Under The Umbra Ep 12 – Summary and Check-In, or… Start Here and then go back to the beginning!

In this episode, I'm reviewing some of my values for the show and how they might show up differently than…...

In this episode, I'm reviewing some of my values for the show and how they might show up differently than you think, and offering a summary of my key takeaways of Empathy, Collaboration, Boundaries and Power.

No co-host this week. Just me talking into a microphone at yoOoooOooouuUuuu, my listeners! If you like conversations more than reading a script, you can skip this one because it's just a summary of episodes 2-11! But if those looked a bit long when you think about what to play, you can start here and then go back to the episode where you want to learn more!


  • 00:00    Intro Credits
  • 01:00    Thanking Patrons
  • 01:49    Introduction Chat and Content Warnings
  • 03:18    Grounding Prayer
  • 04:13    Discussion about Values (at the start of all shows)
  • 07:40    Summary of thoughts about Empathy (Episodes 2-3)
  • 10:55    Summary of thoughts about Collaboration (Episodes 4-5-6)
  • 17:53    Summary and a bit of extra context about Boundaries (Episodes 7-8)
  • 24:33    Summary about Power (Episodes 9-10-11)
  • 30:14    Wrap-up
  • 30:49    Outro Credits

If any of these summaries are a bit too short, feel free to return to the corresponding episode for 2-11 for more in-depth discussion, or join me on Patron and ask a question for more clarification!

Since this is just me talking into a microphone, there is a whole transcript, already!  😲 😲 See below for the transcript!


Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself; by Nedra Glover Tawwab, plus instagram
🎧 Listen to Set Boundaries, Find Peace on LibroFM
📚 Read Set Boundaries, Find Peace via Bookshop.org
Nedra Glover Tawwab's Instagram

Boundaried Bootcamp Instagram


This is Under the Umbra: Using Empathy and Collaboration to Navigate a World of Shadows. In each episode, Electra and the co-hosts explore ways to think about and plan for difficult relationships with people and systems in a way that stays grounded in values and centers community. I invite you to try out focusing on Empathy and Collaboration as a realistic and compassionate model for interpersonal interactions. If you find yourself Under the Umbra, let’s find our way back to the light.

Find the show's home at Under the Umbra .info!

Support the show via Patreon.com The show is supported by “Responsive” Patrons: Ellery and KC, as well as several more on the Structured and Unscripted levels! Thank you so much for your support!

This podcast was created, recorded, edited and produced by me, Electra, and brought to you by Bridge to Becoming LLC. Music is by SoulProdMusic on Pixabay and used with permission. Show art is by Lo Carter, 2023. Subtitle crafted by Vera!


Summary and Check-in, or start here and go backwards!

Intro copy / Credits

This is Under the Umbra: Using Empathy and Collaboration to Navigate a World of Shadows.

In each episode, Electra (that’s me) and the co-hosts explore ways to think about and plan for difficult relationships with people and systems in a way that stays grounded in values and centers community.

In this episode, we’re discussing the past topics: my Values, Empathy, Collaboration, Boundaries, and Power. I don’t have a co-host for this episode but I will in the next.

The next episode will be about the DSM and diagnoses.

I invite you to try out focusing on Empathy and Collaboration as a realistic and compassionate model for interpersonal interactions. If you find yourself Under the Umbra, let’s find our way back to the light.

Thanking Patrons

Thanks to all my Patrons: Ian, Cali, Stacie, Roz, Kat and Hans, and Brian and Lena!

Extra thanks to KC and Ellery in the More, Responsive Tier!

Introduction Chat and Content Warnings

First off, my adult co-hosts and guests and I use swear words. Please consider your environment and nearby audience while listening.

CW for this episode: I mention topics from previous shows, including Elon Musk from the episode about Power, and the Joey Buttafuoco exploitation of Amy Fisher from the Boundaries episode.  I summarize the Collaboration episodes and so discuss how awful it feels to be in a non-collaborative relationship or system. However, it is mostly a summary, without much detail.

