Reiki for Self-Care and Empowerment Class

This is a mini-version of my Reiki 1 class, designed for busy folks who have no intention of starting a professional practice or sharing healing with others. It’s the bare bones, no frill package.

Reiki is my go-to tool for maintaining my health and sanity into my elder years, minor first aid, pain and stress relief, healing old trauma and wounds, cultivating emotional balance, and connecting with my deepest self, inner wisdom and innate power.

It’s helping to free me from limiting beliefs and unconscious identities by allowing me to access clarity, discernment, motivation, and passion. It’s helped me to uncover and integrate mental, emotional, and energetic blockages and move past harmful and unskillful coping mechanisms.

Because I use it every day. If you’re interested in learning a technique that can totally rock your world, Reiki can do that. But understand that it won’t do much for you unless you apply it consistently. If you can commit to a 15-ish minute practice most days, then you’re in the right place. If you’re looking for a quick fix, this isn’t it.

(P.S. There are no quick fixes! Just bypasses, distractions, and suppression. These are the opposite of holistic healing.)

Three Thursday evenings.

On Zoom. From your comfy space with snacks and sweatpants.

It doesn’t get any more convenient than this!

We’ll cover the basics about what Reiki is, where it comes from, and what it can be used for in the first week.

The second week is the attunement (the initiation where I open students’ energy fields so that Reiki can be received) and instruction on how to use it.

After practicing over the next week, we’ll come back for the final class and discuss how to find a way to practice that suits your life.

And that’s it! If you’re looking for an opportunity to connect with other folks or in-depth discussions about how amazing Reiki is, this probably isn’t the class for you. I’d suggest Reiki 1 certification instead. (The next round will be this summer.) We take more time for these aspects there.

If you’re wanting to have access to healing life-force energy at your very fingertips with minimal fuss and expense, then you’re in the right place. If you’ve been wanting to do this for ages and haven’t yet found the time, you’re exactly the type of person for whom I’ve created this class.

March 23 and 30 and April 6, 2023

6:30-8pm EST


How to Prepare for March 2023 Energies

Check this out! A very thorough and easy to understand explanation of what’s coming up and how to navigate with greater ease and grace. ❤

Laura Bruno's Blog

March 2023 initiates major collective shifts. What can we expect? How can we prepare for the best and worst of these new energies? The end shares a very important message for our times. I tried to make this accessible even for people who don’t understand astrology.

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Want to Change Your Story Around Suffering?

Check out this amazing 10 week meditation program my teacher is offering! I’m choosing to sit this one out as I’m already enrolled in her 8-month program which overlaps this one. She provides so much content and support that I don’t have the time for both. But I can wholeheartedly recommend Eva Beronius as a guide who is quite capable of showing you the realm beyond identification with the mind, and the freedom available to all of us who are willing to do the work.

I’ve copied and pasted the latest email from Eva below. I hope you’ll at least check it out, maybe get on her mailing list or listen to her podcast. I have no financial affiliations here, I’m just sharing the work that has shifted my trajectory dramatically. Plus there’s a significant discount available until the end of the month.

Here’s what Eva has to say.


9 years ago, I didn’t know how far away from feeling alive I was.

I thought what I was experiencing was living.

Because it seemed to be how most people around me were living.

I felt tired, drained of energy, and uninspired.

I experienced episodes of anxiety and panic attacks.

I had reactions in my relationships that I didn’t understand because none of them felt truly like me.

Insecurities, jealousy, and anger that I felt ashamed of after they appeared.

Reactions, patterns, and emotions that I wanted nothing to do with.

So I tried to escape.

By managing them with control and distraction.

Diving into work projects. And life projects. And working out.

I got addicted to the dopamine and the satisfaction that these projects gave my ego, and my mind would drive my body hard.

With no energy left for being, for enjoying.

Without connection to what I truly wanted or trust in myself.

And the emotional reactions would still bubble up – often stronger than ever when they managed to surface.

Do you recognize this, Pamela?

Reactions that seem scary and out of control?

Negative mind chatter that is weighing you down?

Escaping into work or distractions?

Lack of energy and no trust in life or what you want?

