Right Use of Power Institute https://rightuseofpower.org Conscious Ethics. Power with Heart. Tue, 22 Feb 2022 18:47:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.1.1 https://rightuseofpower.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/cropped-icon-logo-2-32x32.png Right Use of Power Institute https://rightuseofpower.org 32 32 The World’s Oldest Pandemic, by Dr. Reynold Feldman https://rightuseofpower.org/the-worlds-oldest-pandemic-by-dr-reynold-feldman%ef%bf%bc/ https://rightuseofpower.org/the-worlds-oldest-pandemic-by-dr-reynold-feldman%ef%bf%bc/#respond Thu, 17 Feb 2022 19:12:07 +0000 https://rightuseofpower.org/?p=3648

As a retired English professor, I’ve been struck by how some new crisis, social or personal, causes us to learn a hitherto unknown technical term. When my late father was diagnosed with it, for example, I became acquainted with the disease multiple myeloma. Now even little kids speak routinely about the pandemic, a term only trained medical personnel had spoken of prior to March 2020. Yet there is one pandemic, arguably the world’s oldest, that is totally under the radar, possibly because it is so taken for granted. I mean the pandemic of the misuses and abuses of power. From verbal and physical abuse at home to the boss from hell at work to authoritarian governments and ultimately war, this deadly disease has been with us since the first human society. You don’t need to be a Sunday-school summa cum laude graduate to remember that Cain slew his brother Abel in one of the earliest chapters of Genesis. And, as Sonny and Cher would say, the beat goes on.


         While the ages have not produced a foolproof vaccine for this still-deadly virus, good parenting, positive role models, outstanding teachers, healthy religious communities, effective correctional institutions (as in Norway), and just plain luck can shield one from becoming a victim or a spreader of this too-often fatal virus. There are also other less-known helps. One I immediately think of is Dr. Cedar Barstow’s The Right Use of Power: The Heart of Ethics (2005, 2015). A related book is Living in the Power Zone: How Right Use of Power Can Transform Your Relationships (2013), of which I am the co-author with Dr. Barstow. In addition, there are training programs based on the principles and techniques described in both these books. Still, to the extent that a “vaccine” is available to minimize misuses and abuses of power, these books and the related workshops may come close to filling the bill.


         To be sure, individuals who have psycho- or sociopathic personality disorders will never opt to read these books or take the corresponding courses, let alone put their principles and techniques into practice. Still, many ordinary people and their organizations could profit from doing so. Relationships, productivity at work, even governance will all benefit. Learning to listen actively, apologize effectively, and find ways out of the “shame dungeon,” among other new behaviors, will enable anyone to use their personal, role, status, collective, and systemic power with greater wisdom and skill. And after millennia of misuses and abuses of power around the globe, humankind may finally overcome or at least minimize the impact of the world’s oldest pandemic.

 

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On Concealment, by Nora Alwah. https://rightuseofpower.org/on-concealment-by-nora-alwah/ https://rightuseofpower.org/on-concealment-by-nora-alwah/#respond Thu, 17 Feb 2022 19:05:13 +0000 https://rightuseofpower.org/?p=3641

Concealment.

When someone withholds information from others. Usually, information that needs to be known. It breaks my heart.

It’s a form of lying that no one wants to talk about. 

Concealment creates an incongruence in the environment. 

Noticing incongruence is my superpower. It was a survival skill for me growing up with an alcoholic dad. 

We know concealment all too well around the world. History purposefully not being told. 

Growing up in Denmark, I was never taught in school that we were the seventh-largest slave trade nation. No, my blissful ignorance thought “Oh Denmark makes good sugar”. Not the horror conditions that enslaved people endured working on sugar fields for over 250 years.

This concealment creates harmful unawareness.

So I decided to feel into my White privilege. My colonizer ancestry. 

Last week I stepped onto St Croix, now US Virgin Islands, previously colonized by Denmark.

Three Islands and thousands of human lives sold at $25 million in gold coins.

As I passed Danish flags and street names like “Dronning Tværgade”, I felt that bittersweet n’between of both feeling at home while feeling the shameful pain.

