Incivility & Bullying Within the Profession of Nursing: Is Peace In Our Time Possible?

wooden numbers forming the number 2016 and a heart-shaped chalkb
wooden numbers forming the number 2016 and a heart-shaped chalkboard with some wishes for the new year, such as peace, love and happiness, on a rustic wooden surface

 

I find it frustrating to acknowledge that despite all the work of recent years to implement initiatives aimed at creating healthy and safe workplace environments, that lateral and horizontal hostility still remains within the nursing profession. I think we all hoped that when the idea of Zero Tolerance bloomed into an actual Human Resource policy the darkest days were behind us. Disappointingly, this is not what I hear from my private coaching clients and other professional caregivers across the country. The elephant remains in the room and the reluctance to talk openly about it continues as well.

I do not feel the need to define bullying behavior or outline the toll such shadow behavior takes on individuals. You are all too familiar with it most likely because you have been on the receiving end of it. What I want to shed some light on is the nature and makeup of someone who engages in bullying tactics. Having insight into the mindset of the enemy goes a long way to taking the power away from them and empowering yourself.

First I want to point out that we often use the term Bully to describe a coworker or leader that exhibits uncivil conduct but is not a true bully. Unfortunately, we live in a time where uncivil behavior is celebrated. Just consider some of the popular reality TV programs currently enjoying high ratings let alone the antics demonstrated along the campaign trail of 2016. Engaging in uncivil behavior is the consequence of a low emotional intelligence and an unrefined ability to manage one’s emotions under stress in the workplace. Keep in mind that we are all capable of giving into the needier side of our neurotic selves under pressure.

People who are, at times, uncivil usually have the ability to step outside themselves and reflect on a disagreeable interpersonal exchange and take ownership of their behavior when they cool off or are held responsible and accountable by others. They are also capable of expressing genuine remorse and of taking steps to improve in the future. Bullies do not have that capacity.

Consider the following characteristics of an individual with the neurotic personality disorder known as narcissism. They include but are not limited to:

  • Authoritarian
  • Having a strong need for control
  • A desire to dominate people and situations
  • Perceiving themselves as a special, elite individuals that are deserving of VIP treatment
  • Lacking in empathy toward others
  • Having a tendency to be exploitative of others

 

Now think of someone you work with that is knowingly intimidating and/or cruel; someone who has no desire to consider how their words or behaviors affect others. That’s right! Bullies are narcissists. Investing time and efforts into trying to appeal to their higher nature and grow from coaching sessions or disciplinary actions will prove very frustrating. An individual must first be capable of acknowledging that there is an issue before they can buy into their responsibility to remedy the issue. Narcissists lack the ability to grow from insight and introspection.

Addressing both uncivil and bullying behavior requires a true collaboration between administration, the human resources department and in organizations with collective bargaining agreements, labor. All stakeholders must agree on a unified definition of bullying behavior and a unified approach to bullying conduct. The finish line for tolerating this type of misconduct must be fixed and unaffected by the manipulating skills of the bully.

Managing someone who is given to uncivil behavior is very different than addressing someone with a true bullying mentality. The person given to regular demonstrations of low emotional intelligence must understand that we are now in a time in the industry of healthcare and the profession of nursing when skills and knowledge are not enough to secure your professional future.

The literature demonstrates that the level of one’s emotional intelligence directly correlates with that person’s ability to demonstrate a consistent caring behavior to patients and families as well as own their responsibility to maintain a healthy work environment (McQueen 2004). If these individuals are not willing to grow from in-the-moment feedback, coaching and in-depth discussions during the performance evaluation process then; the conversation must move onto asking if they are in the right working environment.

Unfortunately, the personality of a narcissist does not make them amenable to demonstrating sustained improvement with conventional managerial interventions. In these instances, clear performance improvement plans must be crafted and immediate and sustained improvement demonstrated. The push-back will be relentless but there are very few options.

So my question becomes, if we are not willing to put an end to abusive conduct in the workplace now, when will we be willing? Let us resist getting caught up in finger pointing and complaining about how our inter-professional colleagues may mistreat us. Let us decisively address the issues in our own house first. We must commit now, not later, to peace in our time.

