Paradigm shifts.
I'm all about paradigm shifts.

Interview With Marie Forleo: On Overcoming Failure and Regaining Confidence

By Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.

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Marie Forleo Interview: 4 Steps to Overcome A Devastating Setback Or Failure

Had the pleasure recently, of being back on Marie Forleo’s MarieTV. This time we talked about overcoming failure and regaining confidence.


In this Q&A, Marie and I discuss the non-negotiable nature of learning to deal with setbacks and failures, and the kinds of conclusions that are appropriate and inappropriate to draw, as a result of them. I also drop some pointers on how to regain – and, equally important, retain – confidence as you move through wins and losses.

Watch the video below to learn a more effective way of understanding and dealing with setbacks and failures so that you can negotiate your losses with enough constancy, clarity and confidence, to see them turn into wins.

If you enjoyed the video and want to take action on overcoming the failure(s) that are currently weighing you down, you’ll definitely want to download Failure and Confidence: How to overcome one and retain – or regain! – the other. Just use the opt-in form below to subscribe to the mailing list and get your free copy. Filled with more juice, explanations and action steps, this pdf was designed to take you further into your process of making the most of your failure(s) or setback(s) and getting back in the game; so get started now!

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And don’t forget: if you liked any of the above, if it inspired or enlightened you, like it. Tweet it. Share it with your friends! Feels good to spread the Good. ;)


WANT MORE? Finally, if you missed my last MarieTV episode, How to Re-program Your Subconscious Mind to Get What You Want, you can click the image below to watch.

In this Q&A Marie and I discuss the fear that increased success inevitably means less freedom. More generally, in the segment I explain how and why we must dissipate the tension between our conscious goals and desires and the subconscious fears and beliefs that create resistance. Watch the video to see how to ‘reprogram’ your subconscious mind to help you move toward your conscious goals and intention with greater ease, effectiveness – and in your stride. Enjoy!


By Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.


“What do sad people have in common? It seems they have all built a shrine to the past and often go there and do a strange wail and worship. What is the beginning of happiness? It is to stop being so religious like that.” ~ Hafiz

‘It is to stop being so religious like that.’ Wonderfully put.

Because we tend, in an effort to be loyal to our pain, our hurt, our feeling that we were wronged, to, ‘often go back there and do a strange wail and worship.’ We beat the drum – again. And whenever the beat seems to grow too faint, out of love for what we lost, we beat it again. We are religious like that.

Unfortunately what we end up worshipping is not our lost piece (peace), as we might have intended, but rather, what hurt or ‘damaged’ us. We think all that devotion is going to what was lost, when it’s actually going to what took it from us.

Recovery and redemption are hard, don’t get me wrong, because we are operating on the assumption that you (or I) were wounded (skin sliced open, bones broken, muscle tissue torn). But keeping our attention on the knife or fist that did the deed, which, as Hafiz rightly points out, is in fact a moment in time, now in the past – not getting past this moment in time, is really not the best way to say you care. And it makes sacred what hurt you.

It may be an act of love to commiserate with the pain and injustice, but love can do better. Love can do the really hard thing of getting past the moment, of letting something actually heal, so that we might have a shot in hell of making something more of our beloved’s legacy than brutality, pain and injustice.

Why not love the piece you lost enough to not let devastation be the last word on the subject? What about sparing your beloved the additional tragedy of being a waste, of having ‘died’ for nothing? What about making something good out of it? We, each of us, have the power to do this. And in fact when it comes to our losses, and our pain, we are the only person in the world that could do this: that could transform our wounds and our tragedies into a force of Good. I’ll say it again: it’s hard. It’s super hard. It’s a spiritual (and not primarily physical or mental) task after all.

Can you love whatever it is you are worshipping enough that you stop worshipping the moment that took it from you? (Take justice out of it – that’s not why it happened in the first place.)

Can you love your lost piece enough that you turn this moment into something other, something more than a wound? (Like the moment that changed everything – first yourself, and then the world.)

Can you honor the pain enough to allow it to break your heart open, – instead of just leaving it broken?

