No sleeping children or smiling monsters allowed

Over the last weeks, I’ve invited commentary on several highly controversial topics.  A few preliminary conclusions:

  1. Such conversations devolve into screaming after about three exchanges.
  2. Each side believes they are the ones being logical and reasonable.
  3. Each side thinks the others’ position makes the world more dangerous, or places them personally at greater risk.
  4. Each side’s position is rather oddly “bundled” with a variety of other political positions.  In other words, the chances are very good that a person who believes “X” will also believe apparently unconnected “Y.”

There are others, but those are the largest ones, the things that crop up again and again across devisive, politicized issues.

My take on why it happens: fear.  Fear shuts down the logic circuits, throws you in to the animal, mob-mentality, hyper-emotionalized tunnel-vision state.  The answer is to look at that anger, and ask what is the reality-based fear beneath it.  And then respectfully and compassionately, remember not that that COULD HAVE been you, but in all likelihood IS you in some arena where you have a blind spot…address that fear.

How do we do it?  By addressing our individual manifestations of these issues.  In other words: be the change you wish to see in the world. If you get caught up in the fear and anger, it is absurd to expect Washington to do any better.

But what to do?  It’s a Gordian Knot, and I am most certainly not smart enough to unravel it alone.

But together…?  Ah.

That is very, very different.

I think the solution is found in the “Mastermind” principle: the ability of two or more people to brainstorm a problem while in alignment.  To put that another way, the answers will be found in the capacity of human beings to hammer out compromises and see each others’ humanity, striving together to build a better future.  What will be necessary?

1)The people in the mastermind must feel safe enough not to be driven by fear.   Anger is just how fear mobilizes itself. And most violence stems from anger (some is simple predation.)

2) They must love themselves enough to be non-co-dependent, and therefore freer of the need for approval.

3) They must extend their humanity to others.  See others as being their equals, not play racist, homophobic, sexist or political “I rule you drool” schoolyard games.

4) Corrolary to #3: they must be mature, awake, adult human beings, or committed to being so.

5) They must have faith that humanity is capable of solving its problems, and that those solutions will arise from connection and communication between reasonable people.

6) They must be willing and capable of transmitting memes and interested in starting such conversations, based on the concepts of love, equality, and faith (again, not “faith” necessarily in the religious sense, but in the sense that they know there are answers that are beyond their individual capacities to discover. There is nothing more pessimistic than a smart person with no faith: they can see problems that others cannot see, but make the mistake of believing that if they cannot see answers, there must be none.)

7) they must be strong enough to exclude Smiling Monsters and sleeping children from the conversation. But wise enough to know that we need all races, political orientations, genders and faiths to be part of the conversation. But only the awake loving adults within these groups.  Fortunately, this isn’t as difficult as some believe.

What is my answer?


Goal: to create 1000 awake, aware adult human beings: writers and teachers.

Faith: that we are as a species moving toward greater levels of complexity, as the universe has been since the Big Bang.  We’re just dealing with bumps along the way.  And that human beings are basically equal as groups, but that our fear and greed and egos obscure this.

Action: to use everything I’ve learned over the last sixty years to create a safe, powerful space for people to awaken, shed their fear, and evolve.   The arenas of relationship, writing, and martial arts will be most powerful for me, for this, because I understand their language and map most fully.

Gratitude: for the clarity to see the way to cut the Gordion Knot.  The beautiful realization: THERE ARE ANSWERS BEYOND MY MIND.   All I have to do is establish the context, the space. The Group Mind will create the answers.

But only those who do not devolve to blaming, accusations of differential morality or capacity, anger or verbal violence can be allowed into the discussion. They must believe in our future, and know that we all have to find a way to live together on this planet.

I believe this strategy will work for a wide variety of “intractable” problems. The trick is that you must remember that there are not only honorable political/philosophical adversaries. There are also people so terrified that they cannot think through their own answers, will merely parrot the political line that allows them to be part of a protective tribe.

And even worse: there are smiling monsters.  Ghouls who feed on the fear, and the corpses of the ethically or emotionally dead.  People who feed the arguments, troll the emotions, and seek to disrupt harmony for its own sake.  Predators.  They cannot always be excluded, but by forcing them to BEGIN the discussion with an acceptance of human equality and love, their arguments to the contrary can be swiftly detected. If they are merely asleep, they can be nudged awake.  But if they are only pretending to be human…?

That mask slips under pressure.    And you can detect that even across social media.