Resources:

  • Bakr M, Safaan S (2012) Emotional intelligence: a key for nurses’ performance. Journal of American Science. 8, 11, 385-393.
  • Benson G, Martin L, Ploeg J et al (2012) Longitudinal study of emotional intelligence, leadership, and caring in undergraduate nursing students. Journal of Nursing Education. 51, 2, 95-101
  • Codier E, Codier D (2015) A model for emotional intelligence and patient safety. Asia Pacific Journal of Oncology Nursing. In Press
  • Codier E, Kooker B, Shoultz J (2008) Measuring the emotional intelligence of clinical staff nurses: an approach for improving the clinical care environment. Nursing Administration Quarterly. 32, 1, 8-14.
  • Holbery N (2015) Emotional intelligence: essential for trauma nursing. International Emergency Nursing. 23, 1, 13-16.
  • McQueen A.C.H. (2004) Emotional intelligence in nursing work: Journal of Advanced Nursing 47(1), 101–108

 

New Book: The Delicate Balance; A Mindful Approach to Self-Care for Professional & Family Caregivers

  Phyllis Quinlan, RN-Bc, PhD

mfwconsultants@gmail.com

www.mfwconsultants.com

New Book Provides Insight and Guidance for Professional and Family Caregivers Struggling with the Consequences of Caring Too Much: Compassion Fatigue

The Delicate Balance is a must read resource for professional and family caregivers who are encountering the aftermath of neglecting to take as good care of themselves as they do others.

Flushing, New York (3.1.13) –Caring is the act of turning compassion into action. Caregivers are amazing and generous people who often develop the signs and symptoms of Compassion Fatigue as a cost of prolonged caring for others in physical or emotional need. Compassion fatigue is the erosion of a caring nature. It can be the consequence of over exposure to patients, clients, or family members with chronic conditions.

In the past only the six million plus professional caregivers and first responders in the United States were thought to be at high risk for the development of role overload. However, we now know that compassion fatigue is not exclusive to the healthcare and rescue professionals. Those caring for a frail, elderly parent, chronically ill or challenged family member (44 million families) are just as susceptible to compassion fatigue over time as those in the high-risk professions.

Phyllis Quinlan RN, PhD, registered nurse, international author, public speaker, and personal coach is proud to announce the release of her newest book The Delicate Balance: A Mindful Approach to Self-Care for Professional and Family Caregivers. This heartfelt and poignant work is intended to help those professional and family caregivers who are suffering under the weight of caring too much at the expense of their own health and wellbeing.

The Delicate Balance uses the ancient wisdom offered by the Tao Te Ching to inspire and provide guidance. The reader will receive insights on the signs, symptoms and risk factors of the toxic effects of caring too much. The guidance offered can provide the reader with the steps to take for re-establishing perspective and maintaining The Delicate Balance necessary to staying whole, healthy and intact while caring for others.

For over 30 years, Phyllis Quinlan, RN, PhD has practiced as a registered nurse, educator, complementary therapy practitioner, consultant and personal coach. She understands that, “caring is not a sprint but a marathon and an undertaking of this nature requires preparation, training and a devoted attention to what it will take to keep you in the race.”

Her book The Delicate Balance: A Mindful Approach To Self-Care for Professional and Family Caregivers can be purchased by visiting Phyllis’ website www.mfwconsultants.com or it can be found in an ebook version on http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BSWXN5S  in a Kindle platform.

The Tao Te Ching: Verse Eighty

Small country, few people
Let them have many weapons but not use them
Let the people regard death seriously
And not migrate far away

Although they have boats and chariots
They have no need to take them
Although they have armors and weapons
They have no need to display them

Let the people return to tying knots and using them
Savor their food, admire their clothes
Content in their homes, happy in their customs

Neighboring countries see one another
Hear the sounds of roosters and dogs from one another
The people, until they grow old and die
Do not go back and forth with one another

                                                                    Lao Tzu

It is not uncommon to hear friends and colleagues lament that there never seems to be enough hours in the day. It is not just that we are incredibly busy. It is as though time itself is compressed; squeezed into something dense and at times challenging to navigate. The paradox of modern living is that we often find ourselves longing for the Simple Life.  Is it possible to have both?  The guidance offered in this verse of the Tao suggests that it is.

The reason modern times feel so demanding is that we tend to isolate ourselves. Sure we have more ability to connect than ever. Internet, email, texting, phones that reach Mars but has that promoted socialization or has it just made it easier to communicate without leaving the office, car or our home?

Recently my tri-state region was pummeled by super storm Sandy. Much of the area lost electricity, phone service, cable and Internet for days. Many areas are still without power. That forced us back to basics. We started communicating in a more fundamental, simple way. We talked face to face. The effects of that great storm were profoundly devastating but we found solace and support as we began to reconnect and acknowledge our interdependence.

