Brené Brown on Boundaries & Compassion

“To assume the best about people is almost an inherently selfish act, ’cause the life you change first is your own.”

–  Brené Brown

But it can also change the lives of the people around you. You can’t know, without a doubt, if someone (who has been getting on your nerves) is doing their best. But if you can make the assumption that they are doing their best, then you actually feel more acceptance, less judgment, less resentment, and more accepting of your own imperfect, “needy” self, and maybe even recognize that you deserve support, whether any one particular person can give it to you or not.

“Generosity,” says Brené, “can’t exist without boundaries.  Empathy without boundaries is not empathy.  Boundaries are friggin’ important.  It’s here’s what’s okay with me, and here is what’s not.”  

Achieving this level of self knowledge often requires a lot of work.  But it’s so worth it.  Here is a video where Brené is being interviewed about compassion and boundaries.  I just love it.  Take a look!

Here is her question:  What boundaries need to be in place for me to maintain my integrity and make my most generous assumptions about you?

That’s BIG:

  • Boundaries
  • Integrity
  • Generous

Winter Update 2016

As many of you already know, I came to Mexico not just to travel and learn Spanish, but because I wanted time and space to process.  I wanted to have time to heal, to recuperate, to connect with myself.  I learned after I got here that I am also here because when I was in close proximity with my family I had a hard time maintaining my personal boundaries, and from this distance I actually have enough boundary (distance) to begin to know who I am, how I differ from those I love, and which feelings are actually mine.  It has taken me being here and them there for me to do that.

This Thanksgiving/Christmas I am here by myself, and though it feels weird to be here when all my family is there, and I have no plans to go back until spring, it feels exactly right.  I am doing a tremendous amount of emotional work, I feel incredible support, and I am grateful for this time to redefine myself in terms of my personal life, the way I work, and my evolving professional identity based on this growth.

The work I am doing is multifaceted and deep, and is absolutely blowing my mind.  Developmentally, I feel that I am finally completing my individuation process (that under the best of circumstances is largely completed by age 3, with a blessed make-up period at age 14).  At 52, I’m thrilled to finally be feeling the reality of this–what the Weinholds call psychological birth (with which comes a much stronger sense of a durable boundaried self).

This transformation process isn’t just something I woke up one morning and decided to do.  It’s an assignment that’s been shown to me and told to me in so many ways from mentors and way-showers, my own dreams and intuitions, and from just watching the patters of my life and following my guidance from day to day.  It involves a lot of not knowing, and that can be uncomfortable.  And it involves breaking out of old patterns, which is also uncomfortable.  It involves a lot of being with myself, which I actually can’t get enough of, and it has also involved being with others in new ways, which can be uncomfortable, but I’m willing–stretching myself, and eager to grow into this new, more embodied skin I’m stepping into.  I’m making progress in releasing control over outcomes, and my intention is to be more guidable by the forces of nature that are wiser and greater than my mind.  Notice that the photos I include below are upside down.  I decided that I was not going to be perfectionistic about this and left them upside down because today I’m not in the mood to troubleshoot that.  Progress!!

One of the ideas I’m currently developing I got from the Weinholds.  It has to do with the Drama Triangle I talked about a few blog entries back.  It also fits nicely with the section of Being In My Body that deals with self abuse (in the Violence and Abuse section of Chapter 5 – Healthy Adult Intimacy).




What I am now noticing in my own processes, and the processes of my new clients, is a version of the Drama Triangle (DT) that is played out inside one person’s head.  The Weinhold book, How to Break Free of the Drama Triangle and Victim Consciousness deals primarily with the DT being played out in families, communities, and between nations, where it is so prevalent and so confusing.  When this chaos plays out inside one person’s head it can be even more so because it’s hard to see who is playing which role, and roles can quickly switch from one to another, which makes it all impossible to decipher without appropriate support.

Another idea I’ve been thinking about (also compliments of the time I spent in Colorado with the Colorado Institute for Conflict Resolution and Creative Leadership) has to do with Surrender, one of the key features of many spiritual disciplines. The way the Weinholds explain it, Surrender has a masculine essence and a feminine essence.  The masculine essence is our willingness to take charge of our lives without guilt or shame.  The feminine essence is our willingness to receive without resistance or judgment.  I am seeing how these two sides of Surrender play out in virtually every aspect of connecting, whether it’s between two people, or the parts inside an unintegrated mind, what I refer to in my book as the fragmented self.  There is so much to learn here as I play with this idea of Surrender, superimposed on the Drama Triangle.

