I have a hard time apologizing. Especially for things I didn’t do. I also get triggered by those who apologize for everything and by those who apologize and it’s really just pushing off blame. But, what is an apology if it’s not a manipulation? I see this is what it has become for many people. I see the proper use of apologies as conveying one of two messages, sympathy or taking responsibility for an action that has hurt another person in some way. In the next few paragraphs I will try to elaborate more.
DO express sympathy when you feel it for someone. This is probably one of the easiest way to use those two little words, I’m Sorry. Someone has just mentioned that a relative or friend has passed away, the common courtesy is to say I’m sorry and move on with the conversation. This has become a social norm. I also use it when someone tells me something tragic that has happened to them. A simple, “I am so sorry that has happened to you,” can convey an open heart and connection to that person who may be in need of some healing. I caution that you use this type of apology only when you feel it for the person. No one likes to hear a hollow, routine apology. My father passed away last year and, to be honest, I didn’t really want to hear “I am sorry for your loss.” His passing was a tragic and beautiful and natural process. I appreciated those who really were conveying sympathy, and I could feel the difference when it was routine courtesy.
DO apologize for accidental mistakes that cause others time or pain. We all do it. You leave a dish out. You elbow somebody in the face. You bump into someone at the grocery store. None of these things are really that bad, but they can affect others. It is never from a malicious intention, but maybe absent mindedness or being lost in our own world. I recently dumped a package of raspberries on the floor at the grocery store in front the of the gentleman stocking the raspberries. They went everywhere. It was great. I am pretty sure I turned as red as the raspberries. I quickly apologized for the mistake and cleaned up what I could while he helped.
DON’T be self deprecating with your apology. In the case with the raspberries, I could have easily said something like “I’m so sorry, I am so clumsy sometimes.” This makes an excuse that you are the less than or have something wrong with you. We are all human and make mistakes. Instead, I stuck with “Oh man, I am so sorry, let me pick these up.” This acknowledges the mistake, takes responsibility and moves forward without harm to your own ego. We like to explain ourselves, apologies are not the time for that.
DO apologize when you are hurtful toward another person; whether intentional or not. This is where it gets tricky. These are usually the actions that we justify because of our own hurt inside. Remember, hurt people hurt people. We are all guilty of it. This apology is for saying the mean thing to your spouse or child. Or losing your temper at work. This apology comes after the heat of the moment and should be heartfelt and stick to taking responsibility only. If you are holding on to justifications of what you said or did, that is even more reason to apologize. Those justifications are your ego knowing it did something hurtful. Whether it is calling a name, yelling, being forceful, or worse, take responsibility and apologize for your action: “I am sorry that I reacted so poorly to you and called you ____.” “I apologize for yelling this morning about the dishes not being done.” “I am sorry I got so angry and yelled at you while trying to help with your homework.” I think you get the idea.
DON’T justify your actions in your apology. We have all had this one said to us, “I’m sorry I did that thing, but you make me so mad.” This is not an apology. This is a manipulation and argument tactic. Apologies are about you taking responsibility, not the other person and what they did. This is a hard one to swallow. It is easy to justify our actions when others are being mean or hurtful also. Eye for and eye, right? Wrong! If we really want to start seeing change for the better in our lives, pushing off blame is not the way to go. Others will do it to us. I still do it to others. Some awareness can go a long way.
DON’T apologize for setting boundaries. We all have them. We should not apologize for them. “I’m sorry, but, can you not do that, it makes me uncomfortable.” This comes from fear. It also takes away from who you are. We should never apologize for who we are. I do think it is important to understand where our boundaries come from. Sometimes they can come from trauma or fear. If you notice that a certain boundary is causing you distress, that is something to look at within yourself, but don’t apologize for it. Many books have been written about setting healthy boundaries, this is not that. I just don’t want you to be apologetic about them.
DO accept apologies. Especially when they are true and heartfelt. It takes a lot to muster up the courage to truly apologize for something you have done. If someone comes to you and apologizes without blame or excuses, accept it. Say thank you. Accepting an apology does not make the action okay, it does not take away accountability. It does give that person the opportunity to take responsibility, be accountable and to do better. We all need some grace from time to time. We are all the monster in someone’s story. Practice apologizing better and we start to see that those monsters are not monsters at all. They are hurt people that usually want to do better and they are all of us.
