How To Successfully Harness Angry Energy To Get What You Need

In a previous post I asked you if you know how to use your anger constructively. This post describes how to harness angry energy to get your needs met. If you’ve been hurt in a relationship with an angry and controlling person, this topic might feel threatening to you. Let me address your fear by saying that abusive people use this essential life skill in abusive ways, and that you’ve seen it used to harm you doesn’t change the fact that the ability to harness angry energy in order to get your needs met is a healthy skill. The difference between you and an abusive person is that you will harness angry energy responsibly – without harming anyone else.

Here’s how I did that with Bojana.

First, I didn’t show her the phone bill.

Instead, I very politely (as if nothing was wrong) asked her to show me that ticket to America her parents had purchased for her – which she described as a one-way ticket.

She hands me the ticket.

Sure enough. Round trip.

Next, right there in front of her, I call the airline to book her flight back to Serbia.

She sits there, confused and alarmed as I book her flight for the next morning.

I hang up the phone just about the time that my husband walks in the door. Together, we show her the phone bill and explain that we would be sending her back to Serbia in the morning.

This is when the war begins . . .

harness angry energy

It is literally angry mother bear vs. angry cat!
And, just like a mother bear looks calm on the outside, but can harness great power in one move, so am I calm on the outside, yet ready. Anger does that. I can feel it continuing to churn inside me. I harnessed that energy toward my goal of getting her back on a plane!

Bojana, on the other hand . . . 

 She stays awake ALL NIGHT – frantically talking on the phone and planning. Often, I can’t hear what is going on behind her door. But she is determined to foil my plan to send her back.

I am determined (and quite easily able – thanks to my anger) to stay awake all night to make sure she doesn’t get away and miss her flight.

In her efforts to stay in America, she talks her “boyfriend” who lives on the East Coast. She tries to convince me that she has known him since before she came to the U.S. She asks me to talk to him. He tries to convince me to let him come and pick her up – or to fly her to him instead of flying her to Serbia.

Here’s the thing – when you sponsor someone to come to the United States and they seek to stay under Political Asylum, you – the sponsor – are responsible for any criminal activity they commit while on U.S. soil.

 I believe that if she is willing to intentionally lie to me about using our phone to run up a bill while indicating that her friends were paying, she is certainly willing to do anything else it takes to meet her needs.

No. I explain to her friend that if he actually loves her, as he says he does, he is free to book her another flight from Serbia. After I send her back.

I tell her to pack her belongings or I will “help her.” That seems to motivate her to comply. The next morning we get her in the car for the hour-and-a-half drive to Los Angeles International Airport. In the car, I don’t rest. I just watch and wait.

Lucky for me, this rebellious teen is also a fashion diva and chooses to dress her feet like this to the airport:

harness angry energy

It makes me laugh right now as I’m telling you the story because I realize what a ridiculous choice it was for her to put those shoes on her feet . . .  

I escort her “body guard style” out of the car, into the airport, while she uses the payphone to talk to said boyfriend as she waits for her flight and while I stand guard outside her stall when she says she needs to pee.

What she doesn’t know is that I am fully prepared for this if she chooses to try to run:

Harness Angry Energy

Luckily, I don’t have to tackle her. I don’t have to hold her hand on the runway – although I literally held my breath until she was on the plane with the door closed behind her. 

It is almost 24 hours after discovering the phone bill that her plane taxies off the runway and takes to the air.

Then – mother bear cries. Tears of relief and release.

It is finally over and my anger has served me well. Now is time to release the energy and get back to what life was before Bojana arrived.

I hope this adventure in using my anger to keep my family safe helps you understand the concept of using anger constructively and responsibly to get what you need. If you are ready to take the next step, learn what it takes to create a healthy relationship and claim the healthy love you deserve?

Discover the 14 Rights of a Loving Relationship and sign up for the FREE 30-Day Relationship Rights e-Course by clicking here.

© Tamara Bess, LMFT 2016 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.


Do You Know How to Use Anger Constructively?

You can learn how to use anger constructively. You don’t need to be afraid of it. Anger is a common emotion. I often refer to it as secondary. It doesn’t usually pop up until you’ve been feeling something else for quite a while. When that other feeling doesn’t resolve, your emotional energy can run low and anger becomes the go-to. Anger is a useful emotion, but people (women) are often afraid of it. Today I want to share my story with you about how I actually got so angry with someone that I wanted her dead! I’ll follow this post up with how I used the anger as energy that supported assertive action, turning the situation around.
In reality, I’m quite a loving person, and since I was 7 years old I vowed to myself that I would never hurt someone else with angry words or actions. So you can imagine what it was like for me to feel this inside:
use anger constructively
I have to say that I never anticipated such strong emotions to ever take over my body, and I never imagined that I would ACT on them.