What happens for me, personally, is that with these tools I can more easily recognize internal abuse when it begins to happen.  As is usually the case with my practice, new clients have been coming in with questions that invite me to expand to better meet their needs–which mirror mine in many ways.  Together we are cultivating different kinds of alliances that are better suited to meet our more refined needs.  What it feels like I’m developing is a fairly reliable well-balanced Inner Marriage that makes both Masculine and Feminine contributions to my day-to-day, moment-to-moment movement in the world.  And of course all of this is built on my new level of commitment to staying fully embodied.

I am immersed in ideas that are begging me to develop them, and I’m doing my best to keep up.  They include collaborations with other people, where we’ll have a chance to play with sharing leadership, and of course I continue to privately explore, write and follow my muses.  My attention returns again and again to such ideas as pleasure and play, healing touch, expressive movement and so much more.

Thank you for your interest.  I’d love to hear what you think or what you’d like.

Stay Tuned for my online course: Learning to Parent Your Tender Vulnerable Self: Getting Off The Internal Drama Triangle for Good

 I’ve been working on an Online Course based on the Drama Triangle and how it can play out inside us (with the different parts of the triangle represented by different parts of us in our minds: The Victim, The Rescuer & The Persecutor).  This online course will break the Drama Triangle down into simple terms so that it can be more easily understood and applied in order to stop inner abuse and self sabotage in its tracks.

During the course, participants will learn how to replace the Drama Triangle with its magical counterpart, the Empowerment Dynamic, to help overcome early relational trauma.  They will also gain a framework for better knowing when and how to trust themselves, which naturally impacts knowing when and how to safely trust other people.

I’d like for this course to provide the container for an online community where participants support each other in their process of becoming empowered and taking charge of their lives without guilt or shame and receiving their hearts desires without resistance or judgment. The class will include a series of lessons, visual diagrams, lectures, assignments, a sharing forum, one or more individual Skype session(s) and other materials to supplement learning, facilitate sharing, and deep, safe and lasting connections.

Look for it in early 2017.

Free Book Opportunity

Everyone who participated in the Amazon Free Kindle Book Givaway, Thank YOU!!!

Congratulations to the 6 winners, and all who played!

For anyone who would like access to a copy without purchasing it, the DBRL has agreed to buy a copy.  Ask them to buy another one if it’s checked out!  You might also check for it at the Clover’s store on the east side of town (Columbia MO).

Buy it there and avoid shipping costs!

Thank you for your interest.



If you’d rather have a paper copy you can write in and call your own, you can get one here:

or here


Being In My Body explores developmental trauma, something that happens when we perceive our adult caretakers as unavailable, scared or scary instead of calm, present, and available in our very early years.  The wiring that results from these early interactions determines what we do with emotions and how our bodies respond to other people. 

Thank you!



Wake Up!

An important point of inspiration  for me is music.  I have yet to find better music to shift my mood or raise my vibration than that of Trina Brunk.  I highly encourage you to check out her albums and/or subscribe to her channel.  This morning, this song struck me in a new way.  It felt as though the angels were singing it to me, and my heart was open to hear it in a new way.

Here’s how it goes:

Life is calling your name.
Wake up!
Love is driving you sane.
Wake Up!
From your sorrow and slumber.
Wake Up!
Because life has our number.
Wake Up!

Right Now. Dive In              It'stime. Love is now.
Begin to wake up.               You are mine. Wake up.

To the dream in yor heart.
Wake up.
It's not too late to start.
Wake up!
I am calling to you.
Wake up!
You've got gifts coming through you.
So open the way, today.
Open your eyes, you are wise.
Play a part.
Open up your heart.

Thank you Trina.  I love you.


Learning to Mother and Father Myself

On the roof this morning I was reconnecting with myself after a day of feeling overwhelmed and ungrounded much of the day, yesterday. First thing I did this morning was write a list of things that I feel like all have to be done RIGHT NOW (which helped – they don’t). And while I was doing my stretches on the roof, with a tiny peek of the now-just-waning full moon to the west (we’ve been in full cloud cover for the past week), and the splendid sunrise to the east, I had a series of “downloads” from my guides and muses – you might call them inspiration (I keep my iPhone up there so I can listen to Trina Brunk, doesn’t matter how many times).  I e-mailed those “downloads” to myself so I wouldn’t lose them (technology can be so amazing when we use it consciously).

