defeat asshole brain Archives - ⚡️Kristen Kalp

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Put it down.

Here in the United States, the ongoing pandemic is a long haul that’s basically straight uphill and entirely unknown. That means we urgently need to learn how to take breaks and rest, ’cause no amount of sprinting today can get time to move so quickly that it fast forwards to 2022.

Here are some asshole brain maneuvers to watch out for as we enter another season of As the World Burns:

Put down the binary.

I’ve only got two options: A or B.”

A biz coaching client was outlining her options and said she could do A — which is the same thing she’s been doing that’s not working — or B, which is part-time for someone who’s treating her like shit. Both options were awful, but in her mind they were the ONLY options available.

In truth, you rarely have only two options. There’s always an option C.

Option C might be ridiculous or funny or awful or weird, but it’s still there! When I said I would rather my client take up a hobby of masturbating wildly than work at near-free prices for task-driven bros who in no way value her talent or her time, she laughed and shrugged me off. BUT I’M SERIOUS.

When it’s not ridiculous or funny, Option C is generally uncomfortable. It might seem like the impossible option, but Option C generally promises to pay dividends in the long term: quit the job. Move. End the marriage. Stop taking that work. Fire the client. Eat more greens. Ask for help. Hire the coach.

Put down your work.

Instead of being vaguely ‘on’ at all times — meaning you’re open to incoming needs from anyone at any point about any aspect of your business — choose times to be on. And times to most definitely be OFF.

Practice the muscles associated with picking work up at the times you specify, and then practice putting your work down at the appointed time as well. (Related: podcast #204, the quietly subversive 3-hour work day.)

As you learn to put your work down, you’ll also learn to draw internal boundaries that say, ‘now is not the time to worry about that problem,’ or, ‘I’m off and it’s not time to think about that client.’ There are many ways to gently remind yourself: now is the time for rest.

This hard off, hard on (heh) rhythm means that you clearly delineate and communicate times you’re working from all the times you’re not working.

A Hard Off means handling zero messages, communications, or work plans when it’s not work time. Personally, if you need me to do something after 4:20 p.m., it’s going to get pushed to tomorrow, ’cause I’ve got cannabis to smoke and an afternoon to enjoy. (Related: podcast #192, The Cannabis Episode.)

A Hard On (in this case) means messages, communications, work, and work planning are handled between the times of your choosing each day.

For more on how to work from home without losing your mind, check out podcasts 211-215, the Structure That Doesn’t Suck series! HOLY SHIT IT’S HELPFUL.

Put down your superhuman strivings.

The scope of work you can complete in this lifetime is human in size. ALAS.

We are each a tiny human part of all that exists, and when we operate from that human place we’re able to accept our true scope of work.

Asshole brain will continuously ramp up what we ‘should’ be capable of doing until deeming us absolutely useless for being unable to raise 17 children while organically farming almonds while running a multi-million dollar charity while holding a powerful government position while being so EASY BREEZY FUN about it all. (Sidenote: how does AOC’s lipstick always look so perfect!?)

As a bonus, asshole brain might blame you for every. single. problem. that exists in the world today!

Plastics in the ocean? WHY HAVEN’T YOU FIXED THIS.

Fascism continues to descend upon America? THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT.

Racism has been a problem through the generations long before you were born? STILL YOUR FAULT.

Of course, asshole brain is lying!

Systemic oppression and the manufacturing of millions upon millions of single-use plastics are NOT the fault of you and you alone! (This may seem obvious to you, dear reader, and yet my asshole brain kept me quiet and small for years by somehow making Me, Personally Responsible for everything that is and has ever been wrong with the world.)

Collective problems require collective solutions.

No human can solve any global problem alone.

Do your part, and help others do their part, and we’ll call it a win.

Finally: put down your pace.

Many of my clients finish up their work for the day and then feel horrifically guilty that they should be doing more.

Shouldn’t they be making ‘content’ calendars or ‘pivoting’ or ‘hustling’ or ‘leveling up’ or ‘CRUSHING IT’ or using every bit of time to be ever more ‘productive?’

Shouldn’t they be seated at a desk from precisely 9 to 5 each day, because that makes their job ‘legit’ in some way?

NO.

