Steven Barnes is a life coach, CST coach and certified hypnotist. He has more than 30 years’ experience in the self-development arts, including hypnosis certification with Transformative Arts Institute in Marin, CA, training as a yoga and Tai Chi instructor, and fourth-degree black belt. He has counseled executives, royalty, prominent politicians and Hollywood celebrities at the Moonview Sanctuary in Santa Monica. Steve has gained a unique understanding of the relationship between myth, energy and consciousness, and has shared it with thousands of students and clients since 1980.

Romeo & Juliet’s journey #3: Accepting the Challenge

So we know the story: against a background of family strife, the two lovers meet and BOOM!  Fall instantly in lust.  I mean love.  Juliet feels the pull as well, but quite sensibly insists that Romeo announce his honorable intentions. Overcome with lust (I mean love) he agrees to her terms, and opens his heart despite that family strife, and despite his general caddishness.


(by the way: this is why they are so young.  Juliet is only 13!  Romeo at least 18 or 19.  He is clearly immature, and while she is actually more mature than Romeo in many ways, still a child. This explains the explosiveness of their emotions:


These violent delights have violent ends

And in their triump die, like fire and powder

Which, as they kiss, consume


They are struck by the core, central inter-personal human drive: love and sex, combined in the same package. Devastating. But it is also the driver of human life, the creator of families, the creator of children who must be protected.  And the dawn of society, which exists to protect those children.


This force is second in universal experience only to personal survival, and once you have children, most parents will sacrifice even personal that survival for their welfare.


It is the door to adulthood.   The opening of the heart to wish the same good for your love that you wish for yourself.  It is sacred, and wonderful, and also disorienting and destructive if we don’t handle it well. Sex and love combined with faith (not necessarily in the religious sense, but that also) can move mountains and change lives. Who hasn’t struggled, worked, suffered for love more than they would for their own dreams?


We grow when we love. And eventually, something very close to ALL of us feel this pull, and wish to connect.   What if you are gay? Or beyond the reproductive years? Or simply don’t wish to have children?


I suggest it doesn’t matter. The same “wiring”, programming, biological, psychological, social or spiritual needs are there to CONNECT.


Do you remember that first moment when you felt mature love?  Not just attraction, but the sense that this person might be the other half of you? That you were willing to change your life, change your mind, become something better than you have been?


In the words of Peter O’Toole in “Creator”–do you see your unborn children in her eyes? Can you see yourself walking together and helping each other along the road of life after youth has fled, and animal passions died from a roar to a gentle nudge?


If you combine love, sex and faith in a future together IT CHANGES YOU.  And the first time you experience it, a door of perception opens that you might not have even known existed.


Eventually, you will accept the challenge of loving, or admitting you want love. The only thing then is to prepare yourself.  To be the very best “you” that you can be. To be as healed, and strong and beautiful as you can be, to be able to nurture and gladden. To find someone whose standards for power and beauty are enough like yours (and to live up to those standards!) so that you can relish each other, without the slightest sense of “settling” or “making do.”


Start with loving yourself. Really, thoroughly, deeply loving yourself, and you will know the value of your heart’s gift.


My bounty is as boundless as the sea,

My love as deep; the more I give to thee,

The more I have, for both are infinite.”


THAT is the true gift you have to give.  Do not doubt. And do not squander it.   It is more precious than anything that can be given one human being to another.


Start by giving it to yourself, and you will never mistake its value.


Love yourself…and share the love!


Romeo’s First Step

If we want to apply the “Hero’s Journey” model to relationships, it is valuable to be specific, so let’s start with the first step.


  1. The hero is confronted with a challenge.  “Come with me, Luke, learn the ways of  the Force” was the call to adventure in the original Star Wars film.


What is it with relationships?  The urge to model Mommy and Daddy?  Loneliness?  Sexual hunger?  The urge to reproduce or maintain social standards?


In the most famous love story in all of western fiction, ROMEO AND JULIET, Romeo is apparently a bit of a cad, who woos and wins and tosses women away like disposable napkins.  He speaks of Rosiline’s chastity and beauty, but we sense it is a childish thing, a “starter” relationship. He’s playing at it.


But it is when he meets Juliette that he is fully engaged, struck with “the challenge” of forming a mature (well…MORE mature, anyway) relationship.  Not just for sex or social position, but because his heart has been turned inside-out, struck by “the Thunderbolt” as the saying goes.


This urge hits us on the sexual and emotional levels. It has biologically reproductive as well as socially conditioned aspects.  It hits HARD, and it would probably be reasonable to say that about 99.9% of people, deep down, crave it at some point in their lives.


We do so much as a culture preparing our children for this “Thunderbolt”.  We know it will happen one day just like it did to Bambi and Thumper: you’re going to get “twitterpated”.



Do YOU remember the first crush?  How about the first time your crush looked at you and “crushed” back?  That sense of Oh My God, when you realized that someone who was beautiful to you found you attractive?  That can be one of the most intoxicating feelings in the world, and if your values are clear and your self-respect high, it can be one of the most valuable and transformative feeliings of your life.


In the classic self-help book “Think And Grow Rich” Napoleon Hill says that the combined emotions of love, faith, and sex combine to create extraordinary drive and clarity of mind, and have lifted countless people to highest of genius and accomplishment. THAT, as Huey Lewis once sang, is The Power of Love.


So the very first step is to tell the truth: you want it. Crave it.  And are willing to begin the journey to have it.  Without that admission, you cannot have mind and heart in alignment.  And that can be dangerous, because, as the saying goes…the heart wants what it wants.


Better to figure out which way the river is going, and then get yourself a boat.  Swimming upstream can be exhausting.


Although salmon seem to dig it…



Love yourself…and share the love!


The Story of Love

Many years ago, I was teaching a “writer’s toolbox” class at UCLA, and we were having a great time with subjects like brainstorming, flow state management, structure, characterization and so on.  On the second day a student raised his hand.