I cherish these nuggets of inspiration, and know that they will sit patiently in my Hotmail inbox until I can get to them. One of the downloads I got came from the realization (again) that I am fully supported, that I have all the time I need, and that when I feel overwhelmed, I can stop and parent myself. Feeling overwhelmed is actually a message from my younger self that I need some care and attention. I sometimes need to be reminded that I am held in loving arms. What occurred to me is that I could easily go back and re-read letters I had written to myself after a “playshop retreat” created by my sisters (Tami and Trina).

I’ll share the letters with you here. They are from my Inner Masculine and Inner Feminine.

From My Inner Masculine:

June 2013: My Dearest Toni,

I am so sorry I have not been fully here for you during the first part of your life. It has truly been my loss and I would like to reconnect now. I understand, now, how much I adore and appreciate you. I give you permission, now, to be all you came here to be, to be a woman in all senses of the word – to experience the joy of physical pleasure. Toni, you are the master of your experience and it is yours to explore pleasure and find what gives you joy and fulfillment. Go ahead. Take those steps. I will be here to support you if you’re not sure at first. I am here. I will continue to be here, whatever direction you decide to go. You will not disappoint me. I promise you this. Trust yourself. Your instincts are good. Your judgment, your discernment can be trusted. I am so proud of you, and excited about this work you are about to do.

I love you. You deserve deep satisfaction, contentment, and the fulfilment of your heart’s desires. You are good. You are pure. You are kind. You are enough.

Go forward. Be yourself.

Your Inner Masculine.

From My Inner Feminine:

June 2013

My Beloved Toni,

I adore you. You are a child of God. I give you permission to be all you came here to be. Take your time. Take all the time you need. I am strong enough to nurture you, while you explore who you are and what you will do next and next and next. How precious you are to me. I can’t wait to see what you next discover about yourself, your strengths, your yet unexplored gifts and qualities and potentials. I give you permission and my blessing to indulge in pleasure, to explore the world, inner and outer, to be great, to be vulnerable, to be playful, to be a beginner – to be exactly who you are now. I am holding this space and time for you while you do this very important work. Go ahead. Let yourself feel your emotions. It is safe to be in your body now. Listen to what it tells you. I will offer you guidance and direction through your sensory experience and I encourage you to enter the full expression of your deepest self, from this moment onward. You are enough. You are so precious to me. I love you so.

I will be here for you always.

Your Inner Feminine

Now Available!


Being In My Body is now available at

You can also get it at CreateSpace

I am in the process of scheduling a book tour for the spring, and speaking/training events for 2017.  If you’d like to get on the calendar, please e-mail me at:

e-mail address

Here’s what readers are saying about Being In My Body

“Toni has gifted us with a readable and rich handbook on how to deal with trauma. She carefully weaves well-researched information with examples and healing techniques. Toni stays with you as you read and you can feel her compassion coming through.”

David Richo, PhD: Author of When the Past is Present (Shambhala)

“Being In My Body is a testimony both to Toni Rahman’s personal work and her professional and clinical skills.  This book is not only easy to read and understand, but interesting and informative.

“Toni does an excellent job of explaining the different kinds of trauma, which is an important contribution to field of traumatology.

“I found myself feeling comfortable in my own body as I read her book, which told me that she was in HER body as she was writing it.

“Most of all, I appreciate Toni’s open-hearted writing style, and her compassionate approach towards herself, her family, her clients and her readers.”

Janae B. Weinhold, PhD LPC, Co-author of Developmental Trauma: The Game Changer in the Mental Health Profession, Counterdependency: The Flight From Intimacy & Breaking Free of the Codependency Trap

“Toni presents a unique and well-thought-out perspective on healing from trauma and attachment disorders. As a couple therapist whose business it is to put the dyad first, I nonetheless respect the importance she gives to individual healing. Toni offers a comprehensive primer on some of the key concepts for healing that are derived from neuroscience, attachment theory, and somatization/embodiment. And she brilliantly puts them together in a way that creates more than the sum of the whole.”

Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT is a clinician and teacher; he developed A Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy® (PACT), which integrates attachment theory, developmental neuroscience, and arousal regulation, and founded the PACT Institute.

Being In My Body offers a way for us to integrate with our bodies, not just to discover historic trauma, but also to obtain daily awareness of what is going on in our lives.  It seems so obvious, but we completely ignore our bodies instead of listening to them.”

“I feel like your book reached me in many different ways. So it was really a privilege to live with it over the last few weeks. I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same about or deal with my body in quite the same way (not that I disliked my body). It has opened new avenues for me to reconsider how I work with my body and perhaps bring out in the open locked memories and finally release them. Definitely serendipity for me at this time.”

– Stephanie Brooks, Business Manager, MSSD

“Being In My Body is a beautiful synthesis of powerful teachings, practices, and stories that have helped me tremendously in my still-unfolding journey towards greater self-understanding, self-acceptance, and embodiment. Toni Rahman has helped me understand the ways in which I experienced developmental trauma, how it has impacted me, and perhaps most importantly, what I can do about it in the present moment. This book has left me feeling empowered, supported, and deeply understood.  I have read many books that touch on these topics and themes, and what I found most unique about this book was Toni’s willingness to be vulnerable and open with her readers. As I read Being In My Body, I felt like I was being accompanied through difficult terrain by a gentle guide who was willing to share her own journey in the hopes that it would help others along on theirs. In my case, it certainly has, and I hope that many others will benefit as well.”

– Megan Farmer, Postgraduate Psychology Student, Calif.

Earthing (Grounding)

Remembering who my Mother is.  My human mother is not my source.  All things we need to nourish our physical bodies come from the earth, and they are abundant and available to us.  Remembering that my Father is unconditional love, support, guidance and abundance, available to me from the heavens, just because I am.

Going for meditation on the roof had so many rewards for me today.  I saw two morning stars before sunrise (Mercury and Mars), and before returning to my workday, I downloaded a to-do list from my angels.  You can read the grounding meditation I did today before doing my regular stretches and tai chi here: contacting-planet-earth.  While doing the exercise, I realized that I have been challenged on so many occasions when it came to breath work, and direction of breath, and timing of breath.  This has repeatedly come up when I’m trying to get coaching, or expanding my body awareness.  I always get mixed up and am breathing out when I should be breathing in and vice versa.  This morning it occurred to me why.

I have been working on releasing an old intergenerational pattern I inherited from my maternal line: the direction of energy flows in reverse, from the child to the parent, instead of the other way around.  This switcharoo is a huge boundary violation as it is a violation of one of the most basic laws of nature.  I identified it and felt a lot of feelings about it when I was a young adult.  Sadly, I am now learning that it did not stop with me, as I had intended.

What came to me today in this grounding meditation was so interesting.  Through it, I am learning to work with my breath to correct this deeply ingrained and habitual reversal.  As I do so, I will watch what else changes in my life.

As with any habit, that is practically as old as I am, it takes time and dedication and persistence to overcome it.  I intend to overcome this in myself at a physical, spiritual and psychological level, and in so doing at least reduce its damaging impact on me, my children and grandchildren.

My old pattern: When I breathe in, I have this sense that I am breathing up, that my energy goes up.  In a healthy, perfectly functioning body, however, according to ancient energy theories, there is a subtle energy that moves from the top of the head down the spine to the tailbone on the inhale.  In correcting my reversal, I can easily think of all the love and support and guidance and abundance I consciously know about, from “father sky.”  I can allow it in, feeling so abundantly supported and loved, just because I am.

The trick is in reversing what I’ve been doing for so many years, which is to start the breath from my solar plexus and allow it to move up through my chest and my throat.  Next, the exhale: The subtle energy returns from the base of the spine to the top of the head.  Up and out come all things I no longer need.  And I can release them with my breath in a puff.  Any time you get the urge to complain, take a deep breath and then release this complaining energy up through your spine to the top of your head (instead of dumping it on someone you care about in attempts to connect with them).  This is another way of “giving it to God,” who is quite capable of and happy to take care of it for you.

