Starting from Rock Bottom


Hello again!  I hope you’ve been practicing your Love Zone and Spider Sense skills, for three reasons: first, because it’s wonderful to learn that you can do real magic; second, because “leading up” requires such magic, and third, because if you’re in any relatively sane systems, using your magic will create rapid, exciting changes in your life.  When this happens, please write to me about it ( so that I can ooh, aah, and write you up in future “Team Profiles.”

Assuming that you’re getting in touch with your magic, let’s talk about exactly how you can begin leading from the rock-bottom of a sane system.  Remember, we defined a sane system this way:  “Situation X, and its leaders aren’t perfect, but on the whole they’re just, fair, responsive, and well-intentioned.”

Caveat Dux (Leader Beware)

Ironically, a healthy, sane system, with kind and intelligent people above you in the power structure, is the place where you’re at the greatest risk of failing to develop your essential Team leadership skills.  Your most probable “failure mode” is falling into the role of the faithful, childlike follower, waiting for your superior to give you assignments, fulfilling those assignments, and getting rewarded with money, privileges, approval, or whatever.  

dux following their dux (leader)

Ducks following their dux.


If the powerful people in Situation X are just and kind, you may go on and on playing Follow the Leader, expecting others to come up with all the right instructions for your life.  And nobody has those instructions except you.  No parent, mentor, or guru, no matter how inspired or motivational, knows what your superpowers are, or how you’re supposed to save the world.  Because you have a natural urge to fulfill your destiny, this means that your leader will eventually disappoint you.

I can’t count the number of clients who’ve told me, “I expect you to give me a clear map of my future and make it easy for me to follow the map.”  I’ve also had dozens of people say, “I want to do what you do, so clearly, I’m meant to work with you.”

There are all kinds of problems with this logic.  Aside from the fact that I have no idea what your destiny holds, I have high anxiety, generalized bewilderment, and the attention span of a gnat.  if you really want to “do what I do,” that doesn’t mean tucking in behind me or anyone else; it means making up your life as you go along, relying completely on your intuition and internal compasses, always terrified of the unknown but constantly sailing into it, having no other captain to chart the course or steer the ship. 

So remember this:  Your destiny is not to be with the “powerful” people you admire.  Your destiny is to be like them.  


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From Impossible to I’m Possible


(It Doesn’t Take Much for a Team Member to Turn “Powerlessness” Into Leading From Below) 

If you’ve been reading along with these posts, you know that according to my reckoning, all members of The Team are basically entrepreneurs—literally, people who bring (prendre) something into (entre) being.  This means that none of us has the luxury of fitting into some time-tested social or economic structure, then letting that structure carry us along like fallen leaves in a stream.  Because each person on the Team has a new and unique function to fulfill in the effort to save the world, we have to lead our lives, rather than following any existing pattern.  The only stream that carries Teammates is what Eckhardt Tolle calls “the Unmanifested,” or the non-physical energy that is always creating new patterns.

I’ve also said that the energy of leadership can be exercised in three different ways: up, across, and down.  In other words, we must not only lead people who fall below us in the social power structure, but also people who have similar power, wealth, and status, and finally, people who have social or economic power over us.  (Of course, from the Team’s point of view—the perspective of the mystic—all these power differentials are just illusions.  Moreover, since the only way for a Teammate to lead is to serve others, we’re really talking about offering a particularly pure form of service to anyone we meet, no matter how powerless or powerful they may appear.) 

In this post, I’ll be talking about what sounds like the most paradoxical form of leadership: the kind where—at least from a material perspective—you’re at the bottom of an authority structure, “leading up.”  It’s the one sort of leadership everyone can master, because we all start life as almost completely powerless larva pets.  Some of us—such as abused children who go on to abusive marriages, jobs, or prisons—have never seen ourselves as rising above the bottom rung of any power structure.  That can feel like an awful curse.  Time to turn it into a stroke of fabulous luck.

If you’re on the Team, you see, places of apparent disempowerment are wonderful training grounds.  They’re the very places where you can best learn to lead.  Historically, over and over, Team members have shown this ability to become leaders in precisely the sorts of situations where anyone else would have claimed leadership was “impossible.”  Saints, social activists, artists, and other mystics use difficult situations to create new ways of being for themselves, their associates, and sometimes the whole human race.  They became embodiments of infinite possibility.  “Impossible” became “I’m possible.” 

Okay, I went a long way for that sappy pun.  Please forgive me; I don’t get out much. 

Now, back to our Team leadership lesson.

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I’ll keep blogging away about the methods the Team needs to save the world, but I also want to pepper this blog with my favorite profiles of, and stories about, some of our Teammates. For thousands of years, humans spent their evenings sitting around a fire, sharing experiences, ideas, and dreams (that’s why TV is such a hypnotically compelling attention-getter; because it’s a flickering light that tells stories). and So I want to tell a few campfire stories by the light of your computer.

I know dozens of Teammates now, from all over the world—some rich and famous, some obscure but amazing, all currently experiencing a sense of quickening.But the first person I want to mention is the one who convinced me the Team was real:My handy-dandy portable blond Zen master and Number One Son, Adam Beck.

I wrote a whole memoir about my experiences gestating and giving birth to Adam; he was prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome when I was a PhD candidate at Harvard, and the entire event was life-changing for me.I had so many mystical experiences that it blew my rationalist world-view to smithereens.But there are things I didn’t put in that book, because I didn’t understand them.Now, as Team Time approaches, pieces are falling into place in the particularly spine-tingling way that things tend to happen around Adam.

Before Adam’s birth, I began believing in miracles, and this led me to hope I could magically “fix” him so that he’d be born “normal” (of course, he’s a totally normal person with Down syndrome, but I couldn’t wrap my head around that for a while).When the miracle I wanted didn’t happen, I wondered what Adam’s reason for being actually was.I never believed that he was “here to teach others,” as many people told me.I sensed he had his own life mission, but what could that be?I used to ask him, as I put him through the newborn “early intervention” exercises we did for hours every day.No answers came during the day.

But at night, when I was dreaming, Adam answered.


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There’s No Such Thing as Too Many Chiefs (At Least Not on the Team)

Well, hello!You’re back!That must mean you’re interested in my theories about the save-the-world Team.Whether you’re right on my wavelength, or merely fascinated by what you see as the deterioration of my sanity, I’m so pleased you’re here.