“Mr. Barnes,’ he said. “You’ve given us so many wonderful tools, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to use them.”


“Why not?” I asked.


“well, my wife doesn’t support my desire to be a writer.  My kids take a LOT of energy at home, and my job just chews up the rest of my time…”   I could feel the energy draining out of the room as everyone began to slot their own excuses and obstacles into what the first man had said.  I was on the edge of losing them.


There is an expression that  “from time to time life gives you a cubic inch of opportunity.   You either grab it, or it is gone forever.”


I got one at that moment.   “Well,” I said.  “If you were a character in a story you were writing, and at the end of that story the character got everything he wanted, what would you have him do next?”


I watched his eyes cross and the steam come out of his ears. And then, slowly, he began to speak.  “Well…I could trade chores with my wife, do more of the heavy things that take less time, to make more time for myself. I could enlist my kids by making them think it would be cool to have a dad who is a published writer.   I could take my lunch to work with me and eat at my desk…”


I was gobsmacked. Here, just a few seconds earlier, he had given up hope. And now he was generating all of his own answers.   I asked the rest of the class the same question, and they started generating positive suggestions so fast they couldn’t write them down.


I drove home that night in a daze. What had happened? Over the next few days I researched obsessively, looking for answers. And about three days later I came across the work of Joseph Campbell. A literature professor and expert on world mythologies, he developed a theory called the “mono-myth”, the notion that there is a single story underlying all world literature.


To the degree that Campbell was correct WHY was he correct? Why is there a common pattern?  Whether you listen to African griots, New York Playwrights, Eskimo shamans or Celtic bards…why is there a common core? Well, he  also was quoted as saying that world mythology is the extension of our personal stories, and our personal stories are the personifications of our cultural myths. That there is a connection between the external stories we tell, and the internal way we represent our experience and order our memories.


That what he called “the Hero’s Journey” is, in essence a distillation of actual life experience as we grow and change and learn.   This pattern has been expressed many ways, and my interpretation is as follows, applied here to the first “Star Wars” movie, “A New Hope”:


  1. The Hero is confronted with a challenge.  (“Come with me, Luke!  Learn the ways of the Force!”)
  2. The Hero rejects the challenge. (“I promised Uncle Owen I’d fix the moisture evaporators”)
  3. Acceptance of the challenge (“teach me to be a Jedi like my father”)
  4. The road of Trials (traveling to Mos Eisley cantina, Alderaan, the Death Star, etc.)
  5. Gathering of allies and powers (Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, R2-D2, etc.)
  6. Confront Evil–defeated (Obi-Wan dies)
  7. Dark Night of the Soul (the Death Star attack is failing)
  8. Leap of Faith (in his own powers, in The Force, in Han Solo)
  9. Confront Evil–victory (Blowing up the Death Star)
  10. The Student becomes the teacher (Luke and Han get medals, the group applauds)


I suggest a theory: what if stories are the way that the tribal elders pass the most important life lessons to the children?  What if they are saying “this is the way life will be!  You will be challenged. You will be frightened, but must accept them anyway if you are to grow.   The way will be hard and confusing, so choose your companions and role models carefully, so that you can learn the skills that you will need. And if you are facing a great challenge there WILL be defeat and loss, so you must prepare yourself emotionally IN ADVANCE for this stress. But if you do these things, and keep faith, you will win and grow. Then, when you do, you must help the next person along the path by showing them the way.”


This notion was the origin of the “Lifewriting” system of personal development, and it underlies the “Soulmate Process” which prepares us to find and nurture healthy relationships.


Let’s apply those steps.   At some point in your life you will crave a partner.  There may well be fear or insecurity associated with this need, but you will date and seek love anyway.    You’ll kiss a lot of frogs looking for that prince/princess, but look to those who have had successful healthy lasting relationships to learn the truth of how they work, and who you need to be to find one.  Eventually, you will fall in love, and in all likelihood the first time(s) you will have your heart broken.  It will feel like the end of the world, but eventually you will pull yourself out of it, and try again…and again. And if you do, and keep learning, and maintain an open heart you will eventually meet The One, and bond.   And then…if you live and love with joy you yourself become a role model for those who follow.


That pattern is eternal, and universal. It is the story of almost every human being seeking love, and once you see the pattern you can apply it to ANY task in life, but love is so central that I invite you to apply it there first.


If there is a single most important step, it might be “allies and powers”: to find role models of people who have loved successfully for over twenty years. Ask them of their struggles, and triumphs.  Ask their advice. How they met, how they wooed, how they maintain the passion in their relationships.


Keep track of the answers, and you’ll start seeing the patterns.  Once you see them, you have an understanding of a basic aspect of life we are rarely directly taught.


And…after you have found the love you seek, be sure to share your new knowledge, would you?  The children are watching, and hoping.



Love yourself…and share that love with others



Happy Halloween! And…don’t be scared, there’s still a little time left for your own “Treat”!


Happy Halloween!   Hope you are prepared for the goblins and ghosts and princesses and pirates that will be storming your fortress!


And while you are doling out sweets for the kiddies, I hope you have the most important “sweetness” in your own life: love.   Twenty-five years ago I was overweight, alone and broke, living in an apartment in Vancouver Washington a thousand miles away from my friends. It was horrific.  And today I am successful, in terrific shape, and just celebrating my 20th anniversary (August 1st) with my wonderful partner Tananarive.  While “Lifewriting” has always dealt with the balanced life, we’ve never taught a live class specifically on how two lonely geeks found each other in this world.


That is about to change, as we’ll be teaching the “Geek’s Guide to Soulmates” class in January.   Until midnight tonight we can guarantee a special VERY low price on this, as you guys will be our early adopters, and actually help us understand what you need to heal, love yourselves, and attract the love of your life.   We’ll be sending along the preliminary pieces over the next weeks, but you will be able to start IMMEDIATELY with our “Geek’s Guide” private social media group, and the classic “Ancient Child” self-healing program, yours free as part of the package.


