The Keys to Courageous Self-Expression | AUTHORITY (Part 1 of 2)

In this episode, Candice discusses the importance of our personal and collective stories, how they shapes our minds, our hearts, and our view of the world. She offers an intimate glimpse into her childhood, revealing a repeating narrative that kept her in a paradoxical holding pattern well into adulthood and introduces the 1st key of courageous self-expression: authority. Candice walks you through three common patterns of reactivity that keep us stuck repeating the same dramas over and over again in our lives, following up with a helpful alternative. 

BONUS DOWNLOAD | This episode invites you to Go Deeper with free access to Key #1 Authority Workbook designed to help you examine narratives in your own life & begin re-authoring your story.

1:55 - Defining the 1st key
3:00 - Nomadic Childhood (story)
7:07 - Tortillita Junior High (story contin.)
14:11 - Stuck in a repeating narrative
16:26 - Why we stay stuck & the 3 adaptations
21:36 - How to reclaim inner authority
26:19 - Responsiveness vs. reactivity
28:12 - Link to free download

#2 | What's Your Story?

Hello hello to all you courageous souls out there. Welcome to The Deeper Pulse with Candice Schutter. I am an educator, coach, and storyteller who is passionate about inspiring your most courageous self-expression. Let's dig into episode two, where we will explore the first key to courageous self-expression and the power of story.

There are many reasons to tell a story. To reveal. To entertain. To inspire action. Stories are powerful. They quite literally power our lives, our communities, and our worlds. They create connection, and they carve divides. Stories can liberate hearts, and they can hold minds hostage to patterns of thinking and belief.

The larger narrative we live inside is currently one of a world facing many crises at once. But that larger story, it's made up of smaller ones; smaller stories like yours. Far, too many of the stories that we tell about ourselves have been authored externally.

In the next few episodes, I'm going to introduce you to the keys to courageous self-expression. Each of the keys opens a doorway; to another, and yet another still. Each doorway leading us closer to the truth of who we are and what we are here to express in the world. The first key to courageous self-expression has everything to do with reclaiming the story that lies at the center of your life. I call it Inner Authority.

Authority is about ownership. It forces us to ask the question: who authors the story that I live inside? Who authors the story at the center of my life? And what will it take for that person to be me? Up until a certain point in our lives, our story is given to us. We are powerless to circumstance; dependent upon the world around us.

We cry out for nourishment, and in exchange, we internalize our environment and shape it into an identity, a personality, a tribe, and a worldview. But there comes a point in our lives when we must take back that authority; reclaim a life that more accurately reflects who we know ourselves to be.

And yet often our attempts to unravel ourselves from our personal history... well, they often leave us even more tied up in knots

It was 1979, the year my mom met my stepdad. I was four years old. Gary was an urban cowboy. He wore steel toed boots, Western shirts, and Wranglers with a shiny silver belt buckle. He smelled like Old Spice and he'd pick Mom up for their dates in a big white pickup truck with a built-in toolbox that said Seamless Guttering on the side. I would spend the night at my neighbor, Tootsie's, while they danced at country music bars, drank whiskey and Cokes and smoked Marlboro One-Hundreds by the carton. Gary prided himself on having been the classic 50's bad boy in his youth; flipping his finger at authority figures; regularly, getting in fist fights.

At the age of 18, he'd had one too many run-ins with the law and stood before a defiant judge: "Son, as it stands, you have two options. You either go to jail or you march your ass across the street and serve your country." He enlisted in the US Marine Corps that day and served two tours as a first responder on the ground in Vietnam.

Blue collar through and through, Gary had grown up in a family of union welders. He listened to country music, drank Miller Light by the case, and watched WWF wrestling every Sunday morning. He was an avid patriot who saw zero irony in the fact that, at least twice a week, he told Uncle Sam to go fuck himself. Gary protected and provided for us, and in exchange, we agreed to live and think as he did. He sold his guttering business and decided to go back to work as a pipe fitter. He was offered a contract on a nuclear power plant reconstruction in Western Kansas. He and my mom loaded up all of our belongings in a 30 foot camper trailer. And as soon as I finished up kindergarten, we hit the road.

