Blog

Love Letters to Humans (no. 93) — More You Is Better

When we hide or diminish ourselves to avoid being alone, we’re already alone—we’re just doing it around people we haven’t really given a choice to be with us. More you is better.

It’s imprecise, this one. We’re probably not really alone, but it can feel like it when we’re busy making everyone’s choices for them instead of relating with them. #AskMeHowIKnow

It’s a power move, a swift act of protection, the decision to abandon ourselves before anyone else can make the decision to abandon us… a brilliant learned strategy for avoiding rejection and heartbreak that we come by honestly through no fault of our own.

We decide it in advance using stale evidence from the past: I’m too much. I’m not enough. I’m not good. I don’t belong. I’m different and that’s scary. What if they find out what I’m really like inside? What if *I* find out what I’m really like inside?

If hiding ourselves is brilliant for avoiding heartbreak, it’s because it’s so consistently effective for avoiding opportunities for joyful connection. Sometimes that’s where we are and what we need. AND… if what we want is more connection, relational joy, and intimacy, we can choose something different and decide to share more of who we really are and what we really have inside.

The realest, truest, most authentic you is necessary to this world and worthy of being witnessed. More you is better.

Love Letters to Humans (no. 92) — Responsibility is Not Control

We are responsible for what we contribute to our relationships. ~ & ~ We cannot control someone else’s experience of their relationship with us.

There is no such thing as the single, objective entity we have come to call “the relationship.” Friendship, partnership, marriage, enemies, community, that ill-defined situation between you and Corona bae… anything we call “a relationship” really contains multiple relationships.

Every relationship you are in is YOURS. You are in it, and it is in you. It is yours to experience, yours to navigate, yours to make decisions about, and ultimately your business.

Every relationship someone else is in is THEIRS. They are in it, and it is in them. It is theirs to experience, theirs to navigate, theirs to make decisions about, and ultimately their business.

Does that mean we don’t impact each other? Of course not. We are social mammals, wired for connection, collaboration, and love. Other people affect us. We affect other people. Every decision we make has consequences, and we share consequences within the relational ecosystems we inhabit together.

AND… trying to manage or control someone else’s perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and experiences—specifically their perceptions , thoughts, feelings, and experiences of us within THEIR relationship with us—takes us squarely out of our lane and into the full-time, Sisyphean task of minding other people’s business.

The only perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and experiences of you that are within your control and scope of responsibility are yours… and they matter. You will be the source of your self-esteem when you make the decision to be.

.

.

Mind your business and do what you came to do.

Love Letters to Humans (no. 91) — on Boundaries

Paradoxically, tending to your boundaries is a profoundly effective practice for cultivating and sustaining loving & joyful connection.

Tending to our boundaries doesn’t mean building impenetrable emotional walls, pretending we don’t need care, love, support, and affection, or shutting people out when they make mistakes. Isolating ourselves and punishing others doesn’t serve us or our relationships.

It might seem obvious, but it bears stating explicitly: Your boundaries are for YOU.

Boundaries aren’t just personal—they are also inherently relational. They exist to protect you in the context of relationship, to make room for you to experience safety and joy in your relationships, and hold the possibility for you to show up in a way that honors your integrity… in your relationships.

Your boundaries exist to serve your highest good and the highest good of your relationships as you understand them. And because they serve your highest good as you understand it, your boundaries are your responsibility.

.

.

Where are you holding resentment in your most important relationships?

How closely do your resentments correspond with the places you abdicate responsibility for your own boundaries?

.

.

Relationship is. Right relationship nourishes.

Love Letters to Humans (no. 90) — on the Paradox of Minding Your Business

Paradoxically, minding your business is a profoundly effective practice for cultivating relational joy.

.

“Mind your business” is the most useful, important, and enduring piece of advice I’ve ever received from Lena West. I love shorthand reminders like this. This one serves me in my actual business, and—when I practice—it improves every other relationship in my life.

.

Minding your business doesn’t mean ignoring other people’s feeling, needs, and desires—it means releasing the contemptuous idea that you are single-handedly responsible for creating their experience of you. That’s a LOT of power that you don’t actually have.

Other people are participants—not passengers—in their relationships with you. Like you, they have their own business to mind. They are responsible for their words and actions, their feelings and judgments, their beliefs and desires, their commitments and decisions… and their ideas about you. You don’t get to control that stuff—not if you want joyful connection.