If you would like to find that love and healing, please go to and take advantage of this amazing offer, and be part of the historic class in January.  The clock is ticking!





Halloween (2018) and “Toxic Humanity”

There is a terrific scene in the new “Halloween” film where three generations of Strode women: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, and Andi Matichak) face off against “The Shape” Michael Meyers.




The set-up is devastatingly simple: traumatized by the events in the original film, Laurie Strode (Curtis) has become a neurotic, agoraphobic recluse, convinced that Meyers will return to kill her one day, and sacrificing the love and warmth of her family to attempt to protect them and prepare them for the danger to come.  She has become a “gun nut”, obsessed with barriers and traps and the nearness of death.


Her daughter Karen (Greer) wants nothing to do with her, and her grand-daughter Aliyison (Matichak) would like to be the bridge between mother and grandmother.    When Meyers escapes custody and comes after them, the reality that Mom was right the whole time hits   like a ton of bricks. When   Karen and   Aliyson are trapped in the basement, Michael battering his way in, Karen grabs a rifle in a desperate attempt to protect her daughter and her own life…and the pressure breaks her.


It is an awful scene. This is her dying place, these cold walls and dark shadows her tomb.  She has let down her daughter, who will die under Michael’s knife.   She has heard of the horror, of this implacable hellish, soul-less creature her entire life and mocked the concept…and now it is here.


Death itself, is here.   She looks into what Dr. Loomis called “The Devil’s Eyes” and sees no mercy, no hope, nothing but her own ending, and the abyss sucks her in.


Even with a rifle in her hands, she screams that she can’t do it. She calls for her Mommy, paralyzed with terror.


Michael, the predator that he is, knows she is helpless, comes for her and…


She shoots him BOOM.  She was faking!   And what follows is one of the most satisfying sequences in horror film, as three generations of Strodes stand up to this terror, (at least temporarily) destroying it, and in the process healing their shattered family.  Wow.



The audience I saw it with went NUTS at the basement scene!  THAT was one of the great moments of horror cinema.   She was luring him in with the illusion of weakness, where in reality the training, her fear for her life, and her commitment to saving her daughter has actually moved her totally OUT  of illusion, and into a savage reality:


Women can and have protected themselves throughout all history. And throughout the animal kingdom.


Female “weakness” is an illusion, a game, an agreement between male and female that works great for producing more grandchildren, but is not based in biological or psychological reality.   Are males stronger, larger, more explosively powerful? Yes.  Does that mean females cannot defend themselves?




There is an expression: “it isn’t the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.”  And a woman fighting not just for her own life but the life of her child is about as dangerous, pound for pound, as a human being can be AS LONG AS SHE STAYS OUT OF THE SOCIALLY CONSTRUCTED ILLUSION.  Get out of her head. Get into her heart, and her body instincts.


If you step back and look at the game of male and female, it is arguable  that deep in prehistory the human race decided to play a game: females would pretend to be weaker more timid than they were, males would pretend to be stronger and braver than THEY really were.  The goal?  Produce maximum grandchildren via specialization.


And it had advantages and disadvantages for both sides.  The thought that “women’s ambitions and men’s lives were disposable” comes to mind.    Arguably, the human race, post-industrialization, birth control, the invention of firearms and overpopulation, has entered a new era, one in which we can question those gender roles and actually shift them if we choose.  This is new. And…the good news is that this change is actually good for both sides.


All that is required for this change is to awaken from the illusion.   To do this, start with the assumption of equality (with some inevitable reproductive complementarity).  It can be difficult because of all the politics, but just as with racial issues, if you START with an assumption of equality between groups, understanding that societies exaggerate the differences for its own purposes (mainly genetic or tribal survival), then “waking up” frees us.    If you stop needing to project guilt, blame and shame and instead ask: “how did we get here, if we are basically equal across gender and racial lines?” all of the answers will come, and WITHOUT demonizing either side.  Stop the war.   We have done the best we could as a species, and now we have the chance to do better. A chance to step into a new future that is rooted in our distant past, but builds upon it to create new options.


I ask you seriously, guys: when you saw Karen blow Michael Meyers away (well…or at least wound him. You know how these immortal monsters are!) didn’t that turn you on, just a little?  I can’t imagine a healthy male who would want a weak woman.  Could such a woman protect his children?  Protect HIM if he was sick or wounded?  Don’t you want the strongest life partner you can possibly find?


And I ask you, ladies: when you saw that, didn’t you cheer?  Didn’t you feel that that was YOU , given the right situation, the right motivations?  And what would you think of a man who looked at that and cheered? And was turned on by the notion that you could stand at his side, utterly female but utterly capable of defending your children, no matter what it took?


This isn’t a salvo in the gun control debate.  Stop the politics, just for a moment. We’re talking about primal survival, the creation of young, one of the primary drivers of human sexuality.  And ALL animals have the means of self-protection and the internal permission to fight for their lives.   WEAKNESS IS AN ILLUSION.    POWER IS SEXY.   That power can manifest as various forms of intelligence, drive, self-confidence, skill, talent, calm, balance and so forth, but except for BADLY wounded people and predators, weakness is NOT attractive.


I recently met with one of the producers of “Halloween,”  who  chuckled when I mentioned that Michael Meyers could be seen as an avatar of Toxic Masculinity.  Unstoppable, violent, dominating.   But that would only be half the puzzle, because the other half would be Toxic Femininity: pretending to be weak, begging for help she didn’t need,  thrusting the protective energy (Curtis) out to the hinterlands to harden the heart and then blame it for the very sacrifices that keep the home safe.


The path forward is for BOTH sides to awaken.  To end a “war” that has lasted tens of thousands of years.  Which once served a very real purpose which it may well have outlived   It will not be easy, because partisans on both sides are convinced the illusion is real. But there are massive rewards for those who can shake off that fantasy and embrace a new and better world.


