This post is part of a Self Fluency basics series.

I love basics. Returning to basics is how we exit the middle — the advanced practice is *always* found in the beginning practice; back to the foundations, back to receptivity, curiosity and wonder.

In both yoga and dance, I revisit the basics constantly to deepen my understanding of the essence of my practice, and when I work with clients (aka when I play with fellow secret agents in the Secret Agency of Agency!), we also return to basics as if they are new.

Our prep work involves investigating the core concepts of self-fluency, practicing until they become second nature, until we can automatically apply them to anything we’re going through. I’m sharing this series so you can play along with us. One of the most foundational pieces of what we do here is [Acknowledgment & Legitimacy], this is an exploration of that…


We live in a culture that privileges the ability to get over things,
move past, be over it already, be okay again.

(Or, maybe better said,
our culture rewards the appearance of having done this,
whether anyone actually achieves this or not seems to be largely irrelevant.)

This is why the practice of Acknowledgment & Legitimacy
— letting hard things be hard, making room for an experience to be how it is in that moment, remembering that [uncomfortable emotion] is a very valid and understandable reaction to whatever the circumstances may be, even if it isn’t immediately clear why —
is so deeply subversive:

the revolution internal

We sow the seeds of revolution whenever we
release ourselves of
any obligation to
get over it already,
or in any time frame at all.

Each time we notice-and-question this inherited mindset of
“hurry up and move through it”,
we are interrupting the hierarchy,
changing the established patterns,
setting something new into motion
yes, in ourselves,
and also out into the world.

revolution like uprising and revolution like circles, spirals, like the roundness of sound and resonance, bells echoing outwards

sometimes what is unlikely is still true

We can actually heal much faster when we intentionally choose [not-pushing],
when we undo external or internalized expectations about
how long the grieving/recovery/______ process should take
or what it might look like,
when we let go of the idea of a finish line,
and notice the perpetual and exhausting perception that we are always
late or lagging behind.

(a flash of memory, from the book Momo by Michael Ende,
when walking backwards, slowly and intentionally,
is what gets our heroes down the magical path to sanctuary
faster than hurrying)

ease even when not easy

Painful things can change shape with more ease
when we aren’t so invested in making them change as soon as possible,
shift happens
it does

And it happens in the timing that is needed,
which can also change,
and anyway, all timing becomes reasonable
when we agree to things being how they are in this moment,
and then, guess what, more often than not
this quiet intentional not-fighting with the timing just speeds up the process
even though we now know this doesn’t actually matter
and we whisper thank you in our hearts for the superpower of
All Timing Right Timing.

* And if we have (very understandable) resistance to that superpower,
see the next section for a workaround

wait, I have to mention a sneaky workaround!

Guess what, we also apply acknowledgment and legitimacy to the moments when
the idea that this could be right timing
seems impossible: the exact opposite of what is true,
that perception too is legitimate, it is all legitimate,
that’s the point, even [frustration with acknowledgment and legitimacy]
can be met with acknowledging the legitimacy of that frustration:

yes, it *does* feel really frustrating right now!
we are allowed to feel frustrated!
it makes sense that we would feel frustrated!
it is okay to not want to apply legitimacy!
good noticing, me!


This work is brave
and especially so by virtue of being
unacknowledged and unsupported,
which makes the act of choosing it counter-intuitive,
it asks us to contradict culture.

Like many things simple-and-true, this is not necessarily easy,
the practice of Acknowledgement & Legitimacy can be
enormously challenging, especially the part where we learn to embody it,
but we practice anyway…


Acknowledgment & Legitimacy is at the very heart of self-fluency,
and so when I work with (play with!) fellow secret agents,
establishing this as our baseline automatic response to everything
well, this is the always the beginning of our training.

Acknowledgment & Legitimacy is how we
meet ourselves where we are, in the pain-grief-fear-numb,
or whatever it is we find ourselves experiencing,
with no agenda, just empathy, curiosity, presence, love,
and by doing this we create a refuge in time-space,
inside of which
the right-for-us answers and the indicated next steps
reveal themselves.


We let these inherited rules of culture,
(in the form of expectations perceived and internalized)
untangle and dissolve,
and we do this through noticing that they are there.

And the very beginning of this work of learning to embody
Acknowledgment & Legitimacy is in the noticing,
particularly in noticing where they are not,
because examples of lack are much more abundant,
and because we need to expand our awareness of why we feel
crappy about ourselves so much of the time

Haha it’s because the game is rigged, and culture is not supportive of process but we are dynamic beings who are constantly in process!