We towed our trusty trailer behind us following jobs from town to town, through Western Kansas, and parts of coastal California before dropping anchor at Country Life RV Park in El Centro, California, less than 10 miles from the Mexican border. Gary would soon after begin working as a foreman and, for the first time ever, his salary was able to provide for three of us.

And so, with his generous blessing, mom quit her job working as a medical receptionist and opened a small business in a tiny cottage at the edge of town. Della's Ceramics began with 2 six-foot tables and 12 metal folding chairs. Mom made regular trips to San Diego to purchase wholesale greenware and learn the latest glazing techniques.

She had a knack for teaching and a natural talent for detailed brushwork, so she immediately attracted a steady stream of regulars. She taught seasonal classes to children through the local 4-H Club. My friends and their mothers would spend Saturday mornings creating color-burst ashtrays, stained cat figurines, and vases with rose decals.

We began to attract a growing clientele from across the border, and Mom studied Spanish in the evenings. Our freezer overflowed with homemade tamales brought in by regulars who called me mija and showered me with a level of affection and warmth I wasn't accustomed to. After less than a year, Della's Ceramics outgrew its small cottage and relocated to a two building facility, quadruple the size.

Gary left his job at the power plant and began working long days, pouring slip into giant molds in the back warehouse. But in the spring of 1987, an electrical fire burned the warehouse to the ground, killing our family dog and her unborn puppies. It was a devastating loss. After a tearful and heartfelt burial, we relocated Mom's shop to a smaller space downtown and Gary went back to welding full-time. Six months later, a 6.7 earthquake rocked our small town and destroyed the business for good. The expense that would have been required to protect our family from such a loss far exceeded our monthly income, so that was the end of Della's Ceramics. Three weeks later, we were on the move and my mother went back to answering phones and fielding messages for men in scrubs.

We moved to Tucson, Arizona, where the land stood still and where the sky turned pastel at sunset. It often reminded me of the square paint chips back at the ceramic shop. How they'd looked shattered on the concrete floor; slivered bits of color, swept into a pile along with shards of broken glass; the last remnants of a dream before it was tossed into a garbage can out back. We rented a house north of the city, not far from the Saguaro National Park. It was our first home without wheels.

I started school on the first day after winter break, and the school year had been worn in without me. The admissions office at Tortillita Junior High smelled like new carpet and fresh paint. I tried not to stare as students filed in and out of the main office. They wore designer jeans and sophisticated smiles. I'd entered a new suburban stratosphere. And in my knockoff Keds, I felt like a moving target.

I was entering midway through sixth grade at a new school triple the size of my last. I was 12 years old and I had attended seven different schools. I was accustomed to being the new girl. But this move felt different somehow. I was older. I'd hit puberty. And ever since, I'd been overcome by self-consciousness. While I had always been deeply, and sometimes painfully, in tune to those around me; at this point in my life, my sense of empathy functioned more like a protective terror. My whole body would tense up whenever I witnessed someone, anyone really, making themselves vulnerable to scrutiny. It was as if their mistake would somehow become my own; as if my sense of belonging was contingent upon everyone else's.

In the third grade when my standardized test results had earned me an invitation into the gifted program, I declined entry because, even at eight years old, I had a very clear understanding of the social costs of saying yes to such a thing. Instead, I began to closely monitor my contributions in class, choosing the academic spotlight much more sparingly.

After mom completed the necessary paperwork, we said our goodbyes to one another and I was on my own. The campus was mostly outdoors, a sprawling web of pathways. I was led to homeroom by one of the administrators and on the way there, I held my breath bracing for impact. The first few minutes in any new classroom was always painful and it typically followed the same formula. The teacher would at some point draw the class's attention toward me and say something like: "Everyone, let's all welcome Candice to our class. She just moved here." And then she would turn to me and smile as if she was doing me a favor. The boys would snicker and whisper something inaudible. The girls would either ignore me or give me the once-over, sizing up their competition.

Now call it dumb luck or the Lord's mercy, but there always seemed to be one student in class, a girl with a plain face who usually sat in the front row. She would smile at me warmly after class. She'd invite me to have lunch with her and a reasonably reluctant friend, and I would spend the next week trying to figure out how to not become a sore point between them.