But I did . . .

Here’s what happened. It was June of 1999. NATO had been enacting air strikes on Kosovo and my (then) husband’s family reached out to us for help.

Three years earlier, his family in Serbia helped us bring our daughter home from an orphanage in Belgrade – in spite of UN sanctions, which required us to get smuggled into the country by the Hungarian mob. (There’s another story for another day!)

Now, family in Serbia were asking if we could host their daughter in our home to shield her from the horrors of the war.
Plans were quickly made and we brought 18-year-old Bojana (prounounced boy-anna) to come and live with us. Since she was of Jewish heritage, I reached out to the synagogues in our area for support. They sponsored her with a full scholarship to the local community college.

Everything seemed perfect. Bojana would have the chance to create a bright future for herself in safety, with family and community support.

I drove her to the college and helped her get registered and purchase her books. I showed her the public transportation system. The synagogue sponsored her travel to and from school, so that was covered. We were good to go.

For about a month.

I often came home early during the day because my baby was in kindergarten and I had my private practice set up so that I worked while she was in school and was finished in time to pick her up.

When I came home, I often found Bojana sunbathing in the back yard and chatting on the phone in her native language; I wondered how she was doing that. When I asked her, she said that she told her friends in Serbia (via internet chat) that she was home from school, then they called her.

Gullible and ever-so-willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, I believed her.

Until the phone bill came.

use anger constructively

That bill was bigger than our house payment!


Suddenly, all feelings of charity and concern I had for Bojana were gone.

Can you see my point here about how anger is the result of other feelings unresolved? The previous feelings were replaced by betrayal and fear that led very quickly to anger.

And THIS is the secret to item #2 on your Relationship Rights Checklist. You have the right to feel angry. You have the right to express it responsibly. It’s healthy to feel the anger, recognize what you need and take action to get your needs met. You can learn to use anger constructively.
I was able to use anger constructively to ensure safety for my family. Exactly how I did that is the subject of next week’s post.

Ready to take the next steps, learn what it takes to create a healthy relationship and claim the healthy love you deserve?

Discover the 14 Rights of a Loving Relationship and sign up for the FREE 30-Day Relationship Rights e-Course by clicking here.

© Tamara Bess, LMFT 2016 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.

Do You Sacrifice Your Needs Unnecessarily?

When it comes to being true to who you are in relationship, it’s easy to let old habits take over. It’s easy to sacrifice your needs unnecessarily – especially if you’ve been hurt in the past. When old habits take the driver’s seat, you can find yourself sacrificing your own needs when it isn’t necessary. This can reinforce your subconscious belief that you have to give yourself up in order to be nice or to “make things work.”  If you have your copy of the Relationship Rights Checklist, you know that it’s healthy to think, feel and do everything in the way that’s most natural to you within the context of your relationship. (If you don’t have your FREE Relationship Rights Checklist yet, just click here to get it.) Today, I’m going to share an example of how I sabotaged my “Do You” mantra in my marriage.

But first, let me introduce you to my beloved . . .

Relationship Sacrifice Needs Unnecessarily

This was the day we spent playing in the hat shop.

Here’s another one of my favorite hats from that day.

Relationship Sacrifice Needs Unnecessarily

We have a lot of fun together. It was my idea to play with the hats. We were strolling through the mall when we walked up to the hat store. “Yay! Let’s go play!” (He really was playing – he likes to try to make bad a** faces when he’s in pictures. 🙂 )

Playing is a big way that life and love opens up when you courageously bring your authentic self to relationship.

But I wasn’t always so good at bringing my real self to my love life.


In fact, after 20 years struggling to understand myself within abusive relationships layered over a lifetime of letting the Mormon Church control my mind and emotions, I was much, much better at deferring to other’ preferences rather than knowing – must less asking for – what I wanted.

Then one day early in our relationship I found myself feeling disappointed because my sweetheart didn’t cater to my preference (that I hadn’t spoken to him).

I don’t remember what I was actually disappointed about – it could have been:

  •  that he didn’t take the trash out (I thought it was his job)
  •  that he didn’t come home from work early after I told him that I would be home early (assuming – but not saying – he would come home early because I did)
  •  that he would call me if he was not going to be home at the normal time.

You get the picture? I watched his behavior and felt disappointed when he didn’t meet my expectations. After the fact, I carefully described my disappointment to him. His response?

“I expect you to put on your Big Girl Panties & tell me what you want!”

Yes! He told me to put on my big girl panties! 😮

You know what? He was right!