If you are interested in being part of the future, part of the answer, join us for our LIFEWRITING discussion tomorrow.   The answer starts with being happy, loving, healthy and strong.  Having love, success, and health.  Writers and teachers are my tribe, and I hope to serve you most directly, but all of good heart, anyone who hears what I’m saying, is welcome.

Join me tomorrow. Bring your concerns, things that stand between you and your dreams, that create pain and fear, that inhibit joy.  Let’s work on them together, shall we?

Tomorrow, Saturday July 17th, 11am pst


Phone Number: (724) 444-7444

Call ID: 137903

One thousand awake, aware, loving, adult, storytellers and teachers.

We can do it.



If you’re lucky, life will give you what you need, rather than what you want

A very nice young man approached me recently and asked, very respectfully, if I would be his martial arts instructor.  He said that he could travel to me, but could not afford to pay.  I was very tempted, because I know I have an obligation to teach, but thought that it might not be the best idea.  What was he really asking?   There are several possibilities.  Among them are:

  1. He wanted to deal with his fear.
  2. He wanted to increase fitness.
  3. To increase his self-defense capacity
  4. To learn a cultural or conceptual art
  5. To “grow up” and mature as a human being.


All important or valuable. But if my primary goal is to help one million people awaken, the point that is most important is that “awakened adult human being” aspect. And since his heart was already open (he was a beautiful young man, really) the problem was more the “root” of the situation: his capacity to navigate the world as an autonomous being, hunting and gathering efficiently and effectively. Through most of our history, a person who does this is attractive and attracts a mate easily.   Children usually follow, and this opens the natural protective instincts.  The rest is just technique.

If he asked me to give him time and energy in exchange for barter, it suggests to me that he has yet to learn how to exchange his capacities for the coin of the realm–money.  Without that, you are confined to finding people who need your specific goods and services.  If not, you can’t get what they have, unless you find a third person who needs them who in turn has something your “target” mentor or supplier needs.   That’s three steps.   Or four, or five.  You can always, eventually, find “A” who has something “B” needs who has something “C” needs who in turn can supply something of value to “D,” your target.  That’s all bartering is, and it is hugely inefficient compared to simply opening your wallet.  All money is is abstracted barter of time, skills, goods, and services.

And those who don’t learn this have a hard time navigating the adult world, even if they are brilliant and open-hearted.   And this leads to much human misery and disappointment, because our creative selves ofen live in the “child” space, and children exchange their love, focus and energy directly for food and shelter without the intervening step of green paper.   There is no direct emotional connection to money for that little kid inside you, and unless you grew up in a money-positive household, you probably have either negative beliefs and emotions connected to it, or you have ineffective and inefficient strategies for earning and protecting it.

So…while I decide what I’m going to do with the martial aspect of my teaching, I suggested that he spend a week thinking about “The Secret Formula” and then get back to me.  In other words, I would rather mentor him in making money, and then let him pay me with that.   Feels to me like the best way to address his real question.

So there are a couple of parts here:

  1. Making money in a fashion that is in alignment with his childhood dreams, self-image and his deepest values.  This is critical, and if you can’t find a way to do it, adulthood is gonna suck.
  2. Using the “Secret Formula” or some version of its principles:
  1. You need clear written GOALS, along with plans for their accomplishment expressed in continuous action.   Study the lives of people who have accomplished similar goals starting from where you started.  What price did they pay?   Are you willing to pay it?  If so, get to work. If not, change your goals.
  2. You must have FAITH that you CAN and SHOULD have your goal.  In other words, that its pursuit and accomplishment will bring more pleasure than pain to your life.  If you don’t believe this, you will sabotage the living hell out of yourself.
  3. You must take constant ACTION.  Every day.  You have to know what you can do TODAY that will take you closer.  That way, you have constant, daily feedback, and can make rapid course corrections.  The “Five Minute Miracle” makes it possible to get feedback FIVE times a day.  Imagine how much more precise and powerful your actions become when you can get that kind of course correction!  Imagine how often you’d crash your car, or get lost, if you only got to peek at where and how you were driving once a day!  NO! You have to “sample” your environment every few seconds, or you are in deep trouble!
  4. You must begin every day with a sense of GRATITUDE.  Gratitude is the antidote for fear, anxiety, anger…all negative emotions.  This prevents stress from becoming strain, triggering growth.  It also attracts friends, lovers and bonds mentors and “mastermind” partners to you–the only known way to compensate for lack of talent or intelligence.  And it makes the “secret formula” the only 100% guaranteed success system, because you BEGIN with the precise result other people think they can only have at the end.  In other words, everything you have ever worked for, strived for, hoped for, was about moving away from pain and toward pleasure.  Don’t accomplish to be joyful.   Instead, “joyfully accomplish.”


