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PHONE      1.855.EMPATHY or 1.855.367.2849
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Gainesville, FL

1 (855) EMPATHY

Life and communication coaching for women.


Shame And The Other S Word

Marina Smerling


For the last of my Shameless Summer Series, I wanted to write to you all with a message about "the S-word," identity to be determined in just a moment.

But a problem arose: I didn't know how to do it, without being regarded as spam and sent away to a far off mysterious land called Junkmail, never to be seen again.

And so I am resorting to sneaky sideways references to that three-lettered word that is, needless to say, a fundamental part of life, insofar as none of us would be here without it.

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Love, Reactivity, And Installing A Template For Peace In Our Relationships

Marina Smerling

You’re in a conversation with someone you care about. You catch a hint that one of you wants more closeness/more space than the other. One of you pulls away in silence, or perhaps pretends that “everything’s fine” with not-so-hidden undertones of hopelessness, while the other moves in closer, perhaps tightening in fear or impatience.

Angry, fearful, or withdrawn reactivity bursts like a flame onto the scene.Criticisms and accusations abound, feeding one another like logs on a fire.

Suddenly: disconnect.No one present in the room.

Sound familiar?


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Unsolicited Advice, Feedback, and Criticism: What's Self-Love Got to Do with It?

Marina Smerling

People love to give advice.

Whether you want it or not. Whether it's useful or not. Whether they've considered, digested, reflected upon their own triggers, feelings, and needs -- or not.

They love to tell you what's wrong with you, what you should do with your life, where you went astray, and what you "need to do" to get back on track.

Oftentimes, such "help" comes in moments that we're hurting and in need support, we're genuinely wobbly, vulnerable, and in need of guidance. Then comes our friend who generously decides to "speak their mind," and suddenly the mess only gets messier.


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A Love Letter To My Community

Marina Smerling

Dear ones,

As Valentine's Day approaches, a day that can provoke so much angst in us whether we are single or partnered, I wish to join that revolutionary current which every year helps re-write the script of what's possible on a day curated and seemingly owned by Hallmark.  

Let us declare Valentine's Day an invitation to that energy of love which beckons all of us to lean just a little deeper, a little more surrendered, into its wildly open and unconditionally tender arms. 

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Love in the Time of War

Marina Smerling

So many of us are deeply impacted by world events as of late — the bombings in Paris and in Beirut, the hostage crisis in Mali, the refugee crisis sweeping through Europe, and the crisis of xenophobia pouring faster than refugees into our own nation.

So many of us are feeling heartbroken and wanting to make a difference — whether to make our world safer,  to contribute to more compassionate dialogue about refugees and asylum, or to foster awareness of the underpinnings of what we call peace and terrorism.

The sights and sounds of terror and trauma front and center in the news can feel like too much for these hearts and bodies to make sense of. Often I have wondered, “Was I born into the wrong time on this planet? I never asked to live in a world this broken,” and I know many of you have asked the same.

This article was published online.  READ MORE AT REBELLE SOCIETY

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The Vulnerability of Kindness

Marina Smerling

There's a reason more of us haven't checked perpetual self-kindness off the to-do list, aren't more habitually loving to ourselves when things fall apart, when it seems the only person to blame is ourselves, whether we've said the "wrong" thing in a tenuous relationship, forgotten an important date, or flown off the handle in a way we deem despicable and/or humiliating, and want nothing more than to bury our head in the sand.

There's a reason we aren't more kind.

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Transforming Conflict Into Connection

Marina Smerling


It happens.

No matter how much we tip toe... and walk on egg shells... and say all the right things... and pull all the right dance moves... still... it happens.

Conflict is an unavoidable part of life, and yet, so much suffering comes not from the skirmish itself, but from the added layer of "there's something wrong with me" that we pile on top of it, finding in conflict proof, yet again, of our defectiveness and not enoughness.

How, then, when conflict rears its head, might we portion out just a little more self-gentleness, a little more trust, a little more mercy for ourselves amid the madness?

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Healing Shame Matters

Marina Smerling

This shame stuff – it matters.

In our psyches…
In our relationships...
And in our world…

It keeps us small, revealing only a half-version of ourselves -- our bright hearts, tender humanity, and courageous dreams locked away in the closet, collecting dust for years on end.

It keeps us from recognizing and opening to the love-filled relationships that are our birthright.

It keeps us defended and in fear of acknowledging and talking openly about racism, sexism, and all the other isms that degrade our own and one another's humanity.

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The Bully's New Clothes

Marina Smerling

Sometimes, we are wrong.  Sometimes, the stories we’ve been telling ourselves for years, all our lives – if not for generations – are simply not true.

You know the ones.  “I’m too this.  I’m too that.”  “I’m not this or that enough.”  The one that says, “People don’t care.  They’re not to be trusted.”  And the story etched deep into so many of our hearts – the one that says we’re alone.

By a stroke of luck, or grace, or simply stupid courage, I recently learned I was wrong.

This article was published online. READ MORE AT SHANTI GENERATION.

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