When information is not named, we are deprived of choice on how we respond. 

Not sharing certain information is how oppression functions.

Or as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie calls it: the danger of the single story.

Oppression takes from people. It restricts people. It inhibits people.

And so often it is denied or made subtle by those with power. It happens in housing systems, educational systems, our own justice system. 

Concealment strips you of your resources and autonomy. You start to lose control over your environment. Over your reality. 

It’s time to make what has been concealed explicit. To bring awareness on what’s been hidden, to acknowledge what needs to be seen.

As n’betweeners we move in and out of experiences of oppression and privilege. It is our job to feel into what might be kept from us to create a better change.

Knowledge is power and it should not be gatekept by the privileged.

It is my hope you reveal truths all around you, even the painful ones.

Instagram @noraalwah

www.noraalwah.com

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Last week, a workshop participant wrote me: “I just took a right use of power workshop, and it changed my life! I had somehow never considered that underusing my power was also a misuse of power. I had been trying so hard not to abuse power that I was avoiding it entirely.” 

Using our working definition of power as “the ability to have an effect or to have influence,” we can open up to using power to have a positive effect and a positive influence. We can actually become power-positive.

Here are a couple of examples. Underuse of personal power can look like not standing up for ourselves causing further harm to ourselves. Underuse of role power can look like not taking charge when strong leadership is needed causing the harm of chaos and mistrust.

Underuse of status power can look like not speaking out when a person of diversity is being insulted. Underuse of collective power can look like not voting. Right Use of Power Institute is offering a free-for-members webinar about identifying ways in which we underuse our powers and taking action toward using power with both strength and heart. This one-hour webinar, presented by Dr. Cedar Barstow will be live, interactive, and experiential.

To register, sign up for any level of membership, at www.rightuseofpower.org and you will be sent a link to join: Thursday, January 27, 2022 at 12 noon MST

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Why is self-care an ethical imperative, not just a luxury? https://rightuseofpower.org/why-is-self-care-an-ethical-imperative-not-just-a-luxury/ https://rightuseofpower.org/why-is-self-care-an-ethical-imperative-not-just-a-luxury/#respond Wed, 15 Dec 2021 22:32:58 +0000 https://rightuseofpower.org/?p=3059 This might be quite obvious when we stop to think about it, but often the need to get things done and take care of the people who need us, we say too many yes’s and not enough no’s. When we are burned out, stressed, overwhelmed, going from one thing to another…we make mistakes, we cause unnecessary harm by moving too quickly and not attending to relationships with enough care, or we take action too quickly without seeing the negative consequences.

I notice that now that most of my relationships are conducted in the virtual world, I don’t have the travel time from one appointment to another that used to give me a little space for slowing down and contemplating, since I can schedule meetings with no break between. I hadn’t been aware of how much happens when I have some empty space (even just 5 minutes). In that space, things I thought I needed to do, can just fall away or be given to a more appropriate person. In that space, there is room for much-needed creativity.

Self-care is more than getting enough sleep. Self-care includes space. It includes some kind of what I’m calling “theta time” for my brain to rest. My theta time comes from doing puzzles (something I used to think was a waste of time), and from time in nature to realign myself with the organic rhythms of the natural world. I read recently that the average person spends a mere 10% of their time outside. I think I spend even less than that, alas. And what a sad disconnect. One of my intentions for next year is to do more re-charging of my personal power by actively connecting with nature and beauty.

Cedar

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Power: Misuses and Abuses https://rightuseofpower.org/power-misuses-and-abuses/ https://rightuseofpower.org/power-misuses-and-abuses/#respond Wed, 24 Nov 2021 19:37:57 +0000 https://rightuseofpower.org/?p=2890

Here’s another continuum: I call this the misuse/abuse continuum. In our trainings we sometimes refer to harmful actions as misuses of power and sometimes abuses of power. There is a difference.

