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Mastering Empathy (with Katrina Vaillancourt)

    We did not expect this episode to become so personal and emotional as it turned into a live couple’s coaching session…

    Katrina Vaillancourt is a relationship coach and a master at empathy. She has created a card game to practice empathy with yourself or with your partner so you can use empathy when challenging situations arise.

    What is empathy? Why is it so important? And how can you use empathy to come back to connection fast, even if you have strong disagreements with your partner?

    This is what you’ll learn in this episode as Katrina shares the moving story of how she came up with this card game of empathy and saved her relationship with her 9-year-old son. Listen as she coaches us live on practicing empathy to stay connected through difficult times.

    Get Katrina’s Empathy card game here: https://www.lovesmartcards.com

    Audio Version

    Video Version

    Hi.

    Welcome back to our podcast RelationshipAlkemy. I’m Jordan Bessaignet.

    I’m Olivier Bessaignet

    And today we have a super cozy topic, which is is mastering empathy with Katrina Vaillancourt.

    Welcome, Katrina. How are you doing?

    Thank you. I’m doing wonderfully well. You know, this is a favorite topic of mine.

    Yeah. And that’s why I know you for Katrina. I love you, Katrina, because you’re one of my first teacher with Scott Katamas on compassionate communication, nonviolent communication, and out of the way you teach it with clarity as well. Empathy. Okay. Empathy. What is it? Why do we need it? So, Katrina, you have cards. Yes, a lot of smart cards. And how do those I’m excited because I was there around when they came out the first time. And this is one of the first sets that came out, and I grabbed it right away.

    Yeah. Wonderful. Empathy. I love it. It’s a really big topic as well. But basically, what it is, it’s the ability to deeply, deeply understand yourself through the eyes of love and compassion, to understand what motivates you, what’s important to you in life, what are your values, what it is that drives your decisions, and also to see through that same lens when you’re relating to other people, whether that’s your spouse or partner or children or family members, friends, coworkers, like any relationship. It also gives you the ability to have that lens with them. What’s really going on in them, what’s in their heart, what are they motivated by, but not through the eyes of judgment, really through the eyes of compassion. And when you can understand what is motivating yourself and what’s motivating another person, what we call precious needs are needs, values, longings and desires. When we can see life through that lens, then we’re able to navigate life in a way that makes life better for everyone. We’re able to enter into a situation, and when somebody does something that we don’t like, it doesn’t meet a value of ours. Recognize, okay, what is that value in me?

    And what are the precious needs they’re trying to meet? And how can I honor both my value and the needs are trying to meet? Maybe I could suggest another strategy for them that will be more life serving, supportive, mutually delightful than whatever it is they’re doing right now. It gives a new lens, and it’s also a super powerful tool for personal development and personal transformation because we may seem like we’re just a human being, but we have all these parts inside of us. It’s very common that a part of me wants to do this and a part of me wants to do that.

    Which one is right?

    Right. And both of them have wisdom. And so how can I look at the wisdom of both of them? What needs are each of these parts of me trying to meet? And how can I bring that together so that I’m making decisions in life with the full integrity of my being and the highest alignment with the values that are most important to me. So that’s synopsis of what empathy is. You lost course on this.

    But it’s just a little Olivier of it.

    Remind me on how you came with it. The story with your son.

    Yeah. When I first discovered nonviolent communication, that was really where I learned about empathy. I was in a profoundly difficult time in my life. I was a single mother. My relationship to my ex husband was in a horrible condition. We could not communicate with each other without getting into an argument within five or ten minutes. I think most people have had some kind of a relationship where things get so tense that it’s nearly impossible to be around each other when you’ve got that situation and you have a child. Oh, it’s heartaching because every conflict impacts your child. So my son was certainly being impacted by this, and I didn’t know how to make it stop.

    How old was the other time?

    Well, we separated when he was a year old, and this happened all the way through until he was nine. And that’s when I really learned about nonviolent communication and went deep dive into my study and was able to create breakthrough results remarkably quickly. I had experienced nonviolent communication, as I would call it, like a recipient where I was having such a hard time. And I had friends who could say, wow, are you feeling stressed and frustrated and overwhelmed? And could you use some support and understanding and maybe some relaxation? And would you like and they would come up with strategies. Would you like me to Besaw your shoulders a little bit? And we can talk about strategies that might help you through. It was, like, so concise. And so to the point, it seemed miraculous to me. I was like, wow, are they psychic or something? And I came to understand that primarily what was going on is that they had what I would call feelings awareness and needs awareness. And these are the two primary components that come together to build this skill called empathy. And that awareness was built partially on having a vocabulary that I didn’t have at the time.