And even when you have started growing your awareness, changing beliefs, and have found self-awareness and healing work…

…the voices have morphed and are telling you that you:

👉 have to practice more

👉 will feel bad if you miss your morning meditation

👉 should do more journaling

👉 should be further along by now

👉 are failing when you’re having an uncomfortable emotion

👉 are failing when you’re making a judgment

And every time your mind is telling you this, or something like it, you can feel your body contract, your stress levels going up.

The impulse to fix, to do better, to work harder.

Or to pull a blanket over your head and give up.

Even though you are trying to counter with breathing and gratitude.

That old program of protection, “shoulds”, and “musts” is still there, just in a new form.

And you feel beaten down by it.

Trapped in your head.

Stuck in analyzing and trying to figure it all out.

Struggling with feeling and connecting with your emotions.

Struggling with connecting with what you want.

Are you willing to keep paying the price of identifying with your mind?

Or is this a time in your life when you feel ready to make a deeper shift in how you relate to your mind?

Often, the price of making the investment in commitment, time, energy, intent, and money to make the change, is a fraction of the investment you’re making in managing the old structure.

The investment you’re making every day into believing lies.

Today, I know that 9 years ago I was living without magic.

Disconnected from the magic inside that had been there all along.

I was identified with my thinking mind, and therefore, believing its view of the world and myself.

Today, life is still this strange, un-knowable place with pain and struggles at times…

The difference is that I truly and fully love it.

Every moment of it.

That I feel alive.

That I feel consciousness inside me and in everything around me.

That I feel what I want and navigate from there.

That I allow all experiences – especially the hurt and discomfort – to crack me further open.

I want you to experience that too.

That’s why I share what I share, in the best way I can at the moment.

So I encourage you to invest in magic.

In feeling fully alive.

In changing the relationship with your mind.

And I celebrate however you make that investment.

If you want to do it with me, join me in Beyond the Mind

The 10-week online journey into consciousness, with simple weekly practices that, when followed, will make the shifts for you.

You need about an hour per week + 15 minutes most days + 1 minute of playful awareness here and there.

The doors are open now – with a 30% discount until March 1.

 => Join Beyond the Mind with the limited-time discount

You move through the practices in your own time, and the monthly live sessions will keep going, so you could get it now at the discounted rate and start working through the course content whenever it suits you.

Wishing you the experience of YOU,


Reiki, the Vagina, and Holistic Healing

Once again, I’m noticing a trend in women seeking Reiki for sexual and reproductive issues. I thought it would be helpful for me to explain how this healing modality can help with the wide variety of challenges that are being faced by so many of us.

Reiki is spiritually guided life- force energy. It can saturate an area with healing energy, providing the necessary boost for the body to do its natural healing work and reverse the effects of stress and overwhelm. Reiki restores the natural energy flow through all physiological systems and revitalizes internal balance. In doing so, it highlights unconscious, limiting beliefs and any suppressed emotions which might be interfering with the organic flow of energy. Perhaps most importantly, it connects us with our highest self, or soul, and reminds us that we are powerful, sovereign beings living in these human bodies.

What’s really great about Reiki is how adaptable it is to individual needs. Given that the vagina, sexuality, and reproduction can be sensitive topics, you might like to know that Reiki can benefit you without disclosing any details you don’t feel comfortable talking about. Reiki sessions are received fully clothed and the genitals are easily treated without touch.

In fact, if you prefer, the entire treatment can be offered without touch. You could remain seated across the room from a provider and receive a full treatment that way. You could even remain at home, in the comfort and privacy of your own space, and the practitioner can connect with you remotely. You could also take a Reiki class and within a few hours learn how to give yourself treatments.

There are lots of options, and none of them are invasive. There need not be any discomfort or embarrassment. If you’d prefer not to even name the specific reason for your visit, you could simply say your intention is for your highest good. In the holistic realm, that includes the entire body and all of its functions as well as the connected beliefs, postural patterns, and emotions.

Let me be clear. This is not a magic pill. Long-standing problems often take time and consistent treatment to resolve. Learning to treat yourself is simple and easy, and by far the most affordable route. For those uninterested in the DIY approach, consider scheduling a session once or twice per month and committing to this routine.