And one of those rewards is the ability to love BOTH the male and female aspects of ourselves.  And therefore…each other. And the path is to connect to the child self, to commit to the protection of hat helpless one at any cost. From there, we can see we must harness everything within us, every drop of compassion and love, which then spins into a total commitment to protect and smashes the illusions.


We can be more. We can be free. We can love ourselves, and understand our world, and embrace each other as we walk this journey called life.


The answer, as always, is love.



Be kind to yourself…and love each other


“As Good As It Gets” (1997): Equality or Complementarity?

In the 1997 Romantic comedy written by James L. Brooks, Helen Hunt plays a waitress, CAROL CONNOLY, a single mother with a chronically ill son.

There is a terrific scene where Carol brings a boyfriend home for (hopefully) some awkward sex on the couch of her shabby apartment. She wants him, he wants her…she hopes for a night of passion, something to make her remember she is a woman, filled with hope and life and love and possibility, and not just a mother or a worker drone. Hope. Hope is the only cure for desperation.

But even though both are willing, everything goes wrong, because her sick child needs her, and as every good parent knows, a child’s needs trump EVERYTHING else. After a humiliating (and painfully funny and real) effort to balance a sex life with Mommy instincts the potential boyfriend gives up and leaves, and she is left alone.

Meanwhile, one of her steady customers at the diner, MELVIN UDALL, is a miserable excuse for a human being, a misanthropic homophobe with obsessive-compulsive disorder…but a wealthy, successful writer. She somehow sees his humanity, and is one of the only people in the world who seems to actually connect with him, mostly over his phobia about germs.

Their tenuous connection creates the entire film (which is terrific, funny, and heartfelt) as these two terribly wounded and imbalanced people carefully circle each other. The expression “how do porcupines mate? Very carefully” comes to mind.

And by the end of the film, Carol and Melvin have the potential to create a healthy relationship. Two imbalanced people in a balanced relationship? Sure. They aren’t equal — but they ARE complementary. They have a chance. If they give honestly and fully of what they have,

On the surface, they seem so totally incompatible that the situation is absurd. But audiences and critics loved it, and I suggest that they loved it because there is an essential truth lurking under the surface.

And it is this: for two people to have a relationship they must be in balance. Note that I didn’t say “equal” — that may well be where we’re heading as a culture, but much of the world isn’t there yet. But if you were to divide people up into say 10 different arenas of life: income, intelligence, emotional stability, fitness, attractiveness, energy, judgement self-love, capacity to love others, joy, spirituality…whatever basic qualities you see in the world, and give them 1–10 points per category, what you’d see is that if you add up the points, you’ll never see a vast mismatch. An APPARENT mismatch, where one person is terrific and the other is miserable S.O.B. would lower points in the “judgement” category, wouldn’t it? The “Self Respect” category? Maybe raise points in the S.O.B.’s “charisma” category?

The future might well be “my level of beauty and power in exchange for yours” but the past, and perhaps the present is usually “His power for Her beauty”. Anyone watching supermodels dating old millionaires has seen this at work clearly, and it is up to your politics and view of humanity to decide who is exploiting whom.

I say let’s give them BOTH credit, shall we? Each has traded what they have for the very best they could get. What is that exchange? If it is not an even-steven equality exchange, is it security for fertility? Luxury and social mobility for Sex? Intelligence for Emotional balance? Whatever you want, but find that balance point, and you’ll understand people more deeply. And the beautiful thing is that unlike “Incel Insanity”, saying this HAS (often) been our past DOES NOT mean it is our future. We can change this. But we have to look at it without guilt, blame, or shame. And ask ourselves how we want relationships to work in the future.

But one thing is certain: there is no cheating. We don’t attract what we want. We attract what we ARE. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you have the power to improve yourself, and it begins with the honesty to admit we need to do it.

Helen Hunt has sanity, nurturance, beauty, emotional stability. Melvin has the financial stability, generated by writing romance novels filled with yearning. Note that he didn’t make his money selling manhole covers or something emotionally neutral: HE UNDERSTANDS THE YEARNING. He is just too damaged to connect with it in his own life.

Can you see the balance? If she had been more financially stable, do you think she’d have been as likely to bond with him? Hardly. And if he had been more emotionally stable, do you think it likely that he’d have found a woman with her positive characteristics, but less need and chaos? Likely, isn’t it?

There is nothing negative about this, unless you choose to see it that way. Each can heal and help the other. And that yearning, that need, that sense of two human beings seeking to “fit” each other’s lives like a pair of jigsaw puzzle pieces, once it “clicks”, IF it “clicks”…is “As Good As It Gets.”

Brilliant title, wasn’t it?

In a very real sense, that’s all there is to love. Equality or complementarity. Two lonely souls who fit. Feeling that together, you are more than you were alone.

Here is how you can test this notion: create a list of the basic human characteristics. Look for people who have been happily married for more than 20 years. And look at that list, giving them each rough scores in the categories. If you do this often enough, tweaking as you go, you’ll start seeing the pattern: stable couples are roughly equivalent, even if their scores in different categories vary wildly (as with Carol and Melvin). You’ll start to glimpse a truth, as well as start understanding your own values and potential and areas you might want to work on.

Its kind of like a see-saw, where the two people have to be roughly equivalent in order to balance. Society can shift the fulcrum, but if it shifts too much, if there is too much of a power imbalance, I suggest the society itself stops functioning, and they’ll be out-competed by a healthier culture. Men and women HAVE to treat each other with a certain irreducible amount of respect and care, or the whole thing falls apart.

See that, and you begin to end the war between loving human beings, and see that we’ve been doing the best we can do with the resources we have. We have new resources now, meaning new opportunities…but we have to understand how we got here to open the door to the future.

