A few weeks ago I talked about establishing culture, and my sense of what that means.
And mentioned that no one has yet written the Lonely Planet guide to The Fluent Self, Inc. — pirate ship at large. And that one day I might.
So. When I think about the qualities that come together to make this space what it is, it seems to me that one of the hugely important ones is freedom.
But not just freedom. Independence. And not just independence, but amnesty.
Amnesty for stuckness-related guilt.
One of the things that’s big when we work on destuckification is the clearing out of guilt. And working with permission.
Permission to be where we are — in the guilt, if that’s what is going on.
Giving permission to not want to be here. Giving permission to not know how to move through it. And permission to not have to stay there forever.
And a lot of the time, this isn’t deep existential guilt over Something We Regret. It’s habitual guilt. It’s discomfort as a way of being.
Oh, just some of the things my people feel guilty about, pretty much all the time:
(Not all my people, of course — a lot of us, though.)
Not chickening on the Friday Chicken. Or not chickening for a while. Or saying too much. Or saying too little. Or 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 not doing Shiva Nata or not getting it wrong enough or not getting it right enough or for forgetting that it works.
With the Kitchen Table mice, it’s 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 and for 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 all okay by Selma.
It’s always acceptable in this community to not know what to say or how to say it. It’s always acceptable to be where you are, in the hard or the stuck or not at all.
To doubt yourself, second-guess, wonder. Or to know with complete certainty.
All or any of those are fine. They just are.
That’s how it is here.
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 my attorney, you don’t ever have to apologize for not getting back to me. If I need a response, I will say so.
Enough apologizing. You’ll respond when you respond. I’ll respond when I respond. 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).
I give these to my clients all the time.
Sometimes I also write them sick notes.
Anyway, if you want one, I can put one at the bottom of the post.
But assume permission.
The Deguiltified Chicken Board.
Amnesty is everywhere at the Kitchen Table.
It’s okay to post seventeen posts in a row. It’s okay to not post at all.
No one is expected to read everything or answer everything (which would be a physical impossibility anyway, since so much happens there).
You never have to apologize for taking time off or for not being around or for having too much to say or for writing a post that has no point.
We have CrankyPants McGrumbleBug’s Kvetchtastic Whine Bar that’s just for complaining, crying and/or throwing chairs. Where no one gives advice or tries to cheer you up and instead they’re just nice to you.
And the Monster Watching Collective, where you can deposit your monsters for playdates when you need to get some work done.
But one of the neatest things at the Table is the Deguiltified Chicken Board where you get to work on your projects in a completely zero-guilt environment.
So there’s loving accountability, but no one makes you feel bad if you didn’t get something done. We’ll help each other get back on track and start over, but there’s no need for shame about what didn’t work. It’s awesome.
Even birthday amnesty.
This isn’t mine, it’s Kelly’s.
Kelly Parkinson of Copylicious is a crazed genius and I love her.
And she’s worked with me in so many forms that she’s completely an unofficial ambassador of everything I teach. So even though it’s reflective of the excellent culture of her business, in my mind this beautiful idea shares some DNA with all things Fluent-Self-ified.
She gives herself — and you — Birthday 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-stuckness 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. And I’m 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 totally 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 or questions if you’re a commenter mouse or Chickeneer (Chicken Ear!) of the High Seas who misses being around.
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.