Maybe these would be better ways to say we care? Surely they’d be sweeter to our beloved than weakness, anger, shame and/or indignance, on their behalf, no?


Selfishness: Self-centered V. Ego-centered

By Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.

“A red rose is not selfish because it wants to be a red rose. It would be horribly selfish if it wanted all the other flowers in the garden to be both red and roses.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Selfishness, the way we are taught it, seems pretty straightforward: it is about acting or doing out of one’s own interest; or keeping good things for oneself. It’s about putting yourself first, lookin’ out for “number 1” – which miraculously in this case, means you.

Most importantly, it is all this with a derogatory undertone: being selfish is an ugly thing to be. That’s clear. But do we understand why?

Why is it unseemly or unsightly to put yourself first? Why is it bad to keep something good for yourself? Why indecent to serve yourself first? Why is it unbecoming to oneself, and unpleasant to others, to be important to oneself, even more important to oneself than others, even the most important thing in one’s life? It sounds disreputable, I know; don’t think it doesn’t strike me that way too. My question is why.

I can understand making – as if you could – yourself more important than everyone (and/or everything) else to everyone else; that is, assuming you are also the most important thing in everyone else’s life and to Life at large – I can understand that being selfish. In fact that’s not selfish so much as it is short-sighted, narcissistic and/or egotistical, as well as seriously optimistic.

But what about being the most important thing to yourself?

Let’s back up a little: what about just making yourself as important as everyone else – again, even if just to you. Does this strike you as selfish? Is it selfish to treat yourself on par with other people? If it is selfish to count yourself as a person, and do unto yourself as you would have others do unto you, then presumably the right way is to not count yourself as a person? That is, to not treat yourself like a human being, worthy of the same rights, respect and consideration you grant all human beings? – Is that what you have to do to not be selfish? I think it’s fair to say that that makes you self-deprecating, with low self-esteem and alienated from yourself, but unselfish?

Being self-centered is part of our existential condition. We are inherently self-centered. Now that may sound inherently ‘selfish’, derogatory and untoward – but it isn’t inherently. It just means that being a subject, a human being, you experience everything through your self (i.e. yourself) – through your own eyes, your own senses, your own brain, your own experiences. That’s not rude – it’s simply what allows you to be a consciousness, to be a self at all. And, thereby, to be all the other things a self can be – e.g. compassionate and caring, as well as inconsiderate and unkind.

A big part of the misunderstanding I think comes from a lack of discernment, perhaps even a lack of distinction at all, between the ego and the self. And, accordingly, between being egocentric or ego-centered, and being self-centered or ‘selfish’. Narcissism, inflation, and the general douchebaggery our culture is trying ‘to protect’ us from are a product of ego-centeredness. I’m making a case not for the ego but for the self, in questioning the prevailing social commentary around selfishness.

How else but through acculturation could I come to believe that it is wrong of me to think of myself as more important to myself, more worthy of my own consideration than any other? Or even less, to believe that it is wrong to consider myself at all? How else could a rose – or a slug – come to feel guilty about what it is, about being what it is, and about allowing itself to be thus?

I want us to be able to take to the endeavor – simply to care about and to care for ourselves – without shame. Not least because, as I said before, it is pretty much our background, go-to state to be ‘selfish’ and ‘self-centered’ in this way: to be the subject of your life – not an object in everyone else’s. Again, that is not rude; it is just what allows you to be a subject, a self, at all. And therefore also what allows you to be all the other things a self can be – like kind, generous, even selfless too.

The truth is that we inflict a deep personal insult towards ourselves every time we express, in thought, word or deed, that we are unworthy or undeserving of our own attention. Eventually we feel this truth in some form of abandonment, rejection and/or self-loathing. It is disfiguring to ignore, marginalize or neglect our self.

It is disfiguring until we come, first, to love ourselves. That is, until I find the divinity within myself, until I consider my self (myself) sacred, and worthy of my own attention – of my own love, my own energy and resources, my own admiration and devotion, too. After we get that, we learn how to be of service to something more than ourselves. But only after because before, our service will be despite the self not through the self; and despite myself, instead of by means of it. And it is these efforts that end in contortions and disfigurations, in us feeling alone, uncomfortable, and alienated from ourselves.

