Stop Feeling Regret For The Mistakes You Made – a Freedom Junkie Guide

Sometimes my brain freakin’ amazes me – in an annoying kind of way. Like, how can I go from writing my ecstatic post about all the epic shizzle I manifested in the last year, all the way to feeling guilty that I didn’t manifest a badass life sooner!?

I finally learned how to take off those “shit-colored glasses” (as my friend and client, Rivkah Wood, likes to say) and I think, “Oh wow! Look at this creative and wonderful life! The possibilities are endless! I can’t wait to everyone else to figure this out! Oh, and before I get too happy, let’s not forget all the ways I totally fucked up.”

Smack down!

Sometime in the last 48 hours, I began running through the many times I had hurt others in my life. It started with a seemingly remote situation when I was a kid and came home late because I was out with friends, only to find my cat killing my favorite pet hamster (I could have stopped it if I was home! And now I can only see her looking into my eyes as her last breath left her…). I know that sounds stupid to some, but I feel terribly guilty about that.

Then there was the time I was 16 and yelled at my dad even though he was having an acute schizophrenic episode (talk about proving his delusions!); the time my mom came all the way to visit me in the middle of winter and I treated her curtly and was, well, kind of mean because I was chronically sleep-deprived…and she cried; When I was a teen and I didn’t look my grandmother in the eyes and tell her how much I loved her before she died because, well, I didn’t know she was going to die that day, but I was also so freaked out about seeing her so sick and frail, and my boyfriend was waiting outside, and I thought I could come back later…

I remembered the time I “wasted” while figuring all this relationship stuff out, like when in my 20s and 30s and I was so unclear about what I wanted that I made really bad relationship decisions and totally broke hearts – things that I seemingly could have avoided if I had known better.

I feel guilty that I didn’t figure out detoxing and superfoods, the evils of big agriculture and the beauty of organics sooner – thinking about how maybe I could have prevented my cancers altogether, or felt more vibrant during more of my life, or cooked my family healthier meals…

Why didn’t I keep up my yoga practice longer when I discovered it at 18 years old? Why didn’t I keep up my meditation practice earlier, even when I knew how much my time in Nepal and India had radically changed my worldviews and how I related with others (as early as 19 years old!)?

Ahhhhh! Stop it already!

The reality is, it wasn’t DESPITE these screw ups that I learned to live full-on. It was BECAUSE OF them. Had I not made these mistakes, I think I may not have moved with such earnest towards personal and spiritual growth.

In Buddhism there are 7 realms (BTW they have a Hell realm too). One of the realms is the God realm. Everything is awesome. Everyone is beautiful, there are flowers and shit everywhere (the cool kind of “shit”), food is scrumptuous, people are in perfect health and live a LONG time (like, a bazillion years), and they have the luxury of time to play music, do yoga, have sex, do whatever you want!

“Kind of like California,” one Tibetan Lama said to me.

There is no pain and suffering…until dying begins. Then, after millenia go by in bliss, things are all perfect and they’re sniffing their flowers and being like, “Oh, this smells sooooo good!” and then all of a sudden, the flower starts to smell off…the flower wilts. Its color fades. The leaves droop. Now it smells like moldy socks. Things around them start to decay (all things are impermanent, after all). Their bodies get old. They feel aches and pains…and this shizzle goes on for a hella long time because time is soooooooo drawn out for them. It really, really sucks because they are slowly, slowly dying – and dying is their first experience of suffering. It overwhelms them.

We all die, and for the people in the God realm, dying for them is even more excruciating – mentally and physically. This is because they have never experienced suffering before, and therefore it is that much more … devastating. It brings people in the God realms to their knees, and beyond.

The human realm is considered ideal because we have the ability to use our suffering for growth, and to be acutely aware of the different aspects of reality, to use our senses and our mental faculties to transcend our limited perspectives and experiences. There are other reasons, but I won’t go into an “Intro To Realms” course here.

Bottom line is: Sometimes I made some big mistakes that could have been prevented. I. Know. That.

They happened..we all have them. We also have to have compassion for ourselves. We are all doing the best we can in any given moment.

I have been graced with the experience of taking off the shit-colored glasses and seeing the beauty and possibility and absolutely creative miracle of this world with clearer vision.