Here’s what I started doing after that conversation: I began paying really close attention to what I wanted for myself. And, I started asking for what I wanted.

Best of all – I started taking courage to express myself without asking anyone’s permission! I discovered that I really like boy-short hair, I love red henna, I adore piercings and I’m really into tattoos! 🙂  I just LOVE putting myself “out there” in the world in my own unique style.

You know what else I discovered?

There is no greater gift you can give yourself than the freedom to be you!

And the bonus comes when your partner continues to love you – even when you’re wearing neon-colored nail polish in his least favorite color! 🙂

So – put on your Big Girl Panties and start paying attention to what you really want. That’s the first step to derailing the “auto-pilot” that leads to you sacrificing your needs unnecessarily in your relationship.

Ready to take the next steps, learn what it takes to create a healthy relationship and claim the healthy love you deserve? Discover the 14 Rights of a Loving Relationship and sign up for the FREE 30-Day Relationship Rights e-Course by clicking here.

© Tamara Bess, LMFT 2016 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.

Do You Mold Yourself to Please Others?

An essential step in the self-growth journey is learning to love yourself regardless of what others want you to be. Do you mold yourself to please others? My beautiful sister has been living the journey of breaking the “please others mold.” Here’s a recent picture of us together (she’s the one on the right).
sisters breaking the please others mold
She’s my “baby” sister and she’s one of the bravest women I know. She just recently admitted to me and to the world that she’s spent most of her life trying to be what other people wanted instead of being true to herself. 
Let me show you another picture of her. Here she is more than five years ago in full-on please-other-people mode . . . 
Beautiful before she broke her please others mold
Thing is – she and I have very different, yet similar stories. I almost literally died trying to be thin enough to make myself lovable and she layered flesh upon herself to shield herself from her own pain – the pain of trying to be something she was not.
I’m a few years ahead of her when it comes to reclaiming my life from abuse. But she and I have always wanted to be close – even when time and circumstances didn’t allow it. Now, I get the pleasure of watching her grow. 

She is learning an essential lesson that comes from the FREE Relationship Rights Checklist that you can pick up right here:

  – You have the right to be different than your partner.
Healthy is: to think, feel and do everything in the way that’s most natural for you.
Think about what I said about my own journey to be what someone else thought was lovable to the point of threatening my health.
Think about the image of my sister with the pink hair: trying to hide her unhappiness behind her weight and a funny show.
Think about what you might have done to yourself to try to make yourself acceptable to someone else.

*************IT ALWAYS HURTS!!!!*************

What’s the alternative?

Discovering & loving who you are!

Ask yourself this question. What hurts more:

Bending yourself into shapes that don’t fit you so you can avoid your fear that
someone might not love you as you need them to?


Facing that you may not ever be perfect enough for someone who doesn’t love you as you are and making the critical decision to love yourself?
One of the problems is that we tend to think in this kind of either-or, black-or-white way. But, what if . . . 
You take the chance to get to know your unique, true self and you discover that you will get love because you are being true to yourself?
AND – What if you discover that you can be true to yourself and you find that the person you love doesn’t reject you when you bring your real self to light? What if that person loves you more because you love yourself?

Before I sign off, I want you to think about another question: What if you are like me and your tendency is to “make nice” – even when you don’t have to?

I’ve been married to a delightful man for the past five years. We are very different, yet simpatico! And I still sometimes hesitate to speak my mind – especially when we are dealing with conflict and I think my difference of opinion could hurt his feelings.
Hey – I’m a therapist, and I still remind myself sometimes that he loves me because I’m not the same as he is. 
It really is healthy to think, feel and do everything in your own, natural way.  
Practicing breaking the please-others mold requires awareness of the subtle, internal voices you generally accept as truth because they feel like truth. 
Just to recap:
  • Self-growth requires breaking the mold of pleasing others first
  • Eating disorders can be a sign that you spend too much time in pleasing-others mode
  • Understanding your Relationship Rights will move you closer to self-love within relationship
  • Self-love attracts more love

Ready to take the next step toward claiming healthy love beyond breaking the pleasing others mold? Discover the 14 Rights of a Loving Relationship and sign up for Tamara’s FREE 30-Day Relationship Rights e-Course by clicking here.

For more of Tamara’s work, please visit Tamara’s podcast can also be found on  iTunes.

© Tamara Bess, LMFT 2016 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.

Getting Ready for Healthy Love is Like Being Able to Tell When You’re Full

Have you been hurt in love? Are you ready for healthy love? Getting ready for love requires the ability to use your internal signals to help you know what is right for you and what isn’t. Today I’m sharing a story that illustrates this point. It comes from the very first day I met my adopted daughter and what happened after that.

