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Hiding isn’t the answer. (I wish it would be, though.)

Hiding isn't the answer // podcast by Kristen Kalp

Before we dive in to this week’s podcast episode, I’d like to acknowledge that the lessons here have taken a bunch of years to condense into anything even remotely resembling words. My first impulse when it comes to facing the world is to hide 100% of the time. I prefer to hermit and retreat and withdraw. Those are tendencies I actively push against and question on an almost-daily basis. So.

I know, you’d rather hide.

At a business level, it’s scary to let your work be seen. You’ve heard that ‘if you build it, they will come,’ and they’re not coming. Maybe you should…build it again? Pin ever-more-complicated options to Pinterest and save up to give someone ten grand and solve it for you? Hope for the best and get a second job?

Or you say you’re ready to take on more clients or sell more work, but you can’t bring yourself to respond to emails, phone calls, or inquiries when they come in.

What’s wrong with you, and with your business? There must be something so secretly, desperately wrong that everyone but you can see it, right?

Nope!

You’re probably a master of hiding.

Here are some really fun, reaaaaaally smart ways I’ve hidden my work:

For years, only print versions of books were available, even though ebook versions are easier for me to host and sell — and also more profitable. (Pay what you can for any of my books here.)

For (again) years, I consistently forgot to read my poems on the podcast or share them anywhere at all. Did my bio identify me as a poet? Yup. Did that translate to my sharing more?  Not without effort.

I used to mention something once or twice, casually, and then assume it was a failure because it didn’t sell out instantaneously. LOOKING AT YOU, EVERY ENTREPRENEUR EVER!

Repetition is a kindness.

Everyone has too many emails, too many mundane tasks, too many notifications, and not enough brain space to see, love, read about, and buy a product in one fell swoop.  It’s often the third or fourth mention that garners any real interest, and only firm deadlines that make people respond in a decisive way.  (Also if you’d like to break up with your phone, meet Space, a 21-day email class to help you do just that!)

I used to think no one wanted to hire me if they didn’t respond to my offerings immediately, even after I began repeating myself again and again.

I routinely have people sign up for coaching who tell me how many years they’ve been following me. Current record: nine.

It’s a long game, people. (Also, check coaching out and then talk to me about working together, okay? K@kristenkalp.com)

For years, I ended my talks about things for sale in question marks (I’m coaching?) and only noticed it later when listening to the podcast.  I. AM. SO. AWESOME.

I also used to rush sales talk and then relax when I got to the free stuff. Only That’s What She Said is an ad-free, not-sponsored podcast, so I have every right to talk about how to hire me and purchase my work within it. (You have the right to do the same with the things you offer, too.)

Here are some ways you might be hiding in business:

🌈 Can I easily locate buy now, book now, or e-mail me buttons? Is there an easy way to purchase what you’re selling?
🌈 Can people figure out where you’re located easily, particularly if you have a local business?
🌈 Do you have a separate sales page for each product or service you offer, or are you hiding your best one with a ‘coming soon’ placeholder and/or outdated information?
🌈 Are your current products prominently placed or featured in menu bar?
🌈 Can we easily access the work you prefer to be paid for doing?
🌈 Can people sign up to hear more from you through an e-mail list?
🌈 No really, an e-mail list: can you access people in their inbox at a time of your choosing? (Need help? Zero to email list in 15 minutes.)
🌈 Do you actually send e-mails to the people who have signed up to hear more from you? (Need help? How to F*&*ing Communicate is for you.)

At a personal level, hiding gets worse.

You want to hide from the globe (see: systemic oppression, Amazon fires, melting polar ice caps, rise of fascism, etc, etc, etc…), and then from your life (see: never-ending productivity and routine and WHY AM I NOT ON A TROPICAL BEACH WITH MY OWN PERSONAL BUTLER RIGHT NOW) and then from yourself (despair? Nipping at myyyyyy heels? No, never!).

But you tell yourself you have to keep going.

So you shove down the despair, show up for work, watch the news, contribute to campaigns and causes like a good citizen, and feel…not one iota better.