    I had really big emotions, big emotions. But if somebody asked me how did I feel? I don’t know. It’s just too much. I’m overwhelmed or stressed. But Brene Brown in Atlas of the Heart, she’s talking about how science shows that it’s really important to find precision for what we’re feeling, to find the precise words. And truly, there’s a medicine in it. Sarah Payton, who is also she’s a leader in nonviolent communication, talks about empathy as being like microsurgery for the brain. You can actually change your circuitry in the brain to be able to dissolve some of the trauma. So finding exact words are really important not only for our feelings, but also for what are our precious needs or values longings or desires when I understood that it was primarily a vocabulary that I was missing and being able to match what I was feeling inside with words that could express what was going on for me. I had an idea to create cards, and that way I could just flip through cards and I could ask myself, Am I feeling frustrated right now? And my body would give a response, yes or no? Yes, I’m feeling frustrated.

    Put that my pile. Take the next card. Right? Am I feeling exhausted? And so I’d flip through these cards, and as I did that, I would both connect with what’s actually going on in me. So I could feel that thematically. And at the same time, I was building a vocabulary so that over time, I didn’t need the cards so much anymore. I’ll still pull them out sometimes, but I don’t rely on them near as much because they’re as woven in for me as looking at this mug and saying that’s blue immediate access. So feelings and needs are a huge part of empathy. It’s not the only piece, but these parts that are really huge part of learning to be empathic. So you had asked me about this story with my son. I just want to pause here, though, and see if there’s anything else coming up for you.

    Yeah. So you’re talking a lot about self empathy and connecting what you feel with specific words. And why is it important to guess, like, feelings in others? What is the importance of guessing feelings in this topic of empathy?

    Yeah, thank you for that. I mean, that weaves, of course, very well into my story with my son. So I think I’ll jump into that to give a deeper understanding as to how important and powerful it is to not only do that for yourself, but also for other people. So in this very difficult situation, not being able to communicate. My son had been living with his dad for most of five years. And through nonviolent communication support, I was able to negotiate for him to be living with me Monday through Friday. After not having my son living in my home with me for so long and the heartbreak that came with that, I had hoped that having him in my house again, it would rebuild my heart. Everything was going to be better. And so it was surprising and shocking for me when I had the experience of every single day, he would wrap himself around my leg, nine years old, wrap himself around my leg, sitting on my foot. You’d look up at me and he’d scream, I hate you, I hate you. I want to live with my dad. You do this for about a half hour.

    As you might imagine, my nerves were fried. And this was happening Monday through Friday for six months, right before I had this like, oh, what if I made cards that came through? So I made these cards with the thought of I need to practice self empathy and I need to practice empathy with my son. And I want to teach him these skills, too, because I see that they’re powerful and they could be helpful. So I created a game with him where every time he played this card game with me, he’d get a point. And when he got 100 points, I would buy him his favorite video game.

    I see. I remember that.

    Let’s be honest. Does he want to play this card game emotional intelligence card game with me or does he want to play on video games and with his friends and do whatever kids don’t always want to do the things that are going to build their life skills, but as parents, we know that if we can create an incentive that will support them to build those life skills, they’ll be deeply, deeply grateful later on in life when they have that. So this is what I did. And I had an opportunity pretty quickly because it’s happening to practice with the cards with him. He had a couple of friends who were over and it was 06:00 dinner time for them to go home. And so, of course, I sent them out the door, even though they were like, no, we don’t want to go and all of that. And so they’re out the door, my stuff coming towards me. I can see the look on his face. And he said, Would you like to earn your first point? And quickly he turned motivation. And I said, okay. He says, yes. And I said, okay. So for your first point, I’m going to go through this set of cards.

    I had a handmade set, of course, at the time. And I’m just going to ask, I’m going to guess what it is you’re feeling right now, and all you need to do is let me know if I guessed right or not. So I’m flipping through these cards and you saw some of the cards here, but I’ll flip through some of them. I imagine that he was feeling sad and frustrated, disappointed and irritated and impatient. And I imagined that he had yeah. So those were some guesses around feelings. And I put those down and he looked at them and he said, yes. That’s what’s going on for me. I said, okay, great. Would you like another point? And he says, yes. And so I said, okay. So I’m going to go through this set of cards and I’m just going to guess what it is you want right now. So I’m flipping through these cards and I’m guessing he wants friendship, he wants fun, he wants choice, he wants joy and play. And so I’m putting those cards down and he looks at them and he goes, yeah, that’s what I want. And I’m like, great.