The voice in your head might well say: “but if I’m happy, I’ll be inert.”   Sorry, but happy children move, play, build, create, interact.  Joy moves us as effectively as fear (if not as acutely!).   All you have to add is “nudges” from your adult self, and you have it licked.

That’s what I’m telling this young man.  I won’t give him free lessons in martial arts.  But I will give him free lessons in becoming an adult, awake human being. And mastering the “dream world” of adult exchange is a critical step in this.

I can live with that.




If you’d run into a burning house to save your child…why won’t you save yourself?

A student has found himself in the “Dark Night of the Soul” and is currently using the Ancient Child to work his way out.  The following note deals with his anguish at the loss of a precious, long-term relationship which triggered the emotional crash.

I wasted” nine years – this woman was great – none of the others were even remotely  that “good”. And she really loved me… Nine years man.. And I blew it –  

So hard to forgive myself for all those wasted years… And It cant’ be faked…

Its time to FORGIVE.. I know it. how?


If you have accepted the challenge of mastering your life, have set goals in all four major areas, you will hit the “wall” in one or all of them at different times.  If you have no “barriers” on one level, all that means is that you will rocket ahead to a level where you DO have barriers.   Resistance is futile.  You WILL experience the “downs” in life.   Jesus Christ is as evolved a human image as exists in Western Culture, and he experienced despair multiple times.  What chance do YOU have of avoiding this? About…zero.

But let’s unpack this rumination as we look into “confront evil–defeated”

Let’s approach this from the perspective that emotions are created by what we focus on, the internal dialogue and language we use, and the way we use our bodies.

  1. “I wasted nine years.”  Only if you didn’t learn.  Learn the lesson and apply them to your life, and it is merely experience.
  2. “I don’t know how to forgive myself.”   If your most beloved child gave it everything he had, and failed, and came to you crying and begging forgiveness, how hard would it be to “forgive” him?  Pretty damned easy, I’d bet. You would hold and cuddle and comfort him, tell him he was precious and loved, and let him sleep in your arms, gathering strength to get back out there and try again.   The “elder” perspective is that falling down is simply part of the process…IF YOU LEARN.

So…the road to power here is to learn the lesson. The way to learn the lesson is to remove the barriers of fear that stop us from seeing clearly (if we look closely, we fear, we will see our wretchedness.  What if we knew that if we looked closely enough, we would discover we were wonderful, blessed, divine, unutterably worthy of love, precious beyond belief–no more than an ant but no less than a star?)

And the way to that is simply love.  Ever watched a baby learn to walk? They try and fall down and look at you to know whether it was all right.  A good parent applauds the effort, praises the baby, and laughs. The baby laughs, because the “meaning” of falling down is a positive thing.

What do we do as adults?  The opposite, too often.  If we “fall down” we vomit out every negative poisonous belief we’ve ever internalized from the damaged, fearful, manipulative people we have encountered in life.  Just TRY being positive, and watch people attack you and try to drag you down into their private hell.

Only love can heal those wounds. A child who is not loved and nurtured DIES.  “Failure to thrive.”   If you have not found some way, consciously or unconsciously, to feed and protect and love and nurture that “child” part of yourself, there is a part of you that is   crying in the dark, wondering why and how you could “do” everything “right”, have all the external rewards, and still wallow in despair.

Focus only on the good parts of someone, and you’ll fall in love.  Focus on their negatives, and that’s your route to divorce.  The same is true of life.  And of your own being.

This is the beginning.   If you love a child, damn the odds: you’ll run into a burning house to save them.   If your life is burning, either you see no possible route of positive action, or you don’t love yourself enough to do Whatever Is Necessary to create a life of meaning and joy.



Handle “today” and the future takes care of itself.

From an Ancient Child student, “Daniel”:
Dear Steven,
according to the goals:
How to set them:
Goals to be reached IN those 30 days?? the next 4 months (would suit me best)..? Of goals to be reached asap? Hug.
Can those 20 minutes be jogging? how to do that while in groups, when traveling, outdoor-hiking, etc.
Hug again.
Dear Daniel–
Long term goals are critical, but you have to break them down:

3 year goals
1 year goals
6 month goals
3 month goals
1 month goals.
Monthly goals should be broken down to weekly
Those to  Daily.
Now you know what you have to do, TODAY, to support your long term goals. Most importantly?  Perform your daily ritual, use the “Secret Formula” every single day.
Each set supports the others.
Yes, you can do the ritual while jogging. But it is BEST done chanting aloud, so ask if you are jogging with people who won’t object to that, or give you strange looks!