It’s a dark, lonely road. Always, endlessly. Because you are nothing if not this self. And because I see ‘selfishness’ as simply actively recognizing and honoring the priority of place this self necessarily has in our lives, I vote we throw out the derogatory nature of the appellation.

You too? Read more from On Selfishness. Or Why A Red Rose Is Not Selfish Because It Wants To Be A Red Rose now. You can also visit our Facebook page to check out a preview of selected pieces of the 24-page vignette.

Let’s Hear It For The Boy.

By Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.

“Within the masculine psyche, there is a creature, an unwounded man, who believes  in the good, who has no doubts about life, who is not only wise but who also is not afraid to die.” Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, Women Who Run With The Wolves

Ahhh Alan Garner (Zach Galifianakas’ character in The Hangover, above)

Just kidding. Or wait – am I? ….

No matter: within the masculine psyche, there is a creature, an unwounded man, who believes in the good, who has no doubts about life, who is not only wise but who also is not afraid to die.

I love these words.

Of course it is true that within the feminine psyche there too exists an unwounded creature …. – But today, I want to give the man a hand. (I won’t say my man because he’d li-ter-al-ly crawl right out of his skin. And while that would be amazing, I prefer him embodied.)

So: within the masculine psyche, there is a creature, an unwounded man, who believes  in the good, who has no doubts about life, who is not only wise but who also is not afraid to die…

What do you think his name (this archetype, or aspect of the masculine) is? … The Hero? Maybe, The Godfather (in a very non-Don-Corleone sense)? … The Lover? Anyone?

Of course: the creature’s name  matters little in comparison to the exquisite truth that he exists. Let’s hear it for the boy. (Hopefully you’ve been getting the references to the ’80s gem by Deniece Williams: Let’s Hear It For The Boy. Warning: crazy ’80s video.)



Time. Check it.

By Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.

 paradigm shift 2

“For us believing physicists the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, even if a stubborn one.” ~ Albert Einstein

Now I can’t tell you exactly what that means. (Something, deep down the rabbit hole, in the way of: you have equal access to past, present and future – time is definitely not a one-way road with the past behind you and the future in front.) But what I can tell, and what I want to tell you, is this:

If you were to believe the physicists, and of course you should ;), you’d end up doing something like this (below), in relation to time. If Einstein and his believing physicists, if you or I, in accepting the discoveries of quantum physics (and cosmology), were to truly and deeply integrate and apply them to our lives, we would end up doing something like this: 

paradigm shift 1

 Can you imagine??


Being Normal: Overrated and Arguably Impossible.

By Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.


“The need to be normal is the predominant anxiety disorder in modern life.” ~ Thomas Moore

Disengage from the dominant tendency. Just disengage.

We could say, ‘there is no normal’; and for sure that is to a large extent true, and the great majority of what I want to say here. On the other hand, abstractions and generalizations exist, even if they never find expression in one actual, concrete, particular – like, in this case, an actual living personWe can tell they exist from the damage they do. So instead I’ll simply advocate that we stop trying to be ‘normal’, and stop pretending there is a normal we should try to be.

Forget that everyone actually dreads and despises the ‘normal’ person for actualizing something it is impossible for they themselves to be – at least comfortably, and authentically: because not one of us is an abstracted generalization. To the complete contrary, we are, each of us, a wholly unique, concrete particular. Yes, like a fingerprint, like a snowflake. To this extent being ‘normal’, and especially endeavoring to be, involves the progressive extirpation and extermination of our eccentricities, our uniquenesses; and with them, our authenticity.

And abandoning these hurts.

Because, the need to be your self is the predominant mental, emotional, psychological – dare I say spiritual, calling of your life. It will not cower, even when we do, to our need to be accepted by others. The self-loathing we often feel as we become increasingly ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’, betrays the fact that the need to be authentic, to be ourselves, is still dearer to us than approval.