The world looks much, much better without them on. And yes, as a result, I can now also clearly see where things could have been done differently before. AND..

I am not going to let myself feel regrets for those mistakes.

If I didn’t learn from them, if I didn’t grow, THEN they would be mistakes worth regretting. But now that I have been through the fire and risen from the ashes  – again and again – I call them human mistakes.

I am sorry for anyone I hurt, any pain or suffering of another being that I could have helped to prevent. And I promise to never, ever do it again.

“Trying” not to do it again is bullshit, by the way. As Yoda says, “Do, or do not. There is no ‘try.'”

AND I will strive to improve the JOY, LOVE, and FREEDOM of all I come into contact with. That is the true Freedom Junkie way.

Deal? Can I stop feeling fucking guilty now? Alright already!

Now take off those shit-colored glasses and be happy. Really happy. You earned it, Badass!

Note: Ana Verzone is a Thrive Maximizer + Boredom Slayer + Mindset Alchemist. With her tribe of Freedom Junkies™ she helps passionate women awaken their lives of freedom, adventure and purpose with confidence, clarity, and focused action – from their cells to their spirit. Her monthly Ziji Up! eZine goes out to thousands of subscribers. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs, schedule a free Strategy Session, and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by visiting www,

Pain is Inevitable. Suffering is Optional. Here is How to Unlock Your Freedom


“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” ~ Haruki Murakami

“Freedom” is a word we often toss around a lot these days: “I want more Freedom,” “Create More Freedom In Your Life!” yada yada. But freedom implies freedom from something. What do you seek freedom from? Financial burdens? Controlling or unfulfilling relationships? Clutter? Incapacitating negative self-talk? An oppressive boss?

My guess is that ultimately, you are seeking freedom from some sort of suffering. But here’s the thing: while many people want to be free from the things that cause suffering in their lives, very few people want to actually change.

This be a wee bit of a problem, sistah.

You see, if we don’t do things differently, we can’t expect things to change. And in order to become free of suffering, we need things to change.

One of the most skillful tools I have found for helping to move away from suffering and towards happiness is to drive the blame of all your suffering into one cause – the root cause being inside of you. Not YOU yourself – no, that’s what we tend to do when self-blame is more comfortable than doing the hard work of getting to the root. What I mean by the root cause being inside of you is that it is your default mode that causes suffering. And the cool thing is, that is changeable.

Pema Chodron explained this in a really accessible way when she said that the triggers of our suffering are different from the causes. Often we think that the triggers of our suffering – like traffic, or friends being late, or someone giving us some negative feedback – are the true causes. We feel that if they didn’t happen, we would be happy.

Well, perhaps that is true – except for the fact that shit does happen (that’s why there’s so many bumper stickers with that on it) and we might as well learn to deal with it instead of running from it. Haven’t you noticed that running from it is just as exhausting anyway?

In any event, the guy that stands you up, or the boss that skipped the Zen of Leadership course…they are triggers of a deeper, natural default mode you have.

It is also true that this default is unique to you. Do you notice how some people are bothered by something and another person could care less? Like me, I don’t generally mind when my man goes out skiing for the weekend with the boys and I have no idea when he’ll be back. Unless I am ovulating and we are supposed to do the deed. But that level of unknowing and lack of proximity for days on end would drive some of my friends absolutely batshit crazy! Yet they tolerate their boyfriends being consistently late or not returning their calls and that, my friends, is a no-can-do in my book.

The question is, “What does the trigger bring up in you?” Is it a sense of loneliness? Of not being loved? Of being disrespected? Or a sense of anger or fear?

Each time we strengthen that natural propensity/default and get engaged by it, or start feeling bad about yourself, we enforce it. We dig the groove in our brain deeper that tells it this is the path we want to take whenever we encounter that trigger.

What would benefit us more is to skip over the story of the trigger and drive all the attention and focus (aka “blame”) into our default mode. By doing this, you’ll feel more motivated to work with it because you’ll start to associate the correct cause – your default mode – with suffering. It’s not the trigger, it’s the default. And try as we might to control the triggers, we will fail. But we can control our default mode.

How can we start to do this?