Anyway, there is lots more we could say about that,
but I want to talk about how we undo these patterns,
about the process of training


And so we train ourselves, slowly and steadily,
to observe culture in action,
internal and external,
we see where and how we have learned to respond to
our pain, how new and vulnerable it can feel to choose
kindness, spaciousness and permission as the alternative response,
(and that’s okay too, see what I did there?)
we notice and keep noticing so that we can
rewrite our own patterns within the bigger culture,
and (she types hopefully)
echo out new culture…


As secret agents devoted to the studies of
self-fluency, self-knowledge, wild self-treasuring,
part of our work is to train ourselves to catch onto this,
to pick up on these bits of culture
happening around us and inside of us,
in the language we hear and in how we speak to ourselves,
noticing all the places that Acknowledgment & Legitimacy aren’t
(aren’t welcomed, are neglected and forgotten)
as well as where they can come in,
receptive to discovering
what changes in us and in our lives when we invite them in.

observing and being observant

Can we be the observers who see culture at work,
noting the mostly-invisible pressures that push in favor of
[get past painful things and move through them],
both for the convenience of others and
as a badge of honor,
as if getting to a state of “fine with it” is the only end game,
recovery and perceived well-ness the accomplishments that are
rewarded with positivity, warmth, love, admiration and so on.

Can we see how we do this to ourselves as well,
how we want so badly to be through the process instead of in it,
and meet that with acknowledgment and legitimacy,
what a kind and loving intention inside this pattern, to desire healing,
to wish for the pain (ours and others) to subside,
to pass and ebb,
as it will when we don’t make its passing the requirement?

And: what if we can practice
the gentle art of
{presence with what is > achieving}


But/and/also, as people devoted to the studies self-fluency,
don’t take my word for any of this.

I am sharing bits and pieces of my perspective
both about this phenomenon of culture,
and about the approach of Acknowledgment & Legitimacy,
which for me is possibly the most important element in what we do,
the core of getting to know ourselves with love,
the basis for all the other work we do
in transforming the patterns, habits and relationships that hurt or don’t work for us,
that keep us in
real and perceived states of stuck,
but of course agreeing with me is never a prerequisite for self-fluency,
it’s not even relevant to the work:

We are all wise and thoughtful beings,
we are all capable of self-reflection,
and coming to our own conclusions.


I share this concept, as everything else, with the expectation that you,
as a wise thoughtful person who interacts with life,
will examine the hypothesis yourself,
play, toss it around, reinterpret, expand on what is here,
make it your own.

And I share it while trusting that you will remember
(but oh hey, here is a reminder anyway!) that
I am not the queen-empress of self-knowledge and self-exploration,
of course you will figure out what is most right for you,
we are all just practicing
practicing and noticing,
meeting ourselves with love
or with more love than before,
as much as we can to the extent that we can
right now, in this moment,

other caveats, the usual ones

We invoke, as always, the principle of People Vary,
it might be that you personally do great with Get Over It Already,
I have a friend who likes to set grieving deadlines,
and this works for him as a practice, you know you best,
the idea here is being conscious and curious about
how we are
and what we need
as well as how best to take care of ourselves,
while maintaining an approach of compassion, nonviolence,
inviting the kind of change that comes from love.

I have no interest in telling you how to be or perceive,
my goal/intention here is the same as always:
can we be curious compassionate explorers and investigators
of our internal and external worlds?

how do we practice being a noticer who notices

To learn about Acknowledgment & Legitimacy,
we also have to look at where it isn’t, because almost no one models this,
but luckily we can learn from the lack.

An excellent place to do this is in film/television media,
where it can be more removed and less painful
than in our immediate relationships,
and we can see how this plays out in everything from
the way people say “Aw Don’t Cry”,
like this is supposed to be considered a form of comfort (?!),
to all other forms of PUSH THROUGH IT,
but yes you will begin to notice this everywhere if you don’t already,
for example in internet memes,
overheard snippets of conversation and
inside your own head.

a top secret undertaking, aka DIY homework, if you want some!

Next time, or some time soon,
I will share some examples of what it looks like
when we practice Acknowledgment & Legitimacy in various situations,
something you’ve probably seen me do a hundred thousand times on the blog.

But for now, let’s see how many noticing we can notice
and share some here,
as a way of honing our clarity and our presence,
recognizing all the places Acknowledgment & Legitimacy can help,
as well as the ways they get lost in
the air we breathe / the water we swim in,
as well as noting ways we can change our approach
to glow more Acknowledgment and more Legitimacy,
meeting ourselves and our pain with grace and the sweetness of
presence that has no agenda.

We can bring positive examples (the category of What’s Working)
or things you wish to see change (the category of Next Time I Might…),
as well as anything useful you’ve learned or internalized on this topic
from reading Fluent Self posts over the years.


Excellent, because I really want to write them. And I want to share more personal process here to show this stuff in action. And if we find 108 people who want to take part in this grand experiment, I will be posting lots. More about this and other ways to take part!

Come play with me (and how we play here)

You are invited to share this post and to share many !!!!!! about what is here,

Or share appreciation or anything sparked for you while reading…

Safe space for creative exploration asks us to let go of care-taking and advice-giving.

Everyone belongs. We let people have their own experience. We’re supportive and welcoming. We lovingly refrain from giving advice.

And of course it’s always okay to comment under a made-up name, whether for play and delight, or in the interest of Safety First.

We remember that people vary and my process doesn’t have to be yours, and this is a good thing.

Here’s how we meet each other: with great kindness and appreciation.