Why do you still feel like a bundle of yuck?  Because step one was shoving down your feelings.

It was labeling one particular emotion ‘bad’ or ‘unproductive’ or ‘negative’ or simply not allowed, and then plowing over it with your everyday activities and hoping it wouldn’t return. But of course it returns, so you shove it down HARDER, like a kid trying to hold bigger and bigger beach balls under water for days and then weeks and months at a time. Of course it’s not working, but you just have to try HARDER, right?

Just try harder and harder and put in more and more effort and hope no one notices how you’re getting more and more dead inside. OR you can start to come out of hiding.

Ways you might be hiding in life, sourced from my own hiding places:

🌈 Do you talk about things that matter to you or try to keep conversation easy breezy, no big deal?
🌈 Do you admit your desires and dreams and the ways you want to make meaning in the world to yourself? …to others?
🌈 Are you consistently turning down the volume on yourself so as not to be seen as ‘too much’ of something?
🌈 Are you consistently turning up the volume on everyone else so that you can no longer hear your own tiny whispers of identity and intuition?

I’ve been there and tried alllll the tactics to just shut the hell up and be less sensitive.

They failed. Miserably.

What if…you let yourself feel what you’re feeling?

What if you let yourself feel the despair and the hardship and the pain and all the things you cannot change — and then let those particular pieces of pain go, simply because you cannot change them?

Not because you don’t care or don’t try or don’t have enough useful and intersectional beliefs, but because you are one single human.

Just one.

No matter how much you try or how many ‘you have the same number of hours in the day as Beyonce’ memes you consume.

You’re just one person.

How can you begin to make peace with a.) the fact that you can’t change everything,
but b.) you can absolutely change SOMEthing, when you decide what that something is?

You start with your own interiors.

When you decide to stop hiding, you begin to navigate through the loneliness and mess and doubt that lives within you, and come out the other side better and lighter and more joyful than you’ve ever been.

That sounds impossible and silly and GOD YOU’RE SO NAIVE KRISTEN and also…don’t you hope that it’s possible?

To be able to sit with despair and then rise up and do your work.

To look the messes in your life in the face without fear or judgement.

To face the loneliness within your heart and hold it tenderly, without trying to make it wrong or bad or a sign that you’re broken.

To catch doubt doing its asshole brain thing — and then to keep going, without believing a word it says.

That’s my hope for every human on the planet — that you’ll find a method, a practice, or a way of being that helps you give up hiding from yourself first, and from the world second.

For me, that practice is breathwork. I held a live breathwork session in Philly this week, and I was amazed by the amount of energetic and emotional clearing we completed in about an hour. Eight women laid down on the floor of a knitting shop, were introduced to the breath, and got to work.

They ranged in age from their twenties to their seventies, and each one wiped her eyes and thanked me when we finished breathing. They let go of shame and doubt and rage and grief and pain, and they also laughed and giggled and smirked and shook their hips and got freer than they had been a few hours earlier. They all reported that time got wobbly, and that they’d never experienced anything quite like it before.

Breathwork is work, yes, but it’s also a no-accessories-needed way to come home to yourself.

You lie down, you do the breathing pattern, you come back to reality a short time later as a lighter and freer human.  (For you: a whole podcast episode about breathwork.)

If breathwork seems like diving into the deep end — that’s exactly what it is.

Starting a breathwork practice can be scary for lots of people, which is why The Softness Sessions are a slower, steadier entry point for giving it a try.

In The Softness Sessions, you’ll hear me talk, podcast-style, and then we’ll do a short breathwork practice. It gets longer every week for six weeks, and then we’ll finish with a full-length live session for everyone in the program.

If you’re scared of your own interiors because you’ve been ignoring them for a long time (or possibly forever);

if you’re curious about breathwork but are afraid this won’t work or you won’t get your money’s worth or you haven’t found a practitioner you love;

if you’d like to find out if those things I said about loving yourself through mess and doubt can be true for you;

if you’d like to continue to explore what’s going on within you instead of shoving your emotions into tiny containers and hoping they disappear;

The Softness Sessions are for you.

