The importance of healthy boundaries

How to define your boundaries Boundaries can be confusing to people. Are boundaries rules? Statements? Guidelines? Borders? When we set boundaries with people, what are we doing? When we set boundaries with children, are we disciplining them, or are we guiding them? Boundaries seem to mean many things, so let’s define what we mean by boundaries. Setting boundaries around boundaries Simply put, a boundary is a … Read More

Workshop: Developing Empathic Boundaries

Developing Empathic Boundaries Setting Flexible Boundaries in an Often-Rigid World A live 2-hour Zoom workshop with Karla McLaren, M.Ed.   Many of us have been taught that boundaries should be rigid and wall-like, and this rigidity tends to reduce empathy (which is sometimes a good idea). But healthy boundaries can also be living, flexible agreements that can shift and change with changing circumstances. Rigid boundaries can … Read More

What’s new in the Anger Family?

Welcoming the new Language of Emotions People are asking me what has changed in the newly updated Language of Emotions. A lot! A lot has changed! In this video, I talk about the changes I’ve made to the Anger Family. The emotions in this family are Anger, Apathy, Shame, and Hatred, and these emotions are involved with helping you understand and uphold boundaries, rules, and behavioral … Read More

A strange facet of contentment: Bullying

In my post on contentment, I wrote about how shame and contentment work together to help you uphold your ethics and values. Your sense of self and self-esteem come from the healthy interplay between contentment and shame, which are two vital social emotions. Interestingly, too much self-esteem and contentment can be a very bad thing, and can actually be a factor in bullying. When contentment goes … Read More

The gifts of contentment: Appreciation and recognition

Welcoming contentment! (Excerpt from The Language of Emotions): Happiness tends to anticipate a bright future, while contentment tends to arise after an inner achievement. Contentment arises when you’re living up to your own expectations and your internal moral code, and when you’ve accomplished an important goal or done your work well and properly. When it’s working well, your contentment comes forward in response to tangible actions … Read More

Yes, you can befriend your shame

A course to help you work with shame! 4-week course begins Monday, April 24 at Empathy Academy   Shame is probably the most deeply misunderstood emotion there is, and considering how poor our emotional education is, that’s saying a lot! Most people try to avoid shame, but shame is one of the most crucial, vital, and helpful emotions you have. Shame’s job is to help you … Read More

A supportive way to work with your shame

Shame is an essential social emotion that helps you set clear behavioral boundaries for yourself. Your shame keeps a constant watchful eye on you, and it (usually) arises when you’re about to do something you really shouldn’t do, or when you’ve broken one of the moral or ethical agreements you’ve made. If so, you can ask yourself the following questions for shame: Whose ethics and values … Read More

Embracing guilt and shame

You can befriend all of your emotions. In my post on befriending your anger, I re-framed anger as a necessary emotion that supports you in developing and maintaining your healthy self image. Now, let’s look at the emotion that I call anger’s friend or partner: shame. I envision anger as the sentry that calmly walks the perimeter of your self-image and watches out for any challenges … Read More

What’s so funny ’bout “negative” emotions?

Last week, I spoke at two bookstores here in California. During one Q&A, someone asked me about the ideas a current spiritual teacher has about emotions. This teacher says that emotions are the body’s responses to thoughts. I blurted out “Oh, he’s full of sh!t.” Out loud. I experienced a complete failure of my internal monologue system. Oh shiiiite! You could hear a pin drop, and … Read More

But is it really Anger?

You know, I was mistaken yesterday in my post on Tiger Woods and his anger management. Because, I think what he’s got a problem with isn’t anger; it’s shame (which is anger at yourself). From what I can tell, Tiger Woods explodes when he makes a mistake, which means he’s working with shame. And as we all know, shame can be a very tricky emotion. What … Read More