It seems obvious but it bears stating explicitly: Control is generally a garbage strategy for building trust, intimacy, and relational joy.

Minding your business is taking responsibility for your words and actions, your feelings and judgments, you beliefs and desires, your commitments and decisions… and YOUR ideas about you. It frees you to make decisions from a place of sovereignty, love, and regard for yourself and the other, rather than trying to manage someone else’s business.

Your joy is very much your business, and your business is worth minding.

Love Letters to Humans (no. 88) — on Power and Consequences

When you feel uncomfortable, you have power. When you feel afraid, you have power. When you feel hurt, you have power. When you feel powerless, you. still. have. power.

Your power isn’t a feeling… it’s a fact.

We all have a relationship with power. Every decision we make (or pretend we aren’t making) is an exercise in power.

Also, every decision has consequences.

That’s the rub, isn’t it? Using our power (i.e. making decisions) has consequences… and we like to pretend we can avoid them, as though feigning powerlessness will magically banish consequences. Spoiler: it won’t.

We tell ourselves we *can’t* speak the truth because we might be labeled as “difficult,” or someone’s feelings might get hurt, or we might cause conflict or tension, or we might lose income or privilege. Instead of navigating the consequences of truth-telling, we navigate the consequences of holding back unspoken truths—compromised integrity, misunderstanding, frustration, erosion of trust, and so on.

We tell ourselves we *can’t* pursue what we want because other people will think and say negative things about us, or we might hurt someone else, or we don’t want the hassle or hustle of maintaining it once we get it… or any number of consequences we would rather avoid responsibility for navigating. Instead, we navigate the consequences of our prolonged dissatisfaction.

Of course we have a strong preference for avoiding unwanted consequences. Of course we do. This preference doesn’t negate consequences… and it doesn’t negate our power.

.

Where are you confusing avoiding consequences with powerlessness?

.

.

.

Relationship is. Right relationship nourishes.

Love Letters to Humans (no. 87) — We Center What We Love

Today’s little reminder: We center what we love. (This may or may not be pleasing news.)

Where we place our attention is an agreement we make. We agree to nurture people, relationships, ideas and whole systems with our habitual attention. We make these agreements actively and diliberately or passively and absent-mindedly.

Either way, we make decisions about who and what we will attend. That which we attend consistently—our work, our judgments, our families, our friendships, our fears, our flaws, the future, the past, the news, our nemesis, our money, our medicine, our grievances, our goals, our gratitude, our ideas, our identities, our resources, our resentments, “them” and whatever they’re up to, or whoever else’s business we regularly mind—becomes our focus, our center, a relationship that defines us.

What is a relationship that defines us if not an expression and manifestation of love? Is it not a sideways attempt at connection even when we’re railing against someone, even we are angry, even when we have named our precious attention “hate”?


To what and whom are you giving your attention?

Whom (or what) have you agreed to love by centering them?

Are you satisfied with the agreements you’ve made?

.

.

Relationship is. Right relationship nourishes.

Love Letters to Humans (no. 86) — “You First”

Yes, inept communication can hurt… and it isn’t necessarily abuse. May we have the capacity to extend grace to the clumsy and the earnest (including ourselves). May we neither seek violence nor manufacture it. May we regard our own power.

.

This isn’t a suggestion to bypass harm or abuse when it is happening. Abuse and violence are real, and I am not looking for anyone to pretend otherwise.

I am saying that many of us have not learned to communicate with skill, grace, or generosity, and we fumble around hurting one another unintentionally until we learn better. We all come by it honestly—we learn what we live.

I am saying that withdrawal, punishment, and retaliation are poor teachers if we want others to learn skill, grace, and generosity in communication. We are responsible for our participation in the co-creation of our relationships.

We often expect other people to respond with maturity and grace to our worst behaviors—snark, defensiveness, impatience, sarcasm, clunky accusations, interrogation, condescension, sulking, and so on. When we are met with the same behaviors, we find out precisely how challenging our standards of maturity and grace can be.

If we truly desire more understanding, mutual respect, greater regard for difference, it is within our power to initiate and foster these things in our most important conversations and relationships. As my friend & teacher Andréa Ranae says, “you first.”

.