I met her the week before my 30th birthday. On July 5, 1996, I was escorted to the “toddler room” in the orphanage, and my new 27-month-old daughter was introduced to me with the words “there she is.”  She was all chubby and dimply, and she had a dollop of blonde ringlets on the top of her head. It was clear by how she was commanding the orphanage worker’s attention that she had a strong, independent spirit.


Strong-willed children are ready for love

However, I witnessed the shackling of her brilliant, independent spirit when the orphanage worker invited me to feed her lunch. The worker handed me a spoon and a small bowl with bits of potatoes and ground beef in a slightly thickened, broth-like liquid. The worker tied a large towel around my daughter’s neck, and left the room. The amazing thing was that with the towel tied around her neck, it was as though my child forgot she had hands!

My brand new daughter opened her mouth and leaned forward, in anticipation, just like a helpless baby bird. I patiently spooned the first mouthful of food to her. To my surprise, she immediately swallowed without chewing once. Instead, she swallowed with a gulp and opened her mouth in a split-second, leaning forward for more, as if to tell me that she was starving for the next bite.


Fast feeding probably feels like love to baby birds – but will this help my child get ready for healthy love?

I paused, a bit puzzled by her behavior, but did not change my pace of feeding. The next moment, the orphanage worker came to check on us and saw that I was feeding this little bird too slowly and took it upon herself to correct my feeding procedure.

She took the bowl from my hands and began to feed my child at stunning speed that required the child to gulp each spoonful without chewing and re-open her mouth for the next within a half-second from the last. Suddenly, she was transformed from a hungry little bird into a garbage disposal! The pace was so fast that I was astounded that my new daughter could even breathe during the process! The entire bowl of food was gone in less than one minute!

And there sat my new baby, uncomfortably full and belching the air that she had swallowed during her rapid-fire meal. The orphanage workers had found an efficient way to get as many children fed as quickly as possible, but this method was hardly beneficial to the children in the long run. Right there in that little room in the orphanage in Yugoslavia, I made my first parenting decision: to teach her to eat slowly.


To Get Ready for Healthy Love – Slow Down

What does this story have to do with being ready to accept healthy love in your life? Just like my child because extremely uncomfortable based on her cooperation with a feeding method that didn’t take her best interest into consideration, you may have been “force fed” ideas and beliefs about yourself and about love that don’t serve you well.

Think of this: What do you accept as “truth” about yourself, about others and about love that may not be good for you? Right now is a good time to get out a paper and pen and jot down a list of the force feedings you’ve experienced that don’t serve you well.

Just like some of us feel anxiety about leaving food on our plates when we’re already full because we were taught not to waste food as kids, so we have similar lessons about love that aren’t so useful.

Slow down. Pay attention to yourself in your love relationships to recognize what those non-useful lessons are. Accept your right to refuse to be force fed in a way that’s harmful to you (whether it’s current messages or those messages in your head deposited there by a painful past).

For more of Tamara’s work, please visit Tamara’s podcast can also be found on  iTunes.

© Tamara Bess, LMFT 2016 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.

Thoughtful Thursday: Pleasurable Activities List

Thoughtful Thursday posts are focused on assisting you with managing your emotions connected with the stresses of relationship disappointments. Whether you are trying to overcome disappointed, hurt or abandoned feelings related to your current relationship, trying to overcome hurts from your past relationship that are creating roadblocks in your current situation or working on letting love in – Thoughtful Thursday posts are aimed at building the foundation of effective personal preparation for relationship success. Try to incorporate Thoughtful Thursday activities/ideas into your daily routine and your overall ability to cope will improve. A few weeks ago, I discussed Distress Tolerance and suggested finding pleasurable activities to use when you are trying to deal with a painful situation.

Pleasurable Activities Help you Bring your best self to relationship

Pleasurable activities help you bring your best self to relationship

In truth, it is very important to incorporate pleasurable activities as part of your daily stress management strategy. When you work with me personally or participate in my online course, I will provide you with the exact structure for managing your stress in a way that allows you to grow your relationship in a healthy way. (To connect with me, visit

In the meantime, I want to share a list of pleasurable activities – I’ve often found in my work with women that knowing where to start can be difficult. With that in mind, check out this list. Choose a few activities that you can incorporate into your life on a regular basis. Here’s the key: the more uncomfortable you are with your current feelings, the more pleasurable activities you need to use. Why? Because engaging in pleasurable activities allows some distance from the effects of stress caused by feeling painful feelings. They also give your body a shot of endorphins – which can assist in clarifying your thought process. So, pick a few suggestions, give them a try and see how you are feeling after a few weeks. If you are experiencing more clarity and creativity related to improving your relationship, it’s working!