You may recall that in my last post, I hypothesized there are certain people who are born with the natural tendencies of shamans, and who feel somewhat lost and misplaced in modern society.Furthermore, these shaman-types (whom I call the Team) are feeling more and more compelled to facilitate a transformation in the way humans think and live, since without some such transformation, humans will continue to destroy the planet’s ecosystems until we’re all crispy little bits of toast.The way for Team members to be happy, I claimed, is to live in whatever way feels most joyful, since shaman-types are finely tuned to be miserable when we’re not fulfilling our life missions.

In this post I want to elaborate on what I think Team members will end up doing as we live more and more joyfully.It’s all very well to say “Follow your bliss, child!”But how does that translate into pragmatic action?How do we pay the mortgage, especially in these officially Troubled Times?How should we actually make our way in the world, let alone change it, with whatever tiny personal influence we possess?

I’ve spent my whole career helping individuals answer these questions.What I’ve found is that for Team members to live optimally, we must do three things, to wit:


  1. Internally (that is, in terms of our energy, thinking, and world view) we must be perpetually creative, receptive, and communicative, so that new ways of living can be expressed through our ordinary, everyday existence.
  2. Socially (in interpersonal interactions and any life situation that involves social structures of any kind) we must be leaders.Part of the obligation inherent in charting new territory is being willing—and able—to lead.
  3. Economically, Team members typically end up being paid to do steps 1 and 2.  Shamans are always – brace yourselves for this one – entrepreneurs.  The word “entrepreneur” comes from the French entre and prendre, and means “one who takes [something] into [somewhere].”  Leading your own life by thinking and behaving in total harmony with your inner nature is your full-time job.  People will pay you to do it, though how you deliver it will be unique.  However this happens, I doubt you can fit it in around a 40-hour week doing something you loathe.

My self-help work to this point has been about individual life strategies:“Finding Your Own North Star,” “Steering By Starlight,” and so on.In this and future blog posts, I’ll be covering points 2 and 3: how to lead your life, rather than following exiting patterns in any situation; and how to make a living taking (prendre) a new way of thinking into (entre) the world.So today’s topic, Team mates, is Leadership 101.

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There’s No “I” in “TEAM”…But There’s ME

Yo!  Martha’s First Blog Post!

Hi, it’s me, Martha.  I recently realized that all I really want to do was sit down and yack with my coaches and clients.  I tried doing this on the phone, and lost six pounds because I forgot to leave time to eat.  So I’ve decided a blog is the way to do my yacking.  I’ll be posting every couple of weeks.  I wish we were hanging out drinking margaritas and roasting marshmallows somewhere in a wilderness paradise, but for now, this will work for a “campfire.”

So about a year ago, I decided I was about to die.Not in a hypochondriacal or suicidal sort of way—I was healthy as a horse and happy as a clam—but because I’d finished every project and realized every dream I could imagine.I was standing on the summit of my personal Everest, looking out at the amazing view, filled with gratitude, with nothing left to climb.Since no new dreams or goals sounded interesting to me, I figured I was all finished, and was about to experience the adventure of death.

So I made sure my will was in order, doubled my life insurance, and headed off to Africa, to run a coach training course.Along the way, I had to stop at my favorite place, Londolozi, a game reserve in northern South Africa that feels like heaven. I wondered, with no little excitement, if I was destined to be killed by lions.I mean, what a way to go, right?  Tell me where I’m wrong!

But to my astonishment, no lions ate me.Instead, I got operating instructions for the rest of my life.


If you’re reading this, it’s because you have some sort of interest in, or at least curiosity about, my work: writing, coaching, speaking.And if you have such interest or curiosity, it’s probably because you’re on the Team.

I’ve been aware of the Team since I was a small child, though I still don’t quite understand it.I just felt oddly different from most other people, as I think most children do, except that occasionally I’d see someone and feel a small burst of recognition:“Oh!That person’s on my Team!”I had no idea why I thought this, or why some people were so clearly my Team, while others clearly weren’t.There was no age, gender, race, ethnic, or socioeconomic bias to the Team: I “recognized” people who seemed wildly different from one another.

What all these people shared was a faraway perspective, a sense of standing outside ordinary society and puzzling over its many problems.For a while I called them “Watchers,” though I had a sense they were meant to do more than just watch.At some point, I always felt, the Team had a job to do.And we were all in training for that job.

I pushed these thoughts away during my skeptical adolescent years, but they came back like a tsunami after my son Adam was born, when I was 25. I still had no idea what the Team was meant to do, but I was getting a vague picture.It had something to do with facilitating a major change in the way human beings think.I was in academia, so I figured I’d add a tiny pebble to the edifice of social science, and that would be it.No one would even notice, which was okay by me.

Over the past 20 years, the number of Teammates I’ve spotted has grown exponentially.For the past two years, Team members have been coming out of the woodwork.Many of them have simply walked up and asked me, “We’re on the same Team, aren’t we?”I’m not even surprised by this any more.I just say, “Yup.”

“Do you know what we’re doing?” they’ll say.

“Not exactly,” I tell them.“Something about a transformation of consciousness.”

“Of course,” they say, as though this is very old news.“But do you know exactly how?”

“No idea,” I tell them, then add something I heard from Teammate Betsy Rapoport: “but whatever it is, we move at dawn.”


The Task of the Team

This conversation happens to me more in South Africa than anywhere else (you South Africans are big-time Team, the whole kit and kaboodle of you).So I should’ve expected that instead of dying on that Africa trip, I’d awaken to a whole new slate of dreams and goals.

That trip, I met a whole slew of Team members, whose lives are about “rebuilding Eden.”I learned that Londolozi, the wildest place I’ve ever been, was reclaimed from dessicated farmland by John and David Varty, who inherited the land when they were teenagers.Since then, they’ve repaired massive swathes of land all over Africa.According to one of the geologists who’s helped them do this, it would cost $38 billion dollars to repair every ecosystem on earth.This includes having healthy humans who can live on the land by preserving it, rather than ruining it.When I read Dave Varty’s book, The Full Circle, I finally realized why I can’t die just yet.I have to help the Team accomplish one little task.

We have to save the world.

Oh. That.

Understand that I am a natural pragmatist and a trained sociologist.Long ago, I assessed the way the human population was expanding and affecting ecosystems, and decided that I’d tell my kids not to have kids, because that way there would be fewer humans to suffer when everything goes to hell and only the cockroaches survive.To preserve a world where humans can thrive, we not only have to stop ruining the planet, we have to repair much of the damage we’ve already done.Until a year ago, I didn’t think this was possible.Now I believe it may be.But it’s going to take the whole Team, pulling together.

