relationship with this cycle change?

Brett: Interesting, it's hard to even imagine separating those things because I believe that my doing things this way leaves people kind of left in the dark. There's a way that I am taking responsibility for other people depending on me, and then me going off in a new direction. Whether or not they even shame me about it or even show hurt at me, there is a way that I just project it or there is a way that I just take responsibility that they are experiencing of disappointment or abandonment.

Joe: I know your childhood enough to be able to point something, so I am going to point directly, which is. Maybe I don't know it well enough. Let's see if I remember correctly. How similar is this you going down a different rabbit hole than your family did on a religious basis?

Brett: Yeah, wow. I had not thought of it that way, but it does feel very much like that.

Joe: So stop talking about it for a second, and just feel that. Feel that place that you felt when you diverted from the rabbit hole that your family was in and stayed in around religion and you went looking somewhere else.

Brett: I felt very much like I was letting my mom down, and the pain that she would feel about my afterlife was my fault. I resisted that following, but also still bought into it. There are also other layers. Throughout my religious upbringing, there were times that we changed churches, and reasons that might happen was because we or my mom or I, however it was, would diverge from the prevailing opinion in the church or the group that we were in. That led to a lot of disconnection from friends and people that were really important to me. I am seeing now ways that I have recreated that my whole life, too.

Joe: As well as the obsession. I would assume that at some point you were obsessed with the religion or God or whatever that relationship was, as a kid.

Brett: Yeah, I went deep, and it was the basis to my youth group band. I went on revivals.

Joe: Here this is repeating, and if you feel that feeling in your body of that moment of recognition that you were causing your mom pain or at least that's the way it was told to you, that you were causing your mom for not believing in this and that whole feeling, where in your body does that sit?

Brett: There is an anxious tension in my chest and in my arms.

Joe: How similar is that feeling to the feeling like you have to do the thing that you are in the rabbit hole with? You have to focus on cryptocurrency over your relationships. You have to focus on air sports over. How similar are those two physical feelings?

Brett: It is the same physical feeling. It feels like the thing that blocks me from sitting down and doing my taxes or registering a car, things that are very mundane. I don't feel. My body doesn't feel in a mundane state to be doing them. It feels like I have to get up and go jump off a cliff.

Joe: Right, so in a weird way what happens is this natural passion shows up, and then as you start to relive the trauma. Maybe it's happening. Maybe it's not, of disappointing people around you. That creates an anxiety in you that then gets transferred probably both to them, which makes you want to not be around them and to your work, which makes you get more hyper-focused and stressed. Is that what we are concluding? What am I missing there, if anything?

Brett: That sounds very right. One way that I have continued to recreate that is by finding communities and go deep with those communities as I travel the world or whatever and sort of becoming a part of the community, but then also being like I am kind of not going to be there. I am only sort of partially in this community, but I've got all these other communities. I´ve got this other thing I am doing. I might just get up and go to the Arctic for a month. I won't be around, so don't depend on me too much.

Joe: Right. How much of that commitment or lack thereof is based on the fact that you also learnt as a young kid that you can't trust community? To some degree, there is a way of saying we can't trust you because you left the church, but the other way of thinking about it as a kid is community is stagnant. It can't meet me as I grow into my truth.

Brett: Right, or that community, there is another mirror to that where I see communities as tending towards homogenous group think and then I want to get away from that or at least keep distanced from it. That relates to something else that is a pattern to me. I really love to be a contrarian and feel very right when I think everyone else is wrong about something.

Joe: Right, all of this early childhood patterning as if there is a right and a wrong. So today, how does this whole thing cause you pain? From this perspective, from seeing it this way, how does it all cause you pain?

Brett: One way it causes pain is that this anxious feeling in my body is. I guess avoiding that has made it difficult for me to sit down and do basic things.

Joe: What's the anxiety avoiding? If you couldn't feel anxiety and you couldn't stay busy, what would you be left to feel over this situation where you are changing and the loved ones around you aren't meeting you?

Brett: I would have to feel the heartbreak of that I change and I am not stable.  I might be a different person than I am today, and other people might be different than they are tomorrow and that I might feel abandonment or that they might feel abandonment.

Joe: I don't remember if we recorded the very, very beginning of this when we said hey, let's press recording, but you said engineered heartbreak.

Brett: Yeah.

Joe: What would be making you engineer heartbreak to avoid heartbreak?

Brett: I think there is a way that. This might be related to something that I do, where I put myself through difficult things to prove I can handle it. It almost seems like there is something subconscious in me that does that with this engineering of heartbreak.