Love yourselves, and be kind to each other…


Beware Induced Confusion

I remember being in the office of a formerly great science fiction writer, a man who was a major force in his time, a volcano of creativity.   But…he couldn’t write any more.   The problem is that his very creativity, which had once made his fortune, generated a thousand options at every branching point in the story.  He, the character, the universe, the other characters could react in INFINITE ways to every stimulus.   Where once he had embraced those choices, and found the best, most brilliant and insightful (and often hilarious) options…now those same options froze him in place.


I know for a fact that if he had an editor to tell him what to do, he could still write.  But HE could not make the choice.   This may have been cognitive decline due to age or disease, or it might have been damage from a lifetime of indulgence in drugs and alcohol.  But it was so sad to see.   A TITAN.   Unable to make decisions unless someone made them for him.


This is why is is so important to have clear values.   A friend recently posted about an algorithm he’d created to choose between killing babies or old people in an out of control car.   It triggered some funny conversation but had a serious intent.  How DO we make choices of what to do?  If you care about everything equally, you can do nothing.  It is PRECISELY the same as caring about nothing at all.


We all create mental short-cuts to decide where to spend our energy, attention, money, time.   Who to give our love to, and who to shun.  The ONLY people who don’t are in asylums, unable to choose between urinating and tying their shoes. The results are kinda stinky.    Fear, lack of trust in your own judgement, lack of clear values, tunnel vision and clouded judgement can all contribute to this.


But so can deliberate confusion sewn by people who want to exploit your lack of capacity to decide in order to tell you: “you don’t know what to do!  Follow me!” or worse “Try to do everything at once” and therefore accomplish nothing.

Or worse “do nothing at all.”




The subject of “Stochastic Terrorism” came up. The term “Stochastic” meaning “randomly determined; having a random probability distribution or pattern that may be analyzed statistically but may not be predicted precisely.”

Reduce the friction coefficient on a road, and it is totally predictable that there will be more accidents, even though you cannot predict WHICH cars will crash.


Bin Laden was, according to the (possible originator) of the term, a “Stochastic Terrorist” because he encouraged holy war without giving specific orders.  SOME “True Believer” was going to take action.  You have used mass media to induce a response without a direct connection.   Predictable.

(By the way, our “Soulmates Process” uses “Stochastic Matchmaking”: rather than chasing after a particular person, you take the actions most likely to increase your real, natural attractiveness for the right people, as well as increase likelihood of meeting them.   You play to win the “numbers game.”)


I suggest that the current spate of violence is influenced powerfully by this phenomenon.  Politicians, political pundits scream violence or incivility, and the most radicalized and emotionally imbalanced listeners take action.   The pols and pundits get plausible deniability, but the actions are taken.  “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest” is suggested as a version of this, and we’ve all seen countless crime films where the Boss doesn’t DIRECTLY say someone should be murdered, but has surrounded himself with murderous people, such that when they say “George is a problem. Something should be done about that” we know exactly what will happen in the next reel, and that he has insulated himself enough to have…wait for it…plausible deniability.


You get to do what you want to do, without ever taking responsibility for it.   Cute.

A reader said:  “I don’t know how useful the term. I certainly know that the hate personalites are not doing what they do to spur the mentally ill into action. They are leading fostering the ideas of “the other” in their audience to grow unyield opposition to (political opponents) and to insulate their side from compromise. and common ideas with the “other side.””


My response was:  “It is hugely valuable IMO. Many of the things we do are not conscious, but still effective. Bringing it up to consciousness allows us to look at the result, not just the conscious intent. and then we get to make decisions about what kind of society we want. Only children can be excused based solely on intent. “Ignorance of results excuses no man” isn’t quite true…but if you don’t watch results rather than intents, you’ll miss much of reality.”


But let me look more carefully at that initial statement.   “I certainly know that…” and you “know” that precisely how?  Because no one has ever given an indirect command?  No one has ever stirred up a lynch mob, knowing that the weakest-minded will take the action.  Really?  You KNOW this?


No, you don’t. You might hope or believe that, but you cannot KNOW it.  And when you say “They are leading fostering the ideas of “the other” in their audience to grow unyielding opposition to (political opponents) and to insulate their side from compromise. and common ideas with the “other side.””  you are saying “they are building the sense of their political opponents as “the enemy.”


Do that, and if the issues are critical enough SOMEONE WILL COMMIT ACTS OF VIOLENCE.  That is human nature.  Really BELIEVE fetuses are human beings? Someone will blow up a birth control clinic. Really BELIEVE that rich people are evil?  Someone will kill one to make a point.

Really BELIEVE that Jews are controlling the government?  Someone will slaughter worshipers in a temple.


And if you step back and scream hatred and violence, and you don’t KNOW that this will happen if the rhetoric becomes violent enough and reaches the right ears? You are asleep.    There is a chance to wake you up.


But you know? I think that most of the shock jocks and political pundits aren’t asleep. I think they believe they can ride that bicycle, get close enough to the edge to emotionalize their audience , and if a few heads get busted, well, They Asked For It.


They aren’t respecting the First Amendment. They are HIDING behind it, to accomplish something terrible. And in the end, IMO they would tear the First Amendment down and say the government will allow only THEIR version of the truth.  And in that sense..the more you actually respect the first amendment, the more frightening that should sound.


They are snakes.  And if they are more than that?  If they are actually monsters? They will use that rhetoric to test the public. Will you allow me to say these things?  And if there are ugly results, will you excuse it, deny it happened or its origin? Will you say it is “free speech” as if “free speech” is the intent, rather than a means to an end, as if government laws are the only means of legally and morally influencing behavior?  Will you try to distract the confused from what is happening, because you believe the end justifies the means?


The monsters want total control, and sometimes the eradication of enemies and opposition forces. And the will test out words to see if they can get away with it.  And if they can, then small actions. And if people stay asleep…large actions.


Until one day people wake up and say “what happened?” or worse “I never knew this could happen.