    So already I’ve got contrast. He’s just doing something with me. I didn’t realize how powerful this was going to be at this time. Ask him, do you want another point? And he says, yes. And so for the next few points, I asked him to take out these same set of cards and to guess what I might be feeling and what I might want. Now he’s doing empathy for me, right? I’ve guessed for him. Now he’s guessing for me. And so he’s putting down cards, some similar ones, feeling sad and frustrated and disappointed. Heavy hearted, irritated, impatient. I’m looking at those, I’m like, yeah, wow. He got it right. And I was surprised. I didn’t expect him to get it right the first time. That’s why he made it. 100 points, right?

    Right.

    And I’m sitting behind him quietly, and then he’s going through the needs and he starts putting down cooperation, rest, peace, harmony, love. When that love card went down, the contrast, like him saying, My mom needs love by putting the card down was in such contrast to what I’d been experiencing on a regular basis with him. So he puts that down, he keeps going, but I’m sitting behind it and I’ve got tears streaming down, silent tears streaming down my face. And he puts them all down and he turns around and to see if he got it right and sees my tears, he goes, Mommy, are you okay? And he said, yes. Thank you so much for understanding what’s going on in me. And he says, Mommy, I love you. He wraps his arms around me and gives me the sweetest hug I had experienced in years. Those fit stopped overnight.

    Wow.

    Now 23, and we only took out the cards to resolve conflict between us two more times between nine and 23. Yeah. So of course, I had to create a lot of other games with 100 points back to that piece that you asked, why is it important to guess what another person is feeling? I could have done the card process myself. I could have guessed what I was feeling, needing, and what he was feeling and needing, but it wouldn’t have created the same connection. When he guessed for me and I could see that he cared and that he could tune into what was happening for me, it cracked my heart open.

    Yeah.

    And I had no doubt that when he saw that, I understood what he was feeling and what he wanted, something softened in him as well, right. That softening is what created what I would call a miracle of love through the power company.

    So in all that is like nothing about the situation or problem solving was addressed. It’s all that becomes irrelevant, right?

    Yes. When the heart softens and you both deeply understand each other, that’s where solutions just emerge naturally. You’re no longer in this. What are we going to do? And compromise? And you’re not in that anymore. The heart opens and you’re like, wow, I care about you. I can see what’s going on. I trust that you care about me, and you can see what’s going on, and that’s what moves the dynamic from a me versus you into a us together. Looking at the problem, that’s the powerful magic of empathy.

    Wow.

    And I see how this could translate easily. You’re talking about the story with your nine year old son, but it can translate easily with any people in partnership and relationship, family members everywhere.

    And I have applied it everywhere. Of course, it’s like, wow, this works with my ex husband. We had tremendous breakthroughs. We have a really harmonious relationship now with my parents. Any healing I needed to do from times in which I didn’t, my needs for love and care and attention weren’t met to the degree I wanted it to as a child. We all have some degree of that. I was able to clear that up with them. I was able to give them empathy for the challenge that it is to be a parent, siblings, coworkers. It can go everywhere. And of course, this is also something that in my coaching work, I support other people to look at. Okay. Here’s a difficult situation. How do we bring this tool in? We do a lot of role play, especially role play can be very powerful as a way to practice mastering empathy, because let’s be real. These are vulnerable conversations. We’re allowing our heart to be touched and to crack open. We’re guessing what might be going on with another person and we might be wrong. That can be difficult. So it’s good to have a way to practice.

    The cards and coaching and workshops are great ways to practice.

    Do you have any questions?

    Well, speaking of practice, what if we were to practice?

    Sure.

    With Katrina here.

    Yeah. Do you have any specific topic?

    The one topic that comes to mind, Katrina, if you’re okay with that. Sure. Yeah. We have the same argument every four months, the same exact argument ever since our son was born. And, yeah, we could just make it through this argument. We would have no problems in our relationship.