Joe: I know in other podcasts this is the coolest thing. We have spoken about the thing that I am about to speak about I think at least three or four times in the podcast along and countless others, but when we are in it, when we are reliving that trauma, it is so hard to see it. But that whole idea of we are creating the thing by the way in which we are avoiding it, it is the way in which we are avoiding the emotional experience that we are recreating it in our life. It is the same thing we have talked about of the cell wants to get homeostasis. The body continues to produce these early childhood patterns until we can finally feel the thing that we couldn't feel as a kid.

Brett: A layer on that is one of the things that I feel is shame around not feeling the thing, especially now that I intellectually know all of this so well. My body just feels not fully up-to-date on this.

Joe: You are engineering heartbreak that you then avoid, is what you are saying, and then you get to feel heartbreak/shame for avoiding the thing that you created to feel that it is not easy to feel.

Brett: It is almost like it's the shame I am creating. It is almost like I've learned to be very okay with the heartbreak itself, but I am not okay with the shame.

Joe: Yeah, it is beautiful. What's wrong with shame? Literally, how does shame feel in your system? What is the discomfort of shame in your system, physically?

Brett: It feels like resisted fear, which feels like cowardice. That is something that I have judged myself for my whole life.

Joe: All of that was in your head, in your body, when you feel shame, what's uncomfortable?

Brett: There is a numbing.

Joe: Numb is comfortable. They even wrote a song about it, Comfortably Numb.

Brett: Let me get into that and see what I am actually numbing out. There is a feeling of curling up in a ball. There is a slight sickness to my stomach, a tightness in my chest, and an anticipation of rejection or pain and a hopelessness.

Joe: Just feel all that for a second, like allow all of that to be felt just as it is. You don't have to manufacture anything. You don't have to try. Just as it is, feel it.

Brett: How did you know that I started manufacturing it?

Joe: I refuse to answer intellectual questions right now. Notice what's happening. Notice what's happening to the discomfort of shame.

Brett: There is a slight shaking in my stomach, in the midsection.

Joe: How much more comfortable or uncomfortable is it becoming if you stay with the shame?

Brett: It is becoming a little bit more comfortable, but then my intellect comes in and is like it is just because you are not feeling it enough anymore. You are avoiding it.

Joe: What happens if feeling it is all that is required? What if it is just like you are a little kid that felt shame? Like when your mom told you you were responsible for her emotions and that her punishment for you going to hell was somehow your responsibility. What did that kid just need at that point?

Brett: I don't know if it is fair to say that she told me that. I am just a kid assuming it.

Joe: She was worried for your soul. That was happening.

Brett: Which is love.

Joe: Exactly, but the point is what did you need then? What would have made it different for you, better for you in that moment?

Brett: I don't know. It is hard to say that what I needed was for my mom to happily accept that she believed that I was going to hell.

Joe: How about just loving attention? How would that have been as a kid?

Brett: Yeah, my diverging beliefs being given loving attention or being given loving attention in my beliefs.

Joe: What makes you think that giving loving attention to your shame right now is somehow not enough, but it would have been enough as a kid?

Brett: I mean it feels. This is interesting. It feels like when I try to give my shame loving attention, it somehow misses. The attention misses the shame in some way. The shame manages to wiggle out from under the attention.

Joe: Yeah, chase it around the room. I know that sounds weird. Chase it around the room to give it love. I am going to love you. You cannot get away from me. I am going to love you.

Brett: I can feel it there subtly.

Joe: It is what kids do, by the way. It is totally what kids do. Kids feel shame, and you go to give them love. They just fucking hate it. No, no, no. Like little ones. They will fight you tooth and nail over it.

Brett: It is like hiding underneath the couch and peeking out under the skirt.

Joe: Exactly.

Brett: When I try to do this on my own, I immediately think I am just not doing it good enough or I am not finding it or that I must not be finding the root of whatever my feeling is.

Joe: That's the pattern. That's not the truth of it. That's the pattern. Literally, were you finding God? Did you get to the root of it? Did you feel like you weren't quite getting the whole thing? That's the relationship that you were taught to truth, to love, to feeling life. You weren't quite getting it.

Brett: Yeah, and that's what I feel with everything. I was just not quite getting it.

Joe: You are also not quite getting it as compared to other people. I think there is some reality to all of us not quite getting it. It would be impossible, but in your mind I've noticed that it is not like you are not quite getting it, like everybody is not quite getting it. No, you are special and you are not quite getting it. Do you know what I am saying?

Brett: This feeling I am special and I am not quite getting it.