So, are you in?


Your Role On the Team

There are probably millions of Teams on earth right now.I only “recognize” people who happen to be in mine, but this isn’t an exclusionary categorization, just a functional one.I’m still not at all sure how we should coordinate our actions when dawn breaks.But I can tell you some of the common characteristics of my Team, and these characteristics will give us some clues about our respective and collective jobs.See if you identify with any of these criteria:

  • You’ve always felt separate and odd, misunderstood by others while having the ability to make them feel understood.
  • You’re haunted by a feeling of having something incredibly important to do, but you don’t know what it is.Over the past couple of years, this feelings has become almost overwhelmingly intense.
  • You hate small talk, but find that large talk is not encouraged.
  • You love, love, love animals; in fact, your life feels incomplete unless you’re interacting with animals.  This is your posse:
  • Your childhood and adolescence were difficult.Like really, really difficult—abuse, addiction, years-of-total-despair difficult.
  • You’ve had a significant “life accident” such as losing several family members to death, being physically disabled, or having a child with a disability.
  • You’ve had a long-term, disabling and/or painful illness that was mysteriously unresponsive to medical treatment.
  • You occasionally feel compelled to learn or create certain things, without really knowing why.
  • You’ve begun meeting people who are like you, in a strange way you can’t articulate, and you feeling powerfully drawn to these people despite lots of surface differences.

If this is ringing your chimes, you’re the kind of person who, in a traditional culture, would probably have been identified as a shaman, a wizard, a druid, a medicine person.  You may also have been burned at the stake.  Oh, well, nothing is perfect.

So it’s wonderful to live in a time when the burning-at-the-stake thing has been scaled down.On the other hand, it’s a bummer to be a natural-born shaman in a culture that doesn’t believe in shamans.You may not know exactly what to do with your life.Maybe you’re posing as a therapist, a hospice worker, a human-resources coordinator, or some other identity that is our society’s pale version of tribe mystic.You probably haven’t been trained as a shaman—I haven’t been, and I’d never claim the label.But I was born with the bug.And if you were, too, we probably have similar roles in the saving of the world.


Getting Ready to Save the World

The traditional life’s work of a tribe shaman has two components:

1.Learn to align oneself with the Powers That Be.

2.Use connection with the Powers That Be to teach and to heal.

Of these two tasks, the former is far and away the most important.In my “life coaching” system, which is really a form of tribal teaching, we say we have to “live it to give it.”

The good news is that if you live it—if you behave according to your own ethics and constantly work to be more authentic—you can’t help giving it.People will hunt you down to ask for your advice, and they’ll feel healed by being near you.  The word “wizard” comes from the same root as “wisdom,” and wisdom is always in short supply.  It’s a seller’s market…with one catch.

The bad news is that trying to give it without living it (not walking your talk) can make you diabolical.No one does more damage than a born shaman who’s aligned with the wrong Force. Both “living it” without “giving it” and “giving it” without “living it” are impossible.  You must stay in balance to be a Good Wizard.

It’s worth noting here that the term “charisma” is a Greek word that refers to the quality of being connected to the spiritual realm.A “charismatic leader” can create either great good or great evil, be a Martin Luther King or a Hitler.Even if you were born to serve only yourself, your kids, and the dog, being born a shaman means you’ll have unusual influence, so it behooves you to live rightly.

Once you set out to live as authentically as possible, you’ll automatically download the operating instructions for your particular role in saving the world.You may feel drawn to active application of geology and ecology, like Dave Varty.You may become a politician.You may adopt a stray cat.Everyone on the Team has a different, unique path.Shamans are alike in some ways.In other ways, we’re wildly different.The way for you to teach and heal is your way only.So how do you know you’re on track?In a shamanic kinda way.


How To Stay On Track

Happily, shamans have a built-in safety mechanism to help keep them (us) on track: if we don’t live authentically and serve others, we become physically sick and psychologically tortured.To stay healthy and happy, you must follow your singular path, even when every bit of social pressure and cultural custom dictate otherwise.You have to realize that “shaman sense” and “common sense” may look very divergent to the people around you—but for you, the two are always aligned.

When my life was filled with activities and intentions that weren’t “on course” for me, I was clinically depressed and/or crippled by massive chronic pain, eventually diagnosed as fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis, and a few other incurable illnesses.As long as I live my shaman-path, however, I’m very happy and my “incurable” illnesses are completely dormant—no symptoms at all.


So the way to follow your own personal operating instructions is to do whatever makes you happiest.That may sound selfish, but shamans are only happy when helping others.When we’re helping, we’re happy, and when we’re happy, we’re helping.Saving a swathe of Africa, becoming a doctor, writing a book—these are all just byproducts of living in the joy zone.

Right now—ever since that trip to Africa—my operating instructions have been telling me to do what I’m doing right now: find the Team, and tell them who they are.If you’re not on my Team, this whole blog post is ridiculous to you.I don’t mind.I’ve been accused of heresy and insanity plenty of times.But maybe you’re thinking, “I’m on the Team!I’m on the Team!”If so, I’ll be writing to you and about you in future blogs.For now, all I’ll say is, this is Martha Beck, and we move at dawn, and what’s more, my dears, it is almost sunrise.




How are you feeling, really?

by Pamela Slim

If I were to attach a giant magic probe to foreheads across the U.S. right now, what emotion do you think would be off the charts?

Fear, anyone?

Market meltdowns, government bailouts, war, natural disasters and election uncertainty make this point in history a pretty unsettling one, at least for those of us in the United States.

However, I would guess that under the general feeling of panic, there are some other emotions which are causing people to feel paralyzed.

As my friend Colleen Wainwright said recently, “What is really harshing your mellow?”

Chapter Eight of Martha’s book Finding Your Own North Star offers an extremely simple but highly effective way to decipher your emotional state, asking the question: “Are you more sad, mad, glad or scared?

This works like magic with my clients that feel foggy, conflicted and totally stuck.  When I ask “how do you feel?” they often do not have an answer.  But with the question, “are you more sad, mad, glad or scared,” most will immediately choose one of the words, like “mad” or “scared.”

Once the primary emotion is identified, we dig down and find out what is causing it. With the cause identified, we define what course of action is necessary to get them to feel better.  Once they see a path forward, the original emotion almost always dissipates, or at least does not feel so overwhelming.