Let’s have a look at the underlying causes of the vast majority of issues that I see while helping women heal their vaginal issues. The are two primary culprits that I’d like to discuss: unconscious beliefs and suppressed emotions.

Our society sends us conflicting messages about sexuality and women’s bodies. At a very young age, we become conditioned (both overtly and covertly) into the surrounding belief system of our culture, family, religion, educational system, and consumer markets via the advertising industry. As young girls, we are already laden with messages about our bodies, genitals, and roles as female beings. We absorb these messages before we are old enough to question their truth and then continue operating from that foundation until we actively investigate and reprogram ourselves.

We might have thoughts running beneath the surface of our awareness about virtue, chastity, and propriety that run contrary to biological urges and organic desires. Until this conflict is brought to the surface, the disharmony may be stored in the vagina, disrupting the flow of life-force energy, and creating an opening for maladies.

What about the emotions that we carry about our vagina and vulva, sex and pleasure, menstruation, and reproductive issues? Feelings such as shame, disgust, confusion, aversion, and fear. They are stored in this area of the body until we allow ourselves to feel and integrate the energy.

It’s probably obvious that any non-consensual experiences and the resulting pain, shame, anger, or grief would be stored in the delicate tissue of the vagina. Given the number of women who have confided in me about unwanted sexual experiences that were never reported, I suspect the statistics that claim 1 in 3 women have experienced some sort of abuse is vastly underreported. This is a global tragedy. Many of these women don’t receive any support or treatment for a number of reasons and continue to carry the emotional and energetic scars.

What about those of us who didn’t say “no” but our bodies or our hearts didn’t say “yes”? Perhaps we didn’t have a choice because of a power differential or because we were doing the best we could to get our needs met in the only way we knew how. Perhaps we were going along to get along, or trying to be loved and accepted. These events also left an imprint on our psyches and bodies.

What about the times when we were a wholehearted YES! and the experience was disappointing or otherwise upsetting? Or we felt guilt or ashamed about our desire or pleasure because of that BS cultural conditioning installed during childhood? What if our advances were rejected? All of this was imprinted.

For those of us lucky enough to have only had positive experiences, a sex- positive upbringing, and a healthy body image (Please introduce yourself! I imagine you exist out there somewhere), every sexual experience has left some residue, which will have accumulated over time. This collection of foreign energies can also interfere with the flow of life-force.

Let’s not forget tampons and other hygiene products and our thoughts and feeling towards menstruation and any shame or embarrassment in that arena. Or insensitive medical providers, invasive procedures, and cold speculums inserted without proper care or warning.

And finally, childbirths that happened naturally or by unexpected intervention, with difficulty or as planned, or didn’t happen at all.

Damn! It’s not easy having a vagina. Any one of these occurrences could easily lead to emotional shut-down, destructive coping strategies, loss of a sense of safety or agency, disconnection from desire, pleasure, or the physical body itself. Symptoms range from recurring infections, discomfort, pain, intimacy issues, and disease.

And all of this can be treated with Reiki. Your experiences may be affecting your current mental, emotional, and physical health but they have not, CANNOT, diminish your essence. It may have been covered up or shoved into a deep, dark closet, but your sexuality, sexual energy, and sexual power is yours to reclaim should you wish to.

It’s not easy work to do the deep healing that provides the results many us of desire. It’s advisable to have some emotional support scaffolding prearranged (a therapist, counselor, group therapy, advisor, trusted and nonjudgmental BFF) before beginning such a journey if you’ve experienced abuse of any kind. I believe that spiritual practice (some way of connecting to the divine within yourself) is also helpful, but if that’s not your thing, no worries. It’s not a requirement.

Be willing to learn to be kind to yourself, to accept yourself and your feelings and needs while restoring the flow of life-force energy is non-negotiable. And Reiki can help with that too. I’d be happy to have a 10 minute conversation to help you decide if working with me is a good match for your needs. If you’re ready to jump in, you can go ahead and schedule an in-person Reiki session in Philadelphia, a remote session wherever you are, or join the mailing list to be informed about upcoming events and classes.