It is a strong force within us. Like a flower straining toward the sun, it will not stop. It may not win – but it will not stop.

But we could stop making it so hard for it, and with it ourselves, to win. The life-long mission (or battle, depending on how you step to it) to self-actualize is certain to be lost if we keep pretending we feel okay if we do okay by external standards. We have a chance of gaining both, external acceptance and inner peace, if we risk allowing life to show us who actually approves – not of ‘normal’, but of us.


I leave you with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola-Estes’ 3 secretos of the psychology of the healthy psyche. (They are paraphrased below, and I believe I got them from her lecture series, The Power of the Crone). They are the secrets to seeing yourself clearly through the eyes of something that is far more ancient than any culture you might consider yourself a part of. They are, as she says, “the secrets that every gifted soul has to come to terms with and accept – and remember unequivocally.”: (Note: If you have difficulty donning the appellation ‘gifted’, while that makes me a little sad, you can replace the word with ‘unique’; for what she is referring to as your gifts, are precisely those eccentricities, the idiosyncrasies, that make you the particular individual you are.)

1. Since you’re born gifted, you’ll never lead an ordinary life. That should not be pathologized. But rather, a great source of pride.

2. You’re made one of a kind with all your oddities because eccentricity is the first sign of giftedness. In fact your oddities are the arrows pointing directly to your gifts. So never be ashamed of how strange you are, you must treasure that strangeness.

3. Normalcy is the enemy of giftedness. Normalcy is the enemy of your gifts.





Forgiving and Forgetting: Part Two

By Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.


“Find exemplary examples.” ~ Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.

My last post, Forgiving and Forgetting: Part One, you may have found to be, ‘a hard one’ – simply by virtue of the fact that it was on forgiveness.

Forgiveness is hard because of the level it asks us to engage with life on; one we often spend time and energy, trying to avoid.

Unfortunately, but necessarily, this post is going to cut even deeper. The good news is it’s not about you, it’s about a half dozen or so extraordinary individuals. In this sense, more than forgiveness, this post is about what I refer to as ‘exemplary examples’: people who remind us of what is possible. People who by their very existence contradict claims about what is impossible. (For more on ‘exemplary examples’, what I mean by them and how I use them, see my interview on MarieTV and/or download the Success V Freedom pdf here.)

Just as I was finishing what is now Part One of Forgiving and Forgetting, I finally opened a link my husband had sent me, coincidentally, to the following New York Times article:

Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice? 

It blew my mind. Please read it. I reckon it will blow yours as well. Into a million pieces. This is good.

The problem was, I read it right after I finished the piece on ‘forgiving and forgetting’; so I could not help but ask myself: ‘What… would you actually ask the Grosmaires – to forgive and forget? Would you dare??’ If I was going to let myself talk about forgiveness, I felt a responsibility – and inability to avoid answering this question to myself, and to you.

So I answer, (without hesitation): No. No I would not. I would not dare to ask the Grosmaires to forgive the young man who ended their daughter’s life in a fraction of a moment, at the young and promising age of 19. I would not ask them – or any other person for that matter. The only person I might ask to forgive is myself, and anyone else I may have wronged. I do not consider it my place to ask another to forgive those who have caused injury.

I just know that it heals.

And that it does the injured party(ies) more benefit than carrying anger, resentment and hatred around. (This is what Forgiving and Forgetting: Part One was about.)

But no, I would never deign to ask the Grosmaires to forgive.

And yet, if you read the article you too will bear witness to their incredible, pretty much unfathomable, truly awe-some act of forgiveness. Seriously, it is so worth reading; here’s the link again: Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?

This is what I learned from the Grosmaires, from the McBrides, and from the professionals who found enough courage to make living and breathing room for extra-ordinariness:

1. What is possible. These human beings have and, likely, will continue to enact what we’d probably have written-off as impossible for ourselves, and for another human being; what the Grosmaires themselves would have considered impossible too. Beyond role models, and even more importantly, they are living examples of the profound – for all intents and purposes infinite – strength a human being is capable of. They have reminded me of what actually is possible.