So if you are feeling stuck and uncomfortable in some part of your life but don’t know what to do about it, try this 4-part exercise from Finding Your Own North Star:

Magic Question #1:  What are you feeling?


1.  Right now, are you feeling more sad, mad, glad or scared? Even if your feelings are very mild, try putting them in one of these categories.

2.  Now write down at least six different words, besides those listed above, that describe your feelings at this moment.


3.  Think of three works of art (songs, movies, images, poems, plays, books, etc.) that resonate with your current emotional state.


4.  What do these works have in common?

5.  Complete the following sentences. Don’t think about grammar or spelling; just shoot for emotional accuracy.  No one has to see this but you.

a.  I wish …
b.  I hope …
c.  I’m angry that …
d. I’m afraid that …
e. I’m sad about …
f.  I’m happy about …
g.  If it weren’t embarrassing, I’d feel …
h.  Even though it’s stupid, I feel …

Magic Question #2:  Why am I feeling this way?

Those of you who have young children will immediately recognize this exercise.  It is attributed to the Japanese car manufacturer Toyota who used it in their rigorous quality program to drive production efficiency, but we all know that they just stole it from a bright toddler (Mom, do I have to eat this ohitashi? Why?  Why?  Why? Why?  Why?).


1.  What was the strongest emotion that emerged as you did the exercises from Magic Question #1?

2.  Why do you feel this way?

3.  Why?

4.  Why?

5.  Why?

6.  Why?

When you get to the real reason you are not feeling good, you may find the answer is not one you want to hear.  Martha says:

“One way you can always tell when people have lost touch with their emotions, or are unwilling to admit to them, is that when you ask them about their motivations, they’ll say, “It’s complicated.”

The Question:  Why didn’t you call me last night?
The Answer:  “Um…it’s complicated.”
The Truth:  “I didn’t want to.”

The Question:  “You seem so distant; what’s wrong?
The Answer:  “Well, it’s complicated.”
The Truth:  “I don’t like you.”

The Question:  “Don’t you want to date me anymore?”
The Answer:  “It’s just complicated.”
The Truth:  “No.”

Usually, people who use the “complicated” line actually believe it themselves.  They think of emotion as a tangled web of contradictory forces.  This is because their emotional compasses are pointing in directions that offend their Everybodies or their social selves.  The only way out of a “complicated” emotional situation is to figure out which feelings are coming directly from your core and which are imposed on you by social fears and obligations.”

This exercise can be very helpful for going from big, global problems like “the state of the economy” or “greedy corporations” to something specific that is within your control to change.  Here is a common scenario which you may relate to:

What are you feeling? “I am angry at my company for laying people off.”

Why? “Because it should care more about employee loyalty.”

Why? “Because I work my heart out and expect to get something in return.”

Why? (I usually amplify this question by asking “Have they given you any recent evidence they  will reward your loyalty with lifetime employment?”) “Because I am ignoring the fact that companies have not rewarded employee loyalty with lifetime employment for a long time, if ever.”

Why? “Because then I have to take responsibility for my own career, and that is scary.”

Why?  Because I have limited networks outside my job and don’t know what else I could do to make money.”

Bingo.  In this scenario, there are two prevalent emotions:  anger and fear.  In order to get to a pragmatic course of action like working on alternate career paths, you may need to release some anger.  Releasing anger can also lead to grief:  longing for the way companies used to be, when you did not have to be so fearful of layoffs and where long-term employment with one company was encouraged and desired.  Once these emotions are expressed, you can get to work on the one thing in your control:  your own career path.

Magic Question #3:  What will it take to make me happy?

Part of what keeps people paralyzed is that they believe that the only way they will feel better is by expecting others to change.  Using my recent example, you can see examples of useless and useful yearnings:

Useless Yearning:  “I want corporations to stop laying people off.”
Useful Yearning:  “I want to develop a career path that will not be dependent on the rise or fall of any one corporation.”

Useless Yearning:  “I want Wall Street Traders to stop being so greedy.”
Useful Yearning:  “I want to have my money in stable, smart investment vehicles.”

Useless Yearning:  “I want things to go back to the way they were, before all this doom and gloom.”
Useful Yearning:  “I want to learn how to feel grounded and positive, regardless of what chaos is going on around me.”


1.  Think about a situation that makes you feel angry, sad or scared.  What is it about this situation that you wish were different?

2.  Think about a situation that makes you happy.  Which elements of this situation do you want to keep?

3.  What do you want most right now?

4. What do you really want most right now?

Try to get to a description of something you want that is within your span of control, even if it involves the help of others to make it happen.

Magic Question #4:  “What’s the Most Effective Way to Get What I Want?”


1.  Think of a very inexpensive item you’d like to own, such as a Popsicle or a shiny new pencil with your name stamped on it in gold-colored letters.  Make sure it’s something you don’t own a the moment. Note what the object is in this space:

1.  Now think of six ways you can get the item you just named without leaving your house.  You can use any communications devices or other technologies at your disposal, and you definitely don’t have to go it alone.  (Magic question No. 4 is all about working with others to reach your objectives.)  Even if the methods you come up with aren’t things you’re really comfortable doing (like borrowing or calling third parties to ask for help), list them.  You may build up some courage, and even if you don’t, you’ll find that refusing to censor your inventiveness will lead to more solutions.


3.  Read over the solutions you have listed, and see if any of them are a) possible, b) legal, and c) morally acceptable to you.  If an action plan fulfills all these criteria, go ahead and use it.

4.  Double-check to make sure your social self isn’t ruling out workable solutions.  Here are some signs that your social self is acting as your master, rather than your servant:

a.  When you think about putting the solution into action, you find yourself laughing in embarrassment.

b. You react to the proposed solution with thoughts like “I could never do that” or “I can’t just…” or “But I have to…” These statements tend to reflect social inhibitions, not actual limitations.

c.  You immediately think of some person who’d be upset if you took this course of action, or you stop yourself with the question “What would people think?”

5.  If you have had any of the reactions above, consider whether you might want to break the rules of the social game.  Be sure you stay within the confines of your own moral system; violating your integrity will lead you directly away from your own North Star.

Once you complete this trial exercise, guess what:  time to try it with something you really want from Magic Question #3.

And if you are still feeling a bit scared at this point, I am hoping that it is no longer the “we are doomed, the sky is falling” variety, but rather specific, healthy anxiety that comes up when you start working on getting what you want.

