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I’ve been battling a sinus infection for over a week and it’s really gotten me into a low energy place (that’s also why I haven’t done a blog post in the past week). My brain has been very fuzzy and it’s hard to keep my mind on doing anything. Luckily, I’m on my second round of antibiotics and that seems to be helping. I actually got some things done last night that I haven’t been able to do for a while (I still have a couple of loads of laundry to fold though).

One thing that I have been noticing in my life recently is my ability to numb myself to the outside world when it gets “scary” for me. Just now I had the idea to start writing my thoughts down for this blog post, and my mind went right to the want to play a computer game or listening to music.  I’ve been getting more aware of this since doing more work with Joe Weston’s Respectful Confrontation approach. I tend to numb myself from the works when it doesn’t flow as easily as I think it should, and I can then avoid doing or thinking of many things.


When this happens, I’ve hit a little respite from life, but then I have to deal with things later. Occasionally, my problem will just disappear, but most likely it is waiting more me to emerge out of my mental bunker and deal with it. At that time, I’ve usually gotten some more strength to deal with the issue and don’t feel so overwhelmed. It’s like my personal strength has been zapped when I’m presented with anything from a disagreement with a friend to having to put away my winter clothes. I’ve come to see that this is when I’m attacked by my personal Gollum, a gremlin that waits for my moment of weakness, and then convinces me that I have to hide for my safety. I lose the sense of personal power where I know I can handle things. This Gollum used to control my life much more than now.  I’m working at just noticing when he’s around, as it seems like he has control of my when I don’t realize it.  If I’m vigilant enough, then I can hopefully avoid these traps where I’m doing something silly and time-wasting instead of getting a number of things done that I want to do.

How does your Gollum show up in your life? What does he keep you from?


I’m writing this on my trusty iPhone on the way home from a great workshop lead by Joe Weston at Arlington Street Church in Boston. The topic was an overview of his Respectful Confrontation workshop that he will be leading in Watertown, Massachusetts this weekend. I’ve been to three of Joe’s shorter workshops over the past few years and was very excited that he will be presenting his training on how to successfully engage with others from an open-hearted position here locally.

The basic premise of Respectful Confrontation as I understand it is that most of the time people speak from a position if fear and reaction, and therefore are more likely to not be fully present to the situation and can make most communication breakdowns by not keeping engaged in relationship with the people the are talking to, but trying to break down the relationship. Respectful Confrontation looks to teach people how to speak from a perspective of personal power so that they can stay in engagement and improve relationships. The guideline for this is not the Western approach of brute force, but power from a martial arts perspective. Joe states that there are four aspects to personal power:

  1. Grounding: Knowing where you are and having your feet firmly on the ground.
  2. Focus: Being in control of your emotions and being present to others
  3. Strength: Knowing what you want and intentionally sending it forward into the world.
  4. Flexibility: Having the ability to change things as needed and responding to what the world brings to you.

I know that Joe can explain it much better, and this is just a small sample of what I got out of tonight. If you are interested, there are still openings in the program and there may be discounts available.  I’m more than willing to talk with you if you are interested.

So, how are you communicating, and what are you doing to improve it?


I just returned from Easton Mountain where I took part in Single Men’s Weekend, which was an opportunity to reflect upon the state of being single, how I am with that, and what I need to do differently if I want to change that situation. As many if you know, I’ve been single for five years and am in a pretty good place as far as bring happy with myself and what I want in my life. This weekend did give me the chance to look at how I’m being in the world and if that’s serving me in the long run.

Here are a bunch of reflections that I’ve had since coming back:

  1. Too often we think of a date as a Big Fat Hairy Deal. We could just use it as another opportunity to have a good time and not put so much pressure on yourselves to see if this is “the One”.
  2. I need to practice dating like I need to practice meditation or playing the hammered dulcimer. I’m not expecting to get it right all the time. I’m going to make mistakes.  Plan for those.
  3. You need to compromise in a relationship, but you shouldn’t compromise yourself.
  4. You need to bring all of you into a relationship. Otherwise you will be giving incomplete information to your potential mate, and he won’t be able to make a good decision if you’re not being truthful about yourself, and you’ll feel nervous about being “found out”.
  5. Ask for what you want, but don’t “spook the sheep” by unleashing it all at once. This assumes you know what you want first.
  6. I’m just as busy as everyone else in this culture. Am I using my busyness to keep me closed off from openings to be with a potential partner because “I don’t have the time” ?