It’s okay to be done with your work when you’re done.
It’s okay to stop moving, communicating, and acting so quickly.
It’s okay to opt out of social media for a bit, for a month, or forever.

(Related, podcast #196: it doesn’t count if you don’t enjoy it.)

Please stop expecting yourself to write a book in a week or conquer your money problems within the next three days or to untie your work from your worth with a single flash of clarity. (Related, podcast #180: your work is not your worth.)

You are not a machine.

You are one human doing one lifetime of work.

The sooner you put down the vast and unreasonable expectations you have for yourself and for your power to make change, the better.

With you —

K

P.S. There’s one! Biz coaching spot left in 2020.

1 — Grab the brochure.

Peruse.

2 — Email k@kristenkalp.com and tell me what you’d like to do with our time together!

OR

2a — Hire me right now and lock in the last biz coaching spot for the coming year!

Have to, Get to, and Square One.

As updates go, this is a big one! I now live in Ambler, Pennsylvania, precisely two blocks from where I lived before the move to Portland on January 1, 2020. (Why yes that IS a crushingly expensive way to move two blocks, and I’ll talk much more about it later, promise!)

One of the things I put out of my head about the move itself — which was 7 days of road tripping car travel with a dog and cat, then 8 days of being stuck in Denver with a broken car, then a 3.5 hour flight to Philadelphia — is that when I got here, I would be moving into an apartment I’d never seen in real life.

For the second time in 2020.

The apartment currently has: tan carpets, beige walls, and the back of a walk-in closet that I’ve claimed as my writing spot. (I’m here now, writing to you in it!)

As someone writing to you with no furniture from a closet, I can assure you that…

This is Square One: the very beginning.

Nothing is done, and all the work lies ahead.

Psst!  This is an episode of my podcast, That’s What She Said!

You’re always at Square One when a chapter ends.

Portland had lots of steps, and getting out of Portland had lots of steps, and when you end a chapter that big you inevitably begin again.

To make any progress, you have to pass through the territory of Square One. And begin again.

In case I sound wise AF saying this: NOT AT ALL.

Two nights ago I was sitting on the back patio, moaning ‘I have to do this’ to Doey.

I have to talk to the landlord about how to plug in the stove.
I have to change all my account addresses to Ambler. Again.

‘Have to’ focuses on what’s daunting, difficult, or depressing about the road ahead.

Shouldn’t there be some point at which moving becomes simple and easy?

Shouldn’t landlords simply stop buying institutional beige paint and save us all the painting-over process?

Where is my similar-to-Queer-Eye-design-team who will makeover my apartment in 5 days or less?

And then the usual Asshole Brain 2020 questions:

Why is everything so hard?

Why can’t anything just be PAID FOR BY SOME SORT OF TRUST FUND FOR WEIRDO CREATIVE HUMANS?

But then our landlord comes over and demands that we accept her offer of a free patio table and six free patio chairs OR ELSE and PLEASE USE THE EXPENSIVE GRILL HER BROTHER LEFT HERE and make yourself at home.

All of a sudden, I’m flooded with ideas: we can paint the patio! We’ll order an outdoor rug to cover up the spots on the porch that can’t be walked on in bare feet! We’ll put out art invitations for our lunch breaks, Meri Cherry style!

When the focus shifts to possibility, ‘I have to do this’ sentiments reveal their other side: I get to do this.

I have to do this.
I get to do this.
It’s an AND.

Yah, I’ll have to figure out how to make tan carpet attractive (HELP PLEASE HELP I HAVE NO IDEA HOW THIS MIGHT BE DONE), but I’ll also get to live and work and play with my partner and two best friends for the foreseeable future.

For sure, we’ll have to figure out boundaries and personal space and how to not get sick of each other over the course of the coming years, and also we’ll get to build a life together that’s rich, deep, fulfilling, and magical.

So if you find yourself at the Extreme Beginning of anything at all: I feel you.

I’m at Square One AGAIN this year.

I have to make a home again.

…I get to make a home again.

Those two sentiments will move in and out. They’ll undulate regularly.

Knowing that these sentiments are two sides of the same coin makes the ‘have to’ easier to handle, because the ‘get to’ is always on its way.

Power-washing the patio is right next to picking flowers from the yard and putting them in vases absolutely everywhere.