The subtle tricks to building an effective vision board

by Pamela Slim

If you have been around the field of personal development in the past 20 years, you have surely heard of vision boards as a great way to graphically illustrate your hopes and dreams, as well as increase the likelihood that you will get what you wish for.

Martha was recently on Oprah talking with Louise Hay and Cheryl Richardson about the Law of Attraction.  Helping to demystify  “the secret behind The Secret,” they discussed practical ways to attract more of what you want in your life and less of what you don’t.

Martha and Cheryl brought their own vision boards as examples.   Martha’s included elements of friends and spirituality, as well as a picture of a dog that now hounds her to go for a walk.  Cheryl’s included a picture of a man representing her future groom (who later appeared, and married her).  The show also featured two young sisters, Dominique and Brittany, who demonstrated that you are never too young to put the Law of Attraction to work.

If I would have known about vision boards at age 12, I would look like Cheryl Tiegs, be married to Tony Orlando, and have the Bay City Rollers play at my wedding.  It takes the expression “Be careful what you wish for; you just may get it!” to a whole new level.

But since I am putting together my first vision board at the age of 41, I tuned into a conversation with Martha and Master Coach Theresa Anderson for some tips on unconventional ways to create an effective vision board.

The basics

The mechanics of creating a vision board couldn’t be easier:  get a piece of poster board, glue, magazines  and scissors and cut and paste to your heart’s content.  If you are really motivated, go to the scrap booking section of your local art store and get some fancy stickers, colored paper or other creative materials.

Beyond the basics – how to make the experience much more powerful

What these basic steps fail to take into account is the impact of our social selves on the visioning process.  If we let our brains run the show, we can end up with a board with more bling than Mr. T, but devoid of real purpose and emotion.  This is unlikely to attract much of anything except dust on a shelf.  Instead, consider these tips to super-charge your vision board:

  • Create the “anti-vision board,” either literally by creating a board with images that make your stomach turn, or just by thinking about all the things that you don’t want in your life.  The metaphor Martha used when describing this is the feeling of jumping in a deep diving pool, then pushing off the bottom to shoot up and see how high you can go.   When you know what you don’t want, it can help clarify what you do.  It is related to Chapter Two of Finding Your Own North Star which I wrote about in a prior post, Was Nancy Reagan right?  How just saying NO can change your life.
  • If you just grab the magazines lying around your house,  you may miss images that represent a future you haven’t yet imagined.  Instead, go to a bookstore that has a really great magazine selection and play the Hot-Warm-Cold game:
    • Get as calm as you can by relaxing, breathing deeply and imaging an extremely positive experience in your life (a “+10 for those familiar with the scale).
    • Stand in front of the magazine rack and squint your eyes so you can’t read the words but you can see the outlines of the images.
    • Grab any magazines that jump out at you, regardless if they make sense to your rational mind (Bug Collectors Today, Maxim, Off-Road Vehicles and Martha Stewart Living may be odd companions, but don’t question it!)
    • Go sit somewhere comfortable and leaf through the images.  Weed out those magazines that truly don’t resonate with your body.
  • Feel, don’t think your way through the exercise.
    Our rational minds imagine our futures in neat, organized steps.  So it is very tempting to search for images by thinking things like: “What is the logical next step in my career?’ or “What kind of man would make me happy?” or “What tropical destination is most affordable for a family of five?” Martha says: “To act without thinking is almost unthinkable in our culture!  Powerful action can occur without any thought.”
  • Observe your process of making the vision board; it can clue you into the way you operate in life. So if you take too much time looking for the “ideal images,” you may find that perfectionism gets in your way.  If you never make time to complete the exercise, you may find that you spend so much time taking care of everyone else’s needs that you neglect your own.

While doing these things, watch out for these 5 DON’Ts:

  • Don’t be seduced by the marketing.
    If you flip through one magazine for too long, you will get pulled into the advertising trance of the images and words.  Tune into how the images are making you feel:  anxious, jealous, joyful, trapped?  Pick out the images that make your body feel great – like the way favorite food tastes when you are hungry.
  • Don’t stick with what’s possible.
    If you have a big pile of images that don’t seem to go together, don’t worry about it!  You may not know what a fly fisherman in Montana and a yurt in Mongolia have to do with each other.  Don’t try to make a rational connection, just accept that both images mean something to your Stargazer self.
  • Don’t look at the images in a conventional way.
    Turn the magazines upside down and look at the images as designs instead of literal pictures.  Notice how your body reacts.  Many people will lean towards images that feel right, and lean away from those that feel wrong.  Others notice a very “open” feeling in their head or chest towards attractive images and muscle tension when viewing repelling ones. As you gaze at these images, your mind may try to identify their literal form.  Martha says:  “Knowing what that thing is will not help you as much as picking it without thought.”
  • Don’t fall for clichés
    While researching for this post, I thought I would see if there was software available for this traditionally homemade activity.  And I will be honest:  every site I visited made me want to vomit.  Because they contained, along with slick sales letters and cheesy audio greetings, extremely materialistic and cliché images:  Palm trees.  Beaches.  Fast cars.  Dollar signs.  Beautiful women.  In short, every get rich quick symbol possible.  The point is not that you can’t have a picture of a palm tree and a beach on your vision board.  But only include these images if you are magnetically attracted to them.  Don’t put anything on your board that doesn’t feel extremely juicy and appealing.
  • Don’t settle for second best.  If you get a strong feeling that you want to interview with Matt Lauer on The Today Show but can only find a picture of your local consumer affairs reporter, leave the space blank!

Why does a vision board work?
While many claim the power of vision boards are rooted in the Law of Attraction, Martha explains it a bit more simply:

“When you put your attention on something, you experience more of it. Maybe it is created by a magical force of attention. At the very least, you are going to selectively pay attention to these things you like once you selectively start to gear yourself to focus on them more.”

Once the board is created, how to get the most of it:

  • Don’t cling to it.  Put it where you can see it, and think “this is a picture that makes me happy.”
  • Don’t get frustrated that you don’t have it yet.  As much as you can, detach from outcomes.
  • Take a picture of it so you can look at it outside of its physical location.  You could store it on your cellphone and flash on it while in line to pay your light bill.  Or you can save it on your laptop at work and view it while pretending to analyze a sales graph in a meeting.  Per the points above, this is not so you can become obsessed by the images, but rather to have a pleasant glimpse into the future that awaits you.

