A few weeks ago I talked about establishing culture, and my sense of what that means.

No one has yet written the Lonely Planet guide to The Fluent Self, Inc.pirate ship at large, but when I think about the qualities that come together to make this space what it is, one of the hugely important ones is freedom.

But not just freedom. Independence. And not just independence, but amnesty.

Amnesty for guilt.

One of the things that’s big when we work on stuck things is the clearing out of guilt, which also involves working with permission.

Permission to be where we are — in the guilt, if that’s what is going on.

Granting ourselves permission to not want to be in it. Giving permission to not know how to move through it, and permission in the form of the reminder that we do not have to stay there forever.

Guilt really sticks up the works, and keeps us from seeing what is real, what is needed, what would help.

And, so often, this isn’t deep existential guilt over Something We Regret. It’s habitual guilt. Discomfort as a way of being.

Oh, just some of the things people feel guilty about, pretty much all the time:

(Not everyone, of course — a lot of us, though.)

Not joining in on the Friday Chicken. Or being gone for a while. Saying too much, saying too little, saying it wrong, whatever that means.

Not writing Very Personal Ads. Or forgetting to. Or not wanting to. Or not knowing what to say. Having too many wishes or too few.

For having possibly thrown a shoe or for being upset that someone else threw a shoe, or for not being over it already.

For not doing a practice, or not enough, or not getting it right enough or for forgetting that it works.

In a group context, people worry about not checking in enough or too much. Or being too lengthy or too terse. Or being too something and not enough something else.

For being outsiders or resenting being outsiders.

With my clients, it’s about not having made enough progress on that one thing or not having implemented the other one.

It’s all okay, though.

It’s all okay by me.

It’s always acceptable in this community to not know what to say or how to say it. We are where we are, in the hard or the stuck or not at all.

Sometimes we doubt ourselves or second-guess. It’s all fine.

How amnesty works in the culture of this blog and my business in general.

My guilt-free email policy.

Back when I still did email, I had something called my guilt-free email policy, which I was pretty much constantly referencing.

The basic idea:

Unless you’re my bookkeeper or attorney, you don’t ever have to apologize for not getting back to me. If I need a response, I’ll ask for one.

You’ll respond when you respond. I’ll respond when I respond. No apologizing necessary. And anyway, not everything requires a response.

Creating space for me.

In fact, my email sabbatical itself is a form of amnesty for me.

It allows me to not have to interact with the hundreds of daily wants, requests, complaints, needs of everyone who encounters my world.

It gives me spaciousness to create, and to take care of myself.

Space to give lovingly of my time here on the blog each day instead of constantly ranting here and everywhere about how much I hate everything. (Now I just do that on Fridays, which is totally better).

Birthday amnesty.

This isn’t mine, it’s Kelly’s.

She gives herself — and youBirthday Amnesty!

You never have to remember anyone’s birthday again. Or feel bad about forgetting hers. It’s brilliant.

Amnesty doesn’t mean not taking responsibility.

It’s not a get-out-of-responsibility pass.

It’s a get-out-of-stuck pass, which is totally different.

We still own what’s ours. We still have to stop and say, “Wow. My stuff is coming up. And it’s mine. Still working on that.”

But we do get to put down the heaviness, the guilt, the unending wondering if we’re doing it wrong.

Amnesty is yours as a citizen of this space.

It’s an inherent quality of this particular world — the one that exists here on the blog, and at the Playground and everywhere I teach.

It is always there. You can always claim it. You can assume it’s there for you. You don’t have to do anything to earn it. It’s yours.

And you don’t need me to give this permission to you, either. Because you have sovereignty and this is part of your birthright.

Amnesty is built into the culture of this place. You get to grant amnesty to yourself or to anybody in your life, whenever you want to. Or all the time.

Hiro said, about amnesty: “It means we can all come home.” That’s exactly what it is.


And comment zen for today …

We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. We let people be where they are, which means not giving advice unless someone asks for it.

And yes, this amnesty thing applies to commenting too.

Whether it’s permission to say something (if you’re a Beloved Lurker who wants to say something).

Or permission to not have to engage (if you’re a Beloved Lurker who doesn’t need to say anything). Or to hide, if saying things feels scary.

Permission to come back whenever without guilt.

Permission to not have to check in ever, if you don’t feel like it.

All of it. Is okay. By me. Always. It just is.

p.s. Tomorrow is the once-a-year bohemian salon — fun will be had.

The Fluent Self