Assembling the outdoor cat playpen via somewhat torturous instructions lies energetically adjacent to dreaming up more private and colorful outdoor spaces. (Why yes I *did* lose a screw in the sidewalk when I was ‘helping!’ Impressive, eh?)

Getting the electricity transferred to my name is a stone’s throw from making plans for exactly how many different kinds of wallpaper one can fit into a single apartment. (Back of cabinet wallpaper! Bathroom wallpaper! Closet wallpaper! Wall wallpaper!)

Have to, get to.

Have to, get to.

A big part of your job with the ‘have to’s is to make up ‘get to’s.

For every shitty and awful and hideous task presented by Square One — the very beginning — there’s an opportunity to make it up, do it a different way, clear old garbage out, and try again.

It’s a hard job, and in 2020 an exhausting one.
It’s also worthwhile AF.

Does any part of your life feel like you’re at Square One, chock full of HAVE TO?

If so, where do you GET TO do something awesome, rad, subversive, weird, fun, or revolutionary?

Pro tip! It’s highly unlikely that outside forces will provide you with the get to parts.

‘Have to’ will be dictated by outside forces: paperwork, forms, documents, governmental agreements, and adulting-mandated tasks.

‘Get to’ is entirely yours. It’s NOT a reminder that you have X privileges and should JUST BE GRATEFUL ALREADY.

‘Get to’ is joy-based and generally functions outside of capitalism. It uses the resources at your disposal in creative ways.

In other words, ‘get to’ is fucking FUN.

In many cases, ‘get to’ is making the moves that only make sense to you.

You get to write the book or the movie or the poems or the blog or the weird snippets that have no shape or form just yet.

You get to frolic outside instead of scrolling for another hour or seven on Instagram.

You get to make stuff
and destroy stuff
and begin again
and again
and again.

I’m the last person to shame you for beginning again (see: TWO cross-country moves in 2020!).

I’m simply reminding you that beginning again has its benefits, and maybe embrace those benefits, sparse as they may be?

At Square One of any major project, our ‘have to’ impulses focus on what’s daunting and difficult. The lesser-used ‘get to’ muscles focus on possibility, creativity, and the wide open portions of the road ahead.

The bonus, of course, is that ‘get to’ has the best wallpaper.

If you know or operate a source of amazing, fun, wild, and/or animal-patterned *REMOVABLE* wallpaper, I’d love to see it!

Own Your Gifts

This week, a question-based response in our asshole brain podcast series!  Catch up on the other episodes with interrupt the pattern, joy is not canceled, and if you ain’t got haters…or dive in starting here!

TODAY’S QUESTION!  What if my inner asshole won’t let me identify or accept what I’m good at? I want other people to tell me, but I’m realizing that no matter what anyone else says, I won’t believe it because my inner asshole says no. You are so specific on yours, and I’m curious how you figured out and accepted your super powers. I’m also secretly scared that I want everyone else’s super powers and don’t actually have any of my own (hi, there again, asshole brain). — Anna

First up: YOU HAVE SUPERPOWERS.

You are a being of this earth, and therefore you have superpowers.  No one is the exception to this rule, including you!

That said, your superpowers aren’t necessarily easy to see. They’re easy to gloss over because THOSE people over THERE appear to have better, more advanced, and/or more profitable superpowers. Sure, you can paint or draw or make or write or speak or roast or whatever it is you do, but ssshhheeeeeee is making millllllllllliooooonnnsssss doing that same work.

No.

We’re not doing that shit.

Comparison isn’t allowed for the duration of this exercise.

Not because comparison is bad or wrong, but because comparison has often led me to the despair of not being a modern-day Rumi AND a paleontologist AND an interior decorator with her own kickass line of custom sofas AND a person who looks good in cropped pants AND a person who’s good at cooking, say…rice.

If owning your gifts is all new to you, ask other people to help you see them.

That’s often the start: someone has to sort-of-yell, ‘HEY, YOU’RE REALLY FUCKING GOOD AT THIS’ a number of times before we believe it in any capacity.

Those who love you have been trying to get this message through for quite some time. But we can’t hear them until we’re ready to hear them. Starting now.

What am I really good at doing, handling, or making?

What are some circumstances in which you would want or need my help before anyone else’s?

Which talents, gifts, and superpowers do I take for granted or pretend aren’t real?