Other fun, inspirational sites to stimulate your creative thinking and collect images:

  • istockphoto – use keywords to search from a gigantic database of beautiful photo images (this is a paid service since it compensates the photographers who contribute photos, but the quality is exceptional).
  • Our favorite creativity coach Christine Kane wrote a post about her own experience with a vision board, which she followed up with How to Make a Vision Board which got a healthy 97 additional comments from readers!
  • PostSecret is an amazing blog project where people create anonymous postcards with their deepest secrets.  It is another great place to get inspired by hand-created images, and the power of the authentic voice.
  • 2008 Design Trends has some beautiful web design images that can stimulate your design eye.
  • The cool picture of the day site has some really unusual and creative photos.

Finally, if you want to listen to Martha describing the process herself, check out How to Create a Starlight Vision Board.

I hope that you enjoy the process of creating your vision board as much as I did!  Please share your tips or comments on making effective vision boards here.

The trick to nipping late night Oreo nashing

by Pamela Slim

Do you ever fantasize about looking in the mirror and using one of those magic “before and after” wands to shrink your chubby thighs to the size of a long distance runner’s? I know I do.

We are bombarded by weight loss commercials, fat-free food and stick-thin Victoria’s Secret models wherever we go. Yet we persist, at least in the United States, in being one of the chunkiest people on earth.  We eat without abandon, then try to balance our excess with a variety of fad diets.  Low carbs one day, high protein the next, lemon juice and cayenne pepper fasts wreak havoc with our minds and bodies.

Switch your focus from your body to your brain

The real problem is that we have been obsessed with managing our bodies, when in fact, the attention needs to go to our brains.  Martha explains:

“People get fat because their brain’s calibration of the amount they need to eat, and the amount of intake they should store as calories, is altered by neural structure and its interface with the endocrine system.  The starved and frightened brain drives overeating and low metabolism.  The calm and secure brain drives a very different set of biological motivators and consequences. In other words, when your brain is fixed, you eat less and burn off excess as heat, whereas the “famine brain” caused by stress and hunger– including dieting — really does make you consume more and store more as fat.”

How to calm down famine brain

The first step to getting a handle on the state of your brain in relation to food is to examine the thoughts that lead to feelings which lead to actions which lead to results.

Thought or Belief:  I have so much to do!  I am overwhelmed.

Feelings:  Stress.  Fear.  Anxiety.

Action:  Stuff 42 M&Ms in your mouth

Result:  Stubborn metabolism and no chance at fitting in those skinny jeans

Change your thoughts, acknowledge your feelings

Once you identify the thoughts that are causing you stress, you can replace them with more accurate, positive ones.  Byron Katie’s 4 questions from The Work are a great tool:

The Four Questions from “The Work.”

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it is true?
  3. How do you react when you think that thought?
  4. Who would you be without that thought?and

    Turn it around (come up with another thought that is opposite from the original meaning, but still very true for you).

The is a more robust explanation of The Work in a past post:  Are your thoughts keeping you stuck?  Time for some belief busting.

Another powerful tool comes from Brooke Castillo’s book If I am so smart, why can’t I lose weight?

When you fight a feeling of negative emotion you actually make it stronger.

Instead of fighting, which in the case of eating patterns means shoving lots of food in your mouth to dull the pain, try this instead:

Sitting at a kitchen table and feeling a feeling all the way through, instead of eating, is a very courageous act. When the fear starts to come and we recognize it as fear, we need to sit and watch it come. Welcome it. Expect it. Don’t run to the refrigerator and start eating so you can forget about it. Don’t start thinking about how fat you are. Stay with this feeling right now and
acknowledge it. It really can’t hurt you if you let it in to wash over you. If you start to resist it or fight with it or try to deny it, it will cause you additional pain in your life. I like to use the example of someone coming to your house to break in. If you aren’t expecting them and they sneak in the back door and you pretend they aren’t there, they can cause you harm. But, if you are expecting them and you are sitting calmly on the couch with a couple of police officers, it’s not so bad. You let the guy come in and you watch him leave peacefully with the police.

Weight loss coach Lisa Cavallaro was kind enough to record a coaching conversation with me to illustrate this concept.  We used my late-night Oreo cookie-eating sessions as an example. When I finally get my kids and husband tucked away safely in bed, I prepare for a couple of peaceful hours of uninterrupted work. But as soon as I sit down at the computer, I get an overwhelming desire to shove a few cups of sugar in my mouth.  Like a possessed madwoman, I forage in the kitchen for ice cream or chocolate or cookies.

Listen to this 20 minute conversation and see how Lisa’s coaching might help your own version of my late night snacking.

MP3 File

I hope some of these brain-related exercises are more successful at changing your eating habits than hanging your hopes on the next fad diet or exercise program.

I learned that a bit of indulgent “me time” may be the trick to nipping my sweet habit.  I will see if my local spa does late night in-home pedicures.  That would beat a heaping bowl of ice cream any day.

Confused about which of your inner voices to trust?

by Pamela Slim

A core part of Martha’s approach to life coaching is the concept of the Body Compass. Housed deep inside you, your compass is always pointed True North, towards the life that will make you happy, healthy, wealthy and wise.

The body compass speaks through your physical body. So as you think of incredibly positive experiences in your life, you pay attention to how your body feels when you are having this experience. Then, you do the same for incredibly negative experiences. (See complete Body Compass instructions at the end of this post)

Everyone is different, but many people find the following physical reactions when they are pointed in a positive direction:

  • Open, full breathing
  • Relaxed muscles, especially in the shoulder and neck area
  • A feeling of lightness and openness in the head

When pointed in a negative direction, they find the following physical reactions:

  • muscle constriction in general, in the shoulder and neck area in particular
  • tightness or “pit” in stomach
  • headaches, inability to concentrate

With this information, when you are faced with tough decisions, you can use your physical feelings to guide you towards a good answer.

But here is the catch: What do you do when your body compass talks trash? Here is an example:

My client was frustrated on our call. He is a talented musician who has wrestled with the idea of performing full-time professionally vs doing it for kicks on the side of a day job. He was unsure of the right answer, since in the past when he had done lots of live performances, he was plagued by insomnia the night before shows.

After doing the body compass exercise and lots of research and reflection, he came to the conclusion that he did, indeed, want to do music professionally. He scheduled a show, and shared the following experience with me:

“I don’t know about this body compass stuff. I did all this work to get clear on what I wanted to do, and it all pointed to music. I scheduled a gig that I was excited about and all seemed well. Then the night before my performance, the insomnia hit again. When I would start to drift off to sleep, it felt like a chemical would shoot through my body and my eyes would fly open.

