by Kathleen McCarthy, CNM, MSN

I strive to be cognizant of how my words and deeds impact others. None of us live in a vacuum. We are constantly influenced by those around us, both good or bad. Sometimes those interactions cause anguish, especially if it includes those we are close to.

Both in my private life and as the co-owner of The Birth Center, I want my impact on others to be positive. There is always a way to make each interaction a win-win or at least a kind exchange. I am not always successful and sometimes fail miserably. When I do fail and react instead of respond, everyone involved loses.

Reacting is not authentic. The reactionary response comes from ego, from fear, from some antiquated belief system. I am not my fear. You are not your fear. Being authentic in an exchange involves being grounded enough to be aware of where your thoughts are coming from, then having enough insight to have a measured response that does not involve needing to be right or needing to win.

In a perfect world, we would all be authentic in our words, thoughts, and deeds. We are not in a perfect world. Life has a way of knocking us off course.

When our babies are young it is a battle to be stay grounded with many sleepless nights; babies and children asserting their independence; mommas trying to find the balance in parenting, careers, the division of chores, finances, attending children’s activities, and adjustments in relationships.

Even without the added variables of children, life happens and it is busy.

Our upbringing and our community also influence our thoughts and beliefs. I think a really good book to read to gain an understanding of the influence of our upbringing and environment is The Four Agreement by Don Miguel Ruiz. In the beginning of the book, Don writes about the influence of family and culture on our belief system. It is an insightful read.

Many years ago when I was training as a coach I spent a great deal of time discovering who I was and what made me tick. We are all like an onion with many layers, each layer offering a morsel of insight into who we are and what we believe. Those thoughts and beliefs influence our behavior and therefore our responses.

When I was able to look at my thoughts and peel away some of the beliefs that did not serve me, I was better able to live authentically and respond lovingly.

We all want the same thing. We want to be loved. We want to feel like we are enough. We want to be healthy, successful and happy. Sometimes in search for love, we allow our beliefs about what love is or about what we think about our self, influence our behavior.

If you feel like you are not enough, unloved, or unappreciated it creates an uneasy, un-grounded space in your heart and you are more likely react instead of respond, causing disharmony.

I call this place inside the “heart space”.  I want my heart space to be peaceful and joyful. I do not want it filled with anger, fear, or resentment. We all have a choice of how we want our heart space to feel.

I have attached a worksheet, click to download the guide: My Heart Space. I created it a few years back. I found this to be helpful in discerning how an event can impact my feelings and the feelings of those I care about.

We all have a choice on how we perceive and respond to an event. In the end, if we are cognizant of our words, how they influence our own feelings and the feelings others and have the ultimate goal of peace, we can choose a more peaceful response.


My Heart Space

  • You have an event. I call it a hook because it gets you.
  • Perceive the event through your lens.
  • Is your thought about the event making you want to respond or react?
  • If you react how will the reaction impact the other person, your environment, and ultimately your heart?
  • If you respond from a grounded heart center space, how will that choice influence the other person, your environment, and ultimately your own heart space?
  • Use this form multiple times for the same event trying to perceive the event from different angles then make a choice of how you want to feel.



I came home from a crazy day. My partner got home first. The house is a mess. Dinner is not ready or started. My partner is laying in the hammock.


I am supposed to cook dinner? Who does he/she think I am? WTF. I am going to just sit here. I am not cooking. This will just be a stalemate. The tension increases and I may feel unappreciated and taken advantage of.


Tense, snappy, unloved, angry


There is tension felt in the space.

The partner snaps.

A fight occurs.

Feelings (Heart Space)


Angry (hard to solve problems in angry state)



I am tired. My partner must be tired. It was a busy day for both of us. No one feels like doing anything right now. My gut wants to snap but I know I am tired.


Do some self-care (nap, walk, sit outside, center)




Feelings (Heart Space)

I feel tired but peaceful.

When calm problem-solving becomes easier.

Make a choice. What do you want in your Heart space?