KEW The Are vs Should Interview Series: Neil Bjorklund

I am extremely excited for you to meet Neil Bjorklund in this week’s Are vs Should Interview Series. Unlike most KEW interviews, I knew Neil prior to having him on KEW. But probably not as well as he knows me, as he is my coach.

I have worked with Neil for a little over a year, doing somatic healing work using the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model. Neil has all sorts of other training in healing past trauma, improving one’s life, and personal growth, but we focus primarily on IFS.

I ‘discovered’ Neil through a haphazard path. As a teenager I read a series of books by Carlos Castaneda and a quasi fictional character named Don Juan Matus. This was my introduction to the Toltec lineage of central American people, but I was mostly interested in the psychedelic drugs. Later I realized that other folks were interested in actual Toltec history and wisdom, and I found work by Gary van Warmerdam, who was a student of Don Miguel Ruiz, author of the Four Agreements. I finally arrived at Neil because Gary endorsed Neil on his webpage.

Though I have always been interested in personal growth, I always considered it to exist only in the world of licensed psychologists and therapists. I didn’t think coaches, healers, helpers, aids, assistants or persons acting outside the realm of the ‘American credentials system’ would be helpful. I had a lot of suspicions and worries about being sold snake oil.

Prior to Neil I had experimented with online coaching, receiving instruction from Mandy Napier whom I interviewed early in 2021. The experienced opened my mind to ‘non-traditional’ lines of healing. My interest in Toltec wisdom coupled with the circuitous path toward Neil led me to seek his help. And I’m glad I did.

Neil’s pathway, however, makes mine look fairly linear. But I’ll let him tell you about that. I’m pretty sure Neil has done and experienced all sorts of things I know nothing about. But this interview gives you a pretty good glimpse in to how he lives his life, the kinds of things he thinks about, and what it means to have a high degree of self mastery.

I’ll stop there and let Neil tell his story. I hope you listen, watch, and enjoy.

Podcast audio download here:

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YouTube video here:

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Preview KEW Episode 78: Assumptions and Core Principles

As we figure out exactly what is happening at KEW, which is mostly coming up with workable strategies to help analytical, empathic, and intelligent folks live calmer and more relaxed lives, it’s necessary to state our assumptions and identifying elements.

In any good scientific endeavor (and this ISN’T science, but I’m trying to take a standardized and similar APPROACH) it’s nice to state your assumptions up front. It tells the reader/listener/viewer/colleague where your head was when you began.

Usually assumptions are peer-reviewed, or at least things you’ve discussed with other people so you know they aren’t ridiculous – and that most people will not have trouble accepting them so they can move forward with the rest of your material.

For example, if you were trying to illustrate that COVID is a conspiracy, and you stated the assumption up front that ‘all liberals are stupid’, that would not be sound. Half your audience would not believe you, and part of the other half would be suspicious. Sure, some folks would be all in, but you get the point.

In this Episode I’ll lay out as much as I can about things I believe to be true and necessary before we move forward to the ‘how-to’ Episodes related to the Are vs Should Problem.

Full podcast audio and YouTube video this Friday.

Humans, much less Earth, are not the center of the universe.

Preview KEW The Are vs Should Interview Series: Neil Bjorklund

Neil Bjorklund shares his mind with us this week. Neil works with folks using the ‘Internal Family Systems’ model that I talk about a lot. I am personally working with Neil on my own spiritual journey, as many of you may know.

Neil shares a ton of insight ranging from Ecological metaphors about IFS and ‘multiple selves’, to why we think the way we do, to (most importantly) what we can do about it.

You have probably never met anyone quite like Neil and I truly think you will benefit from listening or watching this interview. And it’s really fun to see him riff from topic to topic. It’s a free-form mind fest and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.

You can learn a little more about Neil while you wait for the full Episode (coming this Thursday on KEW).

Below is a brief snippet from our interview where Neil compares Ecosystems to our Selves:

FLASHBACK! KEW Episode 57: Multiple Personalities

Have you ever felt like you were hearing multiple voices? Like in the ‘Are vs Should Problem’, there are two voices – the Are and the Should – vying for your attention. Sometimes it’s more than two. Which choice should you make? What will you order off the menu? Which alternate route home will be the quickest at 4:30 PM?