If music is something that I am supposed to do, why am I getting such a strong negative signal from my body when I pursue it? Does this mean the body compass is bunk, I am moving in the wrong direction, or my compass is broken?”

I had an inkling that what my client was feeling was a strong case of lizard fears. To check my assumptions, I called Martha. After explaining my client’s situation, she said:

“Now that you mention it, in my books, I have never directly addressed the issue of how anxiety frequently comes up when you are on your path to your North Star. In my own life, I felt intense anxiety, sometimes paralyzing, when making positive life changes like writing a book or becoming a life coach. I am so used to it that I never thought to write about it. But it is very common, and can make it really hard to read your body compass.”

She suggested I look at the physical symptoms of anxiety disorders. This is what I discovered, via the National Institute of Mental Health:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

GAD is diagnosed when a person worries excessively about a variety of everyday problems for at least 6 months. People with GAD can’t seem to get rid of their concerns, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. They can’t relax, startle easily, and have difficulty concentrating. Often they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Physical symptoms that often accompany the anxiety include:

  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • muscle tension
  • muscle aches
  • difficulty swallowing
  • trembling
  • twitching
  • irritability
  • sweating
  • nausea
  • lightheadedness
  • having to go to the bathroom frequently
  • feeling out of breath
  • hot flashes

Do you notice the link with these physical symptoms and the negative body compass symptoms? Not everyone will have full-blown General Anxiety Disorder of course, but many of us experience mild versions, like my client’s insomnia.

Why do we get so anxious when we are headed in the right direction?

Steven Pressfield, in his brilliant book The War of Art describes it this way:

“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign.

Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do.

Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.

Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance.

Have you ever watched Inside the Actors Studio? The host, James Lipton, invariably asks his guests, ‘What factors make you decide to take on a particular role?’ The actor always answers: ‘Because I’m afraid of it.’

Anxiety can hit anyone, regardless of his or her level of talent (Sir Laurence Olivier and Barbara Streisand both developed social anxiety disorder at the height of their careers). It makes sense that enormous talent would feel like an enormous responsibility, which can lead to anxiety.

So how can you distinguish between “anxiety because you are on the right path” and a “negative body compass reading,” which means you are heading away from your North Star? Here are a couple of ways:

1. In The Joy Diet, Martha outlines four questions to ask when considering a course of action that scares you:

  • Is this risk really necessary to achieve my heart’s desires? Do I feel a genuine longing for whatever it is I’m seeking?
  • Does the thought of taking this step create an inner sense of clarity, despite my apprehensions? (When a risk is good for you, you may feel apprehension, but little or no confusion)
  • Do I feel only fear, or is there also a sense of toxicity akin to disgust? (Pay attention: a good risk feels like taking a high dive into a sparkling clean pool; a bad risk feels like taking the same leap, but into polluted swamp water)
  • At the end of my life, which will I regret more: taking this risk and failing, or refusing to take it, and never knowing whether I would have succeeded or failed?

2. Do the arm test

This physical exercise is your built-in lie detector. It requires 2 people.

  1. Person A asks Person B to stick out his arm in front of him
  2. Person A asks Person B to repeat one phrase at a time while trying as hard as he can to keep his arm up
  3. As Person B sticks out his arm and repeats each phrase, Person A pushes down on Person B’s arm
  4. If Person B’s arm remains very strong as he repeats a phrase, most likely this is a true statement for him
  5. If Person B’s arm is weak as he repeats a phrase, most likely this is a false statement for him
  6. It is good to start with items that fall pretty clearly in each direction. Martha’s favorite “false” statement is “I love to vomit.” A good true one (for most people, not all!) is “I love my child.”
  7. Once you get warmed up with some reactions, throw in the tough questions, like in my client’s case, “I want to play my music full time.”

I conned my son Jeffery into demonstrating this for you since the instructions can be confusing if you can’t see it live. Here is our home-grown instructional video:

Martha says she does the arm test with her drug-addicted clients with tremendous results. While their body is screaming “I want heroin!,” their arms are weak uttering the same phrase.

If you think you have any issues with general anxiety, get some professional help. There are great therapies available these days to quell your symptoms without resorting to medication.

If your physical symptoms are more like the butterflies that you get while falling in love, press on! The world is waiting for your gifts.

Do any of you have any “anxiety hitting just when achieving my wildest dreams” stories? Any effective ways you have learned to distinguish between “good” and “bad” body readings? Please share!

Addendum: Body Compass Exercise Instructions

  1. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and think about an exceptionally unhappy event in your life or a very unhappy period in your life.
  2. Now focus on your physical body and notice how this memory is making you feel, not emotionally, but physically. Where in your body do you feel sensation? What kind of sensation is it?
  3. Some people notice a pit in their stomach, or tightness in their chest or constriction in their shoulders. It is really important to identify the particular place or places in your body where you feel the sensation.
  4. Now think of a name for the sensation. It can be something like “the crushed feeling” or “acid stomach.” Use a term that will help you recall the specific physical feeling.
  5. Next, assign a score from 1-10 to this negative feeling, with the worst possible manifestation ranking a 10.
  6. Complete the entire process using the memory of a very positive event or period of your life.
  7. The physical memories, named with a catch phrase and scored, will be indicators of your “bad” and “good” compass readings.

Do you and your lizard live in a van down by the river?

by Pamela Slim

I listened intently to my highly educated and successful client express his fears about quitting his job to start a business.

“What are you really afraid of?” I said.

“When it comes down to it, I am afraid of living on the street and eating garbage out of a dumpster.”

This fear is very common for people who are making significant career or life changes. It doesn’t matter how much experience they have or how much money sits in their bank account, they feel as though one wrong move will utterly destroy their lives.

This is no accident.

We all receive multiple messages a day about how there are not enough resources in the world to support us (“The economy is falling!” “There are no good men left in New York!” “I must eat the WHOLE cake, or never eat again!”) and how we should be very afraid of the future (“The ice caps are melting!” “Serial killers are on the loose!” “The terrorists are coming!”.) Martha calls this the Wizard vs. Lizard battle for your brain in her new book Steering by Starlight.

What is lizard brain?

