Dr. Jane Bolton's Blogs
For Self-Esteem Building

YOUR ZESTY SELF is for PsychologyToday.com. The link is below.


FREEDOM FROM SHAME is her personal blog with videos. The link is below.


Below are some samples of Dr Bolton's blog entries for FreedomFromShame and some guest blogs written by invitation from other sites..

This article by Dr. Jane Bolton was published in the www.EveryTherapist.com blog, May 18, 2009

“I Don’t Want to Change, I Just Want To Be Happier”: Mixed Messages About Change

I had mixed feelings when I heard this statement. I was partly sad, partly amused. The speaker too, had mixed feelings.

The part that made me sad is that so often when people say “I don’t want to change,” it is because they have been so hurt and shamed. “I don’t want to change” is so often a defense. It goes something like, “if you want me to change, you must think something is wrong with how I am.” Or the statement might be a counter-demand defense. “Don’t try to make me feel bad and wrong for how I’ve been; there’s nothing wrong with me, I’m okay.”

So often a critical parent or dissatisfied spouse, in the shaming heat of judgment and contempt, will demand the other person to change. Most people want to protect themselves from such a belittling requirement.

The “I just want to be happier” part is ironically amusing to me because being happier really IS a change for a person making that statement,.

The Nearly Universal Ambivalence About Change

The “I don’t want to change, I just want to be happier” mixed message is an example of the ambivalence pretty much all of us have to making changes. We say we want to grow, and we really do want things to be different, but heaven forbid we change.

Change can be hard because change means that we have to give something up. We have to give up what we know. What we know is safe. The unknown, now that can be pretty darn scary. For example, a client just told me the other day, “I miss my suicidal thoughts. They made me feel important, made me feel as if I had a special identity and substance.”

So with change, we naturally have two sets of feelings opposing each other. The group of “Yes, I want it” feelings, and the “No way, Jose” feelings.

This makes change hard because we are pulling in two different directions. It is like a two-horse chariot with each horse trying to go in the opposite directions. And the more significant the change, the more ambivalent we are.

The opposing energies usually reduce the focus and energy for the change work we want to make. The work of change involves several steps which take time.

6 Steps For Change Work

Here are the steps we go through to create change. While there are many, and not necessarily easy, they are worth the work!

1. We must first develop our ability to observe the pattern or behavior we want to change, because we can’t change what we don’t see clearly.

2. Then we have to make envision possibilities and make choices about what we WANT our new behavior or pattern to be.

3. Then we have to actually, ahem, (with much clearing of throats) commit to making the change.

4. Then we have to practice the new ways. Not once or twice, but over and over.

5. Then we have to be patient with ourselves because change usually happens way too slowly for most people. In the words of Dawn Pugh: “Take each day one at a time. Patience is a virtue and Self improvement will not happen over night.”

6. Finally, we need to develop compassion for ourselves, because we will most likely backslide. If we are constantly criticizing ourselves when we do not changes instantly and perfectly, we will only make change take us longer.

Feelings about change depend upon one’s point of view. To paraphrase a quote I don’t remember exactly, “What the caterpillar thought was catastrophe, the master knew as butterfly making.”

Dr. Jane Bolton Psy.D.,MFT


What would the worst words in our language be for you? Swear words? Name calling words? For me one of the ugliest words is “should.” I think it’s ugly because the implied criticism is a sneaky spirit dimmer.

It’s sneaky because people usually think they are trying to be good by ‘shoulding’ themselves (or others). But they are actually hurting themselves (or others).

How are we hurting ourselves? Whenever we use the word ‘should’ we are basically saying that what we are being, doing or having is wrong. We should have in the past. So we were wrong. Or we should now. So we are wrong now. Or we should in the future. So we will be wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Always wrong. We are shaming ourselves. And that’s the spirit dimming.

One thing to do to stop shaming ourselves

So what can we do? I like to change the ‘should’ to “could.” For example, Instead of thinking I ‘should’ return the book to the library today, I ‘could’ return the book to the library today. Or I ‘could’ wait until tomorrow and pay the fine.

Just now when I let go of my ‘should,’ I could begin to think more creatively. I realize other ways I could get the book there. I ‘could’ ask my son to take it in with his returns today, or I ‘could’ call the library and renew it. I didn’t even think of other ways to get the book to he library until I released myself from the creativity freeze of my ‘should.’

When we think in ‘coulds’ we experience more fully our power of choice. We are the boss of our choices. We do not have to obey some edict given to us by others. We can determine our own values and priorities.

A ‘should’ releasing exercise

Here are some steps to take to release constricting should messages.

• Make a list of 3 things you consistently tell yourself you should do.
• Ask yourself how effective it has been in getting yourself to do those things.
• Now change the ‘should’ for each item into a could.
• Now ask yourself what has made you not do what you thought you should. Was it that you never wanted to do it in the first place? Was it that was somebody else’s idea, and not freely chosen by you? What else?
• Ask yourself what you notice now. Write your insights down s that you can jog your memory later.

I hope this gives you a sense of freedom and creativity so that you can make choices that support you, not dim your spirit.


We all need to feel as if we can predict and control our lives. So when something unpredictable or uncontrollable occurs, such as the threat of joblessness or stock market loses, we can feel powerless. Then the mere state of feeling powerless can trigger all the so-called “negative” affects (shame, distress, fear, anger, disgust, dissmell). And we can freak out.

Our society, and in fact all societies, mandate that we suppress, or at the very least, don’t show many of those “negative” emotional states. But what happens to the emotional energy when we suppress our emotions? The suppression causes a kind of emotional and physiological back-up. That back-up we call “stress.”

What can we do?

The first step is to acknowledge your real feelings. Don’t hide in the generality of “I’m stressed out.” One way to recognize the state of experienced powerlessness is when you are feeling intense rage. You can say to yourself, or another person, “I feel so helpless and I’m furious at feeling that way!”

The next step is to observe the situation and determine in what ways you can take your power back. We do have power over how we react to any of life’s scary events and states.

One way to regain power is to realize the things over which we do not have power. You can’t make someone hire you. You cannot make someone love you. You cannot make the Dow Jones Industrial Average go up. Focusing on the areas in which you do have power is restorative.

To take back your power involves setting realistic expectations. If you are looking for a job, know that it most likely will not happen overnight. It may take months. Don’t demand something impossible of yourself.

Another way to regain your inner power is to make sure you separate yourself and disengage from any belief (if you have it) that these life events mean that YOU are inadequate. Even if someone else is so threatened that they are blaming you, you can over time, learn that YOU are not your job or your earning capacity. You can learn not to take inside and believe the evaluations, criticisms and rejections from others.

I don’t dismiss the pain, even anguish, that you may go through on the way to developing the skill of detaching your self- worth from external circumstances. But developing that ability may be an enormous gift that later you will say was well worth the initial “stress.”


By Jessica Bennett | NEWSWEEK
From the magazine issue dated Jun 30, 2008

Why do people write confessional blogs? It’s a creative outlet. It’s a forum to vent. It’s an exercise in exhibitionism. To mental-health experts, though, it’s more than that: a blog is medicine. Psychiatrists are starting to tout the therapeutic power of blogging, and many have begun incorporating it into patient treatment. A forthcoming study in the journal CyberPsychology & Behavior even suggests that bloggers might be happier than nonbloggers.

Mental-health experts say blogs are a step up from plain old diaries, chiefly because of the built-in audience. As kids, we learn that if we air our problems, we get help. We associate communication with consolation, particularly when the going gets tough. Blogging fulfills that primal need for sympathy. “Writing is an effort of the brain to communicate for comfort,” says Harvard neurologist Alice Flaherty. “Diaries are a form of that communication, but removed. Blogging gets you closer to that sympathetic audience, and that’s what makes it therapeutic.” According to psychologist John Suler, the anonymity of blogging provides another therapeutic boost: it’s high intimacy with low vulnerability. But blogger beware. “Revealing too much,” says Suler, “can cause shame or guilt.” So blog to your heart’s content, but leave some things to the imagination.