They’re for coming to terms with your own humanity softly, and slowly, and with great care.

I know you’d rather plow ahead and do everything ever, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, because the world is literally on fire, and overachieving tendencies die hard. (Also: feelings. You have too many of them and you want to ignore them entirely. I’ve been there and committed myself to that for A WHOLE DECADE and can report that Try Not to Feel Anything Experiment as Failed. Completely.)

I know you’re not sure you can make any sort of difference because you’re just one human and you can’t keep your car clean, so how are you supposed to make some sort of global impact.

I know you’re tired of being tired, and I know you know the answer isn’t adding butter to your coffee or taking 16 new supplements.

There’s a place of deep rest and peace within you.  Promise.

You can access it any time you like through breathwork.

That’s scary, yes, and intimidating, yes, and also wildly freeing and gorgeous and stunning and lovely, too.

Hiding isn’t the end of your story. It’s the beginning.

Because when you stop hiding — well, that’s when things get way more interesting.

We’ll use breathwork, writing, poetry, podcasts, art, and intuition to free you from the alluring and seductive chains of invisibility. It’s time to be seen, already.

Let’s start with you seeing yourself clearly.

Join The Softness Sessions now.  We start March 19th, 2020, and the Early Bird rate is in effect!

Buy a seat in The Softness Sessions

P.S. Softness is the secret.

How to *Actually* Change the Whole Damn World.

Let's talk about making meaning, monitoring your health (not your weight -- your HEALTH) -- and how to be a magnificent human in modern times.

I went to the doctor and found out I’m just shy of weighing 200 pounds. My highest weight in high school was 169 (HA!), I got married at 137 in 2006, and this is the most I’ve ever weighed, ever.

The thing is, I have very little shame about that 198.6 number. I’m really fucking healthy in the other health categories that count: mentally, spiritually, sexually, energetically, financially, and emotionally.

I didn’t get depressed last winter, which is the first time I felt fine during that season in over a decade.  (More about my depression and its lessons here, here, and here.)

Further, I’m on top of my Adulting — my library fines are paid and I’m making art regularly and my house is clean and my car is inspected, which are the things that slide in not-so-healthy-times.

Most importantly: I DON’T WANT TO STOP LIVING LIFE. I am not suicidal. I can read the news without sinking into a ball of despair and losing 3 hours to weeping uncontrollably about things I cannot change. Read: I deserve a slow clap.

Aside from that single measurement — my weight — I’m healthier than I’ve ever been.

Psst! This is an episode of That’s What She Said, listen in below or keep reading if you dig a transcript!

So, why did I have to sit through a shaming lecture about it? Because nowhere in the 9.6 minute doctor’s visit that cost $165 did she ask about My Actual Health.

She checked in with her notes about what I should be doing — Synthroid, you’re on that? No? (Back story of how I healed my own damn thyroid: Tiny, Annoying Progress.)

Well, I need bloodwork. Why didn’t you get bloodwork? Oh, an enormous battery of pointless tests is expensive.

Well, why don’t you have insurance? Oh, because paying $600 a month for insurance costs more than paying cash for when you need to see a doctor.

Well, you can go to a clinic if you don’t make enough money to pay for the tests.

You need to lose weight. You know what to do — fruits, vegetables, whole grains… I literally said, “Yah yah yah” until she moved on.

Let’s break down this emotional gauntlet and then provide alternative questions that would actually benefit both health professionals and patients.

Shaming people about their perceived lack of health merely by weighing them is not only irresponsible, it’s dangerous. I know many skinny people who are dead inside and many overweight people who are healthy as fuck.

In my experience, a doctor dons a white coat and knows what you should do, despite not asking once about what you’ve learned this year, or where you’ve gone internally, or how your relationships are affecting you, or even what your mental health is like on any given day.

“Celexa, 20 milligrams? Still need that?”
“Yup.”

Next point of order. That is not an exaggeration of how I got a full year’s prescription for anti-depressants.

Rather than trusting the healthcare system to help us, let’s find ways for you to gauge your health from home with Really Fucking Good Questions. (RFGQ, for short.)