Hero’s Journey Step #3: Accepting the challenge

Recently, I was speaking to a woman, “Marge”,  whose long-time relationship broke up, painfully.   Asking her questions about the relationship, it turned out that the guy warned her that he wasn’t looking for a long-term relationship, and criticized her constantly while also telling her “don’t change.”  And now he’s engaged to another woman, and it’s breaking her heart.

I pointed out to “Marge” that he was sending massive mixed messages: not interested in a relationship, but still having sex with her although he knew she was emotionally involved.  Constantly complaining “but don’t change.”  A “come closer/go away” game if ever I’ve seen one.

And she kept defending him.  He was so wonderful, so honest, so vulnerable (and apparently seriously rang her chimes)…and so on and so on.

I listened to as much of this as I could stand, and then said: “would you want your daughter to be with a guy like this?”  And she was silent.  I could hear the wheels turning.  And the answer, in a small, clear voice: “no.”

Then why did she put up with this?  Why keep going back to someone who does not honor and protect her?Simple.  She doesn’t think she deserves it. Thinks that this is the best she can do.  There is something damaged, deep within her.  And until she heals it, she will never find the external love and success she deserves.   It is very, very hard to perform at a level beyond your ego-identity.  Either center and expand it, or rat-#$%@ yourself again and again until you embitter and give up.

And no, this isn’t just a female thing.  Men also routinely put up with life situations they would never want for their own children.   Step beyond the duality.

The third step of the Hero’s Journey is “Accepting the challenge”.    Before she could heal her heart, the first thing she had to do was recognize, intellectually at least, that she had lost NOTHING.  That rather than the love of her life, he was a childish, selfish user.  Rather than a solution to her loneliness, he was actually evidence of a dysfunctional pattern that has plagued her life for many years.  And once she saw that…and visualized the damage she was causing to her Child self to salve her adult loneliness…she took a deep breath, and began to change.

We had broken her pattern–at least for the moment.

That tiny moment of clarity becomes your leverage to change.  Once you interrupt the pattern, you can define the game so that it is winnable (“I will be happy.   My happiness must come from within, because I am the only part of the equation I have a prayer of affecting directly.”)  And begin to gather the resources necessary to evolve.

Once you realize that the broken heart comes from YOUR bad choices, from YOUR misconception that joy and love come from someone else, you have a chance to take control.

(“But…but…I want a relationship!”  Really, or do you want a healthy relationship?   Because you’ll never have a healthy relationship with another person until you have one with yourself.  Start there–it is the unraveled string of the Gordian Knot that you can actually affect.)

Marge had recognized that there is a problem (Step one.  Misery)

Dealt with her fear (Step Two: terror of being alone.  Fear that she is unworthy of love)

And taken responsibility for making herself happy. (Step Two:  She must love and nurture herself as she would her most beloved child.)


Now look–there are countless ways to reach happiness.  Just understand that everything you’re doing in your life boils down to an effort to avoid pain and increase pleasure.   And if you aren’t doing what you need to do?   You are associating more pain than pleasure to the steps necessary to reach your goal–otherwise you’d be out there trying, even if you need better strategies and resources.  You’d take PLEASURE in swinging at that ball, even if you strike out a thousand times.

You have to see the problem, accept your fear, and break the pattern of failure.  The “Ancient Child” is a method that works beautifully, but there are others.  FIND ONE.

Because the next step, the “road of trials”, is dependent upon your commitment to change, to grow, to heal, to make a better life for yourself.  Ultimately, only you can give yourself that gift.




Thank You for the birthday love!


I wanted to thank everyone who reached out to me with birthday greetings yesterday.  Had a wonderful day: went down to Buena Park to go to the Pirate Adventure dinner theater. Rrrrrrrr.


Next up, I think a mystery dinner theater.   Never done one of those, and they sound like serious fun.


When ever I don’t know what to write in the morning, I just go back to basics.  And for me, the most basic statement is that Campbell’s model of the Hero’s Journey is the core teaching of all world cultures, throughout all time.


The first step is: “Hero Confronted With A Challenge.”