First we must let go of the story behind the triggers. Often it isn’t the negative feedback per se that leads to suffering, but rather that story that follows. For example, if your colleague says, “Hey Jane, I thought the chart you showed us was really confusing. Maybe next time use bullet points,” you can start to spiral into a line of thinking such as: “Man, they are about to discover what an idiot I really am. I knew I shouldn’t be in this position. I am not smart enough. That person was such a bitch for saying that to me. I’m going to try to avoid them (or look for flaws in their next presentation).” Let the suffering begin.

Alternately, you can think, “Ick. That felt shitty. I wonder what’s going on inside of me to take that so personally. I better not respond yet. I’ll sit on it and see if I think it’s valid feedback or not. If it is, I’ll change my presentation. If not, I’ll let it go.”

The challenge is that it takes time to create the space between the emotion that gets triggered and the creative response. An uncontrolled emotional reaction is quick and effortless because it is our default. If it weren’t so damaging to us most of the time, it would be awesome! However, in order to do things differently – and thus create change and therefore move us away from suffering and towards happiness – we need to create space between the trigger and our response.

How do we create that space?

Sorry if you’re not fond of it, but meditation is essential in letting the storyline go. The thing is, you don’t have to do the sitting-on-a-cushion type of meditation. You can do walking meditation, or running meditation, or hiking through the park meditation for that matter. Whatever you choose, just make sure it is conducive to calming your thoughts.

When you meditate and focus on your breath or another point of concentration, you will have thoughts pop up. When this happens, you train in a technique to notice your thinking and label the thoughts as thoughts. That’s it. Simply label them as thoughts. You label the thought then go back to the breath/object of your meditation.

Essentially, by doing this, you train in letting thoughts go. And as a result, you train in letting the story go. When you see a thought as a thought, you let go of the story that follows when you would have mistaken it for a bona fide truth in the past (instead of merely a thought).

The storyline of a thought is like pouring kerosine on fire. In the quote from Haruki Murakami, he says, “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” It’s OK to feel pain! Pain is a part of life, a part of loving and of being in a body that gets sick or injured and grows old. The problem is that we pour kerosine over the fire and turn the pain into this disproportionate, long-lasting suffering.

It is better to keep the hurt as an ember – not a bonfire of suffering! Discover where it is that your pain turns into rage or self-deprication or self-blame. That’s where you defaults lie.

Then, now that you’ve targeted the root cause, start to send unconditional love to that place rather than blaming them. Don’t be harsh with yourself or try to repress your feelings. Be present, allow the pain to be there, and send it unconditional love. Send loving kindness to this default you have that’s ultimately fear-based. These defaults are indeed afraid and based on fear of danger, so the way to work with them is to help them relax by sending unconditional love. Try this Tong Len Meditation audio to start.

As we get better at seeing the true causes of our suffering, and the difference between the triggers and our pre-existing defaults, we can start to appreciate our triggers as a chance to grow. As long as we have the defaults, the triggers will affect us. Since we can’t get rid of the triggers, we can work with sending loving compassion to our fear-based default modes.

This path is not for the faint of heart, but it IS a path to take when ultimate freedom is your goal. Share some of your triggers below, and let’s start addressing our suffering at the root cause – the fear that those triggers bring up. This is a life lesson, and process that gets easier and easier the more you practice.

A Simple Scientific Fact That Will Unlock Your Happiness and Possibilities

Fotolia_8607343_Subscription_L-150x150I want to share this short vlog post with you that I made while driving down Interstate 5 in Oregon after the World Domination Summit in Portland. So many of us wonder why it is SO HARD to change. Did you know that your thoughts and beliefs are actual, physical, neuronal connections and patterns in your brain? Did you know that it’s not simply a matter of wishing things would change, but that you must actually DO things differently on a regular basis in order to physically repattern those neural connections?

Every time you do things the same way, you make your habits deeper. If you have negative habits and patterns, you need to do  – and THINK – differently to make lasting change.

This is full of hope! Now you know things are hard to change due to actual physical aspects of your brain that need to change – and not isn’t simply because you lack willpower. This takes time – and you can do it!

Warning: there are a few flashes of light for those of you that may be sensitive to strobe etc;)