You can ask these of yourself first, then share what’s actually going on within you with the health providers of your choice. (If you’d like to regain your belief that health practitioners can be amazing people, look no further than Aimee Derbes.)

Really Fucking Good Questions that actually help determine your overall health:

How many deeply meaningful relationships are you cultivating at the moment? How often do you feel lonely?

When did you last sing, dance, or otherwise express yourself for no ‘good’ reason? When did you last place your bare feet on the earth and/or sand?

How is your mental outlook on any given day? Do you feel as if you’re growing more or less resilient over time?

How much time do you spend on screens each day? What would you tell me you know you ‘need’ to do in order to correct your relationship with those screens?  (Have you seen Space, my email course which helps you reduce your phone usage by 50% or more?)

Do you get more than seven hours of sleep per night? Will that be changing in the foreseeable future, for better or worse?

Do you engage in sexual acts with yourself and/or partner(s) on a regular basis? Do you find those activities enjoyable — and if not, how might you find them more pleasurable?

How does your financial situation feel on a day-to-day basis? Has anything about it changed drastically in the past few months? Is there anything about your finances that you’re avoiding?

Do you have at least one nutritious meal each day? What would adding more nutrition to your diet in a doable way look like?

How much time do you spend in your body each day, whether for work or play? Has this increased or decreased significantly in the past few months, and how has that changed your overall outlook?

Read: YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO TO THE GYM EVER AGAIN, IN FACT GYMS ARE SOME OF THE LEAST HEALTHY PLACES ON THE PLANET. At my gym, you literally cannot work out without having 24 enormous screens in view. They surround the perimeter of the main workout room, and every single treadmill also has an attached screen. If you are working out to fill some sort of internal well, you have to battle house demolition shows, stock news, the latest headlines, talking heads on Fox News, and assorted music videos for the duration of your workout. The workout brings you no closer to your own interiors, thus divorcing it from the wisdom of moving your body outdoors, in nature, or in yoga.

Do you have any recurring pains, flare-ups, or bodily issues you’d like to investigate further?

How sensitive would you say you are when compared to other humans? How do you cultivate and nurture your sensitivity?

What do you ignore, pretend isn’t a problem, or otherwise glaze over when describing your life to others?

Finally — how do you cultivate a sense of meaning and/or fulfillment in your life?

“Meaning must be sought out; it’s not built into most people’s lives.” — Rebecca Solnit

She goes on to say that no one will diagnose you as suffering from “social alienation, meaninglessness, or other anomalies that arise from something other than familial and erotic life,” even though those afflictions can be far more burdensome and challenging than carrying around a few extra pounds.

This meaning question is big and hard. It can be absolutely brutal if you’ve never considered it before, so let’s go a touch deeper into it.  I’ll tell you how I make meaning so that you don’t feel judged or like I’m giving any sort of prescriptive, I-know-what’s-best-for-you advice.

Meaning is something I create through:

Initiating and noticing progress, both in myself and in my coaching clients
Maintaining a regular spiritual practice (in my case, breathwork)
Turning the bullshit, the awful, the challenging, and the frustrating into podcasts, classes, and books
Being vulnerable with myself and with others whenever possible

How do you cultivate a sense of meaning and fulfillment in your life?

It probably involves some combination of setting goals, making progress, connecting with your intuition, processing your toughest challenges, and being vulnerable with other people. It’s finding a way to contribute to the world at large while being a damn good steward of your gifts.

Back to the big questions! None of them judge, but they do probe effectively into the parts of ourselves we are most likely to call ‘fine.’

They point you toward simple solutions — less screen time, a single nutritious meal, some singing for singing’s sake — without making you download an app or commit to a 30-day program.

They are, in other words, soft.

Softness means you can be gentle with yourself as you navigate life, move through changes, and shift your bodily rhythms to reflect your current reality. Punitive talks with ourselves about our finances, our health, our sensitivity, and our emotions don’t work.

We cannot shame ourselves into being better humans; that emotion only shuts us down. (‘No pain, no gain’ is one of our culture’s most ubiquitous lies.  Also: your shame is not interesting.)

