Tom Barnett – Holding Position & Choosing to Live Live Stream 8 April 2021, transcribed by  Mary-Jane Liddicoat /

(0:43) This is about the idea of holding your position: what it means, what it is, and why it’s important. Many people get part of the way in standing up for their rights, but they’re not getting over the line.

(1:10) I learnt about holding your position from from Mark Pytellek Solutions Empowerment. Many people have learnt this but don’t necessarily do it effectively. 

(1:22) I’d like to help change this. It’s not a matter of listening to and memorising something and then repeating it back, because often that doesn’t work out how you expected it to. It’s about consciously be aware of and holding your position, and not being deflected or distracted, or being lulled into a false sense of security causing you to relax and fall asleep. 

(3:15) Put yourself in the shoes of the people looking to oppress you. Can you see how they oppress you a little bit, then wait until you relax and fall asleep? Then they come in an oppress you a little bit more. 

(3:45) Creativity is important, because the oppressors are following a narrative. We know the narrative. It’s been going for a long time. But we often relax and go to sleep. 

(5:00) WHAT IS HOLDING YOUR POSITION? You take a certain position and you do not let anything sway you from that. 

For example, when an ‘authority’ asks you a question such as “why aren’t you wearing a mask?” and you ask “where’s your authority to ask me that?” When the ‘authority’ comes back with anything other than the answer, which they’re trained to do for example, they might ignore your question and ask you a question back, a lot of people say that it didn’t work. 

The issue here is that the person did not hold their position. 

(6:10) People are incriminating themselves all the time. We can either let them do that, or we can set them up (because they’re going to do it themselves anyway). 

What is incriminating yourself? It is 

  • making a claim, and
  • not backing it up. 

Claims such as

You have to sign in here”

You must have a QR Code app”

You must wear a mask”

You must stay in your house”

You must get a test”

You must have your temperature tested”

You have to show me your exemption”

All of these claims are unfounded and people are not calling out these claims. 

(6:45) The people who do call them out are often unsuccessful because either 

  • they use the wrong approach “do I have agreement that I’m a man or a woman” (not useful in this situation at this stage), or
  • they only reach Step 1 asking: “Where’s your source of authority?”

When the ‘authority’ comes back with something the person doesn’t expect, they stop. 

(7:10) KEY POINT – Once you start directing the conversation with your question, KEEP IT THERE. Do not be distracted by anything the other person says. STAY ON YOUR QUESTION. 

For example, when the ‘authority’ ignores your question and repeats their demand say

That’s not the answer to my question. That’s not what I asked. It’s a yes or no answer. So I’ll ask you again: where’s your source of authority?” 

(7:30) When the ‘authority’ tries to derail you again 

Oh I’m not going to answer that question. You need to do X” 

you can say

With respect, that’s still not the answer to my question. So for the third and final time I’ll ask you: where’s your source of authority?”

This is how you hold your position. 

(7:45) BE CREATIVE. Use your own words for example when an authority says 
“You have to do X”

(lightly while smiling looking somewhat confused – mix and match to best suit you) 

Excuse me, sorry, did I just hear you right? What did you just say?”

Could you repeat that? Because I thought I just heard you say I have to do X? Is that right?”
“Did you just say I have to do X? Is that what you said. Have I got that wrong?”

Have I misunderstood you? You’re saying I have to do X? Is that what you’re saying?” 

Saying this lightly in a joking manner will help avoid confrontation. If the ‘authority’ gets aggressive, then you can intensify the energy to meet the situation. 

(9:00) CREATE THE ENERGY. Rather than waiting to react to someone else’s energy, which might be aggressive, the next level is to CREATE THE ENERGY before you get to the situation. 

Put yourself in the shoes of the person likely to ask to do X. Don’t make them the enemy at the gate. Maybe they’re a low paid worker doing what they’ve been told without understanding or caring about you. Usually they are not looking for a fight, so create that energy of ease. 

(10:00) Allow people to incriminate themselves and then put them on the spot immediately. For example when they say “You need to do X”

respond with a few questions in a row to build the energy and maintain control of the conversation

I heard what you said. I thought I heard you say this? Is that what you’re telling me? Is that what you’re saying? 

Do not ask one question and stand there waiting for them to respond.


“You can’t come in here unless you’re wearing a mask”

“I’ve got a medical exemption” 

“You have to show me your exemption”

look surprised, smile, avoid being combative, even make a joke about it and ask 

“Wait, hang on, pause for a second. Did you just say I have to show you my private personal information? Did I hear you right? Is that what you said?”

Be aware, the authority might be more staunch (some people don’t like people being joked around with). HOLD YOUR POSITION, NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY OR DO, follow up with something like

“The thing about that is it’s my belief that you’re absolutely wrong. Now I don’t have anything against you personally. But the thing is you cannot absolutely ask for my private personal information and I am absolutely going into this shop so [if they’re blocking your way] you’ll need to step aside. So if you lay a finger on me I’ll charge you with assault. At the moment you can be charged with invasion of privacy and breaking several laws but if assault me that’ll be the end of your job. So step aside please.” 


(13:30) This is how YOU create the energy. And ask yourself why are you going to shops that demand you do things you’d prefer not to? Consciously choose to go somewhere that’s easy. 

(15:30) Even if they do something like they grab you, or forcefully eject you, now you’ve got a litigation case against them. You can take them to the standard police station, court system and you can charge them with assault, breach of civil liberties, attempted breach of privacy (also an assault making someone feel uncomfortable and putting them under duress. Standing over you, threatening you with something are all assaults)

Not everyone wants to take this step, and that’s ok. 

(16:20) CREATITY IS KEY. Figure out what I’m saying and then make it your own. Break down what I am actually doing and saying, where is it coming from, and then create the ways to do/say it that are YOU. 

Whatever that looks like for you, come up with ways to make sure you are not deflected or distracted you from your position. 

(18:15) COME FROM YOUR CENTRE. You can’t hold your position if you don’t have a clear sense of self. 

(20:00) ZERO HAS NO VALUE. ARE YOU CHOOSING TO LIVE? If you’re not choosing to live then you’re choosing NOT to live. 

Am I choosing to live?

Do you actively choose to create every moment of your life every day?

What about when you’re confronted with a challenging situation, when there are things you’d prefer to avoid, or even whole systems you’d like to change? Do you choose to stand up, to be seen and heard? Or do you choose to ‘do nothing,’ to sit quietly by, hoping it’ll go away or change on its own?

When you choose to do nothing, are you really ‘doing nothing’? No. Energy never disappears, it simply changes form. So when you choose not to do something (which you may call ‘choosing to do nothing’), or you don’t choose to take action, you are by default choosing the opposite. 

In other words, when you think you’re choosing ‘nothing,’ you are in fact handing over your life choices to anyone who chooses to make them for you. 

Brain frozen? Probably. If you’d like to keep a firm grip on the reins of your life, whenever you find you’re thinking of ‘doing nothing’ ask yourself “Am I choosing to live?”

Then ask yourself “What action could I take to create life I’d like?” No matter how small, choose it, just as long as it’s not ‘nothing.’