The parallels between dating and job search should be obvious, but if it isn’t, substitute the word ‘job’ for ‘partner’ or ‘date’ in the above thoughts.

So, where are you keeping yourself from a relationship, whether work or romantic?

I think that we’ve all had times in our lives when it feels like we’ve got the weight of the world on us and there’s pressure from outside of us to deal with something that we really don’t what to address. It’s usually that we are just so paralyzed by the concept of taking action that we avoid it at all costs. This can be a self-perpetuating cycle, as we get more and more scared to deal with it, that it becomes a “Big Fat Hairy Deal”.

When in the presence of a Big Fat Hairy Deal, we just want it to go away and not bother us. We’ll deny that it’s there. We’ll put off facing it to do something much more important (like surfing the web to research the use of hydroponics in the 18th Century).  We do these things because we know that nothing in the world is more dangerous than actually facing The Big Fat Hairy Deal.

I’ve also found that nothing is as sweet as the relief when you finally know that the Big Fat Hairy Deal is not going to bother you. Many times all it took was making that awkward phone call or going through that pile of bills.  It can be so simple to just deal with the issue, and get it past you.

I was reminded of this as I’ve been doing pretty well lately: meditating, dealing with the standard stuff that comes up in life, etc, when all of a sudden I had a bunch of things happen to me.  Between family illnesses and upsets, professional upsets, and dealing with the darkening of the days, all of a sudden I seemed to be much more overwhelmed with things and not able to concentrate as well as I have in the past.  It took me a while to remember that this is the way that I used to feel constantly, and that if I just try to see what’s in front of me at the moment, I see distinct things clearly. When I’m overwhelmed, it’s a mass of things together, and all that pops up in my head is the Big Fat Hairy Deal.

With many of my clients, they are paralyzed by fear of going forward and don’t know what to do. The Big Fat Hairy Deal shows up in their lives and stops them in their tracks.  I like to say that the Big Fat Hairy Deal is just another name for fear, and everything that you don’t know what it is.  You can reclaim your life and your future by seeing what’s in front of you for what it is, which could be anything from a broken dish to a co-worker who always thinks he’s right and doesn’t show respect for your opinion.  If you make it more than it is, it will have power over you.

What’s the Big Fat Hairy Deal in your life? What is the Big Fat Hairy Deal blocking you from?

When I was growing up in my little home town about 20 miles west of Boston, I grew up thinking that everything inside Rte 128 (the ring road about 10 miles outside of the city) was filled with skyscrapers and people with knives. My mother was very scared of the city and she instilled that fear in us. We could go in occasionally, but it always felt like we were ready for an attack at any moment. The real revelation to me was when my sister and I started to go into a dance group at MIT weekly, meet different people who lived there (and many who had lived in different places around the world) and we got to see that it wasn’t a more dangerous place than our little town, but just one with more and different people.

That emboldened me to spread my wings a lot more. I went to college in Upstate New York (it was always expected that I would go to a state school), worked for a summer in Germany, and lived in Taiwan for a year studying Mandarin Chinese and teaching English. I definitely got over that fear in my life to go and try different places.

There have been other parts of my life that I’ve been recently seeing that I have the same sort of fear. Can I be truly and fully me and have people accept me? Can I be bold in stating what I want? Can I move forward with things when I dint know what the future will hold?  These questions have many times stopped me from doing things, contemplating things, or trying things out.

I see thus a lot with my clients in that they want to change their lives bit there is some fear that is just keeping them frozen. The worst part about it usually is that they don’t know they are in fear. Fear seems to be stealth and show up when we don’t realize it.

If you are acting our of fear, you are not in touch with your own personal power, and then you will always react to others’ stimuli instead of working toward your own goals.

So, what are you afraid of, and what is it keeping you from doing? Are you practicing being afraid, or practicing being powerful?

Ken Mattsson

Ken Mattsson

Ken Mattsson

I am a career consultant who specializes in the connection between what your spirit wants to do in the world, and how to marry that to the work that you do in order to support yourself. While I work with people in all fields, I specialize in working with "creative entrepreneurs" and the LGBT community.

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