When we can greet our current reality with open eyes and without harsh criticism, we’re far more likely to find ways to add nourishing practices, healthy relationships, down time, sleep, and nutrient-dense foods into our lives for the long term.

That 30-day plan or 7-day challenge temporarily beats us into submission and creates a false sense of progress.

In most cases, we need to prioritize a single change that moves the needle forward, then spend a long time making sure we build it into our routine. Think 180 days, not 30, with no damaging critiques of our entire being if we screw up and slide back into our old patterns.

So you

…ate an entire cake? Love you.
…slept for 1.5 hours instead of 8 because you were up reading? Love you.
…blew a coupla hundred bucks on shit you don’t need but really, really enjoy? Love you.
…can’t brush your teeth and shower on the daily to save your life? Love you.
…have never managed to make a new habit by punishing yourself? Love you, too.

It’s all love, all the way down — not in the mushy, ‘it’s okay just eat the cupcakes’ way, but in the ‘you’re human and it’s okay to make mistakes’ way. The soulful grandmother barrel laughing at your antics way.

Some days are better than others.

Some years are better than others.

Our job, collectively, is to tend to our own gardens before we tend to the world’s garden.

Otherwise, we run the risk of causing more harm than good, of judging others as harshly as we judge ourselves, or of burning out long before we have a chance to bring our best gifts to the table.

Our job is also to take a look at alllllllll the elements of our health — mental, physical, sexual, spiritual, emotional, and financial — before we prioritize one over the other.

Can you forgive yourself for the work you haven’t yet done, and the weight you haven’t yet lost, and the book you haven’t yet read or written, and the debt you haven’t paid off, and the lurking pain that won’t go away, and the habits you haven’t managed to forge?

Can you, under all the layers of disappointment and fear and doubt and anger with yourself, find some small, steady place within you that is gentle and that loves you, regardless?

Can you love yourself with all the fierce tenderness you use to love puppies and babies and every good thing in the world?

Can you acknowledge what IS, in this moment, without apology or judgement of any kind?

THAT is how you change the whole damn world — by carefully tending the worlds within you with softness, tenderness, and understanding.

First for you, then for everyone else. (Most people start with everyone else, myself included.)

It’s for you to make meaning, for you to decide why you’re on earth, and for you to enjoy as much of it as possible.

“More than anything, she wants to tell him how Purpose, that awful thing that greeting cards tell him he was born with and he just has to find, is actually something he’ll need to create; that it’s not until he feels the monotony of life that he’ll come to decide why he’s living it.” — Honestly, We Meant Well by Grant Ginder

Softness just makes it easier to find the answers and experiment with new ways of being.

If any part of this podcast made you cry, gasp, or giggle with new ideas, let me tell you about The Softness Sessions. Part extremely-personal-podcast, part breathwork, and a book to boot, The Softness Sessions will help you step into the wisest spaces within yourself.

Through extremely dense teachings followed by breathwork, The Softness Sessions will help you defeat asshole brain, ask better-for-your-whole-health questions, make sense of your internal chaos, and feel the feelings you’ve been boxing up and hiding away for a long time now.

The Softness Sessions are the perfect jumping-off point for a kinder-to-you internal life, no matter how much health you’ve currently got.

Find all the details at thesoft.space.

You’ll get a session each week for 6 weeks, as well as a real life book/journal combo in the actual mail. We start March 19th, 2020, and we’ll conclude with a live breathwork session on April 30th, 2020.

Soft humans are gifts to the rest of the world. I’m hellbent on becoming a soft one, and I hope you will be, too.

Again: thesoft.space — grab your seat now.

P.S.  A note for my procrastinators: the sooner you purchase, the sooner I can send you the book!  Waiting until the last possible second to buy means you won’t have the book for the first week or two of our time together.

Buy a seat in The Softness Sessions

Softness is the secret.

It's possible to lie down, breathe, and rise up knowing far more than you did an hour before. The Softness Sessions will show you how.