    All right. Thank you for that. And I want to pause just recognizing that this is live stream and tune in because something that is also really important is a sense of emotional safety. And that’s a very vulnerable topic to be sharing live streams. So I just want to take a pause for a moment and see if that’s the topic you want to do here or if there might be something else that you would prefer. I want to give a moment for you to really check in.

    Let’s go for it.

    Yeah.

    I feel nervous.

    I feel nervous as well because this is a private matter, but it also feels like. Yeah, I’m sure a lot of people can benefit from us sharing our experience.

    Okay.

    Yeah, definitely feel nervous. My palms are sweaty, though.

    One of the first things I like to do is just kind of check our foundation, because, again, these things can be vulnerable and safety, emotional safety included, is a really important foundation to have in order to have these conversations with the level of love and care that we want to bring. All right. So the first thing I want to ask you is how well resourced do you feel right now in terms of what’s your level of vitality and feeling of love, care, respect, and also that you’re well rested, you’re well resourced on a spiel of one to ten. Where are you at?

    I feel like a solid seven, which is pretty high from being a mom and just working and all of that. So I actually feel very connected to Olivier. We had some really juicy sex last night. The relationship feels really strong. That’s how I feel.

    Very good. I’m having a strange day, pretty discomfort related. And so I would say five or six. Yeah. It’s not being a flowy easy day. It’s been hard so far, but I feel like I have enough resources to do this.

    Okay, great. Thank you for the check in. And definitely when you’re in an intimate love bond, having really high quality intimate time is so good for the health of the relationshipalkemy. So I’m glad to hear that that has happened recently. I’m celebrating that. And I’m also aware that there is some amount of lack of resource, so I’m wanting to be attentive to that. One of the ways that we can do that is if at any time either of you are feeling some level of emotional trigger and I don’t see it, you can say it, and we’re just going to slow down.

    Okay.

    One of the things that I’ve learned from John Gottman’s teachings is that when he does coaching with couples and he’s working on holding a space for them to communicate, he has them wear heart rate monitors.

    Oh, wow.

    If their heart rate goes above 80 beats per minute, they stop.

    Wow. That is the next level.

    Right? It is scientific, and it’s also another strategy for emotional safety. Right. Because if our heart rate is going above that 80 beats per minute, there’s a good chance that our frontal lobes, where our empathy centers are, might be shutting down. And we’re going more to the reptilian part of the brain because that’s the part that handles safety. And so if we’re not feeling safe, we have those fight flight freeze reactions that can take all kinds of forms. So if anything like that comes up, we’re just going to slow down and breathe. You could maybe put a hand on your heart. I gaze, and then the goal is to really reconnect with this is my beloved in front of me. So you’ll be looking at each other, of course, to do that grounding. All right. So sometimes I’ll also do a round of appreciation for sake of the topic here. I’m going to trust that you are both in a state of love and appreciation with each other. And it’s important to anchor that remembering again to make sure that our state of being is in a place of love, respect, and care. So that’s our touchstone.

    And if we ever lose that, we want to make sure we come back there before we continue.

    Okay.

    All right.

    Very good.

    All right.

    So what we’re going to do then is we’re going to start by one person sharing with the other person. What I’d most love for you to know or understand about me is the other person’s just going to listen and try and keep it to one point. This is not a time to say your laundry list of all the things you want your partner to know, because that can be overwhelming. So with one point and then you guys can let me know who would like to start first.

    Wow. I feel super emotional already going into this.

    Yeah.

    So I’ll start.

    Okay.

    And when the emotions are there, it’s good to slow down. Sometimes when our emotions are there, we speed up because of the nervousness. I’m going to encourage you to slow down and to breathe and even to pause when you need to so that you can really honor the emotions that are there.

    Yeah. What I’d like for you to understand is how burnt out I feel.

    Yeah. I hear you burnt out. Yeah. You want to tell me more?

    I mean, I don’t want to go into a list, but I feel really taxed by our peace of life having to watch Cedar and I feel stuck in the mundanity of life with a baby or a toddler. I don’t feel any newness or new exploration or curiosity because we just do the same thing.

    Does it feel complete for now, yeah. Thank you.

    Thank you. Thank you for telling me.

    I know, Olivier, you’re well versed in feelings and needs, so I’m going to invite you to reflect back. So a combination of paraphrasing and weaving in feelings and needs, words in a way that’s fully embodied. Not just words, but your being is behind that.