Most importantly, know that you are not alone. I’m in several peer groups in addition to my work as a Reiki teacher and provider, and I’ve met very few women without at least one upsetting story to tell. It need not define you and it is possible to integrate the energy of any and all experiences and reclaim wholeness.

Feeling Overwhelmed? I am, and here’s how I’m working with it.

For the past few months, I’ve been making videos about how I approach common maladies with holistic and energetic techniques. Life gives me consistent material and I simply record what I’m doing for myself. There are a number of very simple tools that can be used for a wide variety of challenges.



Slowing down

Reducing unnecessary stimulation




And my all-time favorite, Reiki

If you experience overwhelm, you can get relief in just a few minutes. Better yet, you can minimize overwhelm’s frequency, duration, and intensity by aligning your behavior with your values and vision and regulating the nervous system.

The most effective and affordable approach I know it to learn how to give yourself Reiki treatments. If the do-it-yourself suggestion triggers even more overwhelm, consider booking a session. Relief is just a few clicks away.

A Holistic Approach to Menopause

Well, if you’re still reading, I’m guessing you’re near or in The Big Transition. Supposedly we’re supposed to go quietly and not question the inadequate support provided by the medical community.

Screw that!

(Apparently not caring what people think and being unwilling to settle for subpar treatment is one of the bonuses of this time in life. I’ve chosen to embrace it!)

I’m offering a donation-based online class for women who’d like to look at the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, energetic, and relational components of pre-, peri-, menopause.

Over the past two decades, I’ve worked with a wide variety of middle-aged women and noticed some very interesting similarities amongst those with the most uncomfortable symptoms. Imbalance was the theme.

Now that I’m entering the portal, newly peri-menopausal (which seems to mean unpredictable and sporadic menstruation AND hormonal disruption?! Sheesh), I’m implementing all the holistic tools and tricks I’ve been gathering and have lots of ideas to share.

Come hang out with other wise women and talk about the very real issues that may not be welcome in other venues. Lots of people are uncomfortable discussing women’s health and sexuality. Rather than stifling our need to be seen and understood, we can connect with those who welcome such conversations.

Menopause! Pre, Peri-, and Full-on: A Holistic Approach

Saturday, February 25 · 11:00 AM EST, online

You’ll also find other events, including a guided chakra experience, group remote Reiki, and more in my Meetup group. It’s free to join and events are offered on a pay-what-you-wish basis.

I’ve also got a coaching/Reiki bundle in the works for menopause support. I’m still hashing out the details, and hope to roll it out by the spring equinox. In the meantime, we can have a 10 minute chat about whether Reiki and/or intuitive, holistic coaching would be a good match for you. Contact me to make arrangements. Or if you’re already onboard, go ahead a schedule yourself a session for Reiki-massage or Reiki in Philadelphia or remote Reiki, and not have to go anywhere.

Reiki, Menopause, and Frozen Shoulder: A Holistic Approach

Menopausal Frozen Shoulder.

What? Yup. It’s a thing.

I’m in a curious position, at the age 51, approaching perimenopause, and experiencing symptoms that would likely go overlooked if not for my peers’ suggestions that seemingly random events could be related to hormonal changes.

When I tweaked my shoulder several months ago, my good friend told me she endured the same misery during menopause and gave me the phrase to search online, I was shocked. But I followed up and whaddya know? Menopausal Frozen Shoulder, which I have nicknamed FroSho, is seriously a thing.

My search engine investigation indicates that nearly 70% of those who suffer from frozen shoulder are women, age 40-60. Obviously a correlation, not a causation. But it got me to thinking about two things.

One. How do I heal this painful condition with mysterious origins?

And, two. WTF? Why would a drop in estrogen or the cessation of menstruation affect the shoulder joint? (Hint: I’ve come to see that it’s much more complex that this!)

I’ll share the highlights of how I got to a much more comfortable place using a wide range of holistic techniques. You’ll see some familiar suggestions here about heat and massage, but the mental-emotional component is what really made the difference.