Because it profited them to stay asleep. Because they WANTED certain actions (“hey, they’re pushing through my agenda.   I’ll let them do that. We’ll rein them in later.”  Historically, that actually doesn’t work very well.)


The time for us to grasp and state clearly that speech can and does lead to violence is now. Then, people cannot pretend they never were exposed to the concept. They can say they didn’t believe it, or felt helpless.  And those who APPROVE of the violence, or are ignorant enough to believe they can control it, will use same those weasel words.  It is not always possible to differentiate between sleepers and snakes.


But the first step is getting the concept out there. Providing words that clarify thoughts. And then starting the conversation about what we will accept. Those who will not agree that our elected leaders should be more careful with their words cannot be a part of the next step of conversation: WHAT TO DO?

What to do?   Clarify the position.  Force people to make a choice, or identify those unwilling to speak up and grasp that some of them are deliberately sabotaging without the courage and honesty to actually say what they are thinking.

The first step is getting clarity on who will agree that civility is critical in a society. If they try to distract from the power of leadership to shape actions and opinions, they are asleep at BEST.  They may be snakes.

And make no mistake: some are monsters.




“Get Away From Her, You B@#$!”

Remember “Aliens”? Sure you do.  Ripley (the great Sigourney Weaver) survived the alien attack on her space tugboat Nostromo, awakening decades later in a new world.   When she is asked to lead a group of tough space marines back to the planet where her ship originally made contact, she hates the notion…but must, both to save hapless colonists and stop her own nightmares.  The space marines are tough and willing, but overmatched by the ferocious aliens that have overrun the planet, underlead by an inexperienced officer.  Ripley, there only as an observer, must take control of the situation to save the lives of the savaged marines, escaping an ambush just in time to see their escape ship blown to pieces.


“Game Over Man!  Game Over!”


Trapped in the station waiting for a nuclear reactor to overload and betting all their hopes on the slender chance of getting a second rescue ship from orbit, Ripley leads the survivors in barricading the station, bonding to the single survivor of the initial alien assault: a little girl called Newt who managed to survive by crawling in the air spaces.  When the aliens overrun them, and Newt is taken alive, Ripley is pushed beyond terror to descend into the bowels of the station to save the child.   She does, but the alien queen follows them into their escape ship as the station blows up behind them.


All seems lost, but at this point Ripley, protecting her comrades and particularly the child she has sworn to save, goes beyond all fear, beyond any ordinary human consideration, becoming the Primal Mother, stepping into the strongest position any human being can come from: “I’m ready to die, and I’m ready to take you with me.”   Does anyone doubt that Ripley would have gladly perished, gone out that airlock with the alien queen, if that was what it took to save that little girl?  When she said those six words:  “Get away from her you BITCH!” the audience cheered as I’ve never seen.  She was beaten.  Wiped out. Finished. Out of options. All of the “space marines” were defeated or dead, her android torn in half, with no weapons, nothing but her mother’s heart and a ferocious will NOT to survived, but to die dealing death.  Few forces can stand up to such courage and power.


She won.  Not just her own life, not just defeating the alien queen, but winning the most precious things in the world: the love of a little girl (‘Mommy!”) and the knowledge that, yes…it was safe to dream again.


THAT is a movie.  And it works because it connects with a core truth.   It isn’t what you fight with, its what you fight for.   And she was able to rise to the occasion because she had pure motivation.


She did what I think ALL of us would do, if we understood what was at stake.





I remember talking to a student about a toxic relationship.  The guy she was with was just a nightmare of anger and depression, negative habits and needy accusations, flirting with violence.  She’d actually had kids with him, and the children were being negatively affected years after the separation. “Why did you marry him?”  She fumbled the answer a bit, but finally came back with “he needed love.,” she said.  Sure, he had problems, but “troubled people need love too.”


Yes, I said. But they don’t need it from YOU.


I asked a question that has been very valuable over the years: “would you have wanted your DAUGHTER  to marry him?”  And the vague, unfocused, defensive lok in her eyes disappeared and she came back sharply with “hell no.”


Predictable.  Why are we willing to accept for ourselves what we would not want for our children?  Because our children hold our hope for the future, our own dreams, rooted in our childhoods, reaching beyond our own lifetimes.    We love them with all our hearts.


Would that we loved ourselves the same way.  Our bodies and psyches hold a lifetime of scars, are “black bags” of unprocessed emotions, tangled values, confused beliefs and distorted memories.   Our CHILDREN are worth the moon…but OUR value is questionable.


But wait…if we make bad relationship choices, don’t those affect our future and present children.   Damaging them to continue this cycle on and on? Isn’t this a paradox? We’ll do it for our kids, but can’t do it for ourselves. And in not doing it for ourselves, we lay the burden on our children, creating nightmares for generations to come….



It can stop now.  Understanding the pattern gives us a new opportunity to come from love rather than chasing after it.   We KNOW how to stop the cycle.  All it takes is connecting to the “child” self within us, committing to protect our own hearts, and healing and improving ourselves until we are on the same frequency as the HEALTHY people who are looking for love.


It really is that simple. And if you don’t find them?  You are still happy and healthy. It is the ONLY approach that cannot lose, since the end point is and always has been finding joy in this world.




Spend a few minutes daily sitting quietly and visualizing the child you were, making them so young that whatever damage you’ve suffered has yet to hit.   See her vulnerability and promise, and commit to protecting her at ALL costs, making her life as wonderful and beautiful as possible. And never letting ANYONE play with her unless they pass your stringent standards.  And….disciplining her with love, as well, making sure she takes care of herself: discipline is love. SOMEONE has to be the parent, and she can’t do it.  You have to.


Do that…and you become the hero in your own story, capable of slaying dragons….or riding them, if you would.   Do this…and you earn your way into the company of other dragon-slayers, dragon-riders.  And if you think you could find a worthy partner in such company…


The door is open before you.