    Yeah. What I’m understanding from your share is that we’re doing the same thing every day, and that’s retaxing with taking care of the baby. And so you feel drained, you feel exhausted. What I’m sensing is a sense of. Yeah. You want renewal, you want fun. You’re missing fun. Seeing more juiciness and aliveness and spark in our life.

    Beautiful. Some other words that I might choose from the needs list are celebration of life and adventure.

    Adventure.

    Yeah.

    Selfexpression.

    Both of those selfexpression. Some rest and relaxation. And. Wellbeing, also comes in there flow. Jordan, are you feeling heard, seen and understood?

    Yes, I am heard and understood and seen.

    Yeah.

    So those are three other important needs for communication to happen is that when one person speaks, the other person is going to reflect back until the needs to be heard, seen, and understood and appreciated are met.

    Ease also comes to mind. Ease, more ease. I understand.

    All right. Thank you. So you’re feeling that fully heard, seen and understood in this moment. And so then, Olivier, now it’s your turn to express what you would love for Jordan to know or understand about you.

    Well, first of all, I need to acknowledge my current state, which is nervousness and, like, on the spot. And it’s hard for me to do this not being a private moment. So I feel my heart rates going up. So I’m going to try to slow down and retyp into my truth. I’ve been feeling really anxious about the transition we’re going through in terms of creating a stable life for us. And I feel impatient for this transition to be over and the new things to come to fruition. My main anxiety is what we do money, financial stability, financial safety.

    And.

    This switch has required a lot of attention, strength and putting time into it. And I’m missing having more focused time to make it happen quicker. Yeah. It comes down to stability and financial safety trying to make that happen.

    So I’m hearing that you really value our financial stability as family and that you really value timeliness and how quickly you can achieve that.

    Yeah, I value efficiency. It’s true.

    And efficiency.

    Yeah. I feel conflicted between how fast I want things to happen and finding a pace that’s not training. Does that make sense?

    Yeah, I can empathize because I also feel conflicted just settling into Motherhood Morning, the death of my maiden.

    I totally understand how fast this transformation is for you. Being a man, I can’t even imagine. But I’m trying to imagine at this age if that would happen to me at 26, I would totally freaked out.

    So when you tell me you want things to go faster.

    Yeah.

    I feel overwhelmed.

    No doubt. No doubt.

    I feel even more overwhelmed.

    So I want to just pause here and give you both empathy. I can really sense the challenge it is to be a new family and partners as entrepreneurs. Those are two very big projects.

    And working from home and working from home.

    Yes. And I want to celebrate your commitment to listening to each other and to reflecting back, because I really saw that done beautifully. And so I’m going to add in some feelings and needs that I heard from both of you, and then we can see how we want to proceed. Of course, we could continue to go into this piece and continue back and forth, and we’ll check in after I Jordan, because Olivier gave you empathy for that first round. I’m going to add some more feelings and needs I heard from Olivier and then come back to you. So, Olivier, I heard really clearly some feelings of anxiousness and impatience in regards to building this business that you’re building together because you so deeply value security and stability for your family, knowing that that would also give you the rest and ease and adventure that you’re both really longing for. Yeah, I really heard that. And I know also as a man, there’s an extra push in our society for men to really play that role. I really honor your commitment to that place of providing for being the King and providing for the family, knowing that you have a wonderful partner and a Queen by your side, that you get to cocreate with that there’s this synergy that supports you both.

    As you speaking those words, I completely recognize that the needs that she’s speaking about, I have them, too. I also have needs and wanted longing for adventure, for ease, for flow, for exploring, for not being around, not doing the same thing every day in terms of being on the computer or being, like, in mundane routine. I want to be on the road as well or have adventures. So I have those same my strategy to get there is making me go through a push right now that is pretty strong.

    Yes.

    I see that on the other side of the hail.

    Yes.

    And the hail is rough.

    Yes.

    The hail is rough. And the hail has been going for hours since 16 months. For 16 months.

    Yeah.

    It’s been a long stretch.

    Yeah. And being a mother, Jordan, I can deeply understand that going from maiden to mother when my son was born, 22, when my son was born. And so I did have the maiden to mother experience at a young age. And I’m very aware of that morning of like, Whoa, my life has changed overnight. And also I have a precious being that is now dependent on me for everything. Right. And it’s wonderful. You have Olivier also who can show up. And it’s still so much it takes a village to raise a child, and yet we’re not set up in a culture that has villages. And so I understand that overwhelm. And I can really understand that when you take a moment, Jordan, to slow down and to tune in, it totally makes sense that those tears can be right below the surface, that the stress around this has been very high. And so I can understand that sense of overwhelm and at times, desperate need for rest and for celebration of life, for vitality again.