As with all holistic healing, it took time and diligence for me to recover. The pain faded pretty quickly, and these days only pops up when I overexert or overextend. My range of motion is gradually increasing, but still has a way to go. I no longer feel panicked about the possibility of needing an extreme medical intervention or being permanently impaired. Perhaps most importantly, I was forced to look at my belief system and ferret out a few rotten apples.  

I allowed myself to feel ALL the sensations and emotions. When the pain flared, I listened. My body was speaking to me, and to the best of my ability, I took note, and responded compassionately. I noticed which movements activated the pain and adjusted my behavior accordingly.

I’m not a complete diva, so obviously there are limits to my capacity to do so. I focused on progress, not perfection. When I realized my shopping bag was too heavy for my current condition and I was still several blocks from my home, I continued to carry it. AND I have since made adjustments so that wouldn’t happen again.

I’ve worked with clients in this same situation, many of whom felt the initial OW! and kept going with what they were doing, most likely worsening the injury. One was scrubbing the floor and finished the job. Another was giving a massage and also finished the job. We all do what we have to do, but I cannot emphasize enough- do an honest evaluation at any critical moment like this and truly decide… is this something I HAVE to do? Is it worth adding MONTHS to my recovery time and massive discomfort to my everyday life?

If it isn’t essential to your life or livelihood or the well-being of someone for whom you are responsible, can you do the revolutionary act of just STOPPING? It’s my suspicion that we’ve been so programmed to override our bodies’ messages, particularly women and even more so mothers, that many of us have simply forgotten how to care for ourselves. That begins with discontinuing nonessential activities that cause suffering.

Paying attention and responding to sensation with compassion was a huge component of my healing work.

I used Reiki every day, saturating my shoulder with healing life- force and restoring the flow of energy through the joint. Simple movements within the small range of what was comfortable, self-massage with arnica and anti-inflammatory essential oils, and heat became a part of my daily routine. I increased the bodywork I receive from once to twice per month.

There was a week when the pain was pretty intense in the first month of this episode that called for ibuprofen. That’s generally not my first response to pain as it addresses the symptoms, but not the cause, and interferes with the messages pain conveys. AND I’m not an advocate for senseless suffering. I continued my healing efforts and allowed myself to cope with the discomfort as needed. For me, there is a time and a place for pharmaceutical intervention and while it might be infrequent, I am not too proud or stubborn to take the edge of pain when I need it.

There’s nothing very radical about the physical approach I took. What was especially interesting was the exploration of the psyche; uncovering unconscious beliefs, thought patterns, and unexpressed emotions that could have been stored in the shoulder, blocking the flow of life-force and affecting my posture.

Reiki was especially helpful in this phase. It gave my the courage to honestly look within and the clarity to assess what I found. Restoring the flow of life-force exposed several ugly truths that I needed to address to allow the healing to unfold. Reiki provided the support of regulating my nervous system so I wasn’t constantly swimming in a sea of adrenaline or trying to navigate life in fight, flight, or freeze mode.  

The shoulders represent the burdens that we carry, including the “shoulds” that were downloaded through cultural conditioning. The beliefs that I should be this, but not that; I should act this way, not that way; and I should look a certain way too. When these unconscious beliefs are in conflict with our conscious values, it can create an energy of resentment that can trigger inflammation and a defensive, tense posture. Same with our responsibilities and any other burdens.  

I’m pretty familiar with my inner landscape from decades of spelunking in my inner caverns, but I was able to flush out some problematic patterns from the deep shadows. It’s not easy to admit that we carry unflattering or self-destructive baggage, but it’s a whole lot easier than dragging it around for a lifetime.

Energetically, I view the hands as the conduit for expressing from the heart, and the shoulder as an intersection through which that energy must flow. I had a long, hard look at my work as well as my creative expression, and found some areas that were misaligned.

Finally, it has not been lost on me that the number one thing I have been unable to do in this state is to hook a bra behind my back. My arm just doesn’t bend that way! Putting on coats or a backpack are a bit tricky, but I can manage well enough. But those pesky hooks are a definite no-go. I’ve spend a fair amount of time wondering if this is a factor in the correlation between middle-aged women and frozen shoulder? Along with ignoring messages of discomfort, is there an element of resentment around constrictive undergarments? Something to think about!