Pleasurable activities can improve who you are in relationship

Pleasurable activities can improve who you are in relationship

If you need more support, feel free to reach out to me. Either by clicking the big green button on the right of my site that invites you to tell me more about your #1 Biggest Relationship Challenge or set up a FREE 30 minute consult.

Here’s the list:

  • Talk to a friend on the phone
  • Go out and visit a friend
  • Invite a friend over
  • Organize a party
  • Exercise
  • Lift weights
  • Do yoga, tai chi, or pilates
  • Take a belly dance class
  • Stretch your muscles
  • Go for a long walk in a peaceful place that you enjoy
  • Go outside and listen to the birds
  • Go for a run
  • Ride a bike
  • Go hiking
  • Go to your local playground and watch people playing
  • Go play a game by yourself – shoot hoops, bowl, play handball, miniature golf, billiards or hit a tennis ball against a wall
  • Get a massage
  • Go to a spa and relax in the steam rooms, sauna and other rooms available
  • Go outside to get out of your house
  • Go for a drive or take a ride on public transportation
  • Plan a trip to a new location
  • Take a nap
  • Have a snack you enjoy
  • Cook your favorite dish or meal
  • Try a new recipe
  • Bake something for someone else
  • Take a cooking class
  • Go outside and play with your pet
  • Borrow a friend’s dog and take it for a walk
  • Watch a funny movie on Netflix
  • Go to the movie theater and watch whatever’s playing
  • Watch television
  • Listen to a podcast (you can search virtually any topic you enjoy or are curious about in itunes)
  • Listen to the radio
  • Play a game with a friend
  • Go online to chat
  • Visit your favorite websites
  • Create your own blog
  • Put a puzzle together
  • Go shopping
  • Get a manicure
  • Go to the library and read
  • Go to a bookstore and read
  • Go to your favorite cafe for coffee or tea
  • Visit a museum or local art gallery
  • Go to the mall or the park and watch other people
  • Pray or meditate
  • Go to your church, synagogue, temple or other place of worship
  • Join a group
  • Call a family member you haven’t spoken to in a long time
  • Learn a new language
  • Sing or learn how to sing
  • Play a musical instrument or learn how to play one
  • Write a song
  • Listen to some upbeat, happy music
  • Turn on some loud music and dance
  • Make a movie with your phone
  • Take pictures
  • Organize your pictures into an album or scrapbook
  • Go to and find a craft project to enjoy
  • Participate in a local theater group
  • Join Toastmasters and improve your communication and leadership skills
  • Sing in a local choir
  • Join a club
  • Plant a garden
  • Work outside
  • Paint your nails
  • Take a bubble bath or shower
  • Sign up for a class that excites you at a local college, adult school or online
  • Read your favorite book, magazine, blog or poem
  • Read a trashy celebrity magazine
  • Write a letter to a friend or family member
  • Write in your journal or diary about what happened to you today
  • Write in your journal about the things that make you feel good or what you are learning that is helpful so you can go back to it when things are tough
  • Draw
  • Paint
  • Write your Bucket List

Reading through this list should have given you some ideas of how you can incorporate pleasurable activities more effectively into your life if you aren’t doing so already. Maybe it brought other ideas to you about pleasurable activities you’ve been meaning to participate in, but haven’t taken the time.

When I was struggling in difficult relationships, incorporating things into my daily life that helped fill me up created a “buffer” that allowed me to deal with more than I would have been able to handle without those pleasurable activities. If you find your life is so full that the thought of taking a class overwhelms you, start small. Even a 10 minute walk every morning can make a difference.

© Tamara Bess, LMFT 2016 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.

For more of Tamara’s work, please visit Tamara’s podcast can also be found on  iTunes.

Exercise adapted from: Copyright © 2007 by Matthew McKay, Jeffrey C Wood and Jeffrey Brantley. The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook.

Give Yourself Permission To Imagine More Love In Your Life

If you are uncomfortable today because you’ve been hurt, you aren’t alone. Often times, the day-to-day steps that led to you feeling hurt in your relationship were subtle enough that maybe you didn’t even notice them. Now, you wonder how to re-ignite the passion in your marriage. You want to let go of the pain of the past that keeps you from fully embracing love today. You know you deserve more, but something inside of you or something about him keeps  you from truly achieving the happiness you always wanted. The answer lies in turning your joyful GPS system back on.

Today I’d like to get you thinking about that process and how to start believing again. It starts with looking at what happened as that ended up with you letting go of what you know you want and deserve. Let me begin with an example.