    Yeah. And it feels even more enhanced with our son’s first year of life experience, with his her Sprung’s disease and going through hospital stays and surgeries.

    Oh, goodness.

    Yeah.

    So it feels compacted from the experience of becoming a mom. And on top of that, dealing with a really sick child.

    I’m in touch with the morning of if all this would have happened ten years from now.

    Yeah.

    And so it’s not about that story, but real feelings that come with them of not having experience, like figuring out who you are, having the time, having the time to figure out who you are who you want to be before this happens and having the time and exploration for yourself of adventure before all this happens. And freedom. Freedom.

    So I moan that with you and the ability to build a foundation before having a child, that’s huge. I definitely hear that. And I know it can be very hard. And on the other end, when you’ve had a child young, then you’re also a whole lot younger when they’re like off and running down the road.

    So what I mean is that it’s not about changing anything. But I understand where all those feelings come from of not having a lot of things that you could have had.

    Yeah. I see my friends, they’re going on trips and exploring festivals and camping.

    Yeah.

    And getting to know themselves deeper through a different lens. I understand I’m getting to know myself in a different way, but it still feels like I’m missing out on things just morning.

    Yeah. And it’s important. Part of the mastery of empathy is being able to mourn this together. Sometimes there are difficult situations, and that’s what it is. So we mourn that together as part of the path of discovering a greater sense of balance.

    Yeah. I think we’ve been really missing that part. It’s the morning together. It feels like my experiences that I’ve been doing on my own and putting it to the side.

    Yeah. So taking moments like this are really important because there is a heart connection here. You have a man who loves you and cares deeply about what you’re going through.

    Yeah.

    And there’s also the possibility that you can find creative ways to engage to some degree in the activities that your friends are doing that you would really love to do. So it’s a worthwhile exploration to consider. Like, okay, so what are some ways that I can cultivate my vitality that increases your well being? So well being is a need celebration of life, connection, joy, play. These are all cultivating vitality. And it’s important that we make this enough of a priority so that we’re feeling resourced and can show up in our relationship and our parenting and with our clients and at our work. It’s like eating healthy and exercising. Right. I know that you have a lot that’s on your plate and a lot of commitments, and so that creates a level of challenge that your friends don’t currently have.

    Yeah.

    Possible. I don’t want you to give up on it. I don’t want you to think, well, that’s entirely out of reach. And instead, if you want to do something, put it on the list, and then you can look together and say, okay, can we make this happen with all of our commitments and not everything you’ll be able to make happen, but some you will. And those ones that you can are going to make a difference in terms of feeling a greater sense of balance and getting some rest and getting self expression and cultivating a sense of joy and celebration life. Yeah.

    I know. I’m really sorry. Because what I want to tell you also is that I’m very well aware of that or can refill it.

    Yes.

    And I try my best to accommodate that. And also I have my bag of feelings and needs. I’m trying to offer that, but I know it’s not there fully yet. And so I refill conflicted in this way.

    Yeah. And so when you can be on the same page and really understand each other, then you can go, okay. Where can we get creative? Right? Where might something be possible where we have thought it was not possible, and where do we just not have the resource right now to make it happen? And can we mourn that together and look to see what else is possible? Yeah. Something I know about, Olivier, is that you are a very creative and skilled man who has been able to create waves of profound success in your entrepreneurship. I know that you have a very intelligent process as it relates to business building. And I know it’s just a matter of time before things click in and are flowing in the way they have with some of your previous endeavors.

    Everything takes time to create.

    It does.

    I’m mourning my freedom of not having a child all the time in my legs around me, grabbing for my attention because my usual efficiency is really taken down where I used to be 100%. Now I’m 60%. So my frustration on having access to creativity and efficiency the way I used to, it’s also annoying and frustrating for me, but I totally get it in terms of having empathy for you and having self empathy as well. So when I feel this frustration of not having the output, I’m used to doing a lot of self empathy instead of freaking out. But yeah, sometimes we don’t agree on the strategy.

    Yeah. The strategy is where I think we can each step into the understanding and the empathy. But then when it comes to the strategy part, we have totally different strategies to meet our needs, I guess.