Joe: I am special in my not getting it.

Brett: Special in my not getting. Also, I was in gifted in classes in school but also I just didn't do the homework. I just somehow managed to barely be scraping by in those classes, and everybody else, even people who seemingly didn't get the material as much as I felt I got the material, had their shit together in a way that just had them be doing the thing, doing the school, not getting talked to about being behind.

Joe: You are like recreating this pattern of not quite fitting into the social fabric. Now you are in a social fabric full of a whole bunch of people who are really smart and not motivated to follow all the rules and have done a whole bunch of creative things and are living, and you still feel like you are not a part. Probably all of them do as well.

Brett: Yeah.

Joe: You are not alone even in that.


Okay. So this is the time in our podcast when we do something just a little bit different. We take a break from the intellect and incorporate our bodies and emotions into the conversation. We do this because it helps us integrate the information better, and usually it is a bunch of fun. We crowdsource these exercises from our community, so if you have a good one, please share it with us. When doing the exercise, take it as a treat and as an experiment. Just to the activity and see what happens. As always, enjoy yourself.


Tara: Hi, everybody. My name is Tara Howley. I am going to lead you guys through some nervous system exercises. Go ahead and close your eyes and take a big inhale. You are going to put all of your attention in the souls of your feet. You might notice the texture of the floor under your feet. You might notice the temperature. You might feel your pulse. Just see what you notice with all of your attention in the souls of your feet.

That’s it. Go ahead and open your eyes, and just notice how you feel now compared to when you started this.


Joe: Welcome back. I hope you enjoyed the exercise as much as we did when we found it. Before we go back into the episode, I wanted to thank all of you who have been sharing the podcast and signing up for the VIEW course. The interest and support you guys have shown has been both overwhelming and humbling. It´s a pleasure to know that we have something to offer that has been so helpful to you.

All right. Now let's get back into the conversation.

Brett: A question that routinely comes up for me is how does it anybody continue to put themselves in a position of working with or relying on me.

Joe: That's the pattern. There's no truth to that. However you have done it, you have shown up in your business. You have shown up here. You have shown up in your relationships, many of them for years and years. You can say that, but the paper, the data is different than what you are voice is telling you right now.

Brett: That brings me back to that piece where I can intellectually know a thing, intellectually know what I even on some level want, and my body doesn't line up with it. There is a feeling of despair in that.

Joe: Prove your body is not lining up. That's the story. Prove it. Your body is stressed when you are ignoring the commitments that feed you, that nourish you. Your body is aware of the shame that's happening. How is your body not participating fully here?

Brett: So there is a way that I feel that being true. The more I get off track, the more avoidant I am of the things that I care about, the more stressed I feel, so there is a way that my body is guiding me back towards my truth in that way. And yet, there´s something in my body that if that's not happening, there must be some opposing force. What is that? How is that my body being in alignment if there is an opposing force pulling me away from what the rest of my system seems to think is alignment.

Joe: I think I am a bit confused in the fact that it is opposing forces that keep everything in balance. So what am I missing?

Brett: Maybe there is one of the opposing forces that is getting too much weight in the decision.

Joe: Prove it. There is this idea that you are stuck on. Maybe it's your mind that is the opposing force. There is this idea that you are stuck on that somehow or another that your body isn't with you.

Brett: Maybe it is the inverse. Maybe it is my mind that is not with me.

Joe: In the moment of freeze, what's off line, your body or your mind?

Brett: It's hard to say which, but it does seem like it is true that one of them was offline. It feels like my mind is doing the thing that I describe myself doing to others to my body. My mind is flitting around in a million directions, going down rabbit holes, and my body is like hey, we have something important to do.

Joe: Yeah, that's beautiful. That's always the way it works, right? The relationship with the self is reflected in the relationship with the people around us. Right now I can sense a desire for resolution.

Brett: Yeah, there's a strong desire for resolution, which I am recognizing is wanting myself to change.

Joe: What's the resolution going to get you?

Brett: Alignment, joy, accomplishment, connection.

Joe: How is that not here right now?

Brett: Stories in my head prevent me from seeing it.

Joe: I feel connected to you. I'm enjoying the conversation.

Brett: I feel like I showed up to do a podcast, and then we just like dove into a session.

Joe: That's what happened.

Brett: Because I don't have my shit together enough to do the podcast.

Joe: Right, but there is a tremendous amount of connection and joy, and alignment in it. So what's the problem?

Brett: Because my head said there was a thing I was supposed to do.

Joe: Would it have been better than this?

