Your Mindful Compass: Breakthrough Strategies for Navigating Life Relationships in the Social Jungle

At long last after four years, YOUR MINDFUL COMPASS is available on AMAZON just for you.

Your Mindful Compass:

Breakthrough Strategies For Navigating

Life/Work Relationships

In Any Social Jungle Paperback

by Andrea Maloney Schara (Author) , Alexa Schara (Cover Design)


This is one of the old photographs from  my travels with Murray Bowen, MD in the late eighties.  At the time his health had become precarious and he “allowed” me to travel with him to videotape the various conferences where he was presenting.  Most who knew Bowen can easily imagine what a challenge it would be to stay separate both from him and from the people who admired or disliked him and his dang theory.  The picture reminds me that it can be a fun challenge to be separate and useful to others.

There are many, many people, from all over, who had a chance encounter with him that changed the direction of their personal and professional life. You can see a few other interviews by going to

 I am grateful for Bowen’s ability to observe and write about human  behavior.  My life path was radically altered.  Among the radical notions  that Bowen wrote about two stand out: One, the family unit itself governs the behavior and development of its members. And the second that people could, through the use of triangles, differentiate a more separate and mature Self from the automatic programing of the unit.   Bowen saw the pressure on human behavior as similar to that pressure that governs the behavior of all social animals. By creating an impersonal theory of human behavior, Bowen was making it possible to understand the social jungle that we live and create a vastly different type of relationship with others.

The main idea I am trying to convoy is that trough leaning about social systems, as a courage and mindful observer of social systems, there are more choices for meaningful action.  By learning about our family history and gathering knowledge of the brain and other social systems we are better able to “see” system operate.

The mindful compass enables anyone to make basis strategic choices for his or her own life course and not to react as much to any resistance when it appears.   One develops a more mature Self, simply by guessing how to take a meaningful but low keyed action stance.  Without mindful awareness and knowledge of social systems, one is often automatically guided by the reactivity and the need to please or to upset others.

As my book is now published I wanted to take time to again acknowledge Bowen and the other many other smart and kind people who have helped me.  I am grateful for all who have supported this effort.

Now that the book is available on Amazon, both as a kindle book or a paperback, it seems a bit like having your child grow up to have a life of his or her own. Who knows what the book will do or where it will go?  Of course I am fascinated to hear the comments people have made after reading the book.  Please check out the interesting reviews of this book on Amazon.  Anyone can do write a review.

A summery of the book is below:

–Have fun and I hope you enjoy using….

Your Mindful Compass: Breakthrough Strategies For Navigating Life/Work Relationships In Any Social Jungle by Andrea Maloney Schara

-“Your Mindful Compass” takes us behind the emotional curtain to see the mechanisms which regulate individuals in social systems.

There is great comfort and wisdom in knowing we can increase our awareness to manage the swift and ancient mechanisms of social control. We can gain greater objectivity and flexibility by seeing how social controls function in all kinds of systems from ants to humans.

To become more adaptable and less controlled by others, we can learn how emotional systems influence our relationship-oriented brain.

People want to know what goes on in families that give rise to amazing leaders and/or terrorists.

For the first time in history we have the ability to understand the systems in which we live. The social sciences have been accumulating knowledge since the early fifties about how we are regulated by others.  S. Milgram, S. Ashe, P. Zimbardo and J. Calhoun, detail the vulnerability to being duped and deceived and the difficulty of cooperating when values differ.

Murray Bowen, M.D., was the first researcher to observe several live-in families for up to three years at the National Institute of Mental Health. Describing how family members overly influence one another and distribute stress unevenly, Bowen described both how symptoms and family leaders emerge in highly stressed families.

Our brain is not organized to automatically perceive that each family has an emotional system, fine-tuned by evolution and “valuing” its survival as a whole, as much as the survival of any individual. It is easier to see this emotional system function in ants or mice but not in humans.

The emotional system is organized to snooker us humans: encouraging us to take sides, run away from others, to pressure others, to get sick, to blame others, and to have great difficulty in seeing our part in problems. It is hard to see that we become anxious, stressed out and even that we are difficult to deal with. But “thinking systems” can open the doors of perception, allowing us to experience the world in a different way.

This book offers both coaching ideas and stories from leaders as to strategies to break out from social control by de-triangling, using paradoxes, reversals and other types of interruptions of highly linked emotional processes. Time is needed to think clearly about the automatic nature of the two against one triangle. Time and experience is required as we learn strategies to put two people together and get self outside the control of the system.  In addition, it takes time to clarify and define one’s principles, to know what “I” will or will not do and to be able to take a stand with others with whom we are very involved.

The good news is that systems’ thinking is possible for anyone.  It is always possible for an individual to understand feelings and to integrate them with their more rational brains.  In so doing, an individual increases his or her ability to communicate despite misunderstandings or even rejection from important others.

The effort involved in creating your Mindful Compass enables us to perceive the relationship system without experiencing it’s threats. The four points on the Mindful Compass are: 1) Action for Self, 2) Resistance to Forward Progress, 3) Knowledge of Social Systems and the 4) The Ability to Stand Alone. Each gives us a view of the process one enters when making an effort to define a self and build an emotional backbone.

It is not easy to find our way through the social jungle.  The ability to know emotional systems well enough to take a position for self and to become more differentiated is part of the natural way humans cope with pressure.

Now people can use available knowledge to build an emotional backbone, by thoughtfully altering their part in the relationship system. No one knows how far one can go by making an effort to be more of a self-defined individual in relationships to others.   Through increasing emotional maturity, we can find greater individual freedom at the same time that we increase our ability to cooperate and to be close to others.


  1. Andrea! 

    How is it you haven’t aged a bit?? I am delighted to see this post and off to Amazon to buy.

    Congrats & Best Wishes, Rose


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