Living things crave homeostasis, try to maintain equilibrium with their environment.  Absent some external or internal urging, we will remain in place, fighting change.  In a story, you establish the character’s “normal world” and then throw a monkey-wrench into it:


–Kramer’s wife leaves him

–Ilsa arrives in Casablanca

— “Come with me, Luke, learn the Way of the Force.”


In life, there are countless challenges that face us, and if we are to address them we have first to recognize them then to develop sufficient motivation to break the old patterns and begin the new ones.


These can be either positive or negative motivations. Either works.   I have BOTH for all major goals:


  1. Writing.  A love of self-expression (positive) and a fear of failure and betraying my childhood dreams.
  2. Martial arts.  A love of energy, discovery, and artistic expression.   A fear of weakness or falling into fear and confrontation-aversion.
  3. Family.  A love of intimacy, a fear of failing my children as my father failed me.
  4. Finances.  A love of freedom and security, as well as evidence of social contribution. A fear of instability and dishonor.


In every major arena, I have BOTH positive and negative motivations. And if you were to push me, I could write pages about each of them.   But the first step was the realization.   Here are some possible moments:

  1. Writing.  Reading a story aloud to the alumni at Pepperdine University, thinking: “this is me.  It’s closer to being `me’ than anything else I’ve ever done.   I’m a writer.”
  2. Martial Arts.  The moment I risked death to avoid a bully, thinking “I’d rather die than be that weak and afraid, ever again.”
  3. Family.   The realization that I was willing to wait the rest of my life if necessary to find the right woman, someone who could be my friend, partner, and lover.  Someone with whom I could be my true self.
  4. Finances.  The  moment I saw I’d made a fundamental error in my career: it had been designed to make money, not save and invest it.  A great way to end up broke.

In every life there are moments we are challenged to be and do more than we’ve been in the past, more than we are.   Identifying what needs to happen is the first step, without which change is unconscious and near-random.


Wake up.  Make the decision.   Don’t worry about “how.”  The first step is “what”: to admit you are sick and tired of being sick and tired…or broke…or in bad relationships…or weak.


That’s the first step.  Tell the truth.  The rest comes later.



You can either have a shell, or a spine. The choice is yours.

Yesterday I posted a note  about looking at all three-four major arenas of your life.   Unless you have balance and joy in all of them, it is best to assume you have work to do.  But the ability to speak the truth about the damage is dependant on loving yourself, cherishing yourself enough to believe that it you look deeply, you will find something beautiful.  If your belief is that if you flip that flat rock a horror will come crawling out…you won’t look.


And these core attitudes are often set in childhood. I received this note:


“My upbringing was extremely negative and my family still is very dysfunctional. I have little or no contact with them and feel guilty.  Every time I try again I just get attacked or beaten down.


How do you find love when you are not able to get it from where we all should feel safe…”


This is precisely what I saw working with a succession of ultra-high performing clients at Moonview sanctuary in Santa Monica.   Amazing success in one arena, wrapped around a deep sense of lack or even corruption.   Abuse, neglect, failure and lack of support and nurturance can all trigger this.


The “‘Ancient Child” technique was designed to “work around” the damage, and allow you to re-create a healthy childhood.


Here are some steps you can take (and it can take weeks to move between the phases, so don’t worry):


  1. Begin by practicing “heartbeat meditation.”  Just sit quietly and listen to your heartbeat.   When you can feel and hear it and remain calm and centered for several minutes at a time (total time 15-20 minutes, but it is natural to “go in and out” of focus)…
  2. While feeling the heartbeat, visualize yourself sitting in front of a mirror.  “See” pinpoints of light swirling inside your reflected images.
  3. Condense the light into a solid mass.  It tends to average at about ½ your full size.  If you have suffered abuse, you may get no more than a few dabs, possibly even a single point.  No worries.
  4. Morph that mass of light into a human form: from a teenager down to a single fertilized cell.  Focus on feeling  the “heartbeat” in this form.
  5. Become very quiet, and listen for its voice.    If it is “old” enough to speak, take what it says seriously.  You may wish to write down its words using your non-dominant hand.
  6. Whether it can speak or not, swear by all you hold dear and holy that you are now the mother/father of this tiny being.  That you will die before you ever let it be hurt again, and you will live the rest of your life providing a safe place for it to thrive, play, and dream.   “Mommy/Daddy is here” is a great thing to say.    If you have ever held a newborn child, or puppy or kitten, evoke the same protective instincts.  Call forth from yourself the “Tiger” mom or dad that will stand at the mouth of the cave and bare its teeth at anything that would cause your “child’ harm.