Where and when do you see A WILDLY MAGICAL BEING and you can’t get me to see it?

What do you wish I could see about myself and/or my work? 

Choose a question and send 3 texts to 3 different people. Ask the friends, colleagues, partner(s), or relatives you most trust to be honest with you. Ask them to be kind and clear, and then take whatever they say into your being.

They aren’t lying when they say you’re amazing; they’re only highlighting the ways in which you diminish yourself when you refuse to believe them.

Owning your gifts starts with knowing that asshole brain is going to throw up some pretty standard responses to these efforts.

When asshole brain says that there’s nothing you’re good at…that’s a lie.

When asshole brain goes wild with envy because he, she, or they are far more_______ than you’ll ever be (where ____ is talented, wild, connected, gorgeous, enlightened, swimming in cash)…that’s a lie.

When asshole brain only lets you see the flaws, the bad bits, and the imperfect messiness of your life instead of the whole picture of your decades-long existence on this planet…that’s a lie.

When asshole brain whispers over and over that you should be further along by now..that’s a lie. 

Interrupt the pattern, okay? Catch asshole brain in the act and refuse to believe it.

At some level, owning your talents is a matter of humility and acceptance.

It means you have no issue sharing the things you’re not good at with others, because you’re also grounded in your strengths.

Here are things I’m not good at: keeping plants alive, calling customer service reps (THE PHONE = WHY???), giving up control, using power tools without supervision, and making a plan for cooking dinner before it’s too late and I’m hungry and OH WELL it’s a microwave dinner again tonight.

Accepting that those things aren’t my strengths allows me to turn and say…okay, now what am I good at?

Writing, coaching, connecting with people deeply (small talk AGGGHHH I AM THE ACTUAL WORST), using my voice, experimenting, making stuff up, ignoring people who say ‘You can’t do that,’ taking action, having good boundaries with my phone, and (even, sometimes) asking for help.

See how neither the positive nor the negative is dramatic?

I am not THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD because I can’t be handed a nail gun and left to fend for myself on a construction site.

I am not THE BEST PERSON IN THE WORLD because I’m good at moving small talk aside to get to the root of an issue.

Humility is knowing what you’re good at AND what you’re not good at, then accepting them both.

Owning your gifts means accepting that this is where I can help people — i.e. all the things I’m good at — this is where I need help — i.e. all the things I’m not good at.

I can help you move through your business life as you learn to generate more money and meaning in your day-to-day existence.

I can help you try on new ways of being, give up the patterns that aren’t working for you, and listen to your own interiors with an eye toward what lights you up.

I can help you get more alive and build more joy into your life, even in the midst of a global pandemic.

Business coaching spots are open, send me a note!

I cannot help you choose tonight’s dinner.  Or any meals.  Because having to eat 3 times a day, every day, no matter WHAT, is still a challenging problem in my life.

When you can do this owning-your-gifts exercise without shame, guilt, or judgement, you’re getting free.  Of asshole brain, of society’s infinite ways of making you feel like shit so you buy more stuff, and of the mental chatter that keeps you stuck or small.

Own your gifts.

Really and truly, all the way down.  That’s not short work, or easy work, but it’s work that pays off for the rest of your life as you do it.

P.S. Your work does not equal your worth.

If you ain’t got haters…

Today, a story about haters that shifted my perspective on allllll sorts of negative feedback, and I hope it does the same for you as well!

This is an episode of the That’s What She Said podcast, and is the third in our series about tools to defeat asshole brain.  We start when you interrupt the pattern and continue when you affirm that joy is not canceled.

And now, on to our story!  Katy is a KK on Tap coaching client, and we’re in The Speakeasy.  (That’s our twice-monthly meeting of KK on Tap peeps.  It’s not recorded, and thus has been deemed the speakeasy.)  Here goes:

There’s a guy.

He’s named Evan.

Evan works as a Resident Assistant (RA) at his university. He’s older than those college students living on the floor where he presides, and he’s there to provide extra support for his residents. That might be emotional, like helping them transition to college life, or simply physical, like letting them into their rooms if they lose their keys. He also enforces university rules, like making sure you’re not smoking or drinking in your dorm room.

Katy is Evan’s boss at this point. She’s in charge of all RA’s, and Evan is up for review.