2. The power of love. Not that I know the Grosmaires beyond the confines of the 10-page article, but I still think it is safe to say that the Grosmaires have not found it in themselves to forgive Conor McBride, to they extent that they have been able to, because they are weak, or stupid, or do not love their daughter Ann as much as you love [insert name of loved one here]. On the contrary: as far as I can see, they were/are able to forgive precisely because of the love they feel for their daughter; and their truly humbling power to maintain enough presence to choose loyalty to their love – instead of hate, revenge and despair.

It is only their love for Ann that could have enough power to choose forgiveness; and the razor-sharp clarity to protect and serve Ann, her life, her legacy, her meaning and contribution to the world (past, present, and future). That could find the strength and determination to say I will do everything in my power – even if it means overlooking my own pain – not to allow this life, and this loss, to have been in vain; nor to be irrevocably defined by that one moment in time. Mrs. Grosmaire herself is quoted as saying: “Before this happened, I loved Conor,” she says. “I knew that if I defined Conor by that one moment — as a murderer — I was defining my daughter as a murder victim. And I could not allow that to happen.”

Despite the unfathomable tragedy, these humans are actually making an effort for redemption – not first and foremost revenge and retribution, but redemption. It is not because they are weak or stupid, but because their love for Ann supercedes their pride, their uncompromising need for reasons and answers that would make sense of their loss, their anger, and their pain. That, and self-preservation: “Everything I feel, I can feel because we forgave Conor,” said Mrs. Grosmaire, “Because we could forgive, people can say her name. People can think about my daughter, and they don’t have to think, Oh, the murdered girl. I think that when people can’t forgive, they’re stuck. All they can feel is the emotion surrounding that moment. I can be sad, but I don’t have to stay stuck in that moment where this awful thing happened. Because if I do, I may never come out of it.”

The power of these parents to hold presence, to understand their options, and the truth of those options, in the midst of their indescribable pain and loss is, to my mind, another expression of their extra-ordinariness and of what, apparently, is possible. May we all find this power, to not lose our minds completely in our pain, in our suffering, and in our unfathomable circumstances; so that we, too, contribute to:

3. The butterfly effect of not making it worse. Reading the article it so easy to see the moments in time, the split-seconds where decisions and choices are made about how one will act or react. These moments, often so tiny in duration, are colossal in terms of their influence on the way the story goes. (For example, when Mr. Grosmaire and Mr. McBride see each other for the first time after the shooting at the hospital.) There are many of them. Many of them where these people had enough presence of mind, even while their world was crumbling around them, to just not make it worse. And so many times too, of actually choosing to make it better – whatever that meant, and however hard it was to do it.

For a culture that holds the highest incarceration rate (and prison population) out of any other country in the world – (the figures are astonishing, see, for example, Professor Daniel J. D’Amico’s numbers here) – it is difficult to imagine what might be ‘better’ than retribution, punishment, revenge, and the withholding of basic human rights – which will, of course, include love and esteem.

The consequence of this lack of imagination is nothing less than overcrowded prisons (our prison system is currently estimated at an overcapacity of 39% above the maximum limit, expected to be 45% by 2018; many, like California whose 140,000 inmates are held in 33 prisons designed to hold 80,000, are known to be ‘at break point’); recidivism (repeat offenses); and increased alienation between offenders and the possibility of what else they might become (like reformed, reconciled, upstanding members of the community). And so inflation, in the worst of all directions, continues.

Presenting a real opportunity for reparation and redemption, where possible, is hard because it requires forgiveness. And it is scary because, after all, we could extend our hand only to have that chopped off too. But, (assuming you read the article), can you see the amount of pain, suffering, and future crimes the Grosmaires, the McBrides, and the professionals involved are likely to have spared the rest of humanity by choosing not to make things worse, but to clamp the artery to prevent further hemorraging of life-lost, and to erect the most beautiful shrine possible to stand in the place of their loss? And can you see what their forgiveness made possible?