One of the deepest layers of your brain is a neural structure evolved in early vertebrates. It is wrapped around the cortex of your brain and blasts signals on a regular basis intended to keep you fed and out of danger. Martha says in Steering by Starlight:

The entire purpose of your reptile brain is to continually broadcast survival fears- alarm reactions that keep animals alive in the wild. These fears fall into two different categories: lack, and attack. On one hand, our reptile brains are convinced that we lack everything we need: we don’t have enough time, money, everything. On the other hand, something terrible is about to happen. A predator– human or animal–is poised to snatch us! That makes sense if we’re hiding in a cave somewhere, but when we’re home in bed, our imaginations can fixate on catastrophes that are so vague and hard to ward off that they fill us with anxiety that has no clear action implication.

Animals will live longer when obsessed with getting more resources and avoiding danger.

Humans, on the other hand, especially those of us driving minivans and owning large-screen televisions, carry that same instinct, without facing the same dire situations. This leads us to act in all kinds of unpleasant ways, including paranoid, greedy, suspicious and desperate. The more we listen to our inner lizard, the more we are pulled toward a fate we most fear:

  • A salesperson, certain that he won’t be able to sell a thing in a tight economy, calls the same prospect five times in one week, leading him to be permanently blacklisted from the company.
  • A jealous boyfriend, convinced his girlfriend is cheating on him, secretly monitors her cellphone calls, follows her, breaks into her email and has a fit whenever she wants to go out with friends. Guess what happens? She packs her bags as fast as she can (unless her lizard fear is “I will never find another man” in which case she marries him, stays in relationship hell for a decade or two before having a heart attack from the stress)
  • A young woman, so terrified that she will make a fool of herself presenting to a debate team for the first time, actually passes out when she gets to the podium. In this case, it was Martha, as described in Finding Your Own North Star (Coincidentally, as lizard wizardry works, when her worst nightmare was realized, she overcame her deathly fear of speaking and went on to be a secure and polished presenter.)

Examples of Lizard Fears:

“I’ll never find love”
“Something may have gone right, but you know that other shoe is going to drop”
“You can’t trust anyone in this rotten world.”
“I have to keep secrets; people will use information to hurt me.”
“Ultimately, everyone will betray me.”
“The minute I get anything, someone will take it from me.”
“Nice guys always end up getting screwed.”
“Successful people have all the luck – I just get bad breaks.”

Notice the lack and attack themes that permeate these thoughts? If you want to make progress towards your goals, you must learn to tame your inner lizard. Here are five ways, summarized from Steering by Starlight.

Step 1: Clarify how your inner lizard “thinks”

As you move through your life, are there any recurrent fears that keep popping up? Look at the list above for inspiration or choose your own. Examine the fear and see if it is primarily lack or attack based. When does it hit you? What is your reaction?

Step 2: Name your inner lizard’s top ten tunes:

We create justifications for our lizard fears in order to keep them in place. Complete these sentences with the first thing that pops into your mind. Afterward, scan the list for your personal “lack and attack” themes.

  • Oh no! I don’t have enough__________
  • If I don’t watch out, someone will__________
  • People want to take my__________
  • I can’t be perfectly happy until I get__________
  • Everybody pressures me to__________
  • You just can’t trust__________
  • People will hurt me unless I__________
  • If only I had__________
  • Someone’s always out to__________
  • I must hang onto__________

Step 3: The Name Game

Martha asks clients to name their inner lizard or even get a physical representation of them, like a pin or figurine. Her lizard is named Mo, and is fond of grapes, which she tosses to him whenever he whispers sweet lack and attack tunes in her ear.

My lizard, pictured in this post, is named Jorge and lives in the shadows of the pyramids of Chichen Itza in Mexico. Since Jorge’s home is in one of the most powerful spiritual epicenters I have ever visited, he reminds me that where a slippery lizard fear lounges, spiritual power and grace sit quietly by.

When you feel your lizard fears raise their wrinkled necks, instead of wrestling them with force, turn to them softly, call them by name and say gently “There, there Jorge, you do have a flair for the dramatic! Look — there is a ripe mango on that tree, go get it!”

Step 4: Find the Ridiculous

Nothing is funny about being deathly afraid. But once you begin to examine and debunk your lizard fears, they take on a certain hysterical quality:

  • Do you really think that you will end up alone and bitter in a cold, windowless room if you leave your marriage?
  • Are you really so incompetent as a mother that your new baby will end up underfed in need of therapy by the age of 4? (you may need to be a mom or married to one to truly get this one — new babies are the perfect storm of lizard fears, hormones, and sleeplessness-induced hysteria)
  • Or my very favorite Saturday Night Live-inspired lizard fear of all time: Will you be 35, divorced, and live in a van down by the river?

The dear departed Chris Farley from Saturday Night Live in his role of Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker brings to life one of the best, and funniest, lizard tunes I have ever heard. Since the original video was not available (legally anyway), here is a creative interpretation using kinetic typography. If you cannot see this video window, here is the direct link on YouTube.

If you can laugh till your gut busts, like I do, every time you hear this, you will loosen the grip of lizard fears on your brain.

Step 5: The “Shackles Test”

What if you should be afraid?

The question always comes up: what if my lizard fear is right? Bad things happen every day, to good people, so are we being foolish to not be afraid?

Yes and no. There is a distinction between trusting your instinct to avoid harmful situations (like stepping into an elevator in an empty building with only you and a decidedly creepy guy) and taking a risk, (like going back to school to get your Master’s degree when you are 55 years old). Both fears can feel the same until you give them the Shackles Test.

Shackles on test

One person place or thing that doesn’t serve my destiny is:____

When I let this person, place or thing fill my conscious mind, my body and mood react in the following ways: __________

This physical reaction is your “Shackles ON” feeling. Remember it.

Shackles off test

One person, place or thing that does serve my destiny is:____

When I let this person, place or thing fill my conscious mind, my body and mood react in the following ways: ____

This physical reaction is your “Shackles OFF” feeling. Remember it.

Once you become familiar with these feelings, you can use them to test your thoughts. For example:

  • Does the thought of leaving my job feel shackles on or shackles off?
  • Does breaking off my engagement feel shackles on or shackles off?
  • Does eating this entire box of Oreos feel shackles on or shackles off?
  • Does buying this pair of $300 shoes feel shackles on or shackles off?
  • Does working with this partner feel shackles on or shackles off?

These five steps don’t necessarily need to be done in sequence to be effective — experiment with tossing your pet lizard a grape, laughing hysterically at your worst fears, or using the shackles on/off test in a critical moment.

One thing is pretty certain: if you learn to decipher your lizard tunes, you won’t end up living in a van down by the river. Unless you want to, of course.

photo credit: Lewis Stewart (Pam’s Dad!)