If you read this post, you know that my tiny 7 year old daughter believed she could ride rodeo bulls.

To be honest, I knew that belief would pass since I was quite steeped in the the practical, sensible, day-to-day duties of “real life.” I was mired in the details of what we should have for dinner, when I would get the laundry done, how much homework my kids needed to do on a given day, whether I will get to work on time, and (most stressful) how to appease a difficult spouse. I did not have time for dreams that distracted me from the practicalities of surviving on a daily basis. Maybe you understand this struggle because it’s the life you’re living right now?

Finding the answers to how to get your dreams back can be so difficult because other things take priority. But here’s the question: When will you decide to take the steps toward living a life is that is more than daily drudgery? How can you begin to dream again and create a life that is more in line with what you imagined it to be? How can you get the love you know you deserve?

Turn your Joyful GPS back on

Turn your Joyful GPS back on

It starts with rekindling feelings. Your motivation must come from feeling good, happy, optimistic and excited. How do you do that when you are feeling stuck?

Like this. Think about your childhood dreams. What did you imagine romance would look like?

When you give yourself absolute permission to dream wildly, it will be that much easier for you to find the path to your true happiness. Even if your happiness takes two. One person can influence a relationship toward growth, revitalization and mutual happiness. I’ve seen it many times.

First you have to set your intention in the right direction. Think about the GPS system in your car. To get somewhere, you need to first input your destination. Then, you follow the directions and end up where you wanted to go. What if you make a wrong turn? Simple. You go back, figure out where the mistake happened, strategize next steps and begin the course correction. Fortunately, your GPS system guides you along the way to correct your course.

Directing your life toward the love you deserve is the same process. What you need is to turn on your joyful GPS system.

Ask yourself these question: What are my relationship dreams? How much of my dream is reality today? When did I stop believing in the love I imagined?

Do this. Get a journal. Go back to your childhood. Write down your childhood fantasies. Remember.

Once upon a time, I believed that my dolls were really alive. They knew me. They understood the words I said to them. They interacted with me, albeit silently. And I was the best mother in the world! I took the time to love, to nurture, to play.

My childhood dreams also included me as a prima ballerina. I believed I had the grace and talent to be the most famous ballerina in the universe! I went to see the Nutcracker Suite with my family and knew it was my destiny to be Clara.

Allow yourself the joy of connecting with your dreams

Allow your joyful GPS to reconnect you to the energy of your dreams

I saw Camelot in a live theater production and dreamed of my Sir Lancelot.

All of these things were in my future. I knew my life could follow the feelings of peace, confidence and love I felt as “the best mother in the world,” the feelings of grace, beauty and talent I felt as a “prima ballerina,” and the love, joy and companionship I felt imagining my life as Gwenevere. In spite of my childhood dreams, I eventually learned the “realities:” that prima ballerinas aren’t 6-feet tall, that Camelot is just a land someone made up, and that I would face the heartache of infertility.

Did realities like these cause me to stop dreaming? Does it have to happen that way? Couldn’t I have held on to those dreams and still pursued them tenaciously? Maybe I could have been the first 6-foot tall prima ballerina. Maybe Camelot could have been created in my own life. Maybe infertility blocked my path to biological parenthood, but I needn’t stop my dreams of being a mother.

Here’s what I know. Holding on to the feelings has led me to these realities:

  • I’ve found the love of my life and share a delightfully happy, healthy marriage
  • I’m embracing the role of “grandma” to my step-daughter’s new baby
  • I’m living with grace and beauty as I navigate life’s ups and downs

What is important is this: Your dreams are your GPS. Your GPS will remind you of the peace, confidence and love you need to believed in before the wrong turns led to where you are sitting today.

They can and will guide you to where you truly want to be. Reawaken those joyful hopes and your path toward improving your current situation comes within reach because you believe that this is possible. Once you believe, taking the concrete steps toward change become much, much easier.

Ready to awaken your joyful GPS system that leads you back to the love you deserve? Work with Tamara to grab the healthy love you truly deserve. Click “schedule” below to see available times for your free 30 minute consultation.


For more of Tamara’s work, please visit Tamara’s podcast can also be found on  iTunes.

© Tamara Bess, LMFT 2016 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.

Tamara’s Sister – Journey of Self-Love

Today I want to do something special and teach a little lesson about self love. I’d like to do that by introducing you to my beautiful sister!

She’s always been beautiful. Now, she’s taking the courage to make her inner beauty shine through.