Brett: I don't know. We could have had a really vague podcast discussion that I felt like disconnected from and judged myself for not being vulnerable in. It could have been that.

Joe: Right, exactly. So since the resolution isn't going to give you anything that you already have, what is it that you want the resolution for?

Brett: To feel like it is done, like complete, like I did it. I got there. It's all better now.

Joe: What if that never comes? What if there is no complete, no done, no heaven?

Brett: I mean it would be boring if everything was done.

Joe: I mean it even back in the day. The thing that you dismissed is that there was a finish line when you dismissed the religion.

Brett: And there was also a way that in the religion I was holding on to this idea of a finish line.

Joe: That's right.

Brett: When I was a kid, my logical brain was like well, I am a Christian. Ideally, I could just kill myself right now and go straight to heaven. Why not do that?

Joe: What if this is just the rest of the letting go of the story? The finish line part of the story is now gone.

Brett: The finish line part of the story has continued to be there all along. At any moment, I'll arrive.

Joe: What happens to your sense of self if you deeply accept that there is no finish line? You are never done.

Brett: I just feel a lot more relaxed in my body now. There's a way that doing work and taking on challenges doesn't feel like the last final sprint before the finish, so I feel less pressure.

Joe: What's left to do about this perceived pattern of abandoning your mom through cryptocurrency and air sports since you are never going to completely resolve it? It's never going to be completely done, what's left to do.

Brett: It feels okay to follow rabbit holes now. I feel less shame now around rabbit holing.

Joe: I don't know any human who doesn't rabbit hole. Sometimes it is the post office for 33 years. I don't know any human who doesn't do it. We are creatures of habit.

Brett: That's an interesting one. I consider myself. There's a way I shame myself for not being a creature of habit. I see people having structured habits in their lives that support them and create consistency. I see myself as not having that.

Joe: But you do.

Brett: Despite us having regular podcast recordings.

Joe: Even outside that, you regularly go down rabbit holes. You regularly get stressed out. It regularly serves you by getting you money, knowledge and wisdom.

Brett: I regularly create heartbreak by crashing and burning in ways that somehow I survive.

Joe: Exactly. Regularly recreating the circumstances for you to allow deep heartbreak and shame that's never been allowed before.

Brett: I feel clear. I am not having like squirmy, shame feelings popping up in my body, and I am not having running thoughts about this. There is a way that feels disorientingly serene.

Joe: That makes sense.

Brett: There is nothing to do, but that is in contrast to the story of there is always a million things that I am not doing right.

Joe: Where it gets even weirder is that the nothing to do does so much stuff.

Brett: There is a way right now that I have your voice in my head from another time of being afraid something will go away is the first way to make it go away, so I am like don't be afraid this will go away.

Joe: That is being afraid it will go away.

Brett: See, I am getting it all wrong.

Joe: Me, too. It is the fear that the serenity could go away. That's a possibility. All we did was see what was. We didn't do anything. You didn't become a different person. All you had to do was just see what was actually happening, and the serenity came in.

Brett: But isn't that in some way the state I was experiencing before going away?

Joe: Yeah, the difference is there is not a doing. There is an undoing. It was like I did something and I need to keep it. It is very different than I undid something and saw the truth.

Brett: I see.

Joe: What do you have to do to keep it?

Brett: There is a way that my way of trying to self explore this previously was a stack of doing things on top of doing things to get myself to feel whatever it was that was unfelt. That was just a stack of layers pushing back and forth on each other.

Joe: Yeah, they were all just in the way of the truth of what you are.

Brett: I don't have to do that.

Joe: Right. Exactly.

Brett: What's going to happen next? Am I going to do my fucking taxes, or what?

Joe: I have no idea. I don't know. I don't know what I am going to do next either, so it works out just fine. So just notice that all of the movement, so as you feel the serenity, this is just myself uncovered rather than something that I have created that I need to keep. Notice how much stuff. It is just automatic ways in which we cover ourself, and they are just showing up. That's the really cool part about this process is that you can just start to see, especially in these moments of clarity, you can start to see all the ways that you want to cover yourself up. You just found one of them, how do I keep it? That's one of the ways you try to cover yourself up, and then you just found the second one, which is like will I be able to get shit done. I have to get shit done. Think about mice or rats or beavers or dogs. They never have to tell themselves or be worried about getting shit done, but they are always doing shit. If they are not sleeping, they are doing something.

Brett: But none of them are building companies or promoting podcasts.

Joe: Yeah, but you aren't licking your balls. Dogs are.

Brett: We are not on video.

Joe: Yes, they are not doing as complicated things. They are not capable. We think we would stop doing the things that are interesting to us. That's silly.

