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Ep #45

Bottom Up

When you look around your neighborhood, what do you see? I notice benches with metal armrests dividing the seats and pointy metal shards on window ledges. Both meant to deter people in some way. This is called hostile architecture, and once you understand its purpose, you start to see it everywhere. 

We can also find hostile architecture internally when we look at how we talk to ourselves and our thoughts about ourselves. Operating from our egos is a top down approach meant to help us avoid discomfort and pain without actually getting to the root of the problem or emotion. But as we know, what we resist persists.

In today’s show, I’m sharing why I believe a bottom up approach to self-love is much more successful than a top down approach. We know that society encourages this aggressive self-loathing, but I want you to see a much cleaner approach that will help you build a strong foundation. I plan on spending the next 40 years looking inwards, from the bottom up, building a foundation I can lean on and grow from. What about you?

What You Will Discover:

  • How the top down approach is often used to deter crime and internal exploration.
  • Why we often approach self-care from a place of hostility and restriction.
  • How operating from your ego is similar to hostile architecture.
  • A cleaner way for us to approach our emotions.
  • Why I’m committed to inquiring and exploring from the bottom up.
  • Some questions to ask yourself about your thoughts and beliefs.

Resources Mentioned:

Enjoy the Show?

Last year I was turned on to a podcast called Criminal. Which is a podcast about people who have committed crime, accused of crime or involved with somehow. It’s not one of those scary podcasts though- and to my surprise. When it came recommended I was like, no thanks. I don’t want to think about serial killers any more than I have to- but Criminal isn’t like that. As a matter of fact, the episode that was recommended to me first was called He’s still neutral. And I share it with everyone. You’ll be able to find it in my show notes.
I don’t want to give away the story about he is neutral BUT, there was an additional interview in it that addressed hostile architecture.

Which is something I’d never heard of before and as soon as I did, I couldn’t help noticing it all around town.

Hostile architecture is a top down approach to design out crime. It’s an urban-design strategy that uses elements of the built environment to purposefully guide or restrict behavior in order to prevent crime and maintain order. It often targets people who use or rely on public space more than others, such as youth and the homeless, by restricting the physical behaviors in which they can engage.

The six main concepts according to Moffat are territoriality, surveillance, access control, image/maintenance, activity support and target hardening. Applying all of these strategies is key when trying to prevent crime in any neighborhood, crime ridden or not.

Proponents of hostile architecture will tell you that it’s necessary to maintain order and safety.

The approach though effective is considered by some -aggressive and There is a lot of pushback when it comes to hostile architecture and the lack of inclusivity it offers. There are a lot of people who believe it discourages connection within the community. Pushes people out by making them uncomfortable.

When I think of architecture and design I think of it bringing people together. It encourages us to sit, for example on the benches and admire the trees in the park near a water fountain. To enjoy our outdoor spaces and nature.

And What I thought were cool design features or an artistic approach to a bench was built entirely with something else in mind.

Little did I know, that these understated but cooly designed benches don’t just have bars on the outside and in the middle for you to rest your arms but was done so to keep skateboarders off and prevent people from sleeping there.

Metal Spikes outside high end couture fashion stores like those of Alexander McQueen seem like an aesthetic design feature but motivation has little to do with fashion and everything to do with keeping loiters from sitting against the store front.

And it occurred to me one day, that this top down approach- hostile architecture is how so many of us operate internally.

We look fine from the outside. We talk about self awareness and having healthy lifestyles. We post the memes and wax philosophically about self help but on the inside - the way we think of ourselves and others- the way we approach our self care and image is often from a foundation of hostility, defensiveness and/or restriction.

We think if we are hard on ourselves we will over come this ‘behavior’ or negative feeling.
In an effort to keep up we talk mean to ourselves -
When we have a bad night we place a penance on ourselves -
We punish ourselves. Verbally and emotionally. We ground ourselves and hide away from friends and family disconnecting from our people- we tell ourselves this is what we deserve. We shame ourselves.

If you think about it, hostile architecture isn’t really that different than how we operate when in ego. It’s a top down system that is informing you to stay safe, look for trouble, judge your surroundings and self and get everything in line with its thinking. It may want to get advice from the outside but it’s only going to agree with the input that supports what ever it already believes. And your ego will take all the credit too. From the top down we spend all our energy trying to fix immediate problems and the new solutions. It sounds like it should work, but it never does.
1. It’s fear driven and operating from scarcity.
2. It doesn’t feel good when you’re in the process
3. If you don’t know the cause of your problem, how can you solve for it?

