I just got back from the Master Coach Intensive in Arizona with Dr. Martha Beck.

It was awesome, grueling, hilarious, and profound.

The highlight for me was the day we spent horse whispering.  BLISS.  Just being around horses makes me so happy I start drooling and skipping and humming.

Horses won’t trust you because you’re nice.  Or pretty, or smart, or witty, or wealthy.  They trust people who set good boundaries, because that lets them know they’re safe.  They trust people who don’t pretend to be feeling something they’re not, because that lets them know they’re safe.  They trust people who can communicate clearly, because– guess what??– that keeps them safe.

Humans have learned some behaviors that no self-respecting horse would ever put up with.

Many of learned that the way to be safe was to let others push right through our boundaries.  Or that the way to be loved was to lie juuust a little.  We learned that the best way to communicate is through implying, suggesting, smiling sweetly, or beating round the bush.  And if that doesn’t work, to move on to black-belt manipulation techniques.

Horses don’t do that.  And so, paradoxically, they can teach us all kinds of things.

I was pleased to see that in the three years since I first had a horse mirror how I show up in the world, I’ve gotten much MUCH better at setting boundaries.  The horse didn’t get ANYwhere near my bra this time!  (True story: my first horse whispering attempt, the horse got to second base.  I could not get that cheeky animal out of my shirt.  The coach/expert horse whisperer asked me politely, “Soooo, do you ever have trouble setting boundaries in your life?”  I thought she must be psychic.)  Hurray for progress!

So here are some of my favorite boundary-setting phrases, just on the off chance you might have need of them during next week’s holiday festivities:

  • No thanks!  
  • That doesn’t work for me.  How about this instead? 
  • I like a little more personal space.  
  • I’d really love it if you…  
  • I’m feeling _________, so I’m going to [take care of myself by] ___________.
  • I’m going to take a nap/walk/phone call.  


These are super basic, but when we’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, it’s easy to forget them.  So imagine sticking them in your mental back pocket so you can pull them out whenever needed.

May your week be filled with laughter and connection, delicious feasts for the eyes and palate, and good strong loving boundaries.  Wishing you much bliss, and a Happy Thanksgiving!

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