My favorite thing about Brene Brown is that she learns things the hard way. When her research provides a finding, she’s the first person to be like, ‘Oh HEEEEELL no.’ She doesn’t like what she finds most of the time, but what she finds makes her a better human, so she implements it into her life. And then life gets better.

Softness is like that.

When I first figured out that softness could be helpful in my life — not a weakness, but an effective way of being — I was pissed.

Psst! This is Episode #200 of the That’s What She Said podcast!

Okay, honestly, I was pissed about pinning wedding dresses and elopement ideas to Pinterest. Five years ago, I was mad that my default feminine bits were all about those frilly dresses and vista views, fantasizing on the internet about a big fancy event.

I’ve since given up the board and again returned to wanting to be where I am, no marriage included, but the strange resentment of my blossoming softness took a while to fade. I was tied to my get shit done bits — the earner, the leader, the action-taker — and wrongly thought that those things would disappear if I treated myself with understanding. I’ve supported people through divorces and addiction and unemployment, and I thought I couldn’t do those things if I was myself: tender and wild and so, so, soft underneath my sharp spiky exterior.

It’s taken five years of consistent reckoning to see that I can take action, earn, and lead without being mean to myself, judging others, or getting caught in society’s be-even-more-productive-before-you-rest trap.

Softness is not a weakness; it’s our only hope for enjoying existence.

I know what you’re afraid of, here, because I was afraid of it, too. You think that if you embrace softness, you’ll never get anything done. You’ll sink into a cushy life without calendars or deadlines, ignoring your responsibilities while you drift away on a unicorn pool floatie with a cooler of fancy beverages. I promise that won’t happen, and I want to be very specific about why those fears are unfounded.

Let’s dive into softness with five lessons I’ve learned about its effects on your life.

During every one of my coaching calls, my peeps and I review the list of to-do’s we cooked up during our last call. It’s a shit show when the work isn’t done. Not because I’m upset, but because my clients think I will be so upset that I will punish them in some way. We spend a lot of time helping them believe that’s not the case, and they are not in any sort of trouble. I’m not going to put a note on their Permanent Record or take away gold stars or stop answering their emails. They can hardly believe it. Why am I being so goddamn KIND?

Punitive action in the face of a setback does no one any favors.

Instead, I ask questions like, Why didn’t the work get done?

Actual answers I’ve heard include:

My father died.

I had a miscarriage.

I have a mysterious medical condition and I’ve been spending all my time at the doctor’s office.

I got engaged and got a puppy in the same month.

I’ve been on crutches for the last three weeks.

My business partner is on maternity leave and I’ve been picking up the slack.

I think I have cancer.

I’m working three jobs and think I need to quit one.

Does any part of you want to punish these people for having life happen to them?

Do we honestly expect people to lose a parent one day and get back to work, no big deal, the next?

Of course not. Of course you extend the love and warmth of a pat on the back and a ‘hey, life happens’ to these lovely humans, and then you adjust the plans accordingly.

To act as if death, disease, hurt, celebration, or the addition of a puppy to your life should happen without any interruption to your email-checking, business-generating calendar is foolish at best and harmful at worst.

Softness extends the same loving, understanding energy we give to others to ourselves.

It means you aren’t beating yourself up, punishing yourself, or otherwise flogging your every move, all day long. You were at the doctor’s office for 8 hours last week, but somehow you should have made up that work day? Bullshit. You need rest.

You were all alone with the kids while your partner traveled, but you should make up for that time by working from the moment they go to bed until 1am? Hell no. You need down time even more when you’re alone with the kids.

Judging yourself doesn’t lead to anywhere interesting, beneficial, or productive. Softness means giving it up.

Beating yourself up for your mental illness, your ailments, your life choices, or your current setbacks sucks all the enjoyment out of life. Asshole brain will feed you the standard lines: you’re useless, awful, fat, lazy, stupid, hideous, delusional, repellent, degenerate, no good, and/or unworthy of being on the planet.

Your believing those lines does no one on the planet any good. Most of all, you.

You cannot bully your way out of mental illness.

Guilting yourself about whatever you’re feeling won’t make it go away.