This is the basic process I used to heal my own heart, and has worked with countless students.  While an elegant and powerful implementation of this can be found in the “Ancient Child 30-Day” program, if you will just follow these directions, you can teach yourself everything you need.  Somewhere inside you is the memory of having been held and protected and loved–otherwise, “failure to thrive”, people.  You would have died.


Trigger that memory, or genetic potential for nurturance.   Apply it to yourself.  Do this EVERY DAY for a month, and you will love the results.  Your motivation will increase (actually, its just removing your brakes).   You will take less crap from people.  Feel freer to speak your mind.  Feel more love and passion.  Feel like you have more “center” and less “wall.”  Less “shell” and more “spine.”


You will begin to own your own precious life.  Please–begin today.  The life you save may be your own.



If you knew yourself AND the world as well as you think you do…you’d never set a goal you didn’t achieve

New Year’s Resolutions


So the time of year has come, once again, when we make promises to ourselves…and usually break them.  Why do we do that?


  1. We are too optimistic about the emotional or contexual resistance to our goals.
  2. We “chunk up” our goals to be larger than we can accomplish during the time frame allowed.
  3. We are unclear as to the resources it will take to accomplish our dreams
  4. We are not prepared to accept failure as a part of the learning process
  5. Our goals are not supported by our deep enthusiasms and deep values.
  6. Our goals are not expressed in winnable terms.


In other words, we fail to keep our goals because of lack of clarity regarding two essential questions:

  1. “What is true”? (what is required?  How will the world react?  What are the best strategies to accomplish my goals?”  “how often should I expect failure, based on my research of others who have accomplished this?”
  2. “Who am I?”  (Do I keep my word to myself?   Am I honest about who I am and what I want and what I’m prepared to do?  What are my capacities?  How much would I need to grow or change to accomplish this?)


In other words, if you know yourself AND know the world, you would never set a goal you didn’t accomplish.  If you aren’t accomplishing your goals, your view of one or the other, your inner or outer world, is off the mark.


So with each goal, use the SECRET FORMULA:

  1. Is my goal clear, photographable, measurable?
  2. Do I have faith I can actually do it?  If not, “chunk it down” into smaller pieces until it IS believable.
  3. Do I know the actions I must take each and every day to accomplish my goals?
  4. Do I feel gratitude for my life RIGHT NOW?   In other words, don’t “accomplish to feel good”, but rather “feel good…then go out and accomplish.”


Use the “ANCIENT CHILD” as well:

  1. Are your goals somehow aligned with your childhood dreams and enthusiasm?
  2. Are they aligned with your deepest values of self-expression, love, and contribution?
  3. Can you see how your daily behaviors support them, such that if you did “THIS” (whatever “this” is) every day for a year, you would have a terrific chance of reaching your goals?


If you have brought both the “Secret Formula” and the “Ancient Child” techniques to bear, you have created one hell of a New Year’s Resolution.   Now create one for each of body, career, love, and finances…and I’ll see you in 2015!



She ’bout knocked me through the wall…

We were in the middle of one of Dawn Callan’s AWAKEN THE WARRIOR WITHIN workshops, where in two days this little human dynamo would teach women more about self defense than most teachers could convey in two years. But this one woman, “Molly”, was a tough nut to crack. She was so filled with fear, timidity, had been so beaten down that we couldn’t get her to hit the pads. She couldn’t kick the shield. Molly would break down into tears at the very idea that she should or could fight back. “I can’t!”

None of the other instructors had been able to help her, so in desperation they brought her to me. I was holding the pad, as tears and snot ran down her face, a woman utterly convinced of her helplessness and unworthiness to defend herself.

This was, I decided, a defining moment in her life. This wasn’t about “doing karate.” This was about an adult human being deciding that she had a right to exist, to defend her space, to choose the rules by which others could enter her world. This wasn’t just about her body, it was about her dreams, and words, and values. About the ability to look at the world and say: “I love you, but you will not define me.”

I saw in her tentative movements, her face frozen in terror, her stuttering speech a lifetime of making excuses, of perceived failure, of attracting predators into her space, of a false self-image that was dragging down her life and extinguishing her dreams.

And decide that it was going to end TODAY. When dealing with a client, the only intent must be to help them. Period. To put their hands on the controls of their life, by any means necessary.

So…I cheated. I looked at her and said: “do you have any kids?” (more…)