Have your cake and eat it too
I’ve never been big on the whole relationship thing. But after the last year of my life where I’ve been on this pretty intense spiritual journey I’ve finally started to toy with the idea of calling in a soul mate. There are so many reasons why my heart has been closed to it but mainly I have this belief that once in a relationship, a woman basically dies. Very dramatic, I know. I’m an aries and half mediterranean, we have a lot of fire. My biggest fear is to lose myself and my identity once I ‘fall’ for a man. I’ve seen it happen, to so many women around me, myself included. We start off badass, independent, doing our thing, speaking our minds. Then, once we start liking someone, we second guess our text messages. We speak up less about things that matter to us. We start building our schedules around his and making ourselves available for when he might want to see us…
We try to be what we think he is looking for, often subconsciously, and even if we are aware, we cannot prevent it from happening.
So I figured, let’s just avoid this altogether and stick to surface dating. Or no dating at all. But at the end of the day, I’m human. I crave intimacy and connection. I want to be seen, cared for, appreciated. I want to have all the feels for someone! Is it possible to love another and have yourself too? My mission when it comes to love and relationships is to maintain my independence, authenticity and integrity but still be vulnerable, caring, giving and open.
On my pursuit of enlightenment in this regard I did a lot of research, listened to a lot of podcasts, asked a lot of questions, talked with a lot of women in various types of relationships and finally interviewed a specialist in the domain. Who better to help me on my quest than love coach Diana Eskander! I first encountered her glowing presence at a day retreat organized by Goss Club in Montreal. When I heard there was a love coach speaking I was a little skeptical, expecting her to talk about all the mistakes women make when it comes to men and how to be more appealing to a man by pretending to be something we’re not. Pretending to not care, pretending to need help with some sort of physical labour, dumbing ourselves down so he can feel more manly. Those kinds of trite pieces of advice that every dating book subtly or not so subtly suggests is the problem with today’s strong independent woman. “Just be a damsel in distress, your prince will come”. I’ve always had a problem with that type of shit. And maybe it is part of why I am perpetually single. I like to think I just have discerning taste. I’m still working through my stuff and I am aiming to find a partner that will appreciate my strength and independence, not be turned off by it.
Diana blew my mind and my expectations out of the water. First of all she literally radiates, it makes no sense, she’s a glowing goddess. Also her whole practice is founded on the premise of self-love, self-worth, mindfulness and empowering her clients to learn to trust themselves so that they eventually won’t need her anymore.
A few months ago she came by our place and we talked self-love, getting into alignment, meditating with a baby around, brain heart coherence, how to stop spiralling, and so much more.
Below are some of the highlights from our conversation. Keep reading for tips on how to stop spiralling, how to connect with a guy that doesn't like to do the whole feelings thing and how to take mental space in a relationship. Plus, she is generously offering the Alice Kass #goddessgang a discount for her new program, The Conscious Love Blueprint. Scroll to the bottom for details!
Tell us a bit about what you do! What is a love coach?
I’m a love coach! I get the privilege of working with women one on one. I also do public speaking and host workshops and retreats – and I just created an online program called The Conscious Love Blueprint. I work with people to help them create their ideal relationship. That requires some digging and getting really specific about their unique vision. Once we’ve got that down, we work together to align them to the vision. We assess what thoughts aren’t serving them anymore, and we break patterns by aligning their words and actions to the vision. We do this all with a foundation of self-love and mindfulness. You cannot have a conscious relationship without those two!
How did you get started?
Honestly, I’ve been talking about love and writing about it since I was 7 years old. I would write poetry, and love songs. I’m not even sure where I got these ideas about love! I was 9 years old and in a year and a half relationship. I can so clearly remember my sister’s friends, who were 7 years older than me, coming home after school and sitting around me saying, “tell us your secrets how do you get him to …”. While I had an intuitive sense about relationships, I did still make so many of my own mistakes for years. I had my own lessons to learn and wounds to heal. About four years ago, I began writing about relationships online and that’s how it all started. My readership grew and people reached out to work with me one-on-one. So I was like ok sure! I did that for free for about a year and took some courses while I developed my process. It very organically took off after that. I stood in my truth I AM a love coach I know how to do this, I’ve seen the evolution of my clients. One referral after the other came rolling in, along with people wanting to collaborate for retreats and workshops…and so here I am!
What’s your process? What is a love coaching session like? Do you help deprogram patterns from childhood? Deep rooted trauma? What’s a session like? So many questions haha.
First we examine what patterns have been repeating, I am not a psychologist so if someone comes to me and really wants to dig into “my mom was this way and my dad was like this”, and they want to talk about childhood stuff, I refer them on to someone else.