Eventually I would abandon the kind-girls in exchange for the attention of the-aloof-bunch who offered more social stability. I'm not proud of this fact, but neither am I ashamed. It wasn't personal; it was survival.

Now, during this particular transition into the sixth grade, the brave and kind girl's name was Brandy. Which was rather ironic since she had the same name as the beloved dog that I had just buried in the fire. It's actually kind of perfect, really, because as it turned out, she was an angel in the flesh to me that day. Her invitation to join her and her crew of three, as a welcome addition to their little wolf pack, it would save me from months of emotional hunger and complete alienation. Brandy had taken pity on me that first day in second-period, home economics class, when another girl - within seconds of laying eyes on me - decided to become my worst nightmare.

Her name was Elena, but everyone called her Bambi. She was an eighth grader who looked as though she'd skipped a grade or two. Her eyes were laser-like and predatorial. Each of them lined with smudged, black eyeliner. She always wore a blue bandana wrapped tightly at her wrist. I shared two classes with her; two hours of my day that became a living hell. She would threaten me at my desk and torment me in the hallways. Within one week's time, I became a social pariah. I tried to ignore the sting of words that would follow me through the hallways.

Mercifully my new group of friends possessed a rare indifference to rumors and remained generous in their affections toward me. One day, Brandy informed me that Bambi had pulled her aside to offer up a peek at the switchblade she planned to use on me if she ever caught me alone. Both Brandy and I believed her, but we said nothing to no one. I stopped eating breakfast in the mornings. And every Sunday night before a new school week began to feel like a death sentence.

One day, out of nowhere, I was called into the guidance counselor's office. She said that she'd heard from a couple of teachers that, quote: "I might be having a hard time adjusting." I stare at her and say nothing. Moments later, Bambi walks in the room. She sees me and sighs; rolls her eyes, then sinks into a seat at the other side of the table. The counselor speaks in a warm syrupy voice. She invites us to talk it out and get to the bottom of whatever the conflict is between us. I just stare at my hands and wonder how she gets paid a salary to be this clueless. Fighting back tears, I insist there isn't a problem. Bambi just stares at the wall smugly. The counselor eventually lets us go.

Two weeks later, Bambi walks up behind Gina in the cafeteria at lunch. She loops her blue bandana tight around her best friend's neck and twist it tighter and tighter until Gina is left gasping for air. It takes four teachers to pull her off. Gina's face is white. Red welts immediately rise up around her neck. I somehow make it through the rest of the day. And when I get home, I cry for an hour before dinner. Mom asks me again, what's wrong? I tell her what happened at school, and her eyes began to water, too. She somehow understands that it could have been me.

Bambi was expelled and things got better for me after that, but I carried the memory of that bandana and what it represented with me for many years to come... attending two more schools before graduating high school.

By the time I was old enough to begin making choices of my own, about where I wanted to live and how, anxious and unsettled had become my new norm. A pattern of incessant movement had come to define me. After high school, while living for seven years in the same college town, I still moved once a year from apartment to apartment. My rental lease was like a kitchen timer. I was always waiting for the ding. The same pattern followed me to Colorado, California, and eventually to Oregon, where I would put down roots for the very first time.

Experience had taught me that change was a natural fact of life. Therefore, I vowed to stay one step ahead of it. Pushing the eject button whenever I pleased - on homes, on jobs, on friendships. With little effort, I would just get up and go. Moving on without so much as a glance behind me. I wanted to be in control of the changes in my life, so I made sure that I was the one who was calling the shots; quitting the job, breaking the bond, severing the tie for good.

But you see, I still wasn't in charge of my own life. I wasn't moving me forward. My story was moving me. I was allowing my past to define my actions in the present. And my relationships.

My stepdad, Gary, was a wonderful loving man. And he suffered from a severe case of PTSD. His bouts of rage made our house feel like the minefields that he had left behind in the war. He was just one of many bullies in my life. There was Bambi, and there were others. I developed a pattern of surrendering my authority to larger-than-life personalities more times than I care to count. Not just family members and friends, but lovers and... charismatic teachers. Or even just a stranger on the street with a loud voice and flailing arms.