“A Star Is Born”: Wilting beneath the loving gaze

(Spoilers ahead)

There is a darned good reason that “A Star Is Born” has been remade three times, in different eras with different emphasis. But always with enough power to make a mark. There is strong emotional fiber in that story. The current version may just be the very best.

Ally (Lady GaGa) is a struggling singer who has almost given up her dream of a career. She meets Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) is a superstar driven by demons.

He has the external success, but the inner emptiness, a lack of force, and we see this in the moment when a cop intrudes on their privacy to demand an autograph. Jackson can’t tell the man “no”, protecting his space. Ally punches the guy.

Jackson sees something in her: a strength, a talent, a beauty. Her soul. She certainly sees him (especially in the moment he sings in her club, just for the pleasure of the other performers, not an impersonal crowd of worshipers.) His song: “Maybe its time to let the old ways die.” A song of loss, and pain, and desperate hope. SHE SEES HIM.

And this builds up to one of the “trailer moments”. “Do you write your own songs” he asks. She replies no. Which leads her to a painful truth: she doesn’t want to reveal herself, BE herself. Why? Because every executive she’s dealt with says that they like her voice, but don’t like her face.

Jackson looks at her and says: “I think you’re beautiful.” And her eyes widen, and for the first time she grasps that something is happening here.

Have you ever FELT that? That thrill of realizing someone feels for you what you feel for them? The astonishment? The feeling that something miraculous has happened?

I pray you have. It is one of the most wonderful things in all the world. But you have to be ready for it, or you’ll be consumed by the fire.

His green light was on…for her.

Her “green light” was on…for him.

The difference is that she had a foundation of self-worth to stand on, a fierceness, like a little wolverine. Whereas he was a walking wound.

But the tragedy that is A STAR IS BORN comes from the fact that one of these lovers cannot sustain the other’s gaze.

Have you ever had someone look at you with love and adoration, and felt something inside you wither? Have you ever expressed love for someone and had them recoil in distaste?

I had that pain, of dating the girl of my dreams, and had the horrible experience that the more honest and open I was, the more she backed away. I gave too much of my heart, too soon. Maybe I came off like a liar, or a weakling. Or maybe it was more than she could handle at the time. But what was clear was that it was too much, too soon.

The problem in “A Star Is Born” is that Jackson is so wounded, so frightened of the emptiness within him, that he is afraid he will drag Ally down with him, leading to the tragic conclusion. He would rather end himself than damage the woman he genuinely loves. He cannot believe that he is worth it, or that her love could be deep enough to fill the void within him.

Ally is a survivor: we see that pretty fast. She takes risks, can wear masks and remain herself, can take control of her sexuality and open her heart as only one who has had that heart broken then picked herself up possibly can.

She knows herself, sees her beauty in her father’s eyes. Jackson feels something broken within him, so the adoration of the crowd is actually painful: can’t they see who he is? That he is not worthy of their love?

Ally is the opposite: the adoration finds root in her heart because she has self-respect, KNOWS she is worthy of that acclaim.

If you are going to be able to find love, you have to be able to withstand the loving gaze, not wither and flinch away “If you only knew what I was…”

You have to feel that you could be GOOD for someone you adore…or you will run from them, or sabotage, or worst of all, tear them down to a level where you finally feel comfortable being with them.

Yes, there are worse things than destroying yourself. Destroying a loved one would be among them.

The problem was within Jackson. His “child” self had been trained to destructive behavior by his own beloved and admired father. The answer should have been to repair his heart, going deep and directly into the core of the problem. This is why “The Ancient Child” technique of emotional healing (dividing your consciousness into “adult” and “child” selves and visualizing a nurturing relationship) is central to the Soulmate Process: so that you believe you are worthy, and can give yourself to a loved one without fear that it isn’t enough, or that you will destroy them. So that you treat yourself with the respect and discipline that leads to a healthy mind, heart, and body, as a gift to your own soul, and to your beloved.

It must start within you, so that when that “Green Light” goes on…

You are ready to roll, not crash and burn.



Soulmate M.A.G.I.C.

You may notice that I don’t suggest that people go out to singles bars, dating sites, and the like.  Not that these things don’t work, but those are the OBVIOUS things to do.   The perspective is that the most important attainments happen not when we are focused on them, but when we are focused on other things.  This is the “A watched pot never boils” notion, taken to a different level.  It is the  “In order to move forward, you have to be happy where you are” idea that is so difficult to grasp.


This really hit home years back when, due to a family emergency, we moved back to Atlanta for three years.    I was DEVASTATED.  My childhood dream of a Hollywood career had already been damaged by ten years in the Northwest (another “family emergency.”  Hmmm…is there a pattern here?  Just maybe?  A subject for another time), but this was the coup de grâce.  I was dead in the water.  It felt like I had no friends, no family, no prospects, nothing except a desire to be a warrior for my family, throwing  an entire life of ambition on the pyre in the service of love.


My ego just…shattered.   Could see no way out of the trap. We’d exhausted our resources getting out there, and I had no idea how to generate more.  It wasn’t my world: I am NOT a child of the South.   I saw myself getting mired there, deeper and deeper, until I lost my identity, that sense of certainty that had sustained me through the worst setbacks and disappointments since childhood.

I was curled on the floor in a puddle of tears, broken, unable to see how I would survive.

What saved me was LOVE.  Specifically, a commitment to being my nine year old son Jason’s father. He needed me.  That I could understand. That I could focus on, no matter what.   That meant I had to take action. But…what?  How could I heal myself?

I decided to go back to the pattern that had created my success in the first place: the path my mother put me on in childhood: constant research into the mental, emotional, and behavioral paths to success.


I re-read THINK AND GROW RICH, and THE STRANGEST SECRET, and THE GOLDEN KEY and PSYCHO-CYBERNETICS and UNLIMITED POWER and on and on.   It was good stuff, and helped me fill that void inside me, so that my anger and fear were buried under a mass of affirmations and theories.  Not enough, but not bad.