Brett: I guess the most complicated things I have done have been things that have fallen together as I have been doing whatever.

Joe: Yeah, exactly.

Brett: Even the planning that brings me to places that I couldn't just wander to.

Joe: Just notice every one of these things, and they will come with a little visceral sensation with them. I am making the noise of the sensation. It's [breathes in]. They will each come with that, and that's the habitual way to cover ourselves up.

Brett: There's like a tensioning that comes with it.

Joe: Exactly, which is awesome. They are going to come, and then you get to see them and see through them. What if you just sat for the next three weeks because I know you create a life where you can do this. For the next three weeks, just watch them come and see through them.

Brett: Oh, but Joe, I create a life where technically I could do this but what I have actually been doing is thinking about all the things I am not doing.

Joe: Just to say one other piece to it, which I think is important. There is a nervous system piece to this, which is if you are operating under stress for an extended period of time, your body will go into a physical depression and not be motivated. That's natural. If a deer gets chased by a tiger for 20 days straight, it's going to definitely need to sit down and do nothing for a bit. There is a physical component to it.

Brett: Yeah, that's interesting. There is this like sitting down and doing nothing but being stressed about it requires that release, and then the depression. It's like see, I am doing nothing. That's why I am depressed. I've got to do something, and then it loops back on itself.

Joe: That's exactly how it works. You see this with like big time CEOs and when they sell their company, it is like bathrobe for two years. You see it all the time. It is like it would be a bathrobe for three to six months if they weren't telling themselves they should be up and doing something all the time, but because they tell themselves they have to be up and doing something all the time, it takes three times as long to recover, four times as long to recover. Okay, enjoy the serenity.

Brett: I am just going to take today to do that.

Joe: What a total pleasure.

Brett: Thank you, Joe.

Joe: Thanks for a great time.

Thanks for listening to the Life in VIEW podcast. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please subscribe. We would love your feedback, so feel free to send us questions and comments. To reach us, join our newsletter, learn more about VIEW or to take a course, visit

Father Figures and Authority (Coaching Session)

Today's episode involves a coaching session between Joe and a woman in our community who is experiencing tension around authority figures. The conversation starts out with workplace challenges and very quickly ties into her relationship with her father, ultimately touching on how she can give and receive love. While listening to this conversation, we can observe Joe’s state of mind and how he holds the VIEW principles. These are the kinds of conversations that Joe has with participants and that participants learn to have with each other in the Art of Accomplishment course.


"Joe, I either want to fight myself or I just want to roll over and stay safe. I either want to fight against myself or I don't want to listen."

Today we are going to share a coaching session between Joe and a woman in our community who is experiencing tension around authority figures. The conversation starts off with workplace challenges and very quickly ties in to her relationship with her father, ultimately touching on how she can give and receive love. We've removed her name and other identifying information for the sake of confidentiality.

While listening to this conversation, pay some attention to Joe's state of mind and how he holds the VIEW principles. These are the kinds of conversations that Joe has with participants, and that participants learn to have with each other in the Art of Accomplishment course. Let's get started.

Joe: What do you want to talk about today?

Woman: I notice I freeze around people who remind me of my father, especially in work situations. This is what's happening repeatedly.

Joe: How do you see them as your father?

Woman: They don't see me.

Joe: Aha, how do you know they don't see you?

Woman: Because it's very clear they don't know how I tick.

Joe: What's the evidence?

Woman: I'm doing something. I'm motivated. Then they start to speak to what they think I am motivated by. They will be like good job. This is exactly what we need out of a team member who wants to step into leadership, whatever bullshit they are going to tell me. I'm like this isn't why I am doing this. I am doing it because I love it. I am doing it because I love it, not doing it for money.

Joe: What if they did see you and you can't recognize it? I am not saying that that's true by any stretch, but if it were true, what would it mean?

Woman: It would mean I am judging the shit out of them. I think that's true. I think it would mean. I do think that's true. It would mean.

Joe: What makes you judge your father? What made you judge your father?

Woman: I thought he was wrapped up in himself so much that he couldn't see anyone else.

Joe: How is that not true about you? It's a scary question for me to ask, but how is that not true about you, that you are wrapped up?

Woman: So much that I can't see others.

Joe: Or so much that you care whether people see you.

Woman: Interesting. I want to be seen it seems like again by certain people. It's because I am still wanting that one kind of attention I've decided I didn't get.

Joe: How is that not being wrapped up in yourself?

Woman: I think it is. It's wrapped up in my wanting.