I'm sorry if I bothered you with this blog post, I like to ramble sometimes, but, you decided to keep reading to the end.
How many times have you looked back at your supposed mistakes and thought, "I knew that was going to happen," or "Why do I keep making these same choices that lead to me feeling terrible?" When I started Intentional Path Wellness, I knew it was going to bring some pretty big healing for me and hopefully some others as well. The idea of consciously choosing our path to healing was at the forefront of my mind and I realized that I was not so good at following the direction laid out in front of me. I was so good at not listening and paying attention over the years, that I was hit by many Universal 2X4s, as I like to fondly call them. These are those defining moments when your deeper knowing has tried to communicate with whisperings, nudges, murmurings until finally it screams with things like chronic pain, losing a job, divorce, DUI. (that's my story anyways.) It has been a few years since any big 2x4s have swung my way and I realized the reasons for that are my ability to listen to the whisperings and the foundational process of the healing center I created in Intentional Path Wellness. I have found four steps I used over and over again to grow and make changes in my life for the better. Sometimes it is quick and sometimes it takes a while. Sometimes it is easy, and, most of the time it presents challenges to overcome. It is always simple, the steps build on each other and it always works, eventually.
So here they are:
Presence is a state of being. It is not about doing, however, there are some things you can "do" to help yourself feel more present in any moment. Feeling your breath is always a sure way to be present, as you can only breathe right now; you cannot breathe yesterday or tomorrow. You are always one breath away from total presence in any moment. When caught up in making a decision or ruminating on anger, fear or sadness, it is all too easy to find ourselves focusing on the past or fearing the future. Feeling into one breath can bring you into the present moment and allow disruption of those patterns, even if for only a moment. The more you practice, the easier it gets. Everything we need is available in the present moment. We must find it. If feeling your breath doesn't work for you, you can also try feeling a part of your body like your feet against the floor, or your butt against the chair. Focus on physical sensations only. Whatever you feel is perfect. Stay with it for as long as you can. Once you give up what you feel to your presence, it has to change.
Once finding a sense of presence in your body and taking a moment to feel it, you can start asking some questions about your situation and what aligned action is best to take. One of my favorites to ask when I am feeling overwhelmed is: "What can I do, right now?" The answer is clear and not always what we think it is. Sometimes the answer is nothing, which means we breath and be present for longer. Sometimes it does not make sense. I was once given clear direction to move a table when I was struggling with some decisions for business. That simple movement streamlined a process that was gumming things up at the office. Play around with these. If you are not getting a clear answer, it may not be time for you to know the answer to the question you are asking. Try a different one. Always come back to presence.
Trust Your Answers
This step and the next one are probably the hardest and they flow back and forth into each other. They go against the mind's ability to figure things out and rationalize. The answers you gain from presence are true to who you are and most of the time don't make sense to your rational mind. They come from deep within. They are simple directions and will most likely stir up some type of emotion at first. Trust yourself enough to know that if you are given a clear direction from presence that you cannot mess it up. Do it. You may need to use parts of the next step before finding the courage to do it, but know that you will. You can trust your self through this process.
Harmonize with Gratitude
Undoubtedly, the mind will start kicking and screaming when you start to trust in your deeper understanding. It has protected you from your self for most of your life. It will tell you that you should listen to reason, it will get you to talk to experts to justify your actions. It will be very angry and sad and fearful. All of those defense mechanisms coming up have been put in place to serve you well and protect you. If they are coming up in this situation those feelings are ready to be harmonized with gratitude. SO, what does that mean? Dig deep, find something that you are truly grateful for, that you have unconditional love for. Feel the sensations that thinking about it brings in. Now turn that same sense of gratitude toward your fears, anger and sadness. This is the simplest and hardest part. If that is too hard at first, start with the idea that you want to feel gratitude for these things or that you wished you could want to feel gratitude for these things. Opening up the willingness for this part of the process is where all the magic happens.