We are not meant to live solitary lives. We are meant to form communities and participate within them. We are meant to be neighbors. The lesson that we can take from this is remember to cultivate connectedness. However, as human beings we tend to fall back into our old ways so the true goal is to cultivate sustainable connectedness.

Sustainable connectedness has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with the feeling created by growing genuine relationships. The key to this is acceptance. We need to walk away from our dualistic nature to judge, comment and alienate and move toward promoting civility, respect and mutual support. I believe that this is possible.

We are entering an age that is described by some vibrational healers as a time of the Solar Feminine. This is a term for a world where the masculine (Yang) energetic principles of life; private ownership, greed, might over right and war are brought into balance by the feminine (Yin) energetic principles of collaboration, co-creation and connectedness.

The challenge is to balance the masculine and feminine energetic qualities we each possess. We can do this if we are willing to struggle less and ease into life as it is. We need to stop a minute, survey the clutter and remove the barriers to our ability to connect first with ourselves; than with others.

Deciding to commit to cultivating sustainable connectedness means making quiet time; being patient and coming to know yourself in a way that is gentle, kind and accepting. This is the foundation of compassion. Mediate on the Four Immeasurable:

  • Loving Kindness: the wish for you and all sentient beings, without exception, to be happy
  • Compassion: the wish for you and all sentient beings to be free from the self-imposed suffering or perpetual discontent
  • Joy: the ability to rejoice in your virtues and happiness and the virtue and happiness of others
  • Equanimity: the ability to be accepting of everyone as an equal

Make these virtues a part of your guiding principles. It is not that doing this will make it easier for you to connect. It is that doing this will make you irresistible therefore; creating and maintaining relationships will be Simple.

 

I

The Tao Te Ching: Verse Sixty-One

The large country is like the lowest river
The converging point of the world
The receptive female of the world
The female always overcomes the male with serenity
Using serenity as the lower position

Thus if the large country is lower than the small country
Then it can take the small country
If the small country is lower than the large country
Then it can be taken by the large country
Thus one uses the lower position to take
The other uses the lower position to be taken
The large country only wishes to gather and protect people
The small country only wishes to join and serve people
So that both obtain what they wish
The larger one should assume the lower position

                                                                                        Lao Tzu

Our energetic bodies are composed of both Masculine (Yang) and Feminine (Yin) Energies.  These terms should not be confused with gender (male/female) but rather represent the characteristics, qualities and temperaments of active and passive ways of being. Trying to maintain balance in our lives often seems unattainable because we do not know how to access or do not dare to access the Divine Feminine (Yin) Energy contained within each of us. This inability leaves you stuck in a predominate state of Yang Energy; which is a state of action, aggression and drive that is exhausting.

The sixty-first verse of the Tao Te Ching instructs that strength lies with the entity in the lower, receptive position. This is traditionally known as the passive position taken by Feminine (Yin) Energy. However, Feminine/Yin Energy is not passive in the sense of do nothing; it is passive in the sense of Subtle, Slow but Steady and Strong.

Yin Energy is Mother Earth. It is fluid and accommodates without yielding the essence of itself to anyone. True, Mother Earth may give way to storms, floods, tornadoes and other challenges posed by the very Yang Energy of Mother Nature but Mother Earth reshapes and never loses herself in the process. This is the lesson contained within this verse of the Tao. Never confuse accommodation with surrender.

My beloved Tri-State areas of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are digging out from the very Yang Energy of Super Storm Sandy. As we recover let us not add more Yang Energy to the mix. Let us promote a balance by embracing all that is good and strong within us: compassion, patience and optimism.

The Tao Te Ching: Verse Fifty-Two

The world has a beginning
We regard it as the mother of the world
Having its mother
We can know her children
Knowing her children
Still holding on to the mother
Live without danger all through life

Close the mouth
Shut the doors
Live without toil all through life
Open the mouth
Meddle in the affairs
Live without salvation all through life

Seeing details is called clarity
Holding on to the soft is called strength
Utilize the light
Return to the clarity
Leaving no disasters for the self
This is called practicing constancy

                                                                                                       Lao Tzu

This beautiful fifty-second verse of the Tao reminds us once again that we are all decedents of the Great Mother and citizens of the Great Oneness. This fact is clearly wrapped in a paradox given the current state of global and local conflict and the reality of our interconnectedness even if it is only at times, via the World Wide Web.