From whom do you expect and demand more skill, maturity, grace, or emotional generosity than you are willing or able to extend?

Where are you committed to depending on someone else’s emotional maturity and skill to determine your peace?


Relationship is. Right relationship nourishes.

Love Letters to Humans (no. 85) — Room for You

Today’s little reminder: In right relationship, there is room for you.

“Room for you” means room to, among other things, question, feel, learn, grieve, make decisions, experience, reflect, change and grow, thrive, fail, create, rest, think, and engage with the world we inhabit together.

I do not mean someone else must make room for us to dump every single thought and feeling we have onto them so that they can hold our intellectual and emotional barf-bags and we can feel better having unburdened ourselves (#GetAJournal). I do not mean narcissistic demands and ungoverned self-expression (like cruelty, lashing out, tantrums, or self-righteousness in the name of “speaking our truth” and “standing in our power”) become okay… every decision we make in relationship has consequences.

I mean that we are not required to give and be everything to everyone. We can’t… not without disregarding ourselves. We are allowed—required, even—to honor the limits of our very human capacities. Relationship that depletes us to the point of self-destruction is abusive and unsustainable.

Your ability to be that stellar friend, partner, parent, care-giver, leader, and whatever-you-are-that-makes-the-world-go-‘round that you want to be depends on you being resourced and present. There has to be room for you.


I’m thinking about everyone who’s giving so much right now. May you have rest, joy, and nourishment. May your needs be met. May you take up room.

Love Letters to Humans (no. 84) — on Feeling the Feelings

No one else can feel your big feelings for you—this is the work and surrender only you can do. Catapulting blame is a distraction. Demanding to know why is a distraction. Attempts at control are a distraction. Mind your business… feel your feelings.

To be clear, I am not saying that our feelings are the *only* things that require our attention. There is plenty of work to be done in these times, much of it practical and necessary. There are people to be cared for, preparations to be made, preventions to be enacted—it isn’t as though we have nothing else to do. We can do what must be done. And.

Demanding the punishment of those we believe are to blame will not solve what is happening right now. Trying to extract answers from people whose reasons will never satisfy us will not change what is happening right now. Trying to coerce and manipulate other people into doing what we want them to do will never build the world we want or the future we imagine.

These are strategies for re-creating what we know, a world that is familiar. These are strategies for upholding the paradigm of supremacy and dominance where someone else is wrong, less than human, morally inferior, spiritually indebted to us, and must be subject to our will for us to be okay… for life to be okay.

Of course we crave certainty and familiarity. Of course we do. We know these paradigms of contempt—they raised us. We came by it so honestly… and we can choose to create something different if we want it.

We don’t have to destroy anyone else right now. We can attend to what truly requires our attention.

And we can feel the feelings we’ve been avoiding.

Love Letters to Humans (no. 83) — on Making Enemies

Where did you learn that differences and conflict necessarily produce enemies? What if that isn’t even remotely true?

No one can choose for you what they will be to you. Other people cannot make themselves our friends, our beloveds, or our enemies—only we can do that.

What if we create our enemies out of differences and disagreement simply because we want an enemy to fight?

Okay, but… who wants enemies? That just sounds weird, but stay with me for a minute, if you will.

I do. (I did.) I have wanted enemies. Recently, even. Sometimes I make temporary enemies out of the people I love most, like Ben, my teachers, my family. Sometimes it’s whoever is in charge. Sometimes it’s everything… the way the world is right now.

I’m starting to see how easy it is to avoid my own responsibility when I have someone or something else to fight with, blame, or hold in contempt. I don’t have to look at the real problem, because *they* are the problem. If I can control, change, or destroy them, my problem is solved.

But that’s never quite how it works, is it?

I want something. I want something to be different. Rather than taking responsibility for my own decisions and the consequences of making the thing different, I blame you. I try to get you to make things different. Now I want *you* to be different so I can be okay. And if you refuse to be different, you are the reason I am not okay. You are responsible for how I feel, not me.

Creating enemies out of conflict or disagreement is codependency, a way to ensure that responsibility (and power) rest absolutely with someone outside ourselves. It is a fierce commitment to opposition over liberation, and a commitment to dismissing possibility and missing our shared humanity.

Remind me of this often. I’m still learning it and it is so uncomfortable.

.

Relationship is. Right relationship nourishes.