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Hello hello everyone,
I hope you are well and adjusting to this new time.
This week, I want to share a quote that has stuck with me this week is from the counselor and author Gay Hendricks. "Humans often create enormous drama to avoid a 10-second sweaty palm conversation." Anything from to our boss "I would like to quit this job" to our partner "I'm thinking of someone else".

I had a bit of sweat hearing him speak about that. Gosh, wouldn't that hurt the other person? When I look deeper, it often turns out that I'm just avoiding the sadness, wrath or revenge of the other. Yet there is something immensely refreshing about speaking and listening to what is true, both from inside us and with other people. How do you begin though?

This question reminded me of the superheroine Wonder Woman, who has a device called the Lasso of Truth.
Wonder Woman Brings 'Lasso of Truth' To DCEU | Screen Rant
(scene in in the 2017 movie where Steve Trevor is brought to reveal the truth)
(Wonder Woman, I wonder if you can lend me that lasso sometimes? I don't need to tie anyone; I just need to tie myself) 

Whoever is held in it is compelled to tell the truth. Interesting enough, it is not a torturous device. Rather, the idea behind is that submission to a pleasant controller (instead of a harsh one) would be more pleasant and therefore make it more likely that people would submit. Wouldn't that be so wonderful, a world of more truth without unnecessary torture?

Well, Gay Hendrick has an easier version of the lasso. He also recommended the practice of telling microscoping truth, which is the truth about your internal experience as you are currently perceiving it. For example, "Just now when you said you were too busy to meet, I felt a drop in my chest, and a thought crossed my mind "Did you not care about us?"" It's good to begin with those issues that seem not worthy of being talked about.

This takes gut, yet the act of telling the microscopic truth about something seemingly trivial liberates the energy to uncover what is really going on at a deeper level.

So, truth be told, I've been slow the last three weeks with writing. I want to share with you a blog post about what it is like to show up a bit differently at this time. I hope it sparks some reflection.

p/s: I'm really curious on how you are doing during this time, so please write something back to me.

Sharing is sprouting.
If you have been forwarded this newsletter, feel free to subscribe to it here 


This week's writing is a meditation on the Have to vs the Get to of our life. It started out as a simple reframing, but then became a full-blown treatise of the a different orientation to life. 


From “Have to” to “Get to”

A small change that makes a big difference

A while ago, I did a little experiment. Instead of my To Do list, I call it Get To Do list.

I didn’t expect such a minor tweak to have such a big impact. Yet it was the beginning of a shift from being a victim of life to taking some responsibility and even co-creating with life.

That shift stemmed from my continuous surprise and sometimes frustration at how the freedom that many freelancers or solopreneurs like me seek does not seem to be that “free” after all. Even though we have chosen to be our own boss, we often feel like we HAVE to do something rather than GET to do them.

The outer form may have changed, like from being an employee to a freelancer, but the inner reality may not. We still deeply internalize that “Have to” pressure.

At the mental gymnastic level, this reframing works because when you don’t have to do something and still do it, the mind can rationalize it as enjoyable or means something important.

Indeed, with the “get to” framing, activities get more pleasant and more rewarding. I used to dismiss this as some slick mental trick too, but then I realized it goes much deeper and wider than that. It wasn’t until I learned about The Three Principles that it began to dawn on me why. Here it is in my own words.

Thought creates reality, but not in the way the positive thinking self-help movement often portrays. Rather, thought is the missing link between two ends. One end is the formless and unchanging Great Intelligence, the Source or the Nothing that is behind everything. The other end is anything that can be aware of, from our growing hair, the words of this post, the electricity running on your devices to even our sense of a personal self. Thought is how the formless comes into awareness.

Our personal self doesn’t create thought but receives thought. Look: a thought comes to you. Then the next thought. Then it quiets. Then another thought comes again.

The sense of self is created in thought, but who we are is before thoughts. Every time we think and speak, we can be reminded of the Nothing from which these thoughts come into awareness.

Like any other piece of wisdom, it sounds obvious. Yet the more it is seen in different areas, the more profound the impact. It works on us somehow. The act of intentionally using a certain phrase like “Get To” vs “Have to” simply points us to a deeper experience of these principles in action.