Purpose for this episode:

As I said in my earliest episodes, I wish I could either Vulcan Mind Meld with y’all or use a jack like in the Matrix to upload everything I’ve realized, experienced, synthesized and want to share. But I can’t. I am bothered about how my first episodes were a bit scattered and I would end the discussion with my friend and also all the Elec-tures without getting to what I wanted to convey.  Sometimes it’s because I hadn’t yet figured out exactly what the takeaway is.

Going forward, I am going to try to structure episodes better with an actual plan and agenda!

But to make up for that sense, and also to give folks somewhere to start anew, here is a summary of what I’ve discussed so far. If something doesn’t make sense, feel free to go back and listen to the longer episodes where I unpack it more.

Grounding Prayer

I strive to be grounded in and in integrity with my values and intentions while recording and interviewing. My values and intentions for this show are

  • Empathy, Collaboration, Compassion
  • Community, Mutuality, Pro-social,
  • Curiosity, Complexity & Nuance, Humanity, Neurodivergence,
  • Education, Accommodation, Useful Tools,
  • Harm Reduction, Reducing destructive conflict and enabling generative conflict

I honor the dignity and humanity of the people that I talk to and about.

May the ideas and experiences imparted here help others to increase their ability to maintain relationships, maintain boundaries, and reduce harm to themselves and others.

Values discussion: Diversity, Humanity, Respect and Trust

Some of my values for the show are humanity, neurodivergence, and harm reduction, and honoring the inherent dignity of people I talk to and about.

I haven’t talked about it in depth yet, but Respect and Trust are not on that list of what I uphold.

Because, Respect and Trust are things that are earned and maintained.

I know there is a discrepancy between me saying that I want to honor the dignity of all people and then speaking about someone with contempt in my voice. So let me clarify.

I want to always ground my opinions and observations in how we are all human beings and deserve access to community and accommodations for where we fall short, so that we can stay in community.

People’s behaviors are not happening in a vacuum but rather everything is protected or penalized by our larger society, our collective beliefs and our norms and laws. These differ from culture to culture. So any time I am critical or contemptuous of one person’s actions, I want to also ground it in what group or institution around them is enabling that behavior, letting them continue, taking their side, or just ignoring it.

For example, I spoke of Elon Musk but I also spoke about banks that loaned him money, an entourage that helped guide his actions or make amends for his violations, and municipal institutions bogged down by bureaucratic timelines that can’t hold his actions to account. And I honor that he is not a monster, but a human being who feels alienated and scared, or elated and strong, and has the choice to do better.

I don’t speak sweetly and permissively about people who are doing or who have done harm.

E.G. In the Boundaries episode, I discuss how Joey Buttafuoco in the 1990s was violatING five of Amy Fishers’ social and physical boundaries in a single night at the beginning of their relationship. I cannot speak to whether Joey has made amends or has done work to become more empathetic or collaborative or if he persists in violating other people’s boundaries. In that time, in the limited domain, he was doing egregious harm, and I have no shame about describing his actions at that time with contempt and suspicion.

Humanity, Nuance and Neurodivergence understands that some human beings cause harm to others, and there are complex reasons for that – some internal and some environmental.

Harm reduction understands that I don’t have to tolerate, speak sweetly and permissively about describing harm being done.

Honoring the dignity of the people I talk about understands that I ultimately want a society-wide paradigm with norms and laws to match based on empathy and collaboration that includes the accommodations and supports and resourcing that make it easier, and that there are opportunities for that now. I dignify them by insisting they are not monsters, flattening them into evil beings with evil intent. I can expect them to do better, and hope they have opportunities for that.

I will talk more about this in episodes about Forgiveness vs. Repentance and Repair, and about Shame.

Summary of Empathy (Part 1 and Part 2)

We are born with (genetic/perinatal) and develop in childhood🧑🏻‍🍼 strengths/weaknesses in abilities. E.G: I am good at movement; 💃🏻is easy, not tripping is easy, copying other people’s movements is easy, picking up things with my 🦶🏻 is easy!…  for me. But not everyone has such an easy time.

