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I think I want to print out your articles and hand them out as a sort of relationship waiver form. “You want to be my friend?….You are interesting in going out? Here read this first. Sign here to acknowledge that you have read and understand the enclosed material. Thank you.” Seriously. I think it would work. — Guerin Moorman
Guerin Moorman
Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
For the first time in my life I could truly explain, through your words the way in which I experience life and myself. Brenda… It all fell into place. I had found myself and had such a moment of clarity. It felt like such a big weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Finally I felt like it was ok to be me. I was not the only one. I had found people and a little space where I fit in. … I was at work and crying on the inside. Emotions ran wild inside me. I was ecstatic, sad, confused, motivated, i…
I met Brenda and took the MBTI… I had a fairly good understanding of these types before the meeting but was impressed by the depth of knowledge that Brenda shared with me. She clearly has a passion for this work and a gift in imparting the information. There have been doors opened for me because of our talks… — Alan Hintermeister
Alan Hintermeister
Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing.  — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
your depth of understanding, and talent at sharing it amaze me. Speechless… and for your sharing of it.. Thank you… deeply. *sigh, its like coming back into my body through acceptance….. Sherrie on space2live

“I was struggling with my daughter (16 at the time) and our constant fighting. You said something to me that changed my life! You were speaking about your own situation and you said to me “my child could not handle my emotions”. This was a HUGE “lightbulb moment” for me and it forever changed the way I dealt with my emotions when I was around my daughter!

I am happy to say that things have never been better between my soon to be 18 year old daughter and myself! I honestly never thought we would…

Mom M
Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone.  — Indepthwoman  on space2live
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…

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Absolving Fears with Presence

couple present by lake

Without ways to strengthen the mind — to build the resilience that comes with being present, with being mindful —we are at risk of becoming overwhelmed in the moment, and of burning out in the long run. 

— Dr. Dan Siegel, The Mindful Therapist

Presence is an actively receptive state. It means being aware of what is and not reacting to it with judgment, biases or emotions tinged by past experiences. Presence depends upon a sense of safety.

I’ve been in survival mode for several years. Presence was absent, for the most part. Oh sure, I’ve had the occasional safe or highly engaging experience or conversation and let down my guard. I’ve let myself be open to someone’s words or touch. I’ve worked on responsiveness, which entails being attuned to another, but these situations were in the minority or one-sided.

Technology kills presence

Over the last few years, I’ve distracted myself or lived in a more reactive state. It is so easy to distract ourselves. Technology helps with that. Our phones are the number one distraction. If we have a few minutes waiting in line at Target, what do we do? We pull out our phone to check for texts, read the news or play around on social media. This is not a present state. When we let technology pull us out of a focused state, we disconnect from ourselves and quite often from our loved ones. We are not receptive and open to possibilities and people. We are shut off in our little world of memes and messages.

Long term relationships invite fear

With longterm and familial relationships we have a lot of skin in the game. There is a lot to lose. Our nervous system continuously scans for danger or disconnection within these close relationships. It wants us to survive. It knows a lack of connection feels lethal.

When we perceive danger, we remove ourselves from presence. We can’t focus on anything but the fear brought on by the threat or worry. We feel alone and may react negatively or simply shut down, which only perpetuates the loneliness.

I’ve witnessed myself react to disconnection in two ways. One, with questions and tears and two, by pulling back. I do both fight and flight. I am either reactive or removed. Neither is very present. Neither helps the relationships grow.

Self-reliance: I don’t need anyone

I have a high sensitivity to being overlooked or left alone. There have been many times in my life when I’ve felt unsupported, like I was on my own. I know that lethal feeling of disconnection. To combat that feeling, I’ve learned to take care of things myself. I’ve learned to support myself. I know how to find resources such as money, information, therapy, fun and friendship. I am amazing at filling time.