Lao Tzu shares two important messages in this passage. The first is to be ever mindful of the power our words or, more precisely, our actions hold. The second is to understand that our actions can fill us with (Universal) light or compel us to life a life void of salvation. It is the intent or emotion fueling our words and actions that builds our karmic heritage. This life lesson is also referenced in the Bible, “for whatever one sow, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life (Galatians 6:7-9).

Our life-force (Chi) enters and leaves our body through the mouth. So it follows that the foundational building blocks of any relationship or community (Sangha) lies in the strength, purity and skillfulness of our speech and the actions that follow what is said. In Buddhism this is known as Harmonious Speech.

Harmonizing Speech involves promoting whatever good or positive things we hear about others and refraining from disseminating whatever messages might lead to quarrels or injured feelings. Embracing the practice of Harmonious Speech will first, heal you. It will then lead to benefiting everyone within your immediate and extended circle by creating the Trust necessary to anchor an atmosphere of balance, cooperation and harmony.

My wish for my professional, interdisciplinary caregiver colleagues is to understand that the Law of Karma is a law of cause and effect. Things we choose to do, say or think set karma into motion. So much is written and discussed in books, online and in other forums about our propensity to undermine each other. Many of the scenarios shared are disturbing because we can either relate to the story or reflect on a time(s) when we participated in the ugliness.

Most of what is related focuses on the hurtful, condescending tones used by one in authority toward a subordinate. Little is written about the willful misrepresentation of a conversation or professional discussion for the sake of gamesmanship or destroying the reputation of one who braves a leadership role. However, both are intentional, conscious, deliberate, willful action that set a huge karmic ball in play.

I believe that the nature and structure of professional caregiving forces one to feed their aggressive (Yang Energy) nature in order to survive. Why professional caregiving is a constant battle is multi-factorial and an easy explanation eludes me. We seem to have lost sight of our softer (Yin Energy) selves. Perhaps reconnecting with our Mystical Feminine Yin Energy is a first step toward reconciliation with our truer natures as caregivers.

Yin Energy is a powerful receptive, balancing and healing energy. It is pure nurturing energy and ultimately the key to bringing balance to our Earth’s or perhaps our professional community’s overheated and agitated Yang state. Yin Energy represents the missing piece to the puzzle that lets us all remember that we are all connected with the Great Oneness.

So the simple lesson contained in verse fifty-two of the Tao Te Ching is to listen more than you speak and work toward incorporating Harmonious Speech into your daily life. Practicing Harmonious Speech requires committing to four teachings: abstaining from frivolous speech, abstaining from false speech, abstaining from harsh speech and abstaining from slanderous speech. Each teaching is self-explanatory.

The Tao Te Ching: Verse Forty-Two

Tao produces one
One produces two
Two produce three
Three produce myriad things
Myriad things, backed by yin and embracing yang
Achieve harmony by integrating their energy
What the people dislike
Are alone, bereft, and unworthy
But the rulers call themselves with these terms

So with all things
Appear to take loss but benefit
Or receive benefit but lose
What the ancients taught
I will also teach
The violent one cannot have a natural death
I will use this as the principal of all teachings

                                                                       Lao Tzu

In this Forty-Second Verse of the Tao, Lao Tzu is referencing the ancient Chinese legend of the Pangu. This story conveys that Chinese explanation of Creation. The Tao is the Great Oneness, the Great Oneness produced the dualist, yet balanced nature (Yin/Yang) of all things; Yin/Yang energy in turn, produced the third vital element of our existence, our life force or our Chi. Stories of creation are meant to serve as the foundation for building a spiritual practice and living a good life. This version is no different and its message is very simple. Do all you can to address any obstacles to the natural Flow of your life force/Chi.

Those caregivers who practice Holistic Wellness through the various implementations of Complimentary Therapies are well schooled on the subject of blocked energetic meridians that can close off the flow of Chi within the body and environmental obstructions that can hinder the flow of Chi within any space. I have practiced Feng Shui for over a dozen years. It is powerful form of energetic healing and quite honestly, it has changed my life completely.

However, the changes that honoring the principles of Feng Shui jump started within me and then supported; did not just happen because I hung and mirror or a crystal. The changes occurred because I was honest in my personal assessment and acknowledged to myself that I was not content and knew I could be better. In essence the message I received from the Universe during that time was, caregiver care for yourself.