Conversely, I have Dyscalculia = ARITHMETIC CHALLENGED. I don’t have a felt-sense for “ballpark correct” for math.  So => accommodations: Show My Work📝, calculators, repeat multiple times, and ask others to  👀 my answer.

But neurotypical people looking at me might be all 🤔why I keep getting Cs in science & can’t calculate a tip • WARM EMPATHY💖 IS AN ABILITY. 😵😱? Most folks are born with/rapidly develop 💖 (=imagine/feel what someone else is feeling), which is different from Cold Empathy💙 (=understand/predict what someone else is doing/feeling/thinking).  💖 is a big part of our “conscience”: a FELT SENSE of how our behaviors impact others leads to us unconsciously stopping ourselves from behaviors that harm others, AND feeling shame/trying to make amends when we learn we did harm.  

With neurotypical 💖, we expect that everyone else also has 💖, just like people expect I can ➕➖✖️➗ in my head.

Also, we all have times when we are a low on warm empathy: 🥱😴, 😨😣,  😋🍔, threatened, brain injury… BUT! Some folks are born with very little, or are very slow to develop, ❌💖,  but they can still use the carrot/stick/pattern recognition from 💙 to unconsciously hack the rules of society even though they don’t have an internally felt DRIVE to not harm or make amends.

With a family, workplace or political/religious paradigm that doesn’t care about ❌💖 (e.g. war zone, Am. Capitalist boardroom, reality TV), they might never have a reason to develop 💖.

But if they’re surrounded by people who RECOGNIZE that they are empathy challenged, INVITE/EXPECT them to not cause harm, and also GIVE frequent exercises with reps and sets to 🏋🏻‍♂️💖💪🏻,  then ❌💖 folks can develop some life hacks / accommodations, just like me with my calculator

Summary of Collaboration (Part 1 Part 2 Part 3)

🌟Collaboration vs consensus/agreement🌟

➡️ collaboration has Long Term Relationship built in to the definition. We collaborate over time, over long-term projects, and we fluctuate with whose needs are focused on (mine today, yours tomorrow, community/broad goals the next day, etc.)

➡️ consensus/agreement is about a single moment in time when someone or another has to make sacrifices and not have needs being met, but then it’s locked in and we just move forward without revisiting.

🌟Collaboration feels like an intrinsic unconscious mutual goal and helps many other parts of relationships and being in society, and reduces trauma, and builds trust🌟

➡️ When we have a relationship that is collaborative by default, we can both bring our injuries and vulnerabilities and also bring our culpability, because we trust that the other side will do the same; we will both add more context and lessen the feeling of being victimized or targeted, and we can both mutually agree to do better and discuss how to rebuild trust and relationship; and we feel minimal distress about when they bring their vulnerabilities and injuries to us.

🌟Non-collaborative relationships are soul destroying and produce intense distress🌟

➡️ Signs you’re in a non-collaborative relationship in some key aspect of your life (home, intimate, child-parent, workplace supervisor or key colleague):

  • 😨 hypervigilant anxiety
  • 😨 insomnia from rumination and future problem-solving or going over past interactions
  • 😨 barrages of rhetorical convincing: using long elaborate justifications for your needs being met or your interests/projects being valid, going –as I say– full English be-wigged be-robed Barrister just to decide where to eat dinner or who empties the trash tonight
  • 😨intrusive thoughts and images as you fantasize about what it would take to get your needs met or to invoke empathy, where you inflict the same feeling of hurt or under-resourced state on someone else, or do it in a resonant/metaphorical way “How does this make YOU feel, huh?” except a part of you knows it wouldn’t work, so then it goes even more intense or even more violent
  • 😨 dumping all those intense feelings and rhetorical styles onto the relationships in your life that ARE collaborative, where you DO trust that you have influence (more on this in a bit) and also losing the ability to trust that any collaborative relationships even exist or that you should even expect it.