We set up walls of resistance and guards for avoidance because the feeling you are experiencing from the night out or not being happy right after a break up is uncomfortable and you want to bypass it all together. We lie to ourselves that this isn’t what good normal people do or tell ourselves we’re fine. Everything is fine when deep down, we don’t feel normal or fine.
See how subtile hostile architecture and top down behavior is?
Your ego has you believing its the path of least resistance but lets not forget; what we resist, persists.

We live in a society that encourages this exact architecture. We think the worse it feels and the harder it is, the better. White knuckle your way through it. Tell yourself all the horrible things you’ve done so you won’t do it again.

I was thinking about my history of thinking as it relates to this because in the past when I was most compelled to stick with a new diet or never drink again it was because I’d gotten to a point of no return in my mind. The weight had become so much and I was terrified of gaining more or putting it back on if I lost it. With the drinking I had the mindset of if I do this I could die. I was completely freaked out. This thought process even applied to my money making- I needed to practically be at zero in my bank account with rent due yesterday.

I discovered a variety of beliefs like
I’ve had mornings in my past where I’ve woken up after drinking, riddled by anxiety and regretful, thinking- I can’t do this anymore. I need to stop. I want to get as many days between me and that quote un quote bad night as possible. Get as far away from this feeling as possible.
Or there won’t be enough money. What will I do when I run out. The bills are due now and there isn’t enough- I have to hustle as quickly as I can.
-in order for me to feel motivated to make money, moderate or stop drinking or change my diet, things needed to feel horrible and rock bottom.
What I discovered for myself was this belief that I have to hit rock bottom to change. Something has to go terribly wrong- then I can make it better.

When I feel rock bottom, I want to get as far away from that moment and myself as possible. I want to fast forward to 90 days out. Just be away from it. Changed. Better.

This was me avoiding the negative feelings that were coming up from the narrative that I was feeding myself and rather than feeling into it all.
I was trying to high tale it out there as if nothing had ever happened. I’d never been that person. But she’s still here, being ignored.

When we slow down the thinking and separate the shame and judgement out of it - less of attack we can approach it from a peaceful place. One where we try and understand our process of how we got there to begin with. A loving and compassionate place.

This is approach is such a cleaner way of processing our emotions as opposed to a hostile one where we muddy it or compound it with more negative feelings.

You want to learn how to feel any emotion. And rather than setting up a fortress of protection you press into the emotions- this shows you that you have your back Renegades and that you can feel any feeling. Not only will you develop a deep relationship with yourself but you will learn how trust yourself from this place. You build a foundation of intimacy with yourself and work from the inside out. The bottom up rather than the top down.

Notice when you’re in that thought loop- create awareness around it. And step the fuck back. Can you notice how that thought Makes you feel? How you show up? The result it gets you?
Who would you be without that thought?
Can you release it?
You know what I discovered sitting in those thoughts and feelings? Was that they were familiar and habitual. That my thinking and feelings were from the past of what was familiar- and that I was perpetuating the dated belief systems. And in the past, I did have to hustle and scrap to get by but I don’t have to do that anymore. I don’t have to drive myself from fear.

I was reading A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson and she said;
Our fear is free-floating. We're afraid this isn't the right relationship or we're afraid it is. We're afraid they won't like us or we're afraid they will. We're afraid of failure or we're afraid of success. We're afraid of dying young or we're afraid of growing old. We're more afraid of life than we are of death.
You'd think we'd have some compassion for ourselves, bound up in emotional chains the way we are, but we don't. We're just disgusted with ourselves, because we think we should be better by now. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking other people don't have as much fear as we do, which only makes us more afraid. Maybe they know something we don't know. Maybe we're missing a chromosome.
It's become popular these days to blame practically everything on our parents. We figure it's because of them that our self-esteem is so low. If only they'd been different, we'd be brimming with self-love.
But if you take a close look at how our parents treated us, whatever abuse they gave us was often mild compared to the way we abuse ourselves today. It's true that your mother might have said repeatedly, "You'll never be able to do that, dear." But now you say to yourself, "You're a jerk. You never do it right. You blew it. I hate you." They might have been mean, but we're vicious.
Our generation has slipped into a barely camouflaged vortex of self-loathing. And we're always, even desperately, seeking a way out, through growth or through escape. Maybe this degree will do it, or this job, this seminar, this therapist, this relationship, this diet, or this project.
But too often the medicine falls short of a cure, and the chains just keep getting thicker and tighter. The same soap operas develop with different people in different cities. We begin to realize that we ourselves are somehow the problem, but we don't know what to do about it. We're not powerful enough to overrule ourselves.
We sabotage, abort everything: our careers, our relationships, even our children. We drink. We do drugs. We control. We obsess. We codepend. We overeat. We hide. We attack. The form of the dysfunction is irrelevant. We can find a lot of different ways to express how much we hate ourselves.
But express it we will. Emotional energy has got to go somewhere, and self-loathing is a powerful emotion. Turned inward, it becomes our personal hells: addiction, obsession, compulsion, depression, violent relationships, illness. Projected outward, it becomes our collective hells: violence, war, crime, oppression. But it's all the same thing: hell has many mansions, too.
Come on Marianne!