Asshole brain is trying to create a pile-on effect: if I can take her down in this state, she’ll stay down even longer than usual! But you don’t have to believe asshole brain.

Softness looks like refusing to speak unkindly to yourself in even the most frustrating of circumstances.

You can step into your own interiors and treat yourself as you would treat a beloved three-year-old.

You haven’t gotten off the couch in 6 days? Okay, let’s take a shower.

You’ve been surviving on delivery food and Amazon Prime shipments? Why don’t we take a walk.

You haven’t spoken to another human in 3 days? Let’s phone a friend.

Not ‘you asshole, let’s call Stacey,’ or ‘You stink, fuckface, get in the shower.’ No judgement. No angry name-calling. No unkind adjectives that sound like they’re being made by a rabid football coach. Only a deepening understanding of your own humanity.

You’re not perfect, and asshole brain is upset about that. It may never shut up, but you don’t have to listen to it.

Non-judgement is the real life ‘yes and’ answer to life. (Those improv classes paid off, see?)

Further — and particularly in harrowing circumstances — it might be time to lower the bar.

If you’ve got cancer, now is not be the time to renovate the kitchen, landscape the backyard, start a fitness routine, and triple your business.

Likewise, the addition or subtraction of an individual to or from your family means a lowering of the bar. (Can you travel for 24 out of 30 days when you’re beset with grief, all while writing a novel, keeping up with clients, and returning emails within 3 minutes of their arrival in your inbox? I HOPE NOT.)

Lowering the bar is a realistic, loving way to allow softness into your life.

Maybe those plans go on hold. Maybe you take that dream trip instead of saying ‘someday.’ Maybe you stop paying attention to that white dude on Instagram who’s going to teach you how to be a millionaire in just 14 minutes a day.

Lowering the bar means you plan for what you’re actually capable of doing on any given day and in any given year, which is highly variable based on life circumstances.

Dominant societal systems don’t allow for any variation whatsoever. A friend who works in corporate America is expected to be just as productive on a Friday afternoon in the middle of summer as on a Tuesday afternoon in February. THAT’S NOT REALISTIC. We all know everyone is eyeing the clock, ticking down the minutes until they can speed to their cars and head for the pool!

And you, when you act as if all days should get the same amount of work done? Not realistic.

Your business has cycles, your clients have cycles, your life has cycles. Plan accordingly.

Lest you think this is flippant advice, or me preaching all blah blah blah style: NOPE.

My bar used to be working for eight hours a day, even if there was nothing pressing to be done, working out at Crossfit twice a week while planning my next volunteering trip abroad, all while keeping a book in production and taking on new coaching clients, as well as writing two killer blog posts a week, keeping the house meticulously clean, and traveling the world for speaking gigs.

Over the past five years, I started to be all-the-way-down honest with myself:

Actually, I don’t enjoy Crossfit. It brings out the worst in my spirit over the long term.

My volunteering abroad is not nearly as effective as my sending money to support those already working there, and it lowers my carbon footprint by about a bajillion percent.

I don’t always have a book in me.

Sometimes the house gets dusty.

Speaking takes far more out of me than it gives back, most of the time.

The bar drops when we’re honest with ourselves about our priorities. And, as Maya Angelou said, ‘When you know better, you do better.’ So let’s do better.

Dropping the bar means you’ll actually be able to achieve what you decide to do. But you can only achieve a few things at once.

You can’t run a marathon while being pregnant while attending daily recovery meetings while starting a new business while working a full-time job while raising orphaned squirrels while keeping the toilet meticulously clean. You can’t.

For the past year, my focus was on switching to a year-long model for working with clients, as well as restoring my mental health and writing my next book. One personal goal, two business goals. The bar is low enough for me to reach it, then to create a new one.

The last thing I want is for you to spend years of your life trying to clear a hurdle that a.) doesn’t matter to you or b.) will never be reached. That’s what the world wants, sure — for you to buy a solution that will help you hack the system so that you’ve got 6-pack abs, a magnificent lover, a few million dollars, and enlightenment. Only it never works that way.