🌟Non-collaborative relationships are disguised and have an invisibility shield🌟

Our subconscious memory-collection of all the times we can’t get our needs met leads to us creating our own invisibility shield around that route being an option. We don’t even let ourselves consciously consider that we could.

🌟Non-collaborative relationships are everywhere - 10%-30% of people in our lives and worldwide don’t default to collaboration - and their in micro-interactions and in Big Needs interactions🌟

  • folks in every group and every demographic; 
  • folks who are neurodiverse in a way that makes collaboration very challenging;
  • folks who are under that influence (see above); 
  • folks who are phasically or perpetually under-resourced and don’t have the capacity to be collaborative, but would like to be if they get enough resources

🌟The horror of the distress when we realize we are in a non-collaborative relationship makes us want to make that person into a MONSTER !!! but if we look for monsters, we will miss the non-collaborative people in our daily life.🌟

➡️ I want to validate that when we recognize how much awfulness we are feeling because of a key relationship, the horror of distress 😨 in us, and the horror 😈 of the Difference/Discrepancy (who is this person? Did I ever even know them? What are they capable of???) makes us want to turn them into a monster

➡️ it is so hard for typical people in society to recognize this occurrence that we have to make them into a monster for our distress to be recognized

➡️ but if we only look for terrifying soul-sucking monsters, then we miss all the other micro-interactions of daily non-collaboration that could be a warning sign of a different tool set being needed, until another huge investment in this relationship has happened and a big, high stakes non-collaboration of important needs happens

🌟We can’t use the tools to invite collaboration with non-collaborative people until we recognize when it isn’t happening, but to do that we have to pierce a very intense disguise and invisibility shield🌟

➡️ There are ways to entice and invite people to collaborate when they aren’t intrinsically collaborative by default, but we have to know (1) when not to waste our time and (2) what tool set to use.  We can live together and get needs met but we need awareness and focus…

➡️ And we need to recognize which relationships are collaborative, to nurture those and not overburden them, and to lean into them for co-regulation and support

➡️ If we nurture our supportive collaborative relationships, we have the emotional

Summary of Boundaries (Part 1 and Part 2)

There’s lots of resources out there as to how to state your boundaries. Nedra Glover Tawwab Set Boundaries, Find Peace book and her instagram, as well as Boundary Bootcamp Instagram, are great places to start to get inspiration and guidance. But since they don’t have the focus of discerning what type of relationship or system you’re in, they didn’t say something I feel is important.

So here’s what I’m adding:

For Show Notes: Set Boundaries, Find Peace - Nedra Glover Tawwab, plus instagram, and Boundaries Bootcamp Instagram (See above in References section!)

There’s a lot of discussion about how boundaries require being clearly verbalized, and that passive, avoidant, and rigidly aggressive methods don’t work. I disagree. They do work, but not well. And, setting boundaries with varying levels of implicit demonstration and explicit verbalization count as experiments as to whether you’re in an empathetic and collaborative relationship, AND ALSO maybe in a relationship with someone who needs accommodations. After all, can someone who is legally blind be expected to see your frown and shudder? As someone who is Autistic and is sometimes non-verbal, and as someone who has been in relationships and systems when what I said outloud was treated as if nothing had been said, I know how even these amazing resources can feel out of reach.

So I want to always honor that body language can implicitly set boundaries, and the survival methods we developed do work sometimes.

  • Boundaries require collaboration. I/We identify and set a boundary and you/they uphold and respect the boundary.
  • Or, I/we don’t know where we have a boundary
  • Or, you/they cross or violate a boundary.
  • If I set a boundary, does my community / the State also uphold my boundary, or does the boundary crosser/violator get protection for their actions?