She says, “You have this string of 1-star reviews and negative reviews. NO ONE is giving you positive feedback. Your residents don’t think you know their names, and they don’t think you’re taking good care of them. What do you have to say for yourself?”

Evan shrugs this critique off and says, “Well if you ain’t got haters, you ain’t poppin.'”

IF YOU AIN’T GOT HATERS, YOU AIN’T POPPIN.

This might be the most magnificent way of taking feedback and make it not matter at all that I’ve ever heard.

We are NOT taught this attitude when we’re being socialized as females. It’s not an attitude we have access to without definitive, and conscious effort.

We are taught that if you got haters…you got a serious problem.

Or if you got haters…you better watch yourself and shut the fuck up.

Or if you got haters…you better change everything you’re doing to accommodate those people who are giving you one-star reviews, even if they’re lying or taking advantage of you.

The truth is that if we can embrace this A BIT — not blowing off one-star reviews and refusing to learn people’s names — we can learn so much about our own vitality and resiliency.

Learning to embrace this attitude means you move through the world with less fear of having a voice.

We’ve all had an instance in which we use our voice to express ourselves.  AND THEN someone has some sort of feedback that is not 1000% positive/gold stars/a celebration of every moment of our being.  So we take that as a reason to shut up, shut down, stop communicating, and to stop advocating for ourselves.  Forever. 

We stop asking for help, asking for what we need, marketing our business, and to stop doing our truest work in the world.

Some critique is so powerful — and comes at us in such a way that we didn’t expect — that we can easily make having * a single hater*  the reason we sit down and shut our mouths forever.

It had never occurred to me that having haters could be a good thing, a wise thing, or a thing that we could laugh about!

Evan’s attitude helps us receive feedback without it meaning we’re ‘bad people’ or an asshole or some version of a person who doesn’t deserve to be alive. We can move through the self-flagellation stage to make changes, take critique, and do better.

Negative feedback does not mean you should sit down and shut up.

This also means that, if at some point in the future you get your FIRST hate mail — we can actually celebrate it. Because YOU. ARE. POPPIN.’ We had a lovely experience in the Speakeasy in which a client I’ve been working with for a few years got her first hate mail —
and
we
celebrated.

(This is not about saying some fucked-up/racist/sexist/homophobic shit and then getting away with it! I’m talking about the feedback that is clearly projection, that is untrue, that is unfounded, or that is blowing a tiny problem into a HUGE ISSUE THAT REQUIRES A REFUND AND AN APOLOGY AND A FRESH PUPPY HAND-DELIVERED IN A BASKET to make amends.)

[Edited to exclude: big-ass controversial rant only available in the podcast]

Further! The great misconception of the ‘if I sit down and shut up nothing bad will happen’ mentality is that, if we’re just ‘good’ enough and sweet enough and kind enough and perfect enough, no one will critique us. Ever. Again.

To this enormous-sack-of-shit falsehood that keeps us silent and compliant, I present the following counterargument: there were protesters at Mister Rogers’ funeral.

Mister. Rogers. Was not immune to haters.

Fred Rogers is one of the beacons of our time. If you’re unfamiliar, he hosted Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood for more than 40 years on public TV here in the States. He was a surrogate parent to millions of people, myself included, while advocating for young people’s thriving throughout his career. A journalist was sent to do a hit piece on him, and they became friends until his death. (Here’s the movie about that experience.)

How does a man like that get haters?

He was too kind.

Some people protested his life because he refused to condemn gay people to hell or to encourage some people to hate others because of their race.  HOLY SHIT FUCK THOSE PEOPLE, RIGHT????  And if he got protesters at his funeral…then haters can happen for any reason, to anyone, at anytime.

We can’t live in constant fear of those who disagree with us, or we’re adopting the ‘sit down and shut up’ model that keeps good, feeling, lovely people passive and complacent.

When we can carry within us just a little bit of that hater-poppin’ energy, we cultivate our resiliency.

Those who disagree with you, have critiques of you, or attack you are here to teach you something about resiliency. About not shutting up in the face of bullying, or passive-aggressive comments, or character attacks.

Don’t sit down.

Don’t shut up.

Keep doing your work.

And of course, cultivate your resiliency.

We cultivate resiliency through our work together in coaching, which lasts for a year. Why a year?