Joe: What makes you judge people for what you are doing?

Woman: When they do it, obviously, Joe, it is way worse than when I do it. I'm a better person than that.

Joe: Okay, so you are sitting in the meeting, and the person is like oh, this is exactly what I want from a leader. What are you not seeing about them in that moment?

Woman: I feel like they are affirming what they want.

Joe: Right, so that's the judgment, similar to you being focused on what you want, to be seen in this particular way, but what are you not seeing about them? How are you not allowing them in? How are you not seeing them as a full person?

Woman: If they are telling me that that's what they want, I notice there's a part of me that closes to them first. I am like oh, you are not coming to meet me, so I am like tired of bringing myself to try to meet you.

Joe: One thing I just noticed, and I want to come back to it, which is you didn't answer the question, what is it that you are not seeing about them. You are telling me what it is that's hard to see about them, but I am going to detour for just a second because my curiosity, my wonder just went in this other direction. How is your relationship with your wants affecting your judgment about what they want?

Woman: I believe that asking for exactly what I want isn't very effective, which I think part of what's getting in the way. I'm not just explicitly asking for what I want.

Joe: Right. It sounds like they are not doing that either in that moment.

Woman: That's right. That's true.

Joe: If them not asking directly for what they want makes you feel unseen, what does it say about you not asking directly for what you want, if anything?

Woman: The logic is they are seen. I don't feel it. I don't want to feel it. I don't want to feel that.

Joe: How does it feel to just say it? I am not seeing anybody clearly. Right now, look at me. Do you think you are seeing me clearly? How clearly do you think you are seeing me? 100%?

Woman: Ah, definitely not 100%. Nothing is 100%. Okay, so but high. I don't know.

Joe: At what point do I get to feel upset at you for not feeling seen? What's the percentage?

Woman: If I see you anywhere in the 50% or below, or in that range, that's not good enough.

Joe: That's when I get to be upset at you.

Woman: Yes, definitely.

Joe: Whose criteria do we get to use? How do we get the data to know what percentage it is at? So as an example, how true is it that you don't want to be in a leadership position, generally?

Woman: How true is it that I don't want to be in a leadership position, generally? Historically, I have balked.

Joe: Now.

Woman: Right now? No, I definitely want to be in charge.

Joe: So they are seeing you.

Woman: I really do want to be in charge. No, that's true. They are seeing me, but if they are telling me, then it feels like they are putting power back over of like pat on the head, good job little leader. I am like fuck you.

Joe: So what they are not seeing is you already are a leader.

Woman: What they are not seeing is I don't need you to affirm me.

Joe: I just want it.

Woman: I just want it. Don't believe that your little encouragements. That's like the opposite. It's creating a power dynamic that I reject.

Joe: How much of this is about not being seen and how much of this is about your own empowerment?

Woman: Yes.

Joe: How empowering is it to care about being seen or about how they treat you?

Woman: It's not very empowering, but I really want it.

Joe: What I am noticing is there is a want component that's not fully lived. There's the being seen component that's not really lived, and there's the empowerment component that's not being really fully lived.

Woman: Yeah, want, seen, empowerment. Yeah.

Joe: How do you undermine the people who fall into that category, fall into the dad category? If in any way, how do you undermine them?

Woman: Definitely there is a way. How, let's see. I could think of a few things. One is I just immediately project that to try to control me or manage me even if they are really doing something that's really normal.

Joe: Just that thing, one of the ways you undermine them is project they are trying to control you, and what's your action?

Woman: I have trouble being productive. The more space they give me, the more I can be productive.

Joe: I got it. What you do is you stop performing for them. That's the way you undermine, got it. When that dynamic happens, how are you undermining your own empowerment? I am going to ask you three questions about each of these things, empowerment, being seen and whatever the third one was that I forgot.

Woman: Want is the other one. I am undermining my empowerment. Just the fact that I am responding to that, it feels like I am still surrendering my power on some level. I am still surrendering my power on some level.

Joe: To rebel against somebody or to do what they tell you, both of them put them in the control seat. One of the things is that by undermining them you have empowered them.

Woman: Right, and I have decided I am like helpless to do other. Like it is hard to figure out how to get out of that. Like eh, I am not productive. I want to be productive. It's your fault. Whatever.

Joe: Then, the second one was want. How is that you are abandoning your wants in that scenario where you are undermining them by rebelling them against them by not being productive because they have patted you on the head?

Woman: I feel like I am getting out of touch with the part of me that just simply wants to work on this project, wants to build this vision, wants to contribute to this company. Like the independent of the authority figure.