Paul Tullis, who authored the article, writes:

[The Grosmaires’] forgiveness affected Conor, too … “With the Grosmaires’ forgiveness,” he told me, “I could accept the responsibility and not be condemned.” Forgiveness doesn’t make him any less guilty, and it doesn’t absolve him of what he did, but in refusing to become Conor’s enemy, the Grosmaires deprived him of a certain kind of refuge — of feeling abandoned and hated — and placed the reckoning for the crime squarely in his hands.

The Grosmaires’ ability to not act from a place of hate and revenge opened up a space for Conor McBride to do the same. Of course it is theoretically possible for Conor, or another offender, to find this place on his or her own; but don’t let this eclipse the fact that it is infinitely more difficult to do so. The man, whether 19 or decades older, that has been publicly and definitively ousted, abandoned, forsaken, and deemed irredeemable does not have many options but to fend for himself. And he’s lost a good deal of the motivation to even make an effort toward a different way of being.

Having hope does not make the future any more certain; and, as I said above, it may feel scarier than writing-off the possibility of even some small element of redemption. But for the present, Conor got a job a the prison’s law library, enrolled voluntarily in anger-management classes, and intends to  to speak to local groups about teen-dating violence and volunteer in animal shelters (because Ann loved animals) when he finishes his sentence. At least at the moment, he is consciously and concertedly focusing on ‘the issues he needs to come out a better person than he was when he went in’. Do we understand how much harder we are making it for that person if we are asking them to get there by means of hatred, criticism, withholding our own love, and derision? The clinically anti-social or psychopathic personality that we’re all terrified of – the person who really could careless about our hatred and ostracization – is not the majority of the prison population and less than 3% of the entire population! So for the great majority for whom it does matter, at least before they become ‘hardened’ (and what, incidentally, do you think they are becoming hardened to?), it hurts, and it wounds. And I’m sure that is partly the point; but the question should be: does it do us, collectively, more harm than good?

This is not about giving charity, especially to an offender over the abused. (All you have to do is read the description of the pre-plea conference to know that, indeed, the restorative-justice process enacted requires infinitely more from the offender than a criminal court of law.) This is about getting what we want. I mean, as much as you can of course. The Grosmaires couldn’t get Ann back; but what about answers? What about Conor’s acknowledgment and commitment that he would need “to do the good works of two people because Ann is not here to do hers”? And was there anything they could do prevent their daughter’s life being taken any more in vain?

If we want to live in a world with less crime and violence, then reformation, reparation, and assimilation are important to us. What might get us there should be equally important. Even if it’s hard for us to do. The Grosmaires, the McBrides, and the professionals involved in the restorative-justice process too, are an example of what is possible – what is, clearly, extremely hard and extraordinary, but nevertheless apparently possible – when humans find the strength within themselves to be present enough to face and deal with reality, in all its tragic horror, and to choose not to make it worse. Choosing to make it better when we can is obviously an even greater victory; but this should not overshadow the fact that simply not making it worse is often enough to avert a hurricane half way around the world. For the ripple-effects of further loss of blood, and life, and joy, the Grosmaires, the McBrides, and everyone in between, have disarmed or neutralized, I remain profoundly humbled, inspired, and grateful. I hope you do too. Here’s the link to the article again, please share:

Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?



Forgiving and Forgetting: Part One

By Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.


“The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naïve forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.” ~ Thomas Szasz

There is definitely something important and insightful in Szasz’s statement, but I want to amend it to say:

The stupid neither forgive nor forget;
the naïve forgive and forget;
the wise forgive and – learn.

Because I want to make a case for ‘forgetting’: for allowing a memory to be released from your body, brain, mind and all. I want to make a case for using your organism’s ability to integrate: to not have to remember something, to trap or latch onto a memory, in order to capitalize on the lesson.

One of the benefits of being a living thing is that we can become – in fact, we are in the continual proces of becoming. More than remember, we can become the new insight, understanding, ability, and so on.

We can (and do) integrate learning, growth, adaptations, evolutions, to the extent that they become part of our being – at which point, recordings of the moment or experience are superfluous. If it’s a painful memory, (where at all possible), let it go; and save the storage space for something else. Do yourself that favor. Indeed, the need to remember the story is often just a cover for punishing: yourself and/or the other.