My pattern of surrendering authority had been instinctual. It was survival. It served me as a child, but when I grew it no longer did.

Sometimes the process of becoming disconnected from our own instincts - and from a sense of personal power - is so incremental, the indicators are so inconspicuous, that we don't even see it happening. We unconsciously shape ourselves into this or that in order to fit in. Or in an effort to keep ourselves outside and safe from view. Some of us hide by showing up as amplified versions of ourselves, cranking up the volume on traits that earn us good favor. Some of us push back against good opinion and pretend not to care, while our chronic rebellion says otherwise. And others still are silenced by the pressures of environment. Silenced by internalized judgment and shame; laying low to stay safe and under the radar.

In fact, when it comes to the loss of inner authority, depth psychologist, James Hollis speaks to three common adaptations that keep us stuck in life and in patterns of reactivity.

Adaptation#1: REPEAT. We repeat the same pattern again and again. Reactivity has us in a vice grip and each time the drama circles back around, we pick right up where we left off. It's like we're running on a storyline that's turned into a hamster wheel. Need an example? Spend some time with that family member. You know, the one... the one who knows how to push all your buttons all at the same time, then you'll know exactly what I mean. Or consider the story I just shared. Even after I left high school, I used change like it was a drug. I kept my feet moving, repeating the same pattern to make sure that I was 'the new girl' everywhere I went.

Adaptation #2 COMPENSATE. In this instance, we overcompensate for the pattern by swinging to its polar opposite. It's a sort of, I'll show you cycle of endless rebellion. For example in 2017, my partner and I purchased our dream house. I dug in my heels deep and took on a hefty mortgage, promising myself I would never move again. It was a false flag, an attempt to force a life that wasn't meant for me. Need another example? My stepbrother, who was a kind and pious man... who left behind a legacy of generosity and service... died suddenly and tragically in 2010. My reaction to the void that was left behind? I began dating a man who was his polar opposite, a pathological liar and coke addict who, due to his own inherited trauma, strung me along for over a year and a half. But that's how it works. Overcompensation stands contrary to logic. And so it can be a wild ride adaptation.

#3 TRY & FIX IT. We are conscious enough to know and understand that there is a pattern, and so we attempt to fix it by centering our lives around the problem itself. We make an effort to disavow from the narrative through personal heroics and or identification with 'people like us'. An example? 'Wounded healers' are people who spend their precious time and energy attempting to save others from the trauma that they themselves have experienced. Now, certainly this is a noble pursuit, but if the inner entanglements and the trauma within has not been adequately addressed, this self-assigned hero project can lead to empathic exhaustion, and it can exacerbate feelings of stuckness and self-sacrifice.

Each of these three adaptations are natural responses. They are steps along the path to the reclamation of authority. Unfortunately, however, we spend a lot of our time on the surface of things, dissecting the actions that the adaptations have inspired versus getting to know and understand the adaptations themselves - and what they're pointing to.

As Hollis reminds us: "It's not about what it's about." I'll say that again. It is not about what it is about. We must go deeper. We must ask ourselves the question: What is this in service to? This choice. This action I'm about to take. The words that are threatening to spill from my lips. What is this expression in service to really? Is this the past dictating my present? Or is this the me in the now moving herself ever onward? Does this choice that I'm about to make enlarge or diminish me? The adaptations can act as stepping stones, moving us closer to the complexes that demand our attention.

As Carl Jung once said, "We don't solve our problems, but we can outgrow them... to be an adult is to know what you want to do and do it."

And so, reclaiming inner authority... it means well, quite simply it means that we grow the hell up. Quite literally, that we grow up... up and out of the horizontal narrative; up beyond the limits of our history and internalized complexes. The deeper pulse is critical to this process. Why? Because growing 'up' requires engagement with the soul and the dimension of depth. It requires we do some heavy lifting. And yet ironically, that heavy lifting is the only thing that will lighten our load. We must tap into the deeper pulse and ask ourselves bigger and better questions, not about the drama itself, but about what is driving it under the surface, as it relates to the path that lies before us.