Joe: Okay, and then the third one was, empowerment, want and not being seen, so how is that you are preventing yourself from being seen in this scenario?

Woman: In this scenario, I am reinforcing a story. I don't know if that's right.

Joe: Let me ask a question. You have somebody working for you, and they've stopped being productive. What are your choices in interacting with them to get them to be productive or to accept that they won't be productive? What are your choices?

Woman: Sit down and talk with them and ask what's happening for them.

Joe: Right, so that puts you in the control position. What's the next one?

Woman: I can give them space, just say hey, everyone goes through ebbs and flows. Let's just see what happens over time. I could ask somebody else to check in with them, go around the side door. I could take the project away from them. I could adjust the project. Okay, now I need this scope and this time. I could micromanage.

Joe: How about give them lots of compliments in the hopes that they will respond to positive reinforcement?

Woman: Oh, right, I guess that's a thing. It's not a thing I do. It's not even a thing I think about. I am like that doesn't work.

Joe: Out of all of these options, how many of them would make you feel seen?

Woman: I do think sitting down and asking me what's up really vulnerably without their being any punishment energy at all. That would feel great.

Joe: How many people do you know who respond that way? If you were to guess, there's 100 managers. How many would respond in that way?

Woman: None of them, not many of them, maybe one of them.

Joe: We'll call it one percent of them will. In that case, you have proven that 99% of them can't see you, or what am I missing by saying that?

Woman: I don't feel like I need that all the time. What it really is I am specifically triggered if it is like, again, a man who reminds me of my dad because if it is a woman, no issues. I am like you can do any of those things, and I don't care.

Joe: There are these three things that all happen, wanting, disempowerment, and not being seen, and overall how do you see if you are creating this in your world, if any way? You might not see that at all. You might actually see it is all their fault. If there is any way you see your creation of it, how?

Woman: One thing I have definitely hit on is I am not letting myself be seen.

Joe: How would it be to stop right now and let yourself be seen?

Woman: Really scary.

Joe: How deep are you going right now in letting yourself be seen?

Woman: 20%, there's like a submission quality that's not the thing.

Joe: Beautiful. How is it to be seen without submitting, without surrendering in your complete empowerment?

Woman: It's so hard because then I just want to fight. It's the two, either I am like one of those.

Joe: How would it be for you to say to me? This is a scary one for me to ask. How would it be to say to me, Joe, I want to surrender to you or I want to fight you? I don't want to be with you. I just want to surrender you or fight you.

Woman: Yeah, I want to fight you or I want to roll over. I want to roll over and not get hurt.

Joe: How much distance did that just create between us?

Woman: How much distance? Something about sharing it felt kind of good, instead of like having an invisible fight happening. It felt like more clarity, like honesty, transparency.

Joe: How does it feel to say the opposite of it?

Woman: The opposite, I want to fight with myself. No.

Joe: Let's try that. That made me very curious.

Woman: Joe, I either want to fight myself or I just want to roll over and stay safe. I either want to fight against myself or I don't want to listen.

Joe: What's the opposite of fighting? It feels like you are still fighting a little bit.

Woman: I am. I am totally still fighting. It's just like softer. Maybe if I fight a little quieter, maybe if I do it like this because then I will also collapse the other side. I am like wait, stand back up, what is this?

Joe: How would it be to try it again and feel the feeling of fight or rolling over and then letting your body feel the exact opposite of those emotions?

Woman: I am like bringing myself back in. There's some like mild dissociation.

Joe: I notice you stop looking at me when you are trying to feel like.

Woman: Yep. I feel like I lose connection with myself when I look at you. I don't lose connection with myself. It's like a thinner path or something. It feels more difficult.

Joe: What would this feeling be if you weren't resisting it, if you weren't disassociating, if you weren't scared?

Woman: It feels really alive. It also feels like almost so alive that it also feels scary.


Brett: Listening to this interaction, we can see how she feels like there's a dichotomy between rolling over and fighting. This is a false dichotomy that a lot of people hold. It's an indicator that you are in a power over state of mind, seeing the dynamic as a win or lose, zero sum game that someone is going to win and someone else is not. So many of our conversations are structured in this way, and it can be really hard to move from power over into empowerment. Let's listen further to see what happens.

Joe: So what I've heard you describe so far is something that feels alive and full of energy and undefended.

Woman: I repeatedly have things like maybe it's not safe, the things out here.

Joe: How am I feeling about you right now in your estimation?

Woman: You feel very calm and grounded. I don't know. You feel about me though.

Joe: About you.