I started with the basics, addressing clutter. Not just the clutter of a closet or a room but actually addressing what that clutter meant. It meant that I was stuck. Stuck in the loop of old repetitive thoughts and actions that no longer served. I had formed attachments to unhealthy coping mechanisms and mindsets that were not only slowing my journey down my Path, but sabotaging any future I could have envisioned for myself. Letting go of anything that does not serve you such as old clothing, items stored in a closet or garage so long that you don’t know what is in those boxes, or outdated neurotic needs that trap you in self-induced misery; creates a much needed space for new energy to enter and revitalize everything.

In Tibetan Buddhism, ego-based thinking and the distress that it brings is known as Samsara.  A person spins the wheel of repetitive thinking in an attempt to steady themselves from fear. The irony of course is that any ego-based thinking is always fear-based; so we place ourselves in this hamster-like wheel of self-torture and perpetuate what keeps us stuck in the cycle. We wrap ourselves up in a Cocoon where we feel warm and safe until one day there is no denying just how claustrophobic and trapped we feel.

Complimentary therapies offer vital assistance and support to an individual in his/her efforts to purge themselves from this energetic clutter that blocks the healthy Flow of their Chi. I cannot overstate just how much faith and courage this effort takes. Often it dredges up such wonderful feelings as regret, remorse and self-contempt. Little wonder this adventure can take a lifetime.

It is vital that anyone who decides upon this journey to remember the closing lines of Verse Forty-Two. It restates the Universe’s mandate against violence and makes it very clear that the Universe will never support anything that uses violence as a fuel. Therefore, as we do this introspective work and process what we discover, we must seek to understand the etiology of our issues but resist assigning blame; we cannot turn any anger that arises inward and become depressed. Rather we must be patient, embrace our essential goodness and demonstrate great loving kindness to ourselves all along the way.

Today, my fellow caregivers is Independence Day in the United States. Should you choose to begin to address the clutter in your cocoon on this day, the symbolism in your personal declaration cannot be lost. Om ma ni pad me hum.The meaning of this Sanskrit phrase is, I honor the life force within you.

 

The Tao Te Ching: Verse Forty-One

Higher people hear of the Tao, they diligently practice it
Average people hear of the Tao
They sometimes keep it and sometimes lose it
Lower people hear of the Tao, they laugh loudly at it
If they do not laugh, it would not be the Tao

Therefore a proverb has the following:
The clear Tao appears unclear
The advancing Tao appears to retreat
The smooth Tao appears uneven
High virtue appears like a valley
Great integrity appears like disgrace
Encompassing virtue appears insufficient
Building virtue appears inactive
True substance appears inconstant
The great square has no corners
The great vessel is late in completion
The great music is imperceptible in sound
The great image has no form
The Tao is hidden and nameless
Yet it is only the Tao
That excels in giving and completing everything

                                                                Lao Tzu

This Forty-First Verse of the Tao serves as words of recognition to those who have made a commitment to live a life in synchrony with the Great Oneness. It recognizes the challenges and benefits of such a choice.

You certainly invite others to think that you are in essence, abdicating your right to self- determination in favor of passively letting life just happen to you. Nothing could be further from the truth. Aligning yourself with the Universe is an active choice for peace and harmony and serves to focus the strength of your personal power in a very specific manner.

You choose to accept that you are a good person worthy of love, forgiveness and inclusion in the Great Oneness. You choose to believe unconditionally in the essential goodness of your being. You choose to resist your innate dualistic, judgmental nature in favor of embracing your birthright of citizenship in mankind with a compassionate heart fully aware of the strengths and shortcomings we all share.

You choose to work through your ego-driven need to make yourself the center of everything you do and to let go of the neurotic self-imposed suffering that that behavior causes. You choose to let go of the need to try to fix everything and to allow each person in your circle to walk their own Path.

You choose Mindful living which is far from the easy choice. It demands gentle introspection into your darkest corners, frank discussions with that parts of yourself that would rather not face and a good deal of discipline to practice daily Silence. Choosing an awakened life lived in synchrony with the Universe (Tao) takes a daily reaffirmation of faith and courage but the outcome is priceless.

The Tao Te Ching: Verse Thirty-Seven

     

The Tao is constant in non-action
Yet there is nothing it does not do

If the sovereign can hold on to this
All things shall transform themselves
Transformed, yet wishing to achieve
I shall restrain them with the simplicity of the nameless
The simplicity of the nameless
They shall be without desire
Without desire, using stillness
The world shall steady itself

                                                                 Lao Tzu

The meaning of the words The Tao is The Way and those who have either translated or study the work agree that the author intended it to be a guide to the natural way of living one’s life in harmony with nature or The Way Things Are. In Verse Thirty-Seven Lao Tzu references the opposing natures (Yin/Yang) of the Universe and calls it the subtle clarity. I believe he is trying to make the point that everything in nature is in a delicate balance that should be observed, respected and let alone.