Putting It All Together
I have had this process go as quickly as two breaths and as long as several months. It depends on what part of your self you are uncovering and how long it has been "protected." My suggestion is to start with small things. If you are feeling overwhelmed cleaning your house, take a deep breath, ask 'What can I do, right now," and do that. This can also work with any larger problems you are facing. The only requirement is the willingness to do it. It will bring you closer to who you really are. It will help you see many things that have been in your way. It will show you how to navigate your own life from presence and stop judging the poor decisions.
I wish you the best in your journey through this. Please reach out for help from those that support you the most, if you need it. Thank you for tuning in again.
Nate discusses how we can use our judgements of "should" and "should not" to lead through acts of service.
One expression of masculinity is to take action in alignment with your higher purpose. In this video, Nate gives two tactical steps to do just that.
What if the definition of masculinity can only be found in its inherent relationship to feminine expression? In this video, Nate sheds light on the paradigm of masculinity and femininity and the interrelated nature of the two.
Nate shares some thoughts on the current state of being a man vs embracing masculinity. Take ownership and responsibility of your life. Be willing to embrace your masculine side through love and compassion, not imposing will.
Take a minute to be present with Nate. This is a great way to get present in your body, especially when your mind is racing.
Raw, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free, could be paleo and organic depending on what you use for nut butter: Protein Balls
Yields 20 or more balls depending on size.
1 8oz package fresh blueberries
1 8oz package fresh blackberries or raspberries
1 8oz package fresh strawberries
½ cup coconut oil
10-15 pitted dates
1 cup cocoa powder
1 cup gluten free quick oats
1 ½ -2 cups no salt or sugar added nut or seed butter (I like crunchy peanut butter)
3 scoops protein powder ( I use Garden of Life Raw Protein Vanilla Flavor)
2 TBSP hemp seeds
1 TBSP Chia seeds
Up to ½ cup coconut or almond flour (for consistency)
In a high speed blender or food processor, mix all berries, coconut oil and dates until smooth. Mix with all other ingredients in a large missing bowl except the coconut flour. With my vitamix, I put the berries in first, then the oil, then the dates on top. This prevents the dates from gumming up the blades and slowing down the process.
Use a wooden spoon, it gets thick and takes muscle! I have broken a couple rubber spatulas trying to mix this up.
Once mixed the consistency should be very thick and moldable. This is when you will add the coconut flour to create the desired consistency. Using fresh berries always changes it.
The finished product should be a moldable, not too sticky “dough” Sometimes putting it in the fridge for a half hour or so can help solidify it a bit.
Once desired consistency is reached roll the mix into 1- 1 ½ “ balls and store in Tupperware. Can keep for up to 10 days in the fridge.
Over the last few weeks, I have asked many of my clients about their New Year’s Resolutions and received some great replies. Many of the replies, like my own, are that resolutions don’t really work and if you want to make a change you should just do it when the idea comes up instead of waiting for a certain date. I do agree with this and yet, I still made a resolution this year. I decided to join a group of people to do a 40-day sugar fast. Totally do-able. As I write this, I am currently 18 days in and going strong with little reason to stop the fast. I have also gained quite a bit of clarity throughout the process.
First of all, I know that deciding to take sugar out of your diet may sound like an easy enough thing to do, but please understand that making a change like this requires a willingness to investigate everything you consume, a commitment to your health and wellness, and also requires some training. That being said, I started training for this 10 years ago. Removing sugar with no previous dietary cleansing or healthy habits built in is like running a marathon when you can’t even run to your mailbox. This is one of the main reasons I believe most resolutions fail. I suggest breaking massive resolutions into smaller steps that can lead to meeting your overall objective.
I was not very healthy 10 years ago. At all. I was overly stressed, I drank too much, I smoked, I was not happy in any of my relationships, I never worked out and I ate really tasty food, but had no idea how bad and processed it was. I loved ranch dressing. I put it on everything. I also had acquired the nickname “snacks” at work because I ate a ton of packaged crap, usually the snacks that were even more amazing once dipped in ranch dressing. :-) After realizing that I was heavier than I ever had been and that I did not feel too stellar, I decided to make a change. This was around the same time that the greek yogurt craze was hitting. I started making my own ‘ranch dressing’ out of plain greek yogurt and powdered ranch mix, and dipping vegetables that I like (peppers, cucumbers, carrots, mushrooms, etc) in it as a snack. Almost immediately, I started to lose weight and feel better, it was awesome. It was around this time that I started to quit smoking also.