Two important notes here:

First, you may or may not tell other people that you “get to” rather than “have to” do something. What matters is you experience the thought of “Get To” rather than a clever mental rephrasing.

Second, you can use whatever phrase from “Want To”, “Love To” or even “Blessed To” with that understanding. I’m using “Get To” because that thought just came to me one day — an evidence of something more intelligent than myself is going on. You don’t “have to” use “get to”.

Give it a try. Notice the effect it has on you when you say it out loud or even just inside. Is there lightness? Energy?

The principles are not something to be “applied” as much as they are to be noticed in actions across different domains. In some, it will seem evident that the experience of thought becomes clear. For example, if you are with someone you enjoy being with, both will experience a sense of aliveness as if a great intelligence is animating you two. It feels like resting and dropping into that juicy place of effortless connection. You don’t “have to” connect but rather “get to” stay in that natural togetherness.

In other domains, it’s a bit murkier to see. Let me share some personal examples of varying difficulties and what they have taught me.

“Get to” mop the floor: It used to be a chore, but now something has changed and that I get to make the room clean and nice. It feels pretty good. I also get to take a break from my computer work.

“Get to” make money:

Many of us feel like we HAVE to make money, or even more commonly have to make MORE money. I’m still unlearning this scary lesson.

Now I do feel more like I GET to make money, which actually is to participate fully in the game of commerce and the exchange of values. There is something very beautiful about choosing to play out of neither necessity nor obsession to win but simply because the game itself can be fun.

I used to judge people much more on money (you make too much, you have too little, too extravagant, too stingy etc…) Unsurprisingly, I judge myself for the same thing too. With the “Get To” practice, those judgments are still there but don’t stick around as long.

It’s shocking how much implicit beliefs we had about money, from “it’s great” to “it’s the root of all evil” to anything in between. I still feel quite uncomfortable charging people money for what I do, and I’m reminding myself “okay, you get to create something, offer it and ask for what you want whether you get it or not. How cool is that?”.

Behind the fear lies the great pleasure of seeing what it is instead of shunning away (“I don’t need it” ) or blowing it up (“Money is my life”).

The ideal state is probably when we can say both “I get to make lots of money” and “I get to live very cheap” and anything in between with a sense of peace and joy. Long way to go, perhaps, but at least we get a glimpse of what is possible.

(Note: more money work, see Peter Koenig’s excellent pioneering work)

“Get to” meet someone: This is really tricky. In the usual human relation, there is such a thing as status difference and power dynamics.

When we perceive ourselves as higher status (more desirable, less needy), it’s harder to keep the “get to” frame. It feels like we are doing a favor and “have to” meet.
A common case of status difference comes from their relative availability. Intentionally or not, many do use busyness as a status symbol. The busier, the higher status, the less likely people can meet you.
I’m definitely guilty as charged for this. There are quite a few overdue meeting requests that I didn’t really want to take so I just conveniently let them slip off…

It sucks to be on the lower status end too. As a case in point, recently I reached out to reconnect with a friend who has been very busy. We kept pushing back out catchup until she messaged me saying that she didn’t really want to talk and felt like she had to. From her end, more people genuinely wanted to meet her and went the extra miles to do so whereas I didn’t to be that prepared and take our talk seriously. It could have been a full-blown drama, but we didn’t go there. Rather, I felt sad but also relieved to know. I was thankful for the honesty.

When two people “get to” meet each other, there will likely be sparks and joy. It’s one of the best things as a human to get to meet someone who also gets to meet you! When one is “have to”, it sours the interaction. When both “have to”, why even bother? (Yet, it’s surprisingly common).

It’s worth considering which of our interaction is not a double “gets to”. Maybe it’s time to drop.

This “Get To” reframing also applies to decision-making, which is an important and often ignored form of action. Here is another example.

“Get to” say No: to something, like a meeting, a request or a party. Saying No is hard for those who either are prone to pleasing others or feel FOMO in general. I often feel much lighter and unburdened when I could though. It means I “get to” say Yes to something else more important.

Once of the best perspective on this saying Yes vs saying No dilemma is from Charles Davies:

Yes opens up possibilities, no improves quality. If you say yes to the wrong things, the quality goes down. If you say no to the wrong things, then your project can’t realise its full potential.