    Yeah. I think also that all this takes time to adjust in terms of adjusting to the child, adjusting to our new life, adjusting to our cultural differences. In terms of actual cultural differences. I’m French. You’re fully American with different cultural backgrounds, and I have a lifelong culture of entrepreneurship, which you don’t come from that either. So it’s frustrating to do, but it’s a lot of bridge building, and I’m really grateful that love bounds, the bound of love is so strong and that we continue. Nourishing. That through this difficult time.

    Yes.

    Do you want to say anything to that?

    So what we had done here, this was a short drop in. And the way I would do some kind of a mediation, generally a first mediation I would do for about 90 minutes. So we go back and forth and back and forth and Peel back the layers, because this was just a first layer. One of the things I heard is that you disagree about strategies. And sometimes even though we Peel back the layers, you’ll still disagree about strategies. And then there’s a question. Maybe you have different strategies and you implement different strategies. That’s possible. And sometimes when we Peel back the layers and there’s a deeper coming together, that happens, and it makes it a whole lot easier to find a strategy that you’re like, okay, this is what we’re going to do, and it comes together, but oftentimes that is appealing. Back the layers and going deeper and deeper. It’s not a back and forth one time.

    Yeah. Makes a lot of sense. Yeah.

    We’re actually looking for a couple’s counselor right now. That was a good intro.

    Yes.

    Marriage is not easy, so everybody needs counseling and better do it now than the bridge is on fire.

    The ship is sinking.

    Definitely. Unfortunately, in most relationships, when there is a challenge like this, both people feel hurt. And rather than finding a good, healthy way to talk about it, they just pretend it doesn’t exist. I’m just going to get over it. It’ll be okay. Tomorrow’s a new day, some form of sweeping it under the rug. And when you have a practice of sweeping things under the rug and not talking about them and not finding a way through in a connected way, that pile under the rug starts to build up. And after a while, you cannot help but to trip over the rug.

    Right.

    Somebody just turns around like this, and it’s like I’m triggered I just turned. What did I do? That’s the place my ex husband and I were at. And it didn’t feel from the time of our divorce all the way until I really learned nonviolent communication had support to bring that to that relationship, because that’s what tends to happen for so many people is this under the rug strategy that ends in an explosive separation. So what I know about the two of you is that you’ve been implementing practices from the beginning to really work with this stuff. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy at all. You’re still going to have challenges, but you have the tools to work through it. And on top of that, of course, you have the sacred sexuality practices, which are also so nourishing, for your love bond, you have going for you. And I know sharing that as well in community and really gifting it forward. So I’m celebrating your relationship and who you are in community.

    Yeah. I mean, to be fully honest, sometimes I have fantasies of giving up and going my way. But when those fantasies come up, instead of believing those strategies, I give myself empathy. I go, oh, I’m getting to a point of my limits. So I slow down and we reconnect and we work on the love bounds. So I know how to not take them seriously.

    Yeah. It’s pretty vulnerable to say that, but to be honest, that is pretty true across the board of relationships. But those will come through from time to time, and you’re doing exactly what there is to do. Like, oh, there’s that voice.

    Yes, I know that voice very well.

    It must be above 80 beats per minute. Right. We want to calm it down because we never want to make a decision from that state of consciousness. We always want to come back to love, care and respect before making any kind of big decisions. And generally when we do that, it’s like, oh, yeah, I love this person so much.

    Yeah. Every time I do that and I take those voices in the way that they are, which is like my old coping mechanism. And instead of running with that while we sit down together and we do exactly that, or we check in with each other, even when we don’t agree on the strategies, just talking to each other about it. Five minutes into the conversation, those voices are gone because again, I’m in the commitment more than the separation that those voices want to bring. And it is the morning of my freedom. It is the morning of not having to be committed for life. But now with the kids and the love that we have, there’s no question. So when the questions come because they come, that’s the voice. I want to follow that voice. But five minutes into a check in or something that connecting, they just not there anymore. But to be honest, they still come up.

    Yeah. And stress can do that also. Right. So again, finding enough balance and cultivating vitality are ways that we can also reduce those voices even coming up.