 Misuses of power are generally committed by good people with good intentions, and power blind-spots. They cause harm, yes. They hurt, yes. And the harm is not usually egregious. They happen very frequently, yes.   Micro-aggressions would be in this category, for example.  The good news is that they can be relatively easy to repair, especially when there is already trust in the relationship. The hurt person will usually respond well to an effective apology. We can learn from these.  We can self-reflect and self-correct.  Repair may even lead to a deeper, clearer, and more trusting relationship.

 On the other end of the scale of harm, are abuses of power. As compared to misuses of power these are the actions that cause terrible harm. They are motivated by some combination of control needs, egotism, greed, self-preservation, fear, and reduced empathy. They may also be the result of following the “dominator model” of power, genuine power blind-spots, lack of truthful feedback from those in down-power positions, inability to observe or care about their impact, and little education about the dynamics and perils of power.  

We mention the difference between misuse and abuse of power because in responding to harm, people often conflate or fail to distinguish between misuses and abuses of power. When power abuse comes from someone we revere, we sometimes make excuses or cognitive justifications, or just make light of it.  On the other hand, when power is misused by someone we revere, we sometimes unfairly blow it up to the level of abuse.  In this age of easy transmission of information through the internet, situations can escalate at the level of an explosion leading to polarization, increasing misinformation, and devastating cancel culture processes.  Misuses can be labeled abuses.  Abuses can get too easily excused.  Accuracy and authenticity get lost.  Misuse seen as abuse or abuse seen as misuse is crazy-making and unjust. It contributes to community distress and misunderstanding.   Use your awareness and your personal and role power-as- influence to actively help clarify and de-escalate when you can. 

 
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“Vulnerability” by David Whyte https://rightuseofpower.org/vulnerability-by-david-whyte/ https://rightuseofpower.org/vulnerability-by-david-whyte/#respond Wed, 24 Nov 2021 19:28:48 +0000 https://rightuseofpower.org/?p=2884

Note:  In conversation with some RUP students, we were talking about vulnerability and humility as too powerful and yet under-rated or even unacknowledged leadership qualities.  In fact, inability to be vulnerable is actually a sign of low self-confidence.  So, here’s David Whyte’s perspective on vulnerability.  CB

Vulnerability is not a weakness, a passing indisposition, or something we can arrange to do without, vulnerability is not a choice, vulnerability is the underlying, ever present and abiding undercurrent of our natural state. To run from vulnerability is to run from the essence of our nature, the attempt to be invulnerable is the vain attempt to become something we are not and most especially, to close off our understanding of the grief of others. More seriously, in refusing our vulnerability we refuse the help needed at every turn of our existence and immobilize the essential, tidal and conversational foundations of our identity.

To have a temporary, isolated sense of power over all events and circumstances, is a lovely illusionary privilege and perhaps the prime and most beautifully constructed conceit of being human and especially of being youthfully human, but it is a privilege that must be surrendered with that same youth, with ill health, with accident, with the loss of loved ones who do not share our untouchable powers; powers eventually and most emphatically given up, as we approach our last breath.

The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance, our choice is to inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or conversely, as misers and complainers, reluctant and fearful, always at the gates of existence, but never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk ourselves, never walking fully through the door.

 

 

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October 28th—BePowerPositive Day in the United States https://rightuseofpower.org/bepop-awards-2021/ https://rightuseofpower.org/bepop-awards-2021/#respond Thu, 28 Oct 2021 18:37:08 +0000 https://rightuseofpower.org/?p=2678

For Immediate Release. The nonprofit Right Use of Power Institute (RUPI) in Boulder, Colorado, is proud to announce October 28, 2021, as the third National BePowerPositive Day in the United States. This year RUPI recognizes Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, and the Navajo Nation with its annual BePowerPositive Awards for their exemplary use of individual and collective power.

At just 41, Ms. Ardern, head of the New Zealand government since 2017, was named by Fortune Magazine in May 12, 2021 as one of the world’s 50 best leaders. It cited her handling of a terrorist attack and COVID-19; her “straight talk”; and her climate and gender-equity policies. In October 2020 she was re-elected in a landslide.