Fast forward 5 years or so. I was recently divorced, starting my new massage business out of a gym, super stressed, not drinking or smoking as much, still eating veggies and yogurt ranch dip and many other processed foods. I really liked frozen pot pies. I ate them 3 or 4 times a week for dinner. My daughter loved them too. They were an easy, cheap dinner.
Once again, I started feeling the drive for more. Time to quit smoking for good this time <sigh> and not buy as many packaged or processed goods. At this point I also decided to start shopping every 3-4 days or so for organic produce, requiring a bit more planning on my part. I had to actually think about what I would want to eat for a few days at a time instead of reaching for the prepackaged meals stocked in my pantry or freezer. A quick internet search for recipes was an easy solution. The fact that my first office was in a gym also gave me inspiration to start exercising once a week or so, too. Not a lot, but it was a start!
Fast forward 2 more years, (3 years ago). My first dietary cleanse. That was a fun 7 days. I have an entire blog post dedicated to that particular week, you can read more about here. I became more aware of how the food I ate made me feel, and if I ate something that was bad for me, my body would immediately let me know. This cleanse led to me making huge dietary changes for my family. I took out most processed foods, stopped buying cereal for my daughter, and made a real breakfast most mornings. Sometimes eggs and hashbrowns, sometimes oatmeal and fruit, sometimes a smoothie. Plus, it gave us more time to sit and be with each other. By this point, I was pretty healthy from an outside perspective and even felt pretty good. I ate pretty well, exercised twice a week or more, and I only smoked if I was drinking and that was not very often.
Then a little over a year ago, I had the awareness that it was possible for me to feel better than I did. I wanted to perform better in my life. I was starting to get the itch to run and wanted to have an even cleaner diet. I started to really watch carbs and increase healthy fats. In fact, I decided to go GLUTEN FREE!! Woohoo! That was November of 2015. Within a week, my “normal” man gas went away and I no longer wanted to take a nap at 2 in the afternoon.
In February of 2016, I got very sick with strep, which I had never had before. I saw two different acupuncturists to help my immune system come back online after the antibiotics, and they both recommended that I stay away from dairy for a while. I have been dairy free ever since. Also, no more smoking when I drink, for real this time.
Of all the changes I’ve made, cutting dairy has been the hardest. My running was improving and I completed a 3-month training process to go from not being able to run to my mailbox to running a 5k in under 30 minutes. All great things, and now I want even more! I regularly wonder: how good can I actually feel?
After Thanksgiving last year, 2016, my wife and I decided that we were going to try to give up alcohol for the the rest of the holidays and indefinitely (at least now, I won’t want to smoke.) Quite a big undertaking, but we realized that it does not fit into the lifestyle that we want to have and many times can be a crutch to not feel or deal. (I could write an entire book on this.) Now, if you have never quit drinking for an extended period of time, alcohol is a form of sugar and so after about a week or so, you start craving sugar. AND so, that became the next logical step, eliminate processed sugar.
Luckily for me, I have been training for this for quite some time. I know how to read labels, I understand that withdrawal symptoms are normal. I know I have to be compassionate with myself and those around me. But, holy moly, sugar is in everything and this is a huge change to make! The rules of this 40-day sugar fast are simple: no processed or added sugar. I still am eating fruits, but not many. The road to getting to the point where this seemed feasible was long and difficult at times. But definitely possible.
The main point of this, is that, no matter where you are on your path to being healthier, take steps, not impossible leaps. Be compassionate with yourself. Don’t get down on yourself if you “failed” another resolution that was way too big to take on. Make changes that are a simple step that will lead you to the next one. I will end with a quote that resonates with me (and that Bill Gates and Tony Robbins also agree upon): “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years” or something like that.
Be well and take small steps.
Nate Ewert, RMT. Owner of SS Performance Massage and Intentional Path Wellness; Founder of Denver Hiking Club.