Self-care leads to presence

In some ways, the ability to take care of things myself, has led me to more presence within myself. Fitness, for example, is one way I take care of myself. It makes my body stronger and gives me time to go within. I am very present when I workout. I focus on the work and my body’s movements. When I run (jog), I let my mind wander without judgment, most of the time. There have been occasions when I have had to stop because it’s hard to cry and breathe.

Meditation is another example of a way I have learned to keep myself feeling balanced and OK on my own. I recently re-committed to daily meditation. I spend 10-20 minutes each morning connecting with my breath and my inner sense of peace. Meditation is about as mindful and present as you can get.

When I exercise or meditate, I keep the anxious feelings of disconnection at bay. They serve as positive distractions that also foster presence. If someone gives me too much disconnection, it’s now simple for me to revert to taking care of things myself. I don’t want to, but I can. It is a way to protect myself. I’d rather work with someone, but self-care provides avenues for peace within myself, which is a good foundation for a relationship.

Using presence to calm and connect 

Through meditation, I am (re)learning how to return to presence. I catch myself spinning stories of disaster in the future. I slowly return to following my breath or using my senses to truly feel and see my surroundings. I stop looking at the hurts and disengagements from the past and stay with the current moment. I’ve even found it useful when I have trouble sleeping. I pause my mind from its torrent of thoughts about what if and why and begin noticing the comfort of my bed and the ease of my breath.

Even though relationships challenge my presence the most, I still long for them. Perhaps my increased presence will create a feeling of safety for the ones I love and they will move toward a state of openness and receptivity too, increasing everyone’s  resilience.


How present are you? Are you open to possibilities or do you have set ideas? Do experiences from the past rule your thoughts and feelings? What is your biggest distraction? 


Don’t forget! The Quiet Rise of Introverts is Out! Find it now on Amazon and in bookstores. 

Quiet Rise of Introverts


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  1. michaelrbuley October 14, 2017 at 12:50 am - Reply

    Osho has a quote: “When you are laughing, you cannot be in the past or the future.”

    and I like Audrey Hepburn’s quote a lot: “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”

    Through the years, I have come to that conclusion, too: it’s the most important thing in a person. Does a person bring laughter into my life? Do I bring laughter to his or hers? I’m pretty good about bringing laughter to people. Finding someone who brings laughter to mine — that kind of laughter that is just out loud, happy, easy, and just because — those people are rare.

    I’ve had one woman I’ve loved with whom I found that laughter. We shared a lot of laughter. A lot of great everything else, too. And the thing I was entranced by, was how easily we laughed. We would simply laugh almost from the moment we were together, from the moment one of us made a phone call and the other answered. I’m always grateful for that gift that I had not known so easily with a woman.

    Laughter is here and now. We can practice laughing, as much as we practice any skill. Meditation, baseball, art, music. Laughter is a skill that can be developed. We may not be so good at it right away … lol … but we can laugh — first and foremost at ourselves. Mostly, we take ourselves far too seriously, our lives far too seriously. It’ll all be over soon enough, and far sooner than we think.

    Life will always have its up and downs, terrible heartaches and losses, and wonderful joys. Laughter doesn’t make those go away at all. But it changes everything, for the better.

    To be here and now? Laugh! Find funny, goofy, profane posts on Pinterest that make you laugh! I do that! I shared one with a friend recently. It said, “People need to start appreciating the effort I put in to not being a serial killer.” She laughed and laughed and laughed … in the midst of a terrible heartache over a love that didn’t work out.

    that is a gift, to bring laughter to others. I do think, these days, that it is the quality that I most love in anyone, and seek above all. We can find ‘serious’ people everywhere. Save me from them! lol … and let us laugh, out loud, deeply, often … and life is so beautiful, right here and now … 🙂

    • Brenda Knowles October 20, 2017 at 3:49 pm - Reply

      So true. Laughter is a very present state. I’d never thought about it. I need to let my goofy side out more. It’s there but it gets covered up with all the things that require effort. Thanks for the reminder Michael. Wishing you much laughter!

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