Keeping yourself on a treadmill six stories below the bar you’re trying to reach will only lead to frustration and despair.

Likewise, softness doesn’t care where you rank with regards to everyone else.

I once worked with a woman who is now a member of the financial 1% — she’s got an 8-figure business and knows Oprah personally. I should be jealous, right? I should feel like a failure and compare myself to her and freak out about how much I’ve failed?

Nope. I’m slowly, slowly, slowly learning to compare me with myself.

Do I have clear priorities?

Am I making progress?

Am I enjoying the life I’ve got right now while working to shape the contours of my future?

Awesome. That’s all I need.

In practical terms, getting out of the comparison game looks like really good boundaries. I don’t follow or listen to or hear from that person, or any of the people associated with that person, so that I’m not tempted to go down the rabbit hole of comparison.

I’ve unfollowed, ignored, and unsubscribed from everyone who trips my ‘I WANT WHAT THEY HAVE’ triggers. I take notes on my progress and thank Past Me all the time for what Present Me is now enjoying.

Am I a millionaire? No. But have I been working on my credit score? Yes.

Do I have the savings I’ll need to retire at age 38? No. But have I been making regular contributions to my retirement account? Yes.

Softness celebrates progress.

Where have you made progress in your business lately? In your financial habits? In your eating, sleeping, phone-using, or boundary patterns? Where have you changed a habit that you thought would be there forever, even if it took 14 years? Have you learned to distinguish asshole brain from your other thoughts some of the time? Have you unraveled a pattern that you thought would be with you forever?

Take note of your progress, particularly of the internal variety.

This is where we become soft. We accept our humanity and we take on the next challenge without beating ourselves up, making ourselves wrong, or otherwise hammering our best efforts into the ground.

And becoming soft is the goal, internally. You can have rock-hard external muscles and be so brutal to yourself that your best ideas, most incredible theories, and most astounding work will never see the light of day.

To become a safe space for others, which I assume we all want, we have to become a safe space for ourselves first.

We do that through softness, through observing what is, and through relentlessly refusing to dehumanize ourselves or other people.

To recap:

No one is coming to take away your gold stars.
You don’t have to believe asshole brain.
Lowering the bar is a realistic and loving way to allow softness into your life.
Softness celebrates all progress.
Becoming soft internally, so you can pass it along to others, is a worthy goal.

To be clear: softness is not a lack of spine or a refusal to confront wrongdoing. It’s a willingness to do those things without putting up enormous shields, using harmful rhetoric, or flinging around dehumanizing concepts to get people on your side. It’s not a lack of leading but a willingness to lead without harsh punishments and hierarchical power structures.

Softness whispers, ‘I don’t have to be better than you or more powerful than you for us to make rad things happen in the world.’ Its willingness to bend, dance, ebb, and flow makes it a potent solution for many of the world’s ills.

Softness commands your best and wisest self to be present at all times.

If you’re like, ‘But how the fuck do you become soft, Kristen,’ well…I’ve been working on a new thing. Part extremely-personal-podcast, part breathwork, and a book besides, The Softness Sessions will help you step into the wisest spaces within you.

Through extremely dense teachings followed by breathwork, The Softness Sessions will reconnect you with your intuition. They’ll help you defeat asshole brain, lower your own bar, make sense of your internal chaos, and feel the feelings you’ve been boxing up and hiding away for months/years/decades now.

The Softness Sessions // you deserve access to your own intuition. Start here.

I think you need a life in which you’re expanding instead of shrinking;
observing instead of judging;
dancing instead of trying to be invisible and hoping everything gets better.

The Softness Sessions are the perfect jumping-off point for a kinder-to-you internal life. You can find alll the details at thesoft.space.

We start March 19th, 2020, and you’ll get a session each week for 6 weeks, as well as an actual book/journal combo in the actual mail. We’ll conclude with a live breathwork session on April 30th, 2020.

Frankly, soft humans are gifts to the rest of the world. I’m hellbent on becoming a soft one, and I hope you will be, too.

Again: thesoft.space — check it out and join us!

P.S. Your shame is not interesting.