Le learns self-love

Beautiful Le Before and After

As you can see, she’s been working VERY HARD. And peeling all of those layers off of yourself takes MORE than diet and exercise. She left a pretty unhealthy marriage (of 20 years) in February of 2012 and came back to California. Since she came back, I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with her at a heart level and supporting her growth process.

She and I blog about her healing journey. Today, I would love to share an incredible breakthrough she just made as she continues to heal at deeper levels. This week’s Thoughtful Thursday post is going to feature my response – because the response outlines part of my own healing and my suggestions for how she can “go there” too. Enjoy!


Dear Sister,
I have come to the realization that I have spent most of my life trying to be what other people wanted. My mom, my siblings, my partners. Always trying to be what I thought they wanted so that they would love me. That is no one’s fault but my own.
Some good has come of it though. Because of it I love people where they are, for who they are. But the time has come for me to find myself again. I want that smart, sassy, I can do anything and no one is going to stop me, I ain’t afraid of anyone or anything girl back again.
Self love begins when you reclaim your inner child

My Beautiful Sister at age 3

I really need to find myself. Who am I? What do I love in this life?
Yes I love working out and eating healthy, but my motivation to do those things was to attract a man. I can attract men the way I am but I’m still not happy with my body. I’m uncomfortable in my skin. I’ve gained 50 pounds and I hate the way I look and feel. That has nothing to do with anyone else. That is genuinely how I feel. My body is not right, right now and I have to take it back. Not to attract men, not because mom tells me I need to, but because I love myself enough to care for my body in a way that says I love you!
It is no one’s responsibility but my own that I have spent the majority of my life trying to be something I’m not so that others will love me. Reality is that people will either love you or they won’t no matter who or what you are. People will either love ME or they won’t no matter who I choose to be. I have no control over other people and how they feel about me. All I can do is be me. The me that is authentically who I am. It feels like I don’t know who that is, but honestly I do.  I outlined it above. The problem is that I don’t stay her when I feel like she isn’t right for other people. When I feel like she will hurt, offend or make others angry. When someone, anyone, tells me she isn’t good enough or right. Yes people really do that!
self love doesn't allow you to walk on eggshells
I need to have my feet firmly cemented in who I am so that I don’t change for anyone or anything unless I decide I want to be different. But I don’t want to be different! I want to be her!
There are very few people in my life that I can be just who I am with. You, my sister, are one of those people. You are safe. But I need to learn to be me even when I don’t feel safe. Until I do, I do not think I will be truly happy. And I will certainly not be ready to let a man into my life.
I hate being alone. That’s part of it too. I’m still discovering what it is I need for myself and what I don’t need. A man is a definite don’t need. Sure I want one. I miss having one. But what good has it done me? Yes I have had blessings and lessons learned through the men I have had in my life. But I have never had a fullness of joy in those relationships because I was constantly trying to be someone I was not. I cannot allow myself to do that again and expect to have a happy, whole, full love life. It is my season to take the time to find that beautiful vibrant 3 year old living deep inside me. Yep 3, really! That is when I left to be someone else. My quest is to get her back!
Self Love lets her play

For more of Tamara’s work, please visit Tamara’s podcast can also be found on  iTunes.

© Tamara Bess, LMFT 2016 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.

You can read more of Le’s journey at

Thoughtful Thursday: Tolerating Distress

Everyone who wants to enact a self-healing process must first learn how to deal with distress.

I spoke in a previous post about how to avoid getting overwhelmed by feelings identified in therapy. Today, I want to really dial in on the topic of how you develop the skill for tolerating distress.

Why? Because unless you have some ability to tolerate distress, you won’t be able to focus enough on what’s happening inside of you to be able to pinpoint the problem that needs resolution. And you won’t be able to take the next step toward enacting a solution.

So, what are Distress Tolerance Skills?

They are the skills you need to help you when you get overwhelmed with physical or emotional pain. If you don’t have distress tolerance skills, you probably engage in lots of activities meant to stop the pain right now! But when you try to stop pain in the moment, you usually end up causing other problems while looking for a solution:

  • Overeating
  • Overspending
  • Increases in physical stress symptoms and illness
  • Obsessing about the past
  • Worrying excessively about your future
  • Isolating yourself from other people who could support you
  • Numbing out with alcohol or drugs
  • Taking your feelings out on other people
  • Hurting yourself
  • Avoiding pleasant activities because of the consequences of your non-helpful attempts to stop the pain

It can become quite an unpleasant cycle. One that prevents you from feeling better, since what you are trying to do to resolve the problem brings it’s own pain.

Distress Tolerance

Learn Distress Tolerance Skills to help you deal with temporary discomfort without bringing on new problems.

Distress Tolerance Skills are used to help you feel better without causing new problems.