I think the biggest message I’d like to convey here is that we can save ourselves some suffering if we listen to our bodies, explore our misaligned belief systems, and stop suppressing anger, fear, grief, and resentment. And Reiki is the perfect tool for doing all of that.

Embodied Gratitude

If you’re looking for a way into a new gratitude practice or wanting to turn up the dial on your current efforts, tapping into the feeling sense is a helpful approach.

It can also help to understand why our minds are so much more easily drawn to the negative and we have to actively pursue an alternative.

I made a short video to offer support for anyone who’s floundering or whose oomph is fading. I think these super-simple tricks will make it easier to cement your practice because it feels so good.

If you’re interested in going deeper into body-mind-spirit healing, let’s connect! I work with people in a variety of ways, including intuitive coaching, remote Reiki, and Reiki classes. If you’re in the neighborhood, there’s Reiki-massage and Reiki in Philadelphia.

Reiki Q&A: How Long Will it Take to Heal?

This is a fair question and one I hear frequently. People want to know before they begin treatment what to expect and how many sessions they’ll need. I made a short video to explain why it’s difficult to answer.

If you were to ask me how long it would take to get out of debt, I’d ask for more information.

How deep in the hole are you?

What size payments are you making?

How much do you spend frivolously?

It’s very much the same when it comes to life-force energy! If you want to heal, it will likely be beneficial to stop engaging in the activities that contribute to the underlying imbalance and get involved in activities that promote balance.

Makes sense, right? I can’t say for sure how long healing will take because your willingness to participate is a variable that is known only to you.

Regardless of your degree of involvement, Reiki CAN help. There are numerous ways to proceed, depending on how much effort you want to make. You can lie back and simply receive a session, go the DIY route and take a class, or somewhere in between. I’ve got something for everyone!

Emotional Engagement for Health Relationships

I just loved this article by Emily Nagasaki, a sex expert who brilliantly straddles the worlds of science and emotions. It outlines a simple tip for communicating in close relationships to build emotional engagement.

To Build Trust, Say the Nice Thing First

An important idea that didn’t fit into my next book.

I’ve been working on the trust section of my new book (the one about sex in long term relationships), and I wrote a big section on the relationship between individual differences in temperament and a person’s ability to be emotionally engaged—emotional engagement is the “E” in Sue Johnson’s language about trust. She says that trust is “A.R.E. you there for me?” where “A” is emotional accessibility, “R” is emotional responsiveness, and “E” is emotional engagement. Questions like “Am I there for my partner?” and “Are you there for me?” are excellent starting places for assessing the trust in your relationship.

And the section just doesn’t fit in the book.

So here! Y’all have it! I think it’s interesting and helpful—or at least it was for me, when I learned this stuff!

Maybe you have a serious temperament. You’re someone who, ahem, notices what can be improved before you notice what’s already working. People might think of you as a pessimist, because your ability to notice things that can be improved can come across as if all you see is what doesn’t work.

Let’s go way, way back to my early days of being in romantic relationships. I was in college. My certain special someone had just redecorated their dorm room. When I came into the refreshed space, they asked, “What do you think?”

And I said…

Well, what would you want someone to say to you, in these circumstances?

You’d want them to say, “It’s great!” or “I love it!” or even “It feels so you!”

The first thing I said was, “The rug is crooked.”

Oh geez.

And look, when my college dating partner asked me what I thought of their new room, it’s just not true that “The rug is crooked” is what I thought of the room. I thought it looked nice. I thought it gave me some ideas about what to do with my room. Above all, I thought they looked really happy with the change, and I was glad they were happy. And all of those thoughts mattered more than rug. But I noticed the rug first, so I mentioned the rug first, thus missing a moment of emotional engagement.

My temperament is serious and analytical; I am excellent at identifying problems. I could give a lot of embarrassing examples here about times when I explained to people how they could solve their problem, and they surprised me by being angry with me for solving their problem. If that sounds familiar to you, your necessary skill is:

Say the nice thing first.