The other thing that connected for me during my mediation is that I have habitually walked very heavily on my heels.  In a recent bodywork session I heard, “You are afraid of the future.”  I responded very confidently that this wasn’t so, but my therapist said, “That’s not what your heels say.”

In this meditation, we are instructed to balance the weight of our bodies evenly between the heels, the balls and the toes of the feet.  And in doing this, I became aware of how different it feels to be more balanced front to back.  Here is what Deb Shapiro, in her book, Your Body Speaks Your Mind, says about this:

“Digging your heels in implies that you are holding on tight to reality, your stubbornness indicating a fear of change.  Your feet indicate how you feel about where you are going.”

Contact me via e-mail if you’d like me to send you the recorded version of this meditation.  It is less than three minutes long.  Again, here it is in a Word document: contacting-planet-earth

Breaking Free

How to Break Free of the Drama Triangle & Victim Consciousness by Barry K. Weinhold, PhD & Janae B. Weinhold, PhD


Wow wow wow.  I have now read this book twice, and will share my gleanings here.  This little book is so important!  The thing is, this game is going on in our lives and the world around us, and we don’t even know it.  If you learn to recognize the game and all the different parts and rules, you can get off.  And this, the Weinholds say, is how we heal from developmental trauma.

That’s what I’ll be working on now.  See you around!

PS  My gleanings include those things that I, personally, am focus on knowing at a deeper level.  I encourage you to buy this great book and read it for yourself!

In a Nutshell

I’ve been studying the wisdom of a book by Barry & Janae Weinhold (which I review here).  But for now, I just want to share this short presentation.  It is so powerful, I think I’ll want to watch it at least once a day for the next couple days.  Enjoy:


Becoming Embodied, One Ache at a Time

Bringing my spirit back into my body.

That is what I’m about.

Those places that let me hear from them

Are God’s voice, calling me back where I belong.


So yesterday I started to notice a real achiness in my lower left back–in my ribcage when I turned my body in a particular way.  Oh no.  Now what? was my initial response.  What’s wrong now?  Why me?  I quickly ruled out travel.  I’d actually made a very long journey, but it had been kind and it had been a couple days since I had arrived home safe and sound.  I went to bed hoping that it would be gone in the morning.

No such luck.  So I made tai chi and my date with my beloved on the roof a priority.  First thing, I was on the roof with my tea in hand.  No gorgeous sunrise, though.  Not even visible stars, with Hurricane Matthew roaring off in the east somewhere.  As I listened to Trina Brunk on my iPhone, I heard her words and they penetrated my soul, opened my heart.

Remembering that my task is to live what I ask others to do, I brought my awareness to my ribcage.  Tight.  Frightened.  Abandoned.

And I realized that as my spirit enters my body, it may need to do so little by little.  And that is what is happening here, though without realizing it, I had been resisting it out of fear.

And so I made an adjustment in my perspective.  Today my spirit is entering my ribcage.  Am I going to greet it with “You are too much!”  “Go away!” “You are such a pain!”  It is asking me for my caring, tenderness, touch.  Curiosity, listening.

Yes, I think I can do that.  What else might be in order?  I could check with a couple books to see what “ribcage” might suggest.  What it means in the universal language of dreams and nature.  What I already know is that this has to do with breathing deeply, turning to the left and flexibility in the face of expanding capacity.

I can rub myself gently and be aware of this tender place in my beloved, vulnerable body.  I can slow down.  I can pause and say, “I notice you, and I’m wondering what you need.  Are you okay?  You have been protecting me and supporting me for all this time, and I have not even acknowledged you.  I am so grateful for what you do for me.  I honor your presence in my body as part of my system.  I recognize that you have needs and I am interested in understanding what you have to say.  Your pain is not so great that I need to shut it out.  I am not afraid of you.  Thank you for communicating with me.  You matter to me.

Ahhhh, that feels better.  And I can add Mantak Chia to my meditation regimen, which will encourage me to breathe more consciously and bring awareness to my organs and inner energy flow.  I realize that I am needing a little more structure to provide boundaries to my days.  I also realize I am needing a durable but expandable container that allows for movement of the whole, while protecting the vital vulnerable parts inside.  Thank you, ribcage.  Welcome, spirit, into my body.  Thank you for your wisdom that I can know with just the right timing and in just the right way that I can understand and allow this amazing, transformative process.  I am willing.  I am grateful.  Aho.