Tag Archives: boundaries

Do you have TOO much empathy and compassion for others?


 When someone hurts you, do you immediately imagine where they’re coming from and see their point of view in an effort to forgive and forget?

I was raised Catholic and when I was about 5, I had the very odd ambition of wanting to be a saint. Ideally a martyr (I blame having read waaaayyyyy too many Lives of the Saints books).

As I got older, I stopped going to Mass but hugely admired fictional characters like Atticus Finch (in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, NOT Go Set a Watchman) who turned the other cheek.

While still very pro peace, a key aspect of my work (and I was my first client) is encouraging clients and students to look after themselves first.

When people have experienced interpersonal trauma, been in any kind of minority group or have been bullied, it’s easy to automatically connect with the needs of more powerful people than your own.

But by recognising you deserve so much better, you can set healthy boundaries and maintain them even when people are taking the p.

It’s another practice (progress not perfection) but so worth doing.

Next time you notice yourself being compassionate and empathic towards someone you’re struggling with, ask yourself if you’re also being compassionate and empathic with yourself.

The more we can be whole ourselves, the more we CAN extend that compassion and empathy towards others but now it won’t be in a way that gives mixed messages or leaves us vulnerable to abuse.

Being boundaried is a practice – I have been working on it for decades and still get sudden crash courses which remind me I’m still vulnerable to getting hooked into old habits – but it’s so worth getting better at.

And now, when I get triggered, I’m a bit better at saying, ‘Thank you, Universe, for this new opportunity to practice setting and maintaining healthy boundaries’. Not immediately. I still often shame spiral wondering what I’ve done to attract the situation but not to the same degree.

Have you ever sided with a bully, abuser or oppressor over yourself?

What helps you turn your compassion and empathy spotlight back onto yourself?

 Feel free to comment below.




One giant teachable moment? ‘If all this is painful for us as grown women, what do you think this is doing to our children?’


I’ve been doing my best to stay informed without sinking into despair. Am thinking of all the possible teachable moments coming from the depressing news about a certain Presidential candidate (who, taking a leaf from Michelle Obama’s spectacular playbook, I’m no longer going to name) and a footballer from these shores.

Obama describes the pain she feels hearing Hillary’s opponent’s misogyny: ‘If all this is painful for us as grown women, what do you think this is doing to our children?’

You can see her full speech by scrolling down here.

Good men – including professional athletes who know locker room talk – are speaking up, too. And women and girls are coming forward after being silent and afraid for decades and saying, ‘Enough.’

You can read Peggy Orenstein’s* New York Times piece on How to Be  a Man in the Age of Trump by clicking here. It made me think of Dr Christiane Northrup’s praise for righteous anger.

Dr Northrup talks about feel good nitric oxide being produced by our bodies, boosting immunity and overall wellbeing, when we experience positive emotions including righteous anger.

Just as the men and boys in Orenstein’s article who go along with alleged ‘locker room talk’ and worse without stepping in and stopping abuse feel awful themselves, we know from WWII that it’s up to all of us to protect the more vulnerable.

When we let powerful groups or men (or women) exploit and abuse others, whether it’s because they’re a vulnerable young girl or an immigrant or person from a minority religion, we ALL suffer.

As Pastor Martin Niemöller described the rise of the Nazi’s:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

When we’re frightened and afraid ourselves, someone stronger (in that moment) can lend us the strength we need. When we see someone else in need, we can step in and let perpetrators know any kind of abuse is unacceptable.

Today, a Facebook story about an A&E nurse called into her daughter’s school sounded like a glorious way for women and girls (and boys and men) to stop internalising the shame of everyday abuse.

Although it looks like it’s possibly not a true case, it will hopefully inspire girls, women, boys and men to stand up for themselves and support others in doing the same.

In a nutshell, an A&E nurse was called into her daughter’s Catholic school because her 15 year old daughter had hit a boy. He had repeatedly pinged her bra strap after she’d not only asked him to stop but been told by the teacher she reported it to to ‘just ignore it’.

The mother (fictional or real – my new hero) said, ‘Ahh, so you want to know if I’m going to press charges against the boy for sexual assault and the school for not stopping it?’ The school had been more concerned with the damage to the boy.

The mother’s reaction takes the shame and places it firmly back where it belongs by pointing out the girl’s punch was self-defense (against a much larger boy).

We can all do this in our own ways. Instead of worrying so much about hurting the feelings of powerful people abusing their power, we can use our power. We don’t need to apologise for setting healthy boundaries.

The girl in the story (or real life case?) saw that no one was going to protect her (in her classroom!) so punched the boy who was messing with her underwear.

And the mother backed her up.

As a white looking woman, I can’t know (although I can imagine) how it feels to be targetted for my religion but this piece (click here) offers some insight by showing a couple of researchers who literally walked several miles in the shoes of more visible Muslims to experience Islamaphobia.

There are so many ways in which we can be different and potentially targetted – age, gender, sexuality, physical differences, nationality, language, religion, class… –  but by standing together, bullies can’t get away with it.

Surely compassion and kindness make ANY nation ‘great’?

What has helped you speak up for yourself and for others?

How can you support yourself in noticing and helping people (including yourself) in this very strange time we’re living in?

Feel free to comment below.