Then I looked into THE SECRET.

I’d seen it before, of course, and it annoyed me.  Why?  Because people seemed to feel that if they WANTED something badly enough, it would come to them. And frankly, a lot of the people who followed it seemed to think they could sit on their butts on the couch, and all good things would flow to them.   Try sitting there and saying “I wish I had a sandwich” and see what happens.  Do you think the universe is your servant?   NO.  You are a PART of the universe.  In order to benefit from its wishes you have to flow with it, which, for us Geeks, demands understanding the rules.


But…I came across an article on the “roots” of THE SECRET, and they mentioned a book called THE SCIENCE OF GETTING RICH by Wallace G. Wattles. It was a very short book, and I bought a copy and devoured it in an hour.


And…COULDN’T REMEMBER A SINGLE WORD.  I was stunned, confused. Was I losing my mind?  I read it again. And yet again.  And COULDN’T REMEMBER A SINGLE WORD.  This was terrifying.


Then…I remembered a transformative workshop I attended in the 70’s.  One of those where they don’t let you go to the bathroom. Yeah, THAT one.  Anyway, it was about one in the morning, and all three hundred of us were exhausted.   And the facilitator introduced a new subject: money.   I watched an entire chunk of the room wake up, and another whole section fall asleep.  An actual “ripple” that you could see happening right in front of you.  Fascinating.  A half hour later he changed the subject: sex.


And…another whole chunk of the room fell asleep, and a different swath woke up.


WHOA!  Right then, they had my attention–not to the subject (I found their take superficial)  but to what I’d just seen, live and unplanned: when there is a subject people are interested in they wake up.

Well, THAT’S hardly revolutionary.    But I asked myself a different question: what does it say about the people who fell asleep?  They simply weren’t interested in sex? Or money?  Maybe.  But…what if I tried a different question: what if people with an emotional AVERSION to a subject will avoid information that is too confrontational?  What if they “delete” information, go “unconscious” when hit with something too close to home?


Remembering that, I asked a very important question: what if there is something in this little book so powerful that I can’t let myself see it?  Something threatening?


I devised a strategy..


What I did was read just one page at a time, and synopsize it with a sentence or paragraph.  Then move on to the next page, and read THAT one repeatedly until I absorbed and understood, and then synopsize  THAT with a sentence or paragraph.  And so on through the entire book.

I came up with about 20 pages of notes.   Then I read through THOSE and boiled THOSE down a page at a time.  Came up with about five pages.  Boiled THOSE down, and boiled THOSE down.  Until I came up with just five words.  Over the years I’ve refined those into the following form:




I looked at that , and stared at it and stared at it until the lightbulb went off.  Do you see it? Do you see why my brain didn’t want to absorb this information, was so desperate to ignore it that it literally wouldn’t let me absorb the information?  This was a MAJOR breakthrough in my life, and if you “get” it yourself it will be better. So…look at that again:




Action X

Gratitude X

Intention X



Stumped?  Well, I’m going to give you some hints.   See how many you need before you grasp what I’d discovered.


  1. M.A.G.I.C. is a convenient acronym.  “Action” is the daily WORK you do.  “Gratitude” is your positive emotions for the blessings you already have.  “Intention” is the specific Outcome, your Goal.  And “Conviction” is BELIEF in yourself, that you CAN and SHOULD accomplish something.


See it yet?  Let’s try another hint.


2. Look at the arithmetical symbols.  What is the significance of the fact that those symbols are MULTIPLICATIVE (“X”) as opposed to ADIVE (“+”)?





If you are a typical smart person, you probably thought something like: “if you have all of these, the effects are far more powerful. They multiply against each other rather than just adding up.”


And…while that’s a great answer, that wouldn’t create a situation where my brain didn’t want to hear something, would it?  Last hint:


3. Think of each of those things: Action, Gratitude, Intention, and Conviction, as qualities with a numerical value from 0-9.  NOW do you get it?






O.K.  No more teasing.  Here it is: YOU CAN’T MULTIPLY BY ZERO.   If you have a “zero” in ANY of those arenas…


If you don’t take ACTION

If you don’t have GRATITUDE

If you don’t have clear INTENTIONS

If you don’t have absolute CONVICTION


You might have a “1” in a category, and still survive. But if you have a “0” you are DEAD IN THE WATER.


Can you see it?  I was miserable in Atlanta. Wanted to get back to California. But in order to GET to California, I had to be GRATEFUL with my life in Atlanta!


NOOOOOO!  That was the LAST thing I wanted to hear.  But the conclusion was inescapable–that was what the book was saying.  Also inescapable was the possibility that this was an ego-busting, major breakthrough, BECAUSE MY MIND HAD FOUGHT LIKE THE DEVIL TO KEEP ME FROM SEEING IT.


I wanted my pain.  NEEDED my pain. Was defined by it. But…in order to thrive, in order for things to change, I HAD TO CHANGE FIRST.


How I did that is another story for another time. But if you can’t see the connection to relationships, let me make it explicit:


Needy is NOT a turn on except to predators and broken people.  To attract a healthy, adult human being YOU MUST BE A HEALTHY ADULT HUMAN BEING.


That’s it.  You can’t wait: “when I find someone then I will heal!”  No.  You set out toward healing, and on the path, you will meet people as healed  as you.  As you become more integrated, you will meet people who have their act together more and more. And…at some point they will cross the threshold “ah!  I’m attracted!” and you will cross THEIR threshold: “Ah!  He/she is attractive!” and you will be going in the same direction at the same frequency…and bingo, you have achieved lift-off.


Just that simple. Brutal, if you fight against reality.  But for the rest of us…it is saying WE have the power.  All we have to do is start with the end in mind: joy.  Gratitude.  Find your way to THAT, and the rest becomes almost inevitable.  Every chipmunk in the forest finds a mate. If you haven’t…the obstacle is right in the mirror.