With coaching, it’s really about where are you today, where you want to go and what’s the process to get you there. It’s a little less about decoding and more about creating new patterns. What is it that you no longer want to do or repeat anymore? And do you notice how many times in this conversation you’ve self-sabotaged or repeated old beliefs, allowing no space for something new to be created? I help guide my clients through different exercises of reversing outdated beliefs. Together, we examine what isn’t true about the statement and how they can say it in a way that is more empowering but still believable to them. We don’t want to take it all the way to the other end of the spectrum where they won’t believe it. This is where people get confused with affirmations that they just don’t believe; it creates tension in their body as they say something they don’t believe to be true yet.
Does the way you feel really align with what you want to manifest? This is the big question.
Writing is a great tool. I love asking open-ended questions, and letting my answers pour out. It’s a great way to reveal your subconscious beliefs. I really insist that people journal when we work together.
Reframing our past experiences is another great way to move forward. I can look at my past relationships and make myself out to be the victim of those situations. But the way I look at it now, I see how all of those relationships that were not necessarily positive, have led me to where I am today and I’m very satisfied with where I am today. Looking back, I can connect those dots and make myself the heroine of my own journey.
Pic of @sabinyellis in the Petra bra by @leohngn
Ok so when I’m single, I’m awesome. I do my thing, I’m confident, I got this. But the second I like a guy, I go blank, I have this anxiety that comes up and I can’t be myself. Any tips for how to deal with that?
I have so many things I can say about this! This may sound simplistic, but the first thing I’m going to suggest is to breathe! When you’re with the person you’re dating, connect with your breath. It’s always there for you and it will always help you come back to the present moment. The only reason you’re going blank or repeating what he just said in your mind or trying to come up with the next thing to say is that you’re not present. Coming back to your breath will help ground you and bring you back to what is really happening.
When there is a guy that comes into your life it’s really easy to get swept up in that. I just had a conversation with a woman who was saying that she has an interdependent relationship. They have their own set of friends as well as mutual friends. But somehow, it still feels like they don’t have any space. What we discovered in speaking together was that even though she’s taking physical space from the relationship, she’s not taking mental space. She’s still thinking about it all the time. She’s bringing it to her work, to her friends, they talk about her relationship problems whenever they get together. There’s no space. It’s so important when you’re dating someone, to have both physical and mental space. That’s when you get clarity and the cues you’re looking for; you get them through being present in the moments when you’re with them and in the moments you’re apart. It’s kind of like when you take a step back from your business – when you get the respite, the creative ideas come flowing in.
How do you take that mental space? How do you do that in practice when you’re obsessing and analyzing to the death?
The first easiest way is to not talk about it with everyone. There might be one person who’s opinion you can trust because they’re grounded, and they themselves have a positive relationship track record. You have to be careful who you‘re asking advice from because people (your friends!) can’t help but project their beliefs onto you. They have good intentions but it is what it is.
The other thing you have to surrender to, is that you can’t control your thoughts. We have 50-70 000 thoughts in a day, with about 80% of them being repetitive. It would be impossible to monitor all your thoughts. I have a process to help with this. When you notice yourself feeling negative, stop and take inventory of what thought you were thinking that made you feel that way. Breathe through the negative feeling and choose to change your perspective on it, or walk yourself off the ledge so to speak. If that’s too hard to do in the moment, think about something you appreciate. Appreciation is the antidote to negative thinking. The magic is in choosing a kinder thought that makes you feel better. When I say kinder I don’t necessarily mean towards the other person, maybe something that softens the situation, softens the stress, like, ‘I don’t need to think about this right now. I don’t need to think about something that isn’t yet an issue.’
For example with a health scare, deciding you’re not going to spend all this time stressing about it until you get the results and know for sure. It’s about choosing to focus your attention elsewhere. And your thoughts will still go there. It’s a constant choosing.
Right, so it's a constant intention, being aware of our thoughts but it really is so easy to spiral. We’re so critical of ourselves, I think as women we grew up in that, always being down on ourselves and never feeling good enough.
Ask yourself what wound this is triggering and why it’s bothering you so much. Something I learned from Brené Brown about vulnerability is “sharing the story you’re making up.” When you’re with your guy, and he says something and you internalize it and you’re super angry about it in your head, just saying to him ‘ok the story I’m creating in my head is that when you come home and you say the house is a mess that you’re saying I don’t do enough. Maybe you don’t mean it this way, but I just want to tell you this is how I’m taking it.’ By telling him, you’re breaking the story in your mind and letting him in on how you’re feeling, and why.
Ok do you think we often end up picking the wrong men for us? How do we connect with less emotionally open men?
In our society we generalize men and women in specific ways and it’s limiting because we often want it to be different; but we keep repeating the story.
It’s necessary to be mindful of such generalizations, such as men are not emotional beings and they don’t know how to communicate. If it’s not a generalization that we like, then it’s kind of on us as individuals to not perpetuate the story.
If you’re with someone, whether it’s a man or a woman, who doesn’t know how to communicate well or it doesn’t come naturally to them, there’s a way to inspire it in them. When I first met Jack, who is my husband now, communication was not his strong suit. I often didn’t know what he was thinking.