I spend a lot of time with clients releasing painful memories (no doubt body-workers, massage therapists, etc. do the same): releasing trapped moments of time being continously played in the system. As if you needed to make a record, and then constantly replay it, in order to ‘remember’ what you were meant to have learned. You don’t. You can, instead:


A note of caution: be wary of thinking that the lessons you were meant to have learned are things like ‘people are untrustworthy’ – when maybe it was just that person? We have a tendency to generalize, to use induction (e.g. seeing a black crow and concluding from this one instance that all crows are black). Not so helpful in this case because you’ll integrate that understanding, and live in a world where no one is trustworthy – probably including yourself.

Be mindful, too, of the shrines you erect out of loyalty and devotion to your loss/pain/suffering. What is a greater tragedy even than the death or loss or pain we’ve suffered, is that the only thing left to show for it is a monument that reads ‘Brutalized victim lies here.’ or ‘The moment I decided never to try again.’ or, simply, ‘Dumbass.’, which we then ritualistically pray to daily, out of love and devotion to our loss. Why not honor what has died instead by erecting a different shrine: one that makes the death if not worth something, at least not worth nothing. Is it really the best act of love, loyalty and devotion to allow it to have died, been brutalized or victimized, for naught? for a story of unending tragedy which we ultimately end up reliving, through our ritualistic practice, until the end of our time? Q: If you had influence, would you allow what you loved to have died in vain?

Well, you do. And you must believe that you do. If not for the self who has survived the unforgivable act, then for the one who has died.

The last word is not written until you die – physically, all of you. And even then, … who knows? (Not me.) What I do know is that it is possible to make an effort for redemption, and even, to make a promise: that you will do your best to make whatever pain, loss and death suffered not to have been in vain. Definitely learn. But learn too, to:


Especially the painful memories – not the lesson, but the visual; the memory; the cellular trauma. Precisely so that you might be free and powerful enough – i.e. have the resources you need like energy, will, desire, freedom, confidence, self-esteem, money, … – to erect the most glorious and reverent shrine to what you lost. To what you clearly love(d) so dearly that you were willing to sacrifice the quality of the rest of your entire life for it.

This, so far as I can see, is what it would mean to do it for love. And out of love. And ultimately, no doubt, what it means to love.


Do We Really Need Do-Overs Or What?

By Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.


“We were built to negotiate and champion life by evolving, re-crafting, and transforming – not, by hitting the reset button.” ~ Catherine Collautt, Ph.D., On Having One Life. Or What’s True About Reincarnation.

So often I have found that as we change – which we inevitably do in the course of this thing called Life – we are swept along a stream of thought that tells us that in order to fulfill our new desire we have to ‘start all over’. For example:

Cindy is unhappy in her marriage now; what does this mean? Does it mean she made the wrong decision 20 years ago when she decided to marry Dale? Does it even mean that in order for her to have the marriage she wants now she has to start all over with Stan? (Yes, I have watched some Golden Girls in my day. ;)) What is significant here is not that either of these may be true, but that her simply wanting something different now does not necessarily mean either of them. What it does mean is that Cindy is not desirous of what is; and, therefore, that in order for her new desire to be satisfied what is will have to change to accommodate it. It remains undetermined and underdetermined whether the marriage, say, is capable of sustaining the requisite changes, (or whether she needs to start over); just as it remains undetermined whether the marriage itself is a decision she could regret in good faith.

Sometimes, when your home no longer suits you, you make renovations to accommodate your new ‘situation’ (a.k.a. pregnancy); sometimes, you need to pick a new home altogether. And our culture has taught us little if not: when it’s broken – throw it out and buy a new one, it’s cheaper! This is the difference between industry and craft: a craftsman re-crafts his work until he finds that he can re-fashion it no longer; only then will he even consider throwing it out. Resourceful people do this too. My mother would knit a dress; and then, when wanting or needing something new, unravel the entire dress and make something else she wanted to wear out of it. A real cook makes a meal, uses the leftovers to make a bouillon, uses the bouillon as stock to make a risotto, uses the leftover risotto the next day to make some weird-but-delicious-fritter-things … eventually even the dog might get a meal out of it. A carpenter can take his own bed and turn it into a crib when he needs to. Start looking at your life this way; ask yourself: do I really need a new piece of wood, or can I reshape this one into what I am wanting now?