With nearly 400,000 enrolled members in 2021, the Navajo Nation is the largest federally recognized tribe in the United States with the largest reservation. Under the leadership of tribal President Jonathan Nez, it has moved from one of the worst COVID-19 records to one of the best. The Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health attributed this turnaround to the tribe’s community-centered culture.

Past BePowerPositive annual awardees have included Marianne Williamson and Resmaa Menakem (individuals) and YES! Magazine and the Public Broadcasting System (organizations).

Since few individuals, organizations, or institutional leaders are trained to use their power wisely and well, RUPI has developed an array of time-tested programs to remedy this gap.

Further information is available at www.rightuseofpower.org and www.bepowerpositive.org.      

 

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Credit: Mark Baker/AP/Shutterstock
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Credit: Mark Baker/AP/Shutterstock
Navajo Members in Mask
Navajo Members in Mask
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Why it’s important to say YES to your power https://rightuseofpower.org/why-its-important-to-say-yes-to-your-power/ https://rightuseofpower.org/why-its-important-to-say-yes-to-your-power/#comments Thu, 28 Oct 2021 18:28:55 +0000 https://rightuseofpower.org/?p=2669

I want to talk about power. Power is at the bottom of most things and yet it is seldom talked or

taught about.


What do you associate with the word “power?” Likely your associations will fit somewhere

along a wide range of responses—from negative, like from greed, control, exploitation, harm to

neutral or to the positive side, like opportunity to make things better, healing or preventing

harm, fulfilling purpose.


As a young person in the 60’s, the word was associated with war, disrespect, oppression—all

things bad. l, on the other hand, was all about the song: “all we need is love.”

I planned to be an elementary school teacher where I imagined, amazingly, that I wouldn’t have

power, just love for my students. After a few years, my public-school teaching career morphed

into a new love—psychotherapy, specifically Hakomi Mindful Somatic Therapy.


An ethics course that had me shaking in my boots lest I make an ethical error and cause harm. I

was causing harm by being too tight and contained—in effect, underusing my power as a

therapist.

Teaching ethics to psychotherapists brought me to the idea that ethics is actually, right use of

power. This changed ethics from learning a long list of rules and committing to abide by them

to learning about the dynamics of relationships where there is a power difference, like

counseling, teaching, spiritual direction, medicine. I wrote a book and developed an embodied

learning program. Ethics from the inside out, rather than the outside in.


So back to power. The actual definition is the ability to have an effect or to have influence.

Neutral. It is how you use your power that makes the difference between good and ill. It is not

automatically greedy, controlling and harmful.

Ability to have an effect or influence. Yes, we all need to have an effect or influence to have

meaningful relationships and lives. Think of the amount of influence a baby has when they cry

or when they smile.

 

There are many ways we can use our influence positively. Here’s a way you can do your own

inquiry. Imagine or draw a continuum line on a piece of paper and respond to these questions by

putting an x on the place where you tend to land. Of course, we all need to be flexible in our

influence in different situations, but usually there’s a most familiar place on the continuum. I

want to point out that many or maybe most misuses and abuses of power happen when people

are using their influence at one extreme or the other, for example being completely directive or

completely responsive.


Do you tend to use your influence by being more:

Directive———————————————————-Responsive

Task-focused ————————————————Relationship-focused

Persist————————————————————-Let go

Talker————————————————————–Listener

Strength-centered ———————————————Heart-centered


This last one is particularly interesting because we often think we have to choose between

being strong and compassionate. A misconception. It’s challenging to use power with both

strength and compassion, but it is what’s needed for using power wisely and well.

Martin Luther King says it so well.


“Power, properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength

required to bring about social, political and economic change. What is needed is a realization

that power without love is reckless and abusive and love without power is sentimental and

anemic. Power, at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is

power correcting everything that stands against love.”


King is talking about a Socially Responsible operating system for power, as compared to the

more usual Dominator operating system. Let’s advocate for power used wisely and well.

It seems that bad news sells better than good news. It also seems that in people’s experiences,

the hurt and trauma caused by misuses and abuses of power by people in positions of authority

are like velcro—they stick and stay, whereas right uses of power tend to slide off and away in

our memories.