Saying the nice thing first is a crucial part of how to build and reinforce trust through emotional engagement. My partner needs and deserves praise, to know that I love and admire him, before I ask for a change, and that’s normal. It’s normal to want or even need to hear good things before we’re ready to accept critical things. Praise, admiration, and acceptance are how people build that tender, vulnerable emotional connection that characterizes so few of our relationships. That connection is emotional engagement.

So even though I still notice what can be improved before I notice what’s working, I’ve learned to say what’s working before I say what can be improved. I’ve even learned that most of the time, people don’t want or need to hear what I think can be improved, they really only want and need to hear encouragement and support. And if they trust you, they’ll come to you when they encounter a problem.

Criticism like “The rug is crooked” is just one of many flavors of non-engagement by a serious temperament. Other non-engaged first responses might sound like:

Partner A: How about we try keeping the plates in a different cabinet?

Partner B: Here’s the history of why the plates have always been where they are.

Not malign, not even saying no, just… not emotionally engaged. Partner B is engaged with the history of their kitchen storage, rather than with Partner A’s interest in changing it. All Partner B has to do is engage with the idea of moving the plates beforethey reminisce about the origin story of the plate storage. Because it is actually true, isn’t it, that your partner’s feelings matter more to you than where you keep the plates.

This can be as simple as:

Partner A: How about we try keeping the plates in a different cabinet?

Partner B: (with curiosity) You’d like to move the plates?


Partner B: (with affection) Remember when we found those plates at that second-hand shop? I love those plates.

Or even—gasp!:

Partner B: Sure. Which cabinet would be better?

Sometimes “the nice thing” means you talk about the feelings people have before you talk about anything else. Does your partner want to tell you all about their success at work today? Start with, “Look how excited you are! I’m excited, too! Tell me all about it.” That’s emotional engagement.

Does your partner want to tell you how they want to rearrange the furniture in the bedroom, because they keep bumping into things? Start with, “Definitely, I don’t want you getting hurt!” Emotional engagement. And then you help them move the furniture however they like and they will soon recognize what you already knew—that there was no better arrangement possible and actually you need to remove some stuff.

These engaged responses are never insincere. Just because you have a critical, analytical awareness of things doesn’t mean you don’t also have a kind, affectionate awareness of those same things. You’re just choosing to say the kind, affectionate things first, so that your partner feels the warm glow of emotional engagement and your relationship is strengthened. Once the emotional engagement is reinforced, your partner is much more likely to be ready and willing to hear your important ideas about solutions, because they feel more trusting.

Even when the stakes are far higher than moving furniture, I keep a rein on my critical analysis. If I’m worried about money, I start with honest praise and gratitude for the ways we have stayed on budget together. Only then do I say that I wonder aloud if the budget we decided on was too ambitious, or that I notice that our timeline for certain expenses has changed and I’m worried, but here’s a potential solution. (A secondary necessary skill for serious people: When you do present a problem, always accompany it with a potential solution.)

Saying the nice thing first can be effortful, I’m not going to lie, and it is definitely not efficient. But efficiency isn’t the “e” that will keep trust strong in your relationship. Engagement is. Take the time to engage warmly with your partner before you try to problem solve, explain a situation, or contradict a person with whom you hope to sustain a satisfying long-term sexual connection. Emotional engagement prevents disagreements from escalating into fights, which ultimately both saves time and preserves and even reinforces trust.

That way, you can use entirely efficient language when the building is on fire or someone broke a bone, when it’s an actual emergency. The well-established trust between you makes abrupt communication acceptable when it’s necessary.

Say the nice thing first, because it’s honestly true that your partner matters more than any problem that pops into your head or any reluctance you feel about novelty or transitions. Build emotional engagement, to have trust that lasts.

And use your knowledge of each other’s traits to increase your admiration for each other. Never use temperament as a weapon, never criticize or judge someone for their temperament, and never judge yourself harshly for having the temperament you were born with. And also, never use your temperament as an excuse for hurting someone or for letting trust break down in your relationship. Living with temperamental differences is just a matter of developing your communication skills, which all of us are capable of learning with practice. None of us are doing it wrong, all of us are doing it differently; none of us are perfect, we are all doing our best. When we turn toward our differences with kindness, compassion, and, yes, admiration, temperamental differences can enhance emotional engagement and trust.