When we are reactive, we are no longer expressive. Learning how to stay above or below the storyline is the path to agency and self-expression, but we must take great care not to try and transcend our pain. We cannot spiritually bypass the deep inner work that is required of us. Trust me, I know. I spent years trying to save everyone around me from the pain living inside of me. I spent hours and weeks and months in deep devotion to spiritual teachers. I did all the things they prescribed to me. Daily meditations. Twisting my body into this posture and that. Writing affirmations for an hour every morning. But not one of those things stopped me from binging on brownie mix at night. Magical thinking will only get you so far.

A better use of your precious life force is to reclaim your inner authority; to take responsibility for your life one choice at a time.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by all of this, please know... I've got you but I've learned my lesson. I'm not here to try to save you, but I can remind you how to save yourself from the stories that no longer serve you and to re-author your life in a direction that better suits who you have become.

Getting in touch with the deeper pulse, it ain't all hard work. In fact, the best place to start is by turning your attention to what moves you. Reaching for, and I use that word quite literally... reaching for experiences that pull you up and out of your comfort zone toward your growth edge. Now you do not have to begin with the scary stuff. In fact, I encourage you to start small. Make a choice, any choice that enlivens your heart and brings you closer to joy. Like eating a lighter meal or rolling on the floor with your dog for awhile. Paint a picture. Call your niece. Plan your next vacation. Anything that helps you to make curiosity and enlargement your new best friends. Make it a habit to reach for them regularly and teach yourself, choice by choice, to disidentify with the drama on the surface. And spend more time in responsive dialogue with your deepest true. Small changes might sound insignificant when it comes to the real challenges in your life, but they're practice for the big stuff.

It is true what they say... that change is an inside job. But this is not because the conditions surrounding us are unimportant or irrelevant. The story of our life is important. What's happening on the surface matters tremendously. But how we go about making changes to it? That is where the inner work begins. When I sit with clients, many are paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong choice. They process the possibilities out loud, anticipating plot twists, hoping to save themselves from disappointment down the road. This hyper-analytic approach to making their next move, well, usually they just become exhausted by the lack of available logic and their minds start to spin in an analytic frenzy. Listen, I am just as guilty of it as anyone else. And in fact, I admire their self-awareness the consciousness that it takes to choose to respond versus react to their circumstances. It says a lot about their level of emotional maturity and consciousness that they have the ability to hold their life at arms length and examine it from every angle. But here's the thing. Looking for the ideal response to outside circumstances... forgive my language here... but it is a bit of a mind fuck, because once again, it puts the story in charge of our next move.

The word respond has two etymologies. One is 'to answer.' And the other is 'to pledge again.' To answer. To pledge again. What if the next best move... what if the right choice isn't always in response to the storyline out there? What if instead it's an answer or a pledge to something within? And what of making that pledge defies reason and/or the reasons we might give for a given course of action.

When we are actively shifting the narrative arc of our lives in an entirely new direction, perhaps the fact that it defies existing logic, perhaps that's a good sign, maybe even a sign that we're moving in the right direction. In our next episode, we're going to dive deep into this topic of responsiveness; to the pledge that we must take, to what and how.

But for now, I'm inviting you to reflect on the three adaptations and how they might be showing up in your life. And I'm inviting you to step beyond logic. Beyond, below and above the parts of you that keep you stuck repeating, overcompensating, and bending over backwards to 'right' what has since become the wrong story.

Until we meet again, remember you are the author of your life and your story. You may not get to decide exactly how it goes, but you can continue to move toward what moves you. Answer the call. Make a pledge to something within. Ask yourself, what can I do today? How can I learn to be the hero of my own story? In doing so you will find a deeper, more potent and meaningful connection to your path and your purpose. And in that way, become of greater service to others.

And if you're still feeling unsure where to start... not to worry! I've created a free download to accompany this episode. That's right. It includes a summary of today's content along with some writing prompts to get your body, heart, and mind moving in new and expansive directions.

If you'd like a copy visit the

Once again, I'm so honored that you joined me here today. I hope to see you again in another episode. Until next time, continue to go deep and move toward what moves you.

Caio, my friend.

© The Deeper Pulse, Candice Schutter