*author of the glorious Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture



Olympic inspiration

Alexandra Raisman (Silver), Simone Biles (Gold) and Amy Tinkler (Bronze)
Alexandra Raisman (Silver), Simone Biles (Gold) and Amy Tinkler (Bronze)

After yesterday’s phenomenal Floor final (above), one of the commentators talked about the huge improvements on Floor since 2012 when only a few (including the glorious Gabby Douglas) were capable of ‘such tumbling’ .

The commentator said the skills of the winning gymnasts made ‘people start thinking, “Yes, this is a possibility.’

I’m no Olympic gymnast (my underwater handstands, handstands against the wall and cartwheels are as close as I get and, fun as they are, I’m not delusional) but watching these athletes makes my spirit soar.

Watching 41 year old Uzbekistan’s Oksana Chusovitina compete in the Vault final against gymnasts her son’s age and younger is still making my head spin.

Oksana Chusovitina

Gabby Douglas made me cry happy tears in 2012 (click here for her routine). This year, she’s faced horrendous racism and unjustified weirdness for not arranging her face how anonymous judges think she should when not even performing.

Her mistake in the Bar final was a display of superb strength and skill – apparently, most gymnasts fall off at that point but she held on and continued.

This year, new champion Simone Biles did even better, earning four Gold medals. Aly Raison (whose parents made me cry in 2012 – click here for more) came back to take Silver.

Aly Raisman's parents
Alexandra Raisman’s parents

You can watch their Floor routines here.

And Britain’s Amy Tinkler! Asked how she felt after qualifyers, she said she loved it. And went on to win Bronze!

That love for what she’s doing comes across so clearly, it was a joy to watch (I can’t find a link to her routine but maybe by the time you read this, it’ll be available on YouTube).

Then there were the more worried tears. I fast-forwarded Indian’s first female Vault finalist’s after hearing she was attempting The Vault of Death and then went back to watch it with my heart where it belonged instead of in my mouth. If I’d known I’d already seen Oksana do it, I wouldn’t have been as afraid for Dipa Karmakar from the comfort of my sofa.

Dipa Karmakar
Dipa Karmakar

Britain’s Ellie Downie fell in her Floor routine (‘I heard my neck crunch’) during the qualifyers but somehow got herself out of the wheelchair they put her in and went on to continue and do her Vault.

Seeing Ellie and her teammates fly the flag for Britain helped me feel happy to see this flag for the first time since the Brexit vote.

Ellie Downie
Ellie Downie

The resilience of these women is a wonder to behold.

I especially loved the mixed teams where they supported and console and celebrated for each other. Canada’s coach made me cry at one point comforting another country’s gymnast.

And the gymnasts who fell off bars and beam but who paused to gather their resolve and continue on. Magic. I loved the crowd support in these cases. In some ways, the moments of vulnerability make what they do even more impressive.

And the international (and within teams in some cases) hugging and pictures and celebrations as competitors went back to being friends, wishing each other well.

Whatever we’re doing, seeing athletes put everything they’ve got into what they’re doing encourages us to go that extra mile in our own work or towards our own dreams and goals.

Just as athletes pushing the boundaries of what’s possible inspires even more greatness, progress in all fields helps us see what might be.

What has Rio 2016 inspired you to work harder at?

Feel free to comment below.


Eve x



Does your flexibility mean others take advantage? By me for Rapport


Do you ever feel that you’re contorting yourself in an effort to keep everyone happy? Are you a slave to your phone? These tips will help you set better boundaries.

Metta xx

Have you ever given too much of yourself and ended up feeling resentful?


Turning down the emotional volume in your life (Rapport feature, Late Spring 2013)

RAPPORTLATESPRING2013Lifestyle32TurnDownEmotionalVolume 12

Click above to read my feature on dealing with challenging people in your life and setting appropriate boundaries – you’re worth it!

Metta xx


When stress is good for us

There was a hilarious cartoon doing the rounds on Facebook recently. HDiamondCoalCartoonaving been unable to find it, have attempted an abstract version myself which, I hope, will illustrate the same message.

Endocrinologist Hans Selye coined the term ‘eustress’ to describe the kinds of stresses we actually thrive under. The kind that makes us stronger and shinier.

I’m experiencing a little euphoria now having bitten off more than I could comfortably chew a couple of days ago (very tight deadline for a feature with an already full work schedule which meant working all weekend. Again).

But, having filed another piece and done a draft, I’m pleased to have succeeded with the challenge, I also know I can have part of the weekend for the rest of today (Borgen catch up! St Elmo’s Fire!) and an easier day tomorrow.

If I were to take this ‘Oooh, I’m finished earlier, I can get a head start on x, y, z’ I know (from repeated experience – I keep forgetting) that I’d be shattered by Tuesday.

Putting a certain level of stress on the system helps it strengthen and grow but too much leads to overwhelm and collapse.

How can you reframe the coming week’s stresses. Are some of them things you can look at more positively? (Are the ones that aren’t things you can delegate?)

Just begin to notice the times you tell yourself, ‘Urggh, am sooo stressed!’ Are you suppressing a smile? Are you actually thriving on the pressure? Is it turning you into your version of a diamond? Does it feel like a challenge?

Or does the stress you’re facing feel like a threat? This kind, distress, is the body’s way of telling us ‘Enough already!’ making us set some boundaries and give ourselves some downtime to recover.

Use both as clues to help yourself grow and thrive without fear of burnout.

Find out more at http://www.wellbeing-at-work.co.uk/id17.html