We must let go of the narrative that tells us that in order to get what we want now, and in order to change our life, we need a ‘do-over’: either in the form of getting another life after this; or by time-traveling to the past; or by completely starting over now. We do not need a new life in order to change this one. In fact what we are wanting now is deeply dependent on who we are now, which, in turn, is deeply dependent on everything that has gone before. Our current desire(s) does not actually make sense outside of the context of a continuation of the life experiences we have had.

A genuine start over is a response to crisis; when a system requires such radical transformation in order to continue to exist. By the time you are here, there is no more debating, there is no choice – or rather there are just the two: life or death. So if you are still capable of debating, and are unsure of what to do next, ask yourself whether you are crying wolf. If you’re not at the point where this decision has to be made, don’t go there: why force yourself to make a decision you are apparently not ready to make? Just move forward. Just do what you (do) know. You know that you’re feeling claustrophobic (in your relationship, career, lifestyle, …) – get some space. Ask for space. Why are you seriously considering asking for a divorce, (even if you’re only asking yourself), especially when you’re not sure that is what you want – when you haven’t even asked for what it is you know you want: e.g. space? Make sure the whole ‘start over’ impulse isn’t simply a refusal to use the balls or ovaries you were born with to tell whom or whatever you need to, ‘I need this to change,’ instead of slinking out the back door.

Actually trying to make it work, seeing if you can re-craft this relationship, this career, this bookshelf, into something you can enjoy now, you allow life to show you whether you/it/he/she can (or cannot) work. You do not have to decide: if it is impossible for your partner, or your job, or whatever, to give you the space you need, while satisfying his/her/its own needs, this will become clear to you. And as it becomes clear to you, so does what is best for you. And should that mean leaving, or starting all over, making some radical transformation if you have to, will be a far easier thing to do. Even if for no other reason than you now know it to be the thing you have/should/want to do. If your current situation cannot transform itself to accommodate the transformation in you, let it crumble around you. You do not have to kill it. You can let it dissipate.

Remember, a do-over is an extreme measure – like death. We were built to negotiate and champion life by evolving, re-crafting, and transforming – not, by hitting the reset button. I suspect we didn’t come with those for a good reason, like, I don’t know, say, a trigger-happy finger (‘Wait I messed up – start over! … Crap, again – start over! Start over, start over, start over!’).


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A Case, And Some Space, For Introversion

By Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.


“Telling an introvert to go to a party is like telling a saint to go to Hell.” ~ Criss Jami

Ah the guilt, and sometimes shame, we feel as introverts … Why? Because we get replenished by being in our own space and our own energy instead of that of the group (as extroverts do)? Why does it matter how you get replenished (or depleted), so long as you can get replenished (and be mindful of what depletes you)? Why judge? And from whence the judgment?

I’m talking to all of us now because we all have an introverted aspect. We’ll all feel the call of the winter, literal or otherwise, to go inward, toward solitude, conservation and quiet. Just as even the most introverted of us will feel the call in the spring to come out more, and be out more, and share what we’ve cultivated alone with others.

So there’s a) not judging because even if you think the judgment doesn’t apply to you it will at some moment, or ‘season’ – and likely a whole lot more than one – in your life. But, as the old folk wisdom goes, there is also b) making sure that ‘in casting out satan we do not cast out the best parts of ourselves’. I.e. we should be careful that when we take to judging we don’t mistake the gifts precisely for what is wrong, bad, evil or vice. After all, there is something to Pascal’s remark, ‘All sorrow has its root in man’s inability to sit quiet in a room by himself.’, is there not?

And also to Susan Cain’s beautiful and brilliant case below:


If you’re an introvert, please watch it. If you love an introvert, please watch it. And if you know an introvert, please forward this to them so they can watch it too.