In order to use them, you have to do some prep work.

Here are the steps:

1. Identify all of the things you do to try to deal with your emotions when things get overwhelming.

2. List all of the ways these behaviors keep you from what you want in your life.

3. Begin creating a list of activities that you enjoy – things that bring you only benefits with no cost.

Let me give you an example.

One of my unhealthy ways of coping is eating junk food – usually pastries and other baked goods.

1. Costs:

  • I usually don’t feel good when I eat that food – gives me an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach
  • I usually also feel guilt about indulging when I hadn’t planned to
  • Eating pastries usually leads to MORE craving for the same kinds of foods
  • Increases is weight
  • Loss of energy based on deviation from my typical healthy eating plan

2. How do these behaviors limit me:

  • Increased “down time” when I’m “recovering” from overdoing it with baked foods
  • Less enjoyment of these types of foods as an intentional choice
  • Less likelihood that I’ll have a summer bikini body 😉
  • More risk that I could end up with an illness – sugary foods reduce the body’s ability to fight infection

3. Behaviors that help without cost:

  • Going for a walk
  • Talking to a friend
  • Journaling
  • Getting enough sleep (being overly tired usually leads to increased baked-good cravings)

Your assignment for this Thoughtful Thursday is to create your own list. In upcoming posts, I’ll discuss more ways to improve your Distress Tolerance Skills toolbox so you can continue to move forward in your self-growth process.

Until then,

Be really well.




© Tamara Bess, LMFT 2016 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.

Exercise adapted from: Copyright © 2007 by Matthew McKay, Jeffrey C Wood and Jeffrey Brantley. The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook.


FREE Relationship Rights Checklist to Help You Claim The Healthy Love You Deserve

If you’ve been hurt in your relationship, it’s natural and normal for you to want to “harm proof” yourself.

The most common request in survivor groups is for information about how to avoid attracting the same kind of hurtful partner in the future.

“How do I avoid ending up in relationship with another abusive person?”

How to avoid abuse brightened.png

To Claim Healthy Love You Must Recognize Your Own Patterns

It’s a good question and survivors are smart to ask. What we know is that if you are in a relationship that hurts, there are some aspects of your patterns of interacting with potential partners that “alert” them to the fact that you are someone who might easily be taken advantage of. Those are the hooks that a potential abusive partner use to “lure you” into relationship. The problem is that we can’t usually see our vulnerable points until after someone has used them to take advantage. I’ve heard many women speak of their disappointment because they were able to get out of a harmful relationship and then found themselves being hurt again by a different partner! The other person didn’t look the same as the first hurtful partner. But, here they are again, being hurt like before.

It’s a common problem. You leave your abusive relationship, only to find that your next relationship is the same.

After doing this work for myself and so many women I’ve helped, I understand how to break that pattern.

It’s not in being able to spot an abusive person “a mile away.” Although recognizing potentially abusive behaviors in other people is helpful, that is not the way you will “abuse proof” your future.

As I’ve continued to work in the field of Domestic Violence recovery, I have noticed that MOST of the focus is on identifying abusers or identifying abusive patterns.

I think that approach to providing answers just a little too little and a little too late.

Domestic Violence Awareness movement in our country is doing a great job of raising awareness to the problem on a social level. It’s also doing a great job of helping vulnerable people recognize that they can get out of their situations.

All of that is fantastic.

But, what’s next?

How do we stop vulnerable people from being harmed in the first place?

What are the real answers to Breaking the Cycle of violence once the Silence is broken?

There are lots of potential responses related to education in the schools and changes in public policy.

What I’m focusing on here is breaking your cycle.

You need a way to see what is invisible to you but obvious to someone who would take advantage of you.

You need to be able to use this information to abuse-proof yourself in the future.

Seeing this need and recognizing that the information “out there” is filled with answers that ask you to look at other people in hopes of recognizing threat, I want to offer you something different.

I want to offer you something that will help you reclaim yourself. I want to show you the areas where vulnerable people typically get hurt, tell you what you have the right to expect in a relationship and give you permission to ask for what is healthy. It’s called the Relationship Rights Checklist.

This is your first step toward getting what you want in relationship while building a deep connection at the same time.

Lead Magnet

It’s based on the personal work I’ve done to get myself out of 2 abusive marriage and an oppressive religious upbringing. It’s also based on tried-an-true realities I’ve seen while working as a therapist for the last 2 decades.

It’s my gift to you.


I’d love to hear your feedback. I’m always here to help.

All my love,


© Tamara Bess, LMFT 2016 All Rights Reserved. Any use of this article without Tamara’s express written permission is prohibited.