So, when we are completely lost and overwhelmed as to how to set boundaries and where to start when we feel like we don’t deserve boundaries or that no one anywhere will respect them, and we don’t feel like we can simply start saying sentences like the wonderful resources say we should…


  • Step 1 - where is ME, where are my current boundaries, where do I want them to be, where do other people have them?
  • Step 2 - how rigid or flexible do I need my boundary in this realm with this person to be?
  • Step 3 - In what realm(s) are the boundaries you are setting? and, over what span? and again, research/investigate how others are managing boundaries even in overwhelming situations.
  • Step 4 - Boundary versus Ultimatum or "empty threat"

A lot of the time, it’s our stress responses (fight, flight, freeze, fawn, trickster) that are how we respond when our boundary is crossed or violated.

A goal is to do it intentionally and utilizing the power we have, rather than reflexively.

Summary of Power (Part 1 Part 2 Part 3)

When we are Under the Umbra, in a relationship or system that is empathy-challenged and non-collaborative, we feel powerless. Feeling powerless, and disavowing our power so as to not resemble harmful power wielders, is physically and emotionally harmful to ourselves and others.

Alicia Garza - The Purpose of Power:  power TO versus power OVER

What happens when we disavow our Power? 1) we don't act when we could, and 2) when we do act, we flail and flicker, and cause harm. Also informed by Heart Of Business class Money & Power: I am wearing sturdy boots analogy.

Dacher Keltner's The Power Paradox and useful definitions: Control = influence over self and immediate environment; Power = Influence over others and larger environment. The Power Paradox: you are given power (influence over others) when you are kind, trustworthy, and of service; but if you percieve you have power and attempt to use it for control, you can lose trustworthiness and then lose power.

Building Power = empathizing, giving, expressing gratitude, and telling stories. All four of these practices dignify and delight others.

We can feel powerless when we’re in an empathy-challenged non-collaborative relationship or system. So how do we evaluate the power we do have to enact Power To help others?

Reject “agency” and embrace Sense of Coherence by boosting what you can.

How much do you feel confident you can reasonably influence the way things turn out?
The World is Predictable and Explicable • Optimism and Resilience • Effort is worthwhile • a sense of Closeness to other People

Realize that Power is giving or withholding/preventing support of others, so think about these four types of Social Support:

  • Instrumental support - tangible aid and service (if you’re hungry, I hand you a snack)
  • Information support - advice, suggestions and informations (if you’re hungry, I tell you where the snacks are, how to make snacks, and that you can eat a snack
  • Emotional support - expressions of love, trust and caring (if you’re hungry, I empathize and validate that hunger is appropriate and that hunger is nothing to be ashamed of and we’re all hungry sometimes)
  • Appraisal support - information and advice specifically used for self-evaluation –USE WITH CAUTION (if you’re hungry AND IT’S MY ROLE, I observe that your usual meal time has passed and you have a habit of not noticing you’re hungry until it feels urgent)

Outro copy / Credits

Improvised ending

This has been Under the Umbra, Using Empathy and Collaboration to Navigate a World of Shadows.

We discussed the last topics –my values, empathy, collaboration, boundaries, and power–  and in the next episode, we’ll discuss the DMS and diagnoses.

You can find show notes with links and outline (and eventually transcripts) at UnderTheUmbra.info

If you like what you’ve heard and want more of this vibe to be in the world, there are lots of things you can do!

You can share episodes you like with friends, family, coworkers and random strangers, and talk about what you like about it and how you’re putting it to use.

You can also support the show by becoming a Patron via patreon.com/UnderTheUmbraPodcast (link in show-notes). There, you’ll get bonus content like current event hot takes and media critiques (e.g. examples of empathy-challenged non-collaborative behavior out in public view), Q and As and Office Hours, and guided meditations for when you find yourself in the cold, dark umbra.

Thank you to my Patrons!

You can also support the show and learn more about these topics by getting the physical paper, ebook or audiobook version of the resources I refer to, through (coming soon) Bookshop or Libro.fm links, where a tiny bit of the money goes to us but most of it goes to the authors and the local bookstore of your choosing!

This podcast was created, recorded, edited and produced by me, Electra, and brought to you by Bridge to Becoming LLC. Music is by SoulProdMusic on Pixabay and used with permission. Show art is by Lo Carter, 2023. The subtitle was crafted by Vera Alcorn!

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