So, practice saying “yes” to your power—your ability to have an effect or to have influence.

Use your yes to being a positive force for good. Stand in your strength while staying in your

compassion. Power with Heart.

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Recognizing Our Biases, by Brian McLaren https://rightuseofpower.org/recognizing-our-biases-by-brian-mclaren/ https://rightuseofpower.org/recognizing-our-biases-by-brian-mclaren/#respond Thu, 23 Sep 2021 00:45:22 +0000 https://rightuseofpower.org/?p=1813 Richard Rohr:  “Brian McLaren has done thoughtful and helpful research about what makes us see things so differently from one another. He identified thirteen biases that we outline today. Being a former pastor and an excellent communicator, Brian found a way to make these complex ways of seeing simple and memorable. He writes:”

People can’t see what they can’t see. Their biases get in the way, surrounding them like a high wall, trapping them in ignorance, deception, and illusion. No amount of reasoning and argument will get through to them, unless we first learn how to break down the walls of bias. . . .

Confirmation Bias: We judge new ideas based on the ease with which they fit in with and confirm the only standard we have: old ideas, old information, and trusted authorities. As a result, our framing story, belief system, or paradigm excludes whatever doesn’t fit.

Complexity Bias: Our brains prefer a simple falsehood to a complex truth.

Community Bias: It’s almost impossible to see what our community doesn’t, can’t, or won’t see.

Complementarity Bias: If you are hostile to my ideas, I’ll be hostile to yours. If you are curious and respectful toward my ideas, I’ll respond in kind.

Competency Bias: We don’t know how much (or little) we know because we don’t know how much (or little) others know. In other words, incompetent people assume that most other people are about as incompetent as they are. As a result, they underestimate their [own] incompetence, and consider themselves at least of average competence.

Consciousness Bias: Some things simply can’t be seen from where I am right now. But if I keep growing, maturing, and developing, someday I will be able to see what is now inaccessible to me.

Comfort or Complacency Bias: I prefer not to have my comfort disturbed.

Conservative/Liberal Bias: I lean toward nurturing fairness and kindness, or towards strictly enforcing purity, loyalty, liberty, and authority, as an expression of my political identity.

Confidence Bias: I am attracted to confidence, even if it is false. I often prefer the bold lie to the hesitant truth.

Catastrophe or Normalcy Bias: I remember dramatic catastrophes but don’t notice gradual decline (or improvement).

Contact Bias: When I don’t have intense and sustained personal contact with “the other,” my prejudices and false assumptions go unchallenged.

Cash Bias: It’s hard for me to see something when my way of making a living requires me not to see it.

Conspiracy Bias: Under stress or shame, our brains are attracted to stories that relieve us, exonerate us, or portray us as innocent victims of malicious conspirators. [1]

Richard again:  “I don’t know any other way to be free of all these biases except through the contemplative mind. I see almost every one of them within myself–at least at some point in my life. I also believe there are enough good-willed people out there who, if presented with a list of these biases, have the freedom to investigate, “How can I let go of that? How can I move beyond that?” [2]

 

 

[1] Brian McLaren, Why Don’t They Get It? Overcoming Bias in Others (and Yourself) (Self-published: 2019), e-book. 

[2] Adapted from Brian McLaren, Jacqui Lewis, with Richard Rohr, “Why Can’t We See?,” October 5, 2020, in Learning How to See, episode 1 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2020), podcast, MP3 audio.

 

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5 Books to Help Cultivate Personal Power and Ignite the Life Force by Erica Sunarjo https://rightuseofpower.org/personal-power-by-erica-sunarjo/ https://rightuseofpower.org/personal-power-by-erica-sunarjo/#respond Thu, 23 Sep 2021 00:27:37 +0000 https://rightuseofpower.org/?p=1799 Do you feel stuck at the moment? Do you feel like you lack the life force to get control over the situation?

If you want to get your life back on track, you should read personal development and self-help books. You need to get new knowledge and wisdom to cultivate your personal power.

Are you ready to become the best version of yourself? Here is a list of the self-improvement books that are worth your attention.