If yes opens up possibilities and no improves quality, then not being able to say yes or no produces paralysis.”

For some people, myself included, that would feel like the most yucky selfish thing to say ever. Yet telling myself that I “get to” say No has totally changed the experience. Gosh, we do the world such a great service by being clear of what we really want.

Alan Watts said this best:

“It isn’t actually that selfish to come out and tell the truth about what you want — for example, when someone is tired of your company and simply says so: “Sorry, but I don’t want to be around anybody right now.” We call that selfish, but that kind of selfishness isn’t really selfish because with that kind of person you always know where you stand. You will never feel like an imposition on such a person, and that makes for a very comfortable relationship.”

A specific application of getting to say No is ending. You “get to” end a current engagement — a relationship, a contract or a gig — when you can be clear that it has served what it was meant to serve.

This one is hard because we tend to think about all the associated logistical and emotional costs of ending to justify for something that no longer should be there.
The principle still stays though. If the thought is “I have to end this relationship”, chances are you are at the mercy of the whirlwinds inside.

In my experience, you will need to recognize that and sometimes even sink into those heavy inner turbulences first before you can truly say “I get to end this relationship”. Then, you may feel much lighter. As a consequence of being free from the drama yourself, you will save the other side a lot of pain too.

The ideal again is when both people can say they “get to end” this. Then rather than a power struggle, it will feel like you both graduated from a satisfying experience, clean and clear.

Most of the time, our reluctance to say No or make the hard choice says less about our inability to make decision or our weak will but more about how much we are cut off from the greater intelligence of our whole being. Which brings us to the next practice.

“Get to” feel: This is for those like me who mostly stay in our thinking and almost entirely away from our feelings. Specifically, it is not only transient feelings on surface level, like frustration, irritation, or tantrum, the usual mood that our normal days often cycle through. Indeed, the practice of noticing our feelings & sensations allow us to enter into them more deeply.

Consider a common example of guilt or upset, either with oneself or other, for doing something wrong or not doing something that needs to be done. I found that if I allow myself to drop into those feelings, it would almost always morph into a kind of grief, a hollowing sense of basic sadness that is both personal and universal. The other day I was getting sucked in some mindless Youtube watching and got frustrated by my own procrastination. Somehow I managed to throw myself out for a walk to get out from the vicious loop of self-hatred. With some space, I noticed that behind the frustration — that vague sense of angst and discomfort in my body — is a lot of sadness. I was more sad than angry, more heavy than heated.

It’s not that different from the sadness when you realize you have accidentally hurt a loved one because of a careless, unskillful moment. Once the initial guilt or upset has passed, a more basic sadness reveals itself.

Sadness is the other side of love and care. It came not so much because I was weak-willed and disappointed. Rather, it was in seeing the many ways that conditioning like laziness, distraction, self-blaming and so on have got in the way of love — for the work and more importantly for the self that has been ignored, the self before all those conditionings who already is beautiful and wholesome as given.

After that experience, something in me felt restored, freshened, and alive again. It felt like coming home. That loved one who has been hurt in this case is myself.

Derek Walcott says it better in his poem, Love After Love

“The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.[…]”

It’s not so much that we “have to” feel unwanted experiences. It’s that we “get to” feel everything and realize how rich, frightening and beautiful life could be. Without risking to grieve, we will never truly know how much love there is.

See the full post here on Medium.


  • "Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.
    Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. 
    Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love. 
    No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by that final form of love, which is forgiveness.”
    - Reinhold Niebuhr

    A beautiful and poignant reminder of the difficult task of being human and how we always need to ask for help from that which is beyond us.
  • "The only reason we don't open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don't feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone's eyes." - Pema Chodron
    • A clear understanding of why we get triggered by people.


A beautiful question that I have been asking myself:
What is a dream that is always in your heart, a vision you would love to help bring into being, one that hurts you to think about and see that it is not yet there?

What is that for you?


p/s: Would you like some free coaching from me? It's my birthday month, and I'm feeling generous. Do 
reach out here

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Please write back to me sometimes. I really appreciate it.

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