All of us hear voices in our heads and they are often conflicting. Unfortunately, this type of thing is often laughed about or jokingly compared to serious mental illness. I’m not talking about serious mental illness in this Episode, but I am talking about multiple personalities.

Mostly I’m talking about Internal Family Systems (IFS), which is a fairly new model for understanding our internal voices. IFS treats the human personality as being comprised of multiple voices, called ‘parts’, that play different roles in our day-to-day lives. Most of the time, these parts are unaware of each other an often induce conflicting behaviors or thoughts. Hence, the ‘multiple personalities’ that often disagree. Working with IFS trained therapists or coaches we can learn to bring our disparate parts together to form a family of parts that are aware of each other.

More on that in this FLASHBACK! episode, and two upcoming interviews.

Original blog post with links to full audio and video versions of Episode 57:

KEW Episode 76: Why Am I?

You’ve likely pondered the great, ‘Who Am I?’ question. But what about the ‘Why Am I?’

The ‘why’ is a great question no matter the situation.

Of the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions the ‘why’ is probably the most challenging.

Is there a meaning to life?

Do you have a purpose?

Does anything matter?

Hundreds, if not thousands, of philosophers have weighed in on the great question, but I’m not sure there’s any consensus.

In fact, the ‘Why Am I’ is probably one of the most subjective questions one can ask.

So the ‘Why’ I talk a lot about is the ‘Why’ of the ‘Why Am I’.

Or, less ambiguously, the reasoning behind having a ‘Why’.

In short, the ‘Why’ can be a guide that helps remind you of your path.

Kind of like your Values, your ‘Why’ is a reference beacon for when you get lost in the dark.

I hope this Episode encourages you to develop and/or maintain your ‘Why’ as a means of helping you move forward with your personal goals.

This Episode also marks a transition from the ‘What’ questions of Episodes 50-75, to the ‘Why’ of this Episode, and onward to the ‘How’ or ‘How-To’ of the Are vs Should Problem.

I hope you’ll come with me on the journey.

Full podcast audio download link here:

Or please subscribe to the Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom podcast wherever you get podcasts.

YouTube video link here:

Preview KEW Episode 76: Why Am I?

Some folks may think this is a silly question. But if you’re reading this you probably think it’s a great question. First, thanks for coming!

Second, I ask this question fairly literally as a means of transitioning along the pathway that is The Are vs Should Problem.

For the last 25 (twenty-five!) Episodes I have followed my thoughts about the struggle between the person we ARE and the person we feel like we SHOULD BE. Now it’s time to shift from the WHATs to the HOWs.

But first, we gotta think about the WHYs.

A few years back I took a real estate investment class to learn how to generate passive income. In this course the FIRST THING we learned was to write out our WHY.

In the case of real estate investing, students WHYs addressed things like freedom, financial independence, safety, their children future. . . and many other things. Mostly, though, WHYs fell into these categories.

But truthfully, after a few classes dedicated to just our WHYs and not actual real estate, or money, or anything. I was getting a bit frustrated and even felt like the teachers were stalling.

I just wasn’t taking it seriously enough.

I didn’t get it.

So when I started hitting therapy and coaching (as a patient and client) really hard I worked through similar issues. I spent the better part of FOUR MONTHS figuring out my WHY as well as my VALUES. I started to see a pattern. And more importantly, BELIEVE that my WHY and my VALUES were actually useful and worth spending some time on.

So as I shift from the WHATs to the HOWs or HOW-TOs, we’ll first talk about WHYs and WHY their so important.

Full Episode Friday right here at KEW.

Preview KEW Episode 74: Self-Compassion

I recently arrived at the conclusion that I needed more self-compassion. I had heard this so many times I figured it must be true. Only I didn’t really know what self-compassion meant. So I started studying up on it.