Emotional Agility

Emotional Agility by Susan David is a book that shares practical tips on self-acceptance and emotion management. The book explains that positive and negative emotions are equally important. We shouldn’t suppress our feelings under any circumstances – we need to acknowledge them, accept them, and keep on living.

Cultivation of personal power starts with the ability to manage emotions. If you can’t cope with negative and positive feelings in everyday life, it will be difficult for you to grow as a person. Read this book to get familiar with the concept of emotional agility and find out what steps you should take to ignite your life force.

If you tend to compare yourself to others, this book will help you break this bad habit. You will understand your strengths and improve your psychological well-being.

Thanks! by Robert A. Emmons

Thanks! is a book that explains how the new science of gratitude can make us happier. The main message of the book is the following: you should acknowledge your gratitude and express it to others on a daily basis.

Gratefulness makes life more fulfilling and meaningful – it’s a scientifically proven fact. If you journal for five minutes a day about the things you are grateful for, your long-term happiness will increase by over 10%, the researchers say.

If you want to cultivate personal power, you need to practice gratitude. The practice will help you understand your true worth while also help you see the worth of others.

Do you have a gratitude journal? No? I can bet you will want to start one after reading this book.

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

Darren Hardy wrote the book The Compound Effect to explain how our everyday choices influence our lives. If you have ambitious plans but don’t have the power to execute them, you will find this book helpful. You will get the motivation to reorganize your life and reschedule your daily routine, so you can finally start moving toward your goals.

Here is an example that illustrates the “compound effect”. Let’s say you bought a fascinating book a month ago, but you haven’t started reading it yet – every day, you have had a new excuse for that. How can you change the situation?

You can set a goal to read at least five pages daily. Just five pages – it will not take you much time and effort to read, but it will get you closer to your “big goal”. If you read five pages a day, the compound effect of your efforts will be significant – you will finish the 150-page book in a month.

The compound effect is applicable to all spheres of your life. Whether you want to start a volunteer project, find a life partner, or get a new job, you should ensure that your everyday decisions get you closer to your goal.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

The chances are you have heard a lot about Marie Kondo and the methods of decluttering and organizing that she promotes. So now, you may be wondering how this book can help you develop your personal power.

The thing is that everything in our life is interconnected. The way we organize our personal space shapes the way we think and live. If you want to change your way of thinking and become more successful, you should declutter your space: your house, your office, your desk, your bag. You should say goodbye to the items you no longer need and find the place for new items, emotions, events, energies, and people you want to welcome in your life.

Method of Marie Kondo is not about the things. It’s more about our attitudes and feelings toward these things. After reading this book, you will understand why you are so attached to some items you store and what holds you back from achieving something big in your life.

You are a badass by Jen Sincero

Jen Sincero is the #1 New York Times Bestselling Author for a reason. Her book, You are a badass, helps people understand why they self-sabotage their dreams and believes and what they can do to change their lives for the better.

This book covers the topic of mental blocks that hold us back from achieving our goals. It explains why we unconsciously stop ourselves from getting what we want.

Let’s say you have a goal to become a rich person (have an annual income of $250,000+). You work hard, keep learning, develop new skills, but your current income level is low. What kind of mental blocks may you have? When you were a kid, chances are your parents or other relatives told you that “wealthy people are mean, greedy, and lonely”. Being an adult, you unconsciously avoid the things and decisions that can make you richer – you don’t want to become a mean and lonely person.

This book is a good read for those interested in the development of personal power. Once you understand what’s going on in your head on an unconscious level, you will unlock your true potential.

In conclusion

Don’t know what book to read first? Define the key issues that restrain your personal power, and chose a book that covers the relatable topic.

Do you want to learn more about how to use your power? Join the events held by Right Use of Power Institute. It’s a great opportunity for you to learn about your power style and get a lesson on how to use power with ethical wisdom.

BIO:

Erica Sunarjo is a writer and editor at TrustMyPaper and SupremeDissertations. She combines her passion for writing with her interest in research and creates thought-provoking content in various fields. What inspires her the most in her writing is helping people build self-confidence and healthier relationships.

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