Woman: You feel a kind of awe. It's really nice. It feels good.

Joe: How much of me is fighting you and how much of me is rolling over for you?

Woman: You are not rolling over.

Joe: If you had to guess, how much am I fighting you?

Woman: Very low, probably a tiny bit is like. Very, very low.

Joe: What's the fight, that little itty bit? What am I fighting you to do? What's the purpose?

Woman: It's a very light feeling of bringing my attention. There's just a very light touch to it.

Joe: There's some part of me trying to control you a little bit.

Woman: A little bit, it's like this guiding tension. Just a light.

Joe: There's a little bit. Impartiality is, I think, hard to get rid of, but there is a little bit that's like I want to know what the feeling is when it is unresisted.

Woman: Yep, sure.

Joe: If that's true, how would it be possible for someone to not some way want to control you? Even that is a subtle way in which I want to control you.

Woman: I don't think there's a way to not do that. I don't think I take strong issue with everyone trying to control me.

Joe: When needed, it sounds like it is a good reason to feel like you are not being seen.

Woman: It's certainly surefire excuse of me, not being seen. You are trying to control me. Yes, of course.

Joe: I can't deny I am still really curious. What is this experience of non fight, of non rolling over? What's your body's answer to that question?

Woman: Balance came up. I don't like the word equality. I think there's some bullshit in that.

Joe: We are definitely not fucking equal. How could we be? Our hand size isn't the same.

Woman: But like balance, there's still a meeting that feels balanced where it is not you or me or you or me.

Joe: How can we be balanced with each other without love?

Woman: How can we be balanced with each other without love? In my head, I wasn't tracking love so far.

Joe: Increase or decrease the amount of love you feel towards me and see how it affects balance, if at all.

Woman: That was fun. It's so automatic. I feel like just patterns in my face being like distance.

Joe: Distance, what's that distance? How does the distance relate to fight or rolling over?

Woman: It feels a little bit like it is still fight, in essence. It's like I am going to keep you at a distance. I will be over here, and you are going to be over there. I'm just going to manage this because if you get too close, it's fight. That's what I have decided.

Joe: And how does that relate to balance?

Woman: I feel off balance back. Physically, somatically, my body is defending back inside. I am off balance back. Ooh, I still feel a falling forward. That's the motion I am kind of holding. Love feels a lot like falling forward.

Joe: What would happen if you took that experience to this authority figure, boss, whoever it is that pats you on the head and says I see you want to be a good leader, that empowered, upright, non falling forward love? Non submissive love.

Woman: What would it be like?

Joe: I'll be the authority figure. You see what happens. Speak from that place and see what happens.

Woman: I have been treating you like a person in my head instead of the person who is here. Wow. I haven't given you a chance to get to know me.

Joe: Thank you for that. That really lets me know you are ready for leadership soon.

Woman: [laughs hysterically] Ouch.

Joe: How much of a relief, how much joy is there in that pain?

Woman: I go to be like but you are going to misinterpret that. You are going to make it uh.

Joe: How am I going to misinterpret it?

Woman: You are going to think [redacted] didn't hear me. Let me try to repeat myself. Or you are going to think she's not taking me seriously right now.

Joe: Oh, if I am the position of the authority figure, if you go ouch, then I am going to attack in some way. I didn't mean that as an attack. I didn't mean to hurt you. Stay in that place, upright and defended love. What happens from that place?

Woman: And it did hurt. And it is absolutely fine that you don't see the way it hurt. It's okay. Oh yeah. It's okay.

Brett: It was beautiful to see her come out of the session in her stance of empowerment. The stance of empowerment is one where you are open hearted but you are boundaried. It is one where you state your truth with courage and you are not worried about the consequences or another person's reaction. You are vulnerable because that's what's rewarding to you and not because of what someone else is going to do. To be empowered is to be in your truth while being open and loving.

Let's send some gratitude to our guest for her vulnerability in sharing this session publicly. It landed very deeply in me, and I learned a lot about myself and how I relate to power dynamics.

I am going to close with a few integration questions. Sit in wonder with these questions for a moment and just see what comes up.

How is your relationship with authority influenced by your relationship with your parents?

What stands in the way of you loving somebody that you judge?

What are things that you judge about others that you also judge about yourself?

Thanks for listening.


Ready to Jump In?

Join the newsletter to get updates from Joe and:

a free 90 minute intro workshop hosted by AoA facilitators
monthly workshops to practice with a group
early access to new courses and opportunities

    No spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Privacy Policy
    Cookie Policy
    Built with Wordpress
    Hosted by Pressable