See, at first I had self-compassion confused with self-PITY. I didn’t want to sit around feeling sorry for myself all the time. Or, maybe it’s because I DID sit around feeling sorry for myself sometimes and didn’t want to admit it. I didn’t want to be associated with someone who feels a lot of self-pity, so I stayed away from self-compassion for fear of going too far.

But I finally discovered Kristen Neff and her book, ‘Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself‘ and her website at This was a great start. To say the least. And it helped me understand the difference between pity and compassion (more on that in Friday’s post).

Not that we want to give 100% of the credit for the idea of self-compassion to one person, but Dr. Neff has become the name and the face behind a movement to be kind to ourselves.

So self-compassion is pretty self explanatory. It’s compassion toward yourself. It’s sort of that whole, ‘treat yourself like you would a friend’ thing. It just makes sense.

And it’s the opposite of beating ourselves up – which we all know is a bad thing.

For me, I now try to fill the gap in the pause I have created with the thought that I can choose to not beat myself up – I can choose to be compassionate toward myself instead.

I can’t wait to share this episode with you this Friday.

Preview KEW Episode 73: What is Stress?

You think you know what stress is, but do you?

I think the term ‘stress’ is oversimplified. Sure, sometimes just venting ‘I’m stressed!’ is helpful to get some of the negative energy out, let people know how you are generally feeling, or explain your behavior.

But ‘stress’ is so overused, so ambiguous, and so cliche.

And I only mention that because that means the word is losing it’s meaning.

Also, because stress is often a result of the ‘shoulds’, in the context of the Are vs Should Problem.

What is stress, then, really?




All that and more.

Stress is the result of a dissonance between how you feel and how you want to feel.

Generally, we want to feel good. Stress is a general description of feeling bad.

This week I dig into stress a bit and hopefully help us understand what it REALLY is, and that opens the door for doing something about it.

Because you need less stress.

Full Episode Friday, right here at KEW. Make sure to subscribe to my email list so you will be notified whenever something new is posted to my webpage.

You can also subscribe to the KEW podcast on whatever app you use, and subscribe to my YouTube channel. This all helps me know you are listening and I appreciate that.

FLASHBACK! KEW Episode 51: Personal Inventory

I learned about the personal inventory reading Carlos Castaneda’s book series about Don Juan and the Toltec ‘men and women of knowledge’.

The idea of a personal inventory describes the process of examining one’s total life from every possible angle. By looking inward and examining one’s life, we can summarize all the things that we have done, what has happened to us, our system of beliefs, and what comprises our ‘self’. This is a metaphysical list of our interests, quirks, tastes, ideas, opinions, coupled with our history and experiences.

In essence, the personal inventory is all of the things that make you, you. It is the comprehensive descriptive list of you.

Think about how complex that is; and seemingly infinite. But the personal inventory is not infinite. It is very much finite. And it is very much different for every person.

A personal inventory is as unique as you are, and it describes your uniqueness.

And the process of figuring out who you are is fundamental to progress.

At the very least this process will help you figure out your Values (Episode 46) which are the backbone to personal growth.

And the personal inventory is not just a one time deal. This can be a dynamic process we use throughout our lives to check-in and remember where (and who) we are.

Sure, the first time through can be exhausting and take a while. But after that it’s fairly easy to remind yourself of the fundamentals, add new things, and check in.

More than anything, going through the motions of examining your life, really spending some time on it, and looking at who you are is only going to help.

Here’s a link to the original post with links to the podcast audio and video:

Also, here’s a link to ‘A Separate Reality’, the second book in the Castaneda series:

FLASHBACK! KEW Curiosity Interview Series 10: Chris Burcher

To close out the 10-part Curiosity interview series, the first on KEW, I reflect on the 9 interesting people I got to talk to. I asked everyone what role Curiosity had played in their lives and how it helped get them to where they are today.

I am grateful and amazed that these folks would spend some time with us. I know some people want to promote, but everyone had something unique to say about Curiosity.

I am also impressed by both the breadth of observations people made about Curiosity, and also the recurring themes shared.

Above all else, my biggest takeaway is to LOVE YOURSELF.

I hope you enjoy my summary and sharing session here.

Original post with links to podcast audio and YouTube video, as well as the other 9 interview posts and links here: