The Getting Real practices help us free ourselves from the fears and limited thinking of the ego-mind, so we can meet each new moment with our open, authentic, loving presence.

Understanding Emotional Pain

I am often asked to explain my assertion that most people are “run by” their fear of emotional pain. At different times, I give different parts of my answer—since it is a long answer. Today I found myself giving this response in reply to an interviewer’s question:

Our fear of emotional pain is largely unconscious. It stems from our early childhood conditioning. We learn our attitude toward emotional pain from our early caregivers. Some parents are good at co-regulating their infant when the child reaches out in frustration, hurt, or fear. They soothe and reassure the child, holding the infant with comforting touch, a calming voice, and eye contact. Or they hold the child close. This teaches the child not to fear the momentary upsets or frustrations of life.

But most parents have trouble staying relaxed and reassuring when their child is upset for an extended length of time. Their own nervous systems gets agitated when their child is upset—even when they try to hide it. They may be able to be reassuring for a short time, but eventually, and it doesn’t take that long, they begin to feel frustrated. The adult is too busy for this. They have to get back to work, or something like that. They haven’t got time for the pain, as the song goes.

This signals to the child that if you’re in pain, afraid, or upset, you are a bother or a problem for your caregiver. This often leads the infant to a subconscious conclusion like, “If I’m upset, this bothers others….maybe there is something wrong with me, or bad about me, when I’m in pain.”

This early association between frustration, hurt, or fear and badness or wrongness causes people to fear or want to avoid emotional pain for the rest of their lives—when in reality, the best approach is to learn to comfort yourself when you are in pain. Instead, people judge themselves or try to hide their pain.

Have you noticed, for example, how many people automatically apologize if they start crying or choking up with emotion? What we really need to do is to learn to show love, nurturing, and comfort to ourselves.My new book, From Triggered to Tranquil shows us how.

The book will be out Aug 31, but you can pre-order it now from any bookseller. Here is a link to some reviews of the book and ordering information:

Getting Real: The Power of Conscious Communication  

A weekend in-person workshop with Susan Campbell May 7-8, 2022  10am-5pm both days (yes, 2022. I am only doing one in-person workshop per year now)

Cost: $350

“You can only be as honest as you are self-aware.”

GETTING REAL teaches 10 truth skills that make you a more present, aware, spontaneous, authentic communicator. Most people have fears and insecurities which interfere with being fully present and honest. These insecurities can be healed. If you learn to put your attention on your here-now experience, rather than trying to control the outcome of your communications, you discover the real source of personal power, love, and inner security.

In this workshop, you will learn how to:

•   communicate with presence, authenticity, and spontaneity (even when you feel fear about it)

•   be aware of how you impact others

•   clear the air and keep it clear

•   repair rifts in trust and connection after a misunderstanding

•   keep your present relationships free of accumulated unfinished business

•   come back to being present after your fear-buttons have gotten pushed

•   communicate from the deepest parts of yourself—so you can be truly heard and accepted

•   notice and free yourself of all the ways you “go on automatic” as you communicate or listen

•   replace these “control patterns” with honest, spontaneous self-expression

•   recognize all the various disguises that mask the “need to control”

•   ask for what you want without being controlling

•   say “no” or mark your boundaries with compassion and sensitivity

•   embrace and value the silences in human communication

•   heal past trauma and unprocessed pain

•   communicate about difficult topics in ways that foster deep intimacy and trust

The workshop is intended for people who want to join with like-minded others to explore honesty as a spiritual awareness practice, getting to the essential self that is beyond conditioned fears, beliefs, and control patterns. Emphasis will be on developing communication skills and relationship practices that you can take home and integrate into your daily life.

Cost: $350

Time/date: May 7-8, 2022 (Sat-Sun), 10am-5pm both days

Location: Sebastopol, CA, one hour north of San Francisco (directions to follow registration)

REGISTER NOW: Call Susan’s landline, (707) 829-3646 or email:

Led by: Psychologist Susan Campbell has worked as a relationship coach for over 50 years. A former professor at the University of Massachusetts, she is author of 11 books on relationships and communication. Her website is

Coach Training Webinar: Helping Clients  Work with Trigger Reactions and Control Patterns (via Zoom)

 A 6-week webinar for new and experienced coaches with Susan Campbell, Ph.D., author of GETTING REAL and other titles, using Zoom

Time: 6  consecutive Thursdays, beginning Thursday, September 16, 2021, noon-1:30 pm Pacific time (3-4:30 pm Eastern time), and ending October 21.

Cost: $300 (visa, paypal, transferwise, and mastercard accepted)

To register or get more info, call or email Susan’s landline at (707) 829-3646 or

You will learn and practice how to help clients learn to use Susan’s getting real truth skills and trigger work skills. Specifically, you will learn how to:

-create a safe container that welcomes emotional pain as a portal to discovering one’s lost or disowned parts;

-help clients develop their ability to be with emotional discomfort in a way that fosters healing trigger sensitivities and trauma

-work skillfully with resistance

-work skillfully with your most challenging clients

-teach exercises that stretch clients’ capacity for self-compassion

–teach practices that help clients heal unfinished emotional business

–teach practices that help clients develop their capacity for inner witnessing

-use your own authentic feelings and responses in helpful ways—thus, refining yourself as an instrument for positive change

You will be given homework assignments to practice with a homework partner on a separate call during the week.  This will require an additional hour per week of your time.

All calls will be recorded and archived on the web, so you can re-listen to calls or hear a call if you have to miss a session.

Honesty Salon in Webinar Format 

Beginning September 15, I will offer a six-session Honesty Salon in webinar format (zoom). It is scheduled for 6 consecutive Wednesdays, noon-1:15 pm Pacific time, and ending October 20.

Cost is $200 for the 6 sessions. An Honesty Salon is a small group experience where we practice the 10 Truth Skills with one another, sharing whatever arises in the present moment. We use a set of simple communication guidelines that assist us in un-hooking from identification with mind chatter and being innocently open to whatever arises.

Between sessions, participants will have the option of meeting in dyads or triads to de-brief and do practice exercises. All sessions will be recorded and archived on a private page, so if you miss a session, the recording will be available to you.

To register or get more information, email me at  If you are interested in this offering, and the announced  time is not convenient, I may be able to change the time.  So please contact me about that at the email address above.

Free Mini-Workshop at The Stoa: Re-scheduled to August 3

I will be giving a Zoom-based interactive program on The Stoa, Tuesday, August 3, 9-10am Pacific time (noon Eastern time). My topic is Practices for Authentic Living. (See description and link below.) The Stoa is a gathering place on the web where smart people dedicated to solving big world problems gather to discuss current events and issues. They regularly host people like Noam Chomsky, Otto Scharmer, and Daniel Schmactenberger. I feel honored to be invited to speak at their forum.

Here’s how I have described my program:
How present are you as you communicate and listen to others? Are you aware and present, somewhat distracted, or pretty much on automatic? What fosters relational presence? And what interferes with it?

Susan will offer her insights gleaned from her research and from her 55 year career as a relationship coach and teamwork consultant. She will guide an exploration into the human tendencies that interfere with authentic relating, and she will offer her favorite practices for bringing your conversations into the here and now—toward the aim of more aliveness, clarity, connection, trust, and shared learning.

Pre-registration is required for this free program. To register go to:

The 10 Truth Skills You Need to Live Authentically

Here is a summary of the 10 truth skills detailed in the book, Getting Real. For those of you familiar with my latest book, Five-Minute Relationship Repair, you may see that that entire book is about truth skill #6, Taking Back Projections. This is such a complex and often difficult-to-master truth skill. So I thought it deserved a whole book. 

Now here’s the list:

1. Experiencing what is  You have a felt body-based sense of your present feelings and sensations. You can notice and not identify with your judgments, projections, and interpretations.

2. Being transparent  You can disclose to others what you are feeling, sensing, imagining, or saying to yourself—with the simple aim of “knowing and being known,” free of the need to explain or defend.

3. Knowing your intent  You can consciously reflect on the intent of your communication. Is it to relate or to control? Are you revealing yourself in the interest of transparency or are you managing and strategizing in order to avoid discomfort?

4. Asserting what you want and don’t want  You can express a desire clearly and impactfully, without expecting to get everything you ask for. You mark boundaries when you need to.

5. Thriving on feedback  You are open and curious about others’ impressions and reactions to you.  This is different from being dependent on others’ reactions.

6. Taking back projections  You know how to learn from situations where your buttons or “favorite fears” get triggered. You can differentiate your fear-stories from what really happened.

7. Revising an earlier statement  You can re-visit an interaction if your feelings change or if you discover later that you have mis-spoken or were on automatic. You can say, “If I had it to do over….”

8. Holding differences  You can hear and empathize with someone else’s feeling or viewpoint while at the same time holding a different feeling or viewpoint. You can “be with” the tension of holding both in your awareness at once.

9. Sharing mixed emotions  You can communicate your multiple feelings about an issue or situation, e.g. You may wish to clear the air with someone while also fearing that your words might feel hurtful to the other.

10. Embracing silence  You can allow some space after you have spoken. You do not fill in the space with explanation or justification. You can experience the nonverbal emanations in the silences during a conversation.  You can tolerate uncertainty, ambiguity, not knowing.

Practicing these skills brings you to a deep and abiding sense of serenity, presence, and compassion. These three words that describe the qualities that we begin to embody when we practice Getting Real.

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