When we talk, I give him as much space and time as he needs to gather his thoughts. We often want to jump in and help someone complete their thought or sneak in what we think so they can agree with us, but it’s about really allowing them the space to just get comfortable with gathering their words. Some people need more time to absorb a message and it’s not so easy for them. And when they do say something, if it’s not something you liked hearing, you need to breathe through it (always coming back to that breath!). If you jump all over them, they’ll be afraid to communicate with you again.
And maybe they’re having a hard time even expressing it. I’m like that, I have a really hard time opening up. I need space and nurturing and I need to feel safe to be able to say those things.
You said the perfect words, ‘making them feel safe’, whether it’s with a gentle look or telling them they don’t to rush. Create a loving environment with your body language. If you’re anxious;y waiting for a response they’re going to be anxious, too.
So what if a guy isn’t open to emotions, he really doesn’t want to open up?
The first thing to consider is you can’t change someone. If you try to do so, he’s going to resist you wanting to change him. You’re going to constantly come up against that.
Ask yourself why you want him to be a certain way, what is it you’re hoping to get out of him and is it possible for you to give a bit more of that to yourself? You always have three choices. To stay and accept things as they are, to leave, or to change the way you look at/approach things.
The thing to note is that, relationship act as mirrors. They reflect what is going on inside you. What you see happening on the outside is a reflection of how you feel on the inside, or of something you need to heal or address. If you have trust issues in your relationship, it’s reflecting the lack of trust you have in yourself.
What do you keep asking from your partner that you would want more of and can you give more of that to yourself? If you want him to be more emotionally open, can you maybe start to do that within the relationship with yourself first? I know that that’s not the most appealing answer. You might be thinking, ‘what the hell? So now I have to like figure this out and talk to myself!?!’ It’s a work in progress, it’s not something we can unravel in a few minutes. This is something I uncover with my clients. All that said, it’s important to accept that you can’t change anyone, but you can inspire change.
That means you might need to decide for at least the next little while, that you won’t focus on this “issue”. Imagine putting it away on a shelf and putting your focus instead on all the things you have going on for you as an individual and as a couple. And, all the things that he is really good at. So long as you’re choosing to stay in the relationship, you owe it to yourself to stand behind that decision and really focus on what you appreciate and what kind of things you can do to inspire. He might see how your life starts to improve as you focus on the positive, and he might ask questions, but you can’t change for him.
We talked a lot about being mindful and conscious which brings us to The conscious Love Blueprint which from what I understand is self-coaching, can you tell us a bit about your online program?
I developed the program because I know not everyone can or will invest the time or money to work with a coach one-on-one. Also, I only have so much time to give and can only work with so many people at once, so I thought how can I put this into something that people can follow? You can think of it as self-coaching. The program is delivered over twelve weeks intentionally because there’s a lot of information to absorb. I tried to give just enough information that you’re able to apply it. Every week a lesson and accompanying exercise are made available. Some of the exercises are practical which you can take into your relationships or dating experiences, and others are more of a self-reflection. These exercises will help you work out some of those beliefs which aren’t serving you, to break patterns and create your vision. The 12 weeks serve as a roadmap, from being single to the dating stages, all the way through a full blown conscious relationship. Even in the first few chapters which are more focused on single life, I have a section for those in relationships to make it more applicable to them. The idea is to make your relationship stronger over time, not the other way around. So many people say to me, so matter-of-factly, “well of course the romance starts to fizzle out over time”. It really doesn’t have to. If you pace yourself and if you believe that you’re going to be spending a significant amount of time with this person there’s no reason to do it all at the beginning, there’s more to unfold over time and it keeps things exciting.
I don’t have rules and I don’t believe in rules because I really want to empower everyone I work with to think for themselves, to feel into what’s aligned to them. So my only rule is “do what feels aligned to you”. I think that's what differentiates this program and makes it really sustainable. It’s not a rulebook. It's about getting in tune with yourself.
I am very excited to get started with the program and would like to invite you to join me on this self-love journey so we can create the love we want in our lives, with Diana’s support. Everyone of us deserves to feel like a goddess and be in a fulfilling, loving partnership and The Conscious Love Blueprint is a great place to start. We’ll get expert tips and coaching Q&A’s with her plus I’ve created a FB group for those of you who sign up so we can touch base weekly with any questions, epiphanies or struggles we might have or reflections we’d like to share. There’s nothing quite like a supportive group of women coming together to lift each other up. No matter your background, age, income, location, education, sexual orientation, this whole standing in our power thing seems to be something a lot of us struggle with, especially when it comes to relationships. There is so much to be learnt from each of our unique experiences and I am so excited to embark on this journey with you so we can share and grow together.
Use the code ‘alicekass15’ for 15% off the CLBP
To sign up click here
+ you’ll receive a link to the private FB group as soon as it launches <3