The Taoist individual, as a citizen of the community (The Great Oneness), accepts that all things exist in harmony with nature and; should things go wrong for the individual or the community, it is most likely due to a disruption of the energies of Yin-Yang. To restore balance, the individual must resist/stop trying to control nature. As a result, the natural Flow of life is restored and nature regains its equilibrium.

When the individual tries dominating nature (impose his/her will) it usually means that personal/selfish desires are at work. The Tao cautions that these desires may be disastrous to the individual and the community and; it implies that the individual is tampering with that which is sacred. Thankfully, these set-backs are often temporary, and Universe will restore balance but not before some amount of damage occurs as one forces his/her will into the Universe’s plan.

So much of what professional or family Caregivers do is motivated by heartfelt compassion and benevolence. But these noble sources of fuel and intent can get confused with the Caregiver’s need to know best and control if that Caregiver does not stay grounded and clear. Buddhism teaches that all human suffering (personal torment) has Desire at its core and that Suffering is self-inflicted. Try to recall the outcome and your emotions surrounding that outcome the last time you interfered, invited or uninvited.

I grant you that often times we are recruited as earth angle by the Universe. I’ve often congratulated the good works of my staff and colleagues by saying the Universe could not be everywhere, so It sent a nurse. We’ve all been asked to represent higher powers at times and many have not hesitated to answer that call. But I am not referring to those moments. I am speaking of the times when we dressed up our lower level emotions such as frustration, fear, need and anger and presented them as something very different. How would we know the difference? The outcome is torment free.

When you make a commitment to being a Caregiver, you must make a personal commitment to live a Mindful life.  Mindfulness is the ability to remain present, alert and open to what is going on in and around you without letting our emotions overpower thoughts and speech. You must work to know what fuels your actions and trust in the Universe to guide you.  Then each of us may come to know the peacefulness of putting down something that was never ours to pick up to begin with.

The Tao Te Ching: Verse Twenty-Eight

Know the masculine, hold to the feminine
Be the watercourse of the world
Being the watercourse of the world
The eternal virtue does not depart
Return to the state of the infant
Know the white, hold to the black
Be the standard of the world
Being the standard of the world
The eternal virtue does not deviate
Return to the state of the boundless
Know the honor, hold to the humility
Be the valley of the world
Being the valley of the world
The eternal virtue shall be sufficient
Return to the state of plain wood
Plain wood splits, then becomes tools
The sages utilize them
And then become leaders
Thus the greater whole is undivided

                                                                    Lao Tzu

At the core of Compassion Fatigue is the feeling of being spent, being blind to any options and absolutely overwhelmed by a sense of isolation. If those who are trying to recover from this syndrome have the courage to be totally honest with themselves; they can also connect with a subtle sense of nobility that hovers over this painful feeling. There, right there is where the work needs to be done; for there is nothing righteous in feeling alone or victimized. In verse twenty-eight, Lao Tzu once again reminds us that we are all a part of this profound Great Oneness. The only dues charged to belong fully to this community of souls, is to live a balanced life with virtue.

To create a virtuous life you must use the building blocks of essential goodness and loving kindness. You begin by being aware of and recognize the essential goodness in all living things. Seeing the essential goodness in everyone connects you to the community of souls at a cellular level.  The fact that you are all part of this Great Creation slowly becomes tangible and undeniable. Then, you offer loving kindness/compassion to yourself; for it is then and only then that you can extend loving kindness/compassion to another. Nowhere is self-sacrifice recommended as a means to an end.

Living a balance life means following the Middle Way. In Feng Shui we refer to this as honoring the Yin Yang Principles which are the most important aspect of any Feng Shui practice. Yin and Yang are opposite but they represent the two sides of the same coin. In essence Feng Shui practitioners work to design an environment that reflects the feminine and masculine aspects (energetic not gender) of nature and in doing so, create a harmonious space. No feature of the room dominates the other. This then supports you as you try to stay in harmony with the Middle Way; and becomes the foundation for your ability to form relationships and stay connected.

When we live in this manner, our actions and words come from a place that is full. We acknowledge our connecting to the Flow of all things. There are no victims. There is no need to assign blame or conjure up any resentment. You are able to carve your life without splitting the wood.