In order for us to find the cause to our problems we have to get to the ground truth of where it sits. You want to work from the bottom up. From the inside out. Go in.
You don’t need any answers to get there. Think of your self like a network conduit, your essential self is the copper and you operate by- sending the information from the bottom up. All throughout your personal environment.
It’s a slower process. It’s calmer. It’s more quiet. Actually the more quiet you can get, the better.
Your ego will have a lot to say about this. It will start sending out commands - just watch and observe them. Don’t act on any of it. Remember; observe your reaction. Choose your response.

Inquire seek reveal.

Belittling thoughts or negative self talk won’t actually get you the results you want.
In spite of negative emotion can you still take action but from a place of patience, compassion and understanding?

I was talking to my son nick about this and he said
“this sounds like what I was doing last week after not going to the gym for a few days because
I was at work and kept having these thoughts like “You look small. You’re weak.” You have to get back to the gym.

I asked him how it felt and he said terrible! Which I totally get.

Nick, why weren’t you going to the gym?
Mom, I’ve been so tired. I’m on my feet all day at work so the idea of going after is too much. And before I think, I don’t want to wreck my legs since I’m going to be on my feet the next 6 hours.
How do you feel after you finish working out?
Really good. Better. And that’s just it, I know I’ll feel better if I go.

I then asked him how else he could think about it? if there was another thought he could choose to think about
And he replied with;
I want to work out today because I know I’ll feel better later mentally and physically.
How does that thought feel. Yah, it feels way better than talking down to myself. Which didn’t get me to the gym anyway.
Renegades, we want to understand why we do or don’t do the things. Rather than believing the thoughts you are thinking, ask yourself if that thought is even true? Am I smaller? How do I know? What does it mean about me if I am? Does thinking I’m smaller motivate me? What does thinking I’m smaller do for me? Who might I be without the thought, I look small? What does having smaller body mass mean? What am I making it mean about me?

Then decide if you want to believe the thought and operate from there.

I’ve had a life long habit of all or nothing. With relationships, drinking, working, working out eating… the minute things feel ‘like too much’ I want to end it all and strip myself clean of any of it. And I’ve had what some might call a ton of a success with this approach. I didn’t eat dairy for well over a decade. I didn’t drink for 5 plus years and have had many moments between then and now where I’ve stopped at length, I’ll work my ass off 7 days a week or train for a marathon and only run. Everyday. All day. And then there is the burnout. And I won’t run at all for months. Or want to work the same way. Or be in relationships. My knee jerk reaction, without fail is from one extreme to the other.
I think some of us find safety in the black and white thinking. I’m this and not that. And I”m not saying there is anything wrong with the approach, but I’m finding that learning to play in the grey, to not swing so violently from one side to the other, reveals to me more information about why I choose what I do. How I got there to begin with.
The other major life lesson I learned from this was that for me, the things I was doing in excess or not at all were’t actually the problem… they were my solutions but I blamed those external things and never did the required introspection to discover the source or cause of my pain.
I want to recommend that you work from the ground up as you approach your self care.
Learn to start watching your thoughts. Be conscious to them. And remember; just because you are thinking them does’t mean they are true. Even if you’ve thought them everyday for 20 years.
Thank your brain/ego for it’s opinion. Maybe even thank it for trying to keep you safe.
Then take a deep breath and go inward.
If I wasn’t in judgment what would I think of this situation?
If this wasn’t a problem, what would I be thinking?
Who would I be without this thought?
Can I release this thought?
What would I rather think?

What haven’t I learned about myself that is trying to reveal itself to me?

If there is one thing I’ve learned after 40 years it’s there is no getting away from you ever. You can’t run drink or move yourself far enough to get away. You will always be there. I plan on spending the next 40 years getting as close to me as possible and building a strong supportive foundation for myself to build upon.

Ps. It has been proven that when communities work from the bottom up, be it against crime or in the rebuilding of, they have a statistically higher success rate than those from hostile architecture or top down methods. Oh, and the serial killer docu series I was talking about was I’ll be gone in the dark. Holy hell, that was good. And a little scary.
Okay, until next week Renegades. Bottom Up.

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