    Yeah. We also have a big difference on how we cope with things. And for example, something that I’m experiencing is totally new, having a child and having this committed relationship. I’m having a level of energy that I’ve never had before, and I would understand somebody being younger than I am saying that. But at almost 52 now, I’m having the most energy I’ve ever had. And even, like, going through those hard times, my resiliency or my commitments give me a level of energy that I’ve never experienced before. And I understand this is me. I cannot project that she should be this way or anybody should be this way. I don’t even understand how this is happening for me. So how can I expect anyone in the world to be like that?

    Yeah. And there might be times that you’d really love for Jordan to help you out with something, to be there with you on something, and she might check in and she might say, I really don’t have it in me right now. And I need to honor that. That’s an important thing for her to be able to do from time to time in the relationship, especially because as women were more trained to default to yes. Okay. Be right there. And it’s harder for us to tune in and say, I don’t have it in me right now. So what else is possible? I care. I get it’s really important. What else is possible? So these are some of the things going back to this topic of mastering empathy. This is that self awareness can really tune in with myself. What’s alive in me right now? What is my authentic response to this request? Everything is a request, even a conversation. We start a conversation with somebody. If they engage with us, then they are consenting to be in conversation with us. They don’t have to. Right. They could say, now is not a good time, and they could excuse themselves.

    We always want to check in and say, Am I in my yes? If it’s not a yes, then how can I honor that? And there are times when I’m like, oh, I really don’t want to do this, but I choose to anyway, because there’s another part of me that is willing, so that can happen, too. So there’s a lot empathy, really. Mastering it is a deep, deep level of self reflection. There are times I did not want to show up for my son as a single mom.

    Yeah.

    I don’t want to do this right now, but another part of me was like, I’m not going to do it. My value is just there. So I’m going to stretch myself here. And that is part of parenting.

    Yeah. That’s the joy of parenting. And the lesson that I keep getting over and over, it feels like, is like, just when you think you can’t do it anymore, you find another way to do it and to make it happen. And it is very empowering. Like, damn, we went through a crazy first year of life, started businesses, and our relationship didn’t fall apart.

    Some people through the pandemic. Yes. And how does that build your sense of self? So this is another piece. This is not part of nonviolent communication, but it’s a part that I have added in that I found deep value in. How did this grow you? The fact that you made it through all of that. You are a mother. You went through a difficult year. You’ve started a business through a pandemic, through businesses. These character strengths have grown in you committed.

    Definitely. Like that.

    Yeah. Well, I got to get it in front of the camera. There we go.

    Caring, orderly, accountability. Definitely focus.

    The most difficult things we go through in life grow us the most open.

    Definitely open. We’re working on the balance part. Assertiveness, accepting. Definitely.

    I know you’ve got these cards, and you can go through them at home as well. But the piece that I want you to get, this is self empathy, too. This is self reflection where you can look at like, wow, how much did I grow? How much did I grow? And that’s something to be proud of. That’s something that’s going to serve you and your son.

    Thank you, Katrina. I did not know we were going to go vulnerable like that, but yeah, I really appreciate this exchange.

    Yeah.

    Thank you so much. And if any of you guys that are listening are interested in working with Katrina Or checking out her awesome, amazing love smart cards, she does have a website and if you’re watching the YouTube part, you can see that we brought it up here, but if not, we’ll also put her page in our show notes.

    Yeah. You’re going to give the link to this page in the show notes? Yeah. I really love you, Katrina. This is amazing what you’re doing and I want more people to know what you do, so please go check out her offering. I’m sure you might have some free resource for people to follow you to be part of.

    I do. There’s a couple of things. So one piece on there is that there’s a free tools tab so you can go there. And is that the resource one? I believe I must have changed the name so you can download a bunch of PDFs there and then the other piece is that you can the 30 minutes discovery session. So this is free to you one time per quarter per person. And it’s a way that you can have an experience of really deep empathy and coaching. If you are in a relationship and you could use some mediation support, I can give a 30 minutes free introduction to you and the other person who you’re hoping to mediate with so you can both get a sense of how I work and see if you’re feeling like mediation support from me could serve your relationship. So those are some of the resources that are available.

    Good question. Do you do family counseling? Because I’m actually about to go see my parents for the first time in years And I will definitely be bringing these cards with me.

    Yes, I do family counseling and also there are some games that you can play as a family to help keep in connection.

    Sweet. All right. Well, thank you so much. This is really beautiful sharing time and energy with you and just thank you so much.

    Absolutely. My pleasure.

    See you soon. Catch you now.

    Very good.

    Goodbye, everybody. Be well.

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