Because at 3 months you’re getting started and making tweaks, it’s a glorious time to be alive!

At 6-9 months, there’s often an issue or life event that causes you to lose momentum and question much of what you know about yourself, your life, and your work.

And somehow, mysteriously, by about that one-year mark — you rally. We rally. You’ve found your groove and you’re far less paralyzed by perfectionism and patterns of hiding you’ve developed over the years.

You’re also learning to ask for help and be supported, so your life opens up in ways that are both everyday and utterly profound over the course of our time together.

A year of working together gives you the space to try on new ways of being without keeping a tight time limit on life experiments.

It’s not — try this and see if it changes your life by next Thursday!!!!!

It’s — try this and see if it helps you do better over the course of the coming season. Then we check in, adjust, and keep going.

Deep work is not fast work. But deep work is the only way to make lasting change.

We all need support to do deep work, and I can help you do some deep work at this time.

Shoot me an email to ask for a coaching brochure: k@kristenkalp.com or fill out the form here.

May you use your voice to stand up against bullshit, wherever and whenever you find it.  And may you find the strength to voice the truth, no matter the consequences.

Love,

K

P.S. Be the human.

Joy is not canceled.

Have you ever had something that happened decades ago bother the shit out of you, and you can’t figure out why? Like, what’s wrong with you, you should ‘be over it by now’…? Let’s dive into my particulars and see if there isn’t a universal truth hidden in there, ’cause this came up for me recently and I’ll bet you’ve learned a similar lesson in your life.

This is an episode of That’s What She Said! This is the second in our series about ways to defeat asshole brain, starting with Interrupt the PatternAll the other podcast episodes live here.

The setting: it’s 1989. I’m in the third grade, and I’ve got to go to class with Mrs. Spisso.

Mrs. Fucking. Spisso.

Picture a shrill woman comprised entirely of sharp angles with half-moon reading glasses perched on her nose. Add a strong dislike for children and too many years working in the Mount Pleasant Area School District.

Now, give her the gifted students. Surely they will be easy for her to handle because they are smart! Surely they will keep her from screaming at all hours of the school day!

Our story proceeds.

I’m eight years old and we’re having class in the art room. I don’t remember what Mrs. Spisso is talking about because WE ARE IN THE ART ROOM. My favorite. The home of infinite messes, the sweet hum of scissors slicing construction paper, and those ginormous tubs of paste (worthy of quietly huffing when no one is looking) placed in pairs on each table.

We’re working on some project or another and I realize the room is hot. Really hot. The floor tiles look nice and cool, so I lie down on them. I remember feeling the floor underneath my body, all refreshing and shiny and soothing.

::tiny Kristen sighs contentedly::

All of a sudden, Mrs. Spisso screeches a flaming surge of words: WE DO NOT LIE ON THE FLOOR WE DO NOT ACT LIKE THAT EVER FOR ANY REASON WE ARE NOT ANIMALS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She goes on and on. I take my place on a stool and sit down, never to lie on the floor in school again.

I’ve carried that story around for years, always wondering why it hurt me so much. It was only being yelled at, right?  Get a friggin grip, it’s NOT A BIG DEAL.

In the larger arc of my life, though? 8-year-old me got the message that joy is canceled. Because joy lives in the body, and I abandoned my body that day. (It took me years to come back to the body itself, and here’s how I did it.)

Think about it: remember a moment of joy you’ve held onto in which you weren’t in your body.

Impossible, because joy lives in the body. Laughter lives in the body, as do orgasms, singing, dancing, and eating. That sunset you watched and loved. Those evenings with that person you love. The moments when you’ve laughed despite yourself — in school, at church, or when it was otherwise wildly inappropriate.

When we are chased out of the body, we lose most of our access to joy.

We are taught this at such a young age that we might not even remember losing our ties to what the body wants: You can’t do something just because it feels good! You can’t trust your body to want any of the things it wants, especially something as subversive and shocking as LYING ON THE FLOOR!

In other words: Joy! Is! Canceled!

In pictures after this time, you can see my body expanding from year to year. I ate more and more ice cream, ’cause that was a socially sanctioned way for me to enjoy life and be in my body. At the same time, I stopped trying to run around and do bodily things because the body can’t be trusted. Got that message loud and clear. And doing something because it feels good or might be pleasurable? NOT OKAY EVER.

Only.

Joy is not canceled. Ever. For any reason.

As unrest and bullshit and corporate thieving and intersecting systems of oppression make themselves more clearly pronounced around the globe, you might get the message that joy is canceled. That somehow you personally deciding to give up your joy, hope, and general enjoyment of life will make life for someone else better. That you don’t deserve access to any contentment whatsoever when there’s so much suffering in the world. Or you might fully disassociate from your body because this world we’re living in is too. damn. much.

Surely there’s something you can do, and if giving up feeling pleasure for life will help, then…you’ll give it a try? Please don’t.

Canceling joy is dangerous.

We humans have four base emotions: fear, anger, sadness, and joy.

Given enough joy stifling, we can easily reach a place in which we experience ONLY fear, anger, and sadness. That’s a brutal existence.

Refusing to feel the best of life does not save you from the worst of life.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop doesn’t stop it from dropping.

No matter where or how you’re working to make change — in your life, your community, your nation, and on this planet — joy is not canceled.

Your brain will say that you can’t POSSIBLY feel good things after reading the news. And there are lots and lots of shitty things to feel at this moment, that’s true. You don’t need me to list the ‘unprecedented’ levels of bullshit we humans are facing at this moment in time. There is much to do, to protest, to burn down, to fix, to change, and to re-imagine.

But life without joy — in which you tamp down, try to control, or even eliminate your own joy for the supposed sake of others — hurts your soul.

When you cancel joy, you are actively creating a future without joy in it. For you, and for everyone you meet.

When you deny yourself the pleasure of experiencing life’s good things — including rest — you have less juice for handling the bad.

When you refuse to feel the sun on your face or to notice that baby giggling over there, you’re creating a future for yourself without joy in it. When you don’t play along with the dogs running after balls and the kids running after ice cream trucks, you suffer.

The world has enough suffering.

Voluntary suffering in the form of foregoing joy does not and will not serve anyone. Ever.

Again: this doesn’t mean there aren’t hard things happening. Doesn’t mean there isn’t bullshit going on. Doesn’t mean we don’t keep signing and protesting and donating and fundraising and speaking up. Doesn’t in any way negate the fear, anger, and sadness of the human race.

Feeling joy in our bodies means we fuel ourselves with good shit so that we can better handle the bullshit.

When you take the time to fill up on the simple pleasures of being alive, you become stronger in the face of uncertainty, more likely to take actions that uphold positive change, and more open to the experience of life itself.

Refusing to cancel joy makes you far more resilient over time.

If there was a Mrs. Spisso in your life who made you shut down joy in any form, you can reclaim that goodness right now.

Over the years, which people or institutions have encouraged you to cancel joy? This includes restricting seemingly unrelated things like your movements and eating habits. Who has tried to stop you from singing, dancing, or speaking, whether publicly or privately?

Who taught you that the body can’t be trusted for the fulfillment of even its most innocent desires, like lying on the floor when it’s too hot?

Which people or societal systems discouraged you from resting or from enjoying the fruits of your labor?

Who taught you a productivity-above-all-else mentality that makes you try to ‘earn’ joy, push pleasure til later (never NOW), or assume you’ll access joy only when X happens? (Where X is become a millionaire, lose 30 pounds, or watch your last kid graduate high school?)

These are the roots of your asshole brain‘s battle with joy itself.

You don’t have to do anything with this knowledge except interrupt the pattern — i.e. catch your brain in the act of trying to cancel joy — and then choose a new mode of being.

Laugh with the babies.
Run with the dogs.
Soak in the sun.

Eat some ice cream.
Lie on the floor.
Take a nap.

Please choose to be here-on-earth-and-alive-despite-everything, over and over and over again.

Fight for your own soul’s aliveness by reclaiming joy, and then fight like hell for the liberation of every last being on earth. We will all be better for it.

And life?  It doesn’t count if you don’t enjoy it.

Love,
K

P.S. Speaking of liberation! Breathwork for Coping with 2020 is $33, and 50% of proceeds are being donated to Black Lives Matter. If you a.) think 2020 is bullshit and b.) want to show up in your life as a kinder, more alive human instead of a flaming cesspool of unfelt feelings, this class is for you.

If you’d like to reclaim joy starting right now, this breathwork class is the perfect place to start.