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The Zen Leader welcomed Geoff and Poppy Spencer from Relational Experts about their own love journey and their new radio program on WSRQ called The Relationship Restaurant. In the last segment of the show I discuss a concept called Projection– which is the subject of my new blog post.

 

Intro:Welcome to The Zen Leaderwith Laura Jaye. Whether you’re a leader at home or in the boardroom, Lara provides the tools to help you get unstuck in different areas of your life. Now here’s your host, Lara Jaye.

Lara Jaye:Good morning, I’m Lara Jaye and thank you for joining me here on The Zen Leader.I’m so excited for this show today. My guests are Poppy and Geoff Spencer. They are certified coaches, relationship coaches. I want to call you love coaches. Could I call you love coaches?

Geoff Spencer:Sure.

Poppy Spencer:Sure can.

Lara:Welcome to The Zen Leader. How are you guys doing today?

Poppy:Thank you.

Geoff:We are great. We’re great. We like this love thing already.

Lara:You like it?

Geoff:We’re excited about that.

Lara:I like it. I like it. Relationship and love. This is a tough topic for some people. I’m sure we’re going to…

Geoff:And they often don’t go together, relationships and love, unfortunately.

Lara:[LAUGHTER] They don’t. They don’t. We’ve got lots to talk about. But the main reason you guys are here is you have a new show here on WSRQ that’s getting ready to start. Poppy, can you tell me a little bit about the show first?

Poppy:We are so excited to join the WSRQ family and we rolled out this program that we trademarked because of our own lack of communication many, many years ago — I’ll let Geoff fill in on that background — and we thought, “Isn’t it kind of like when we introduce couples to hard topics that they need to talk about?” So, we made it like a restaurant menu to go through those things, like courses of those challenging topics that crop up in all relationships, whether it’s personal or in the workplace.

Lara:So what would be an example?

Geoff:The salad course, the greens is money.

Lara:Ooh, the salad. Ooh.

Geoff:One of the really tough topics to talk about, money.

Lara:It is. Money, money, money.

Geoff:Mm-hmm.

Lara:That’s a tough one for couples, too.

Geoff:We even have a thing we start with, which is a lot of fun… because before you really can get to the hard topics, you have to talk about some of the little, little things that can get in the way. We have a whine list spelled w-h-i-n-e. The whine list.

Lara:[LAUGHTER] I like the whine list.

Geoff:These are all these little things that often can pile up and get in the way of being able to talk openly about more challenging topics, so things that the couples have to make sure that they talk about and get out in the open, the little things that have crept up and often started little and build and build, and build, and if they aren’t addressed, they can become so much more.

Lara:They can. They can. Money was a big one for my ex-husband and I.

Geoff:Sure.

Lara:I say ex-husband — we were married 25 years — but he would say the only reason we stayed married was because we had the same house, but we had separate checking and savings. I’m sure that you hear that a lot with different… to say, “Okay, what’s going to work for different couples?” because it’s different for everyone. Definitely.

Geoff:It is.

Lara:So, tell me. The Relationship Restaurant,when does the show start and air here?

Poppy:It starts next Thursday, April 13th at 5 o’clock Eastern Standard Time for one hour. It’ll be a live show, for the most part, and we welcome call-ins, and we might touch on a topic that might gain some commentary, and we can have a live coaching if somebody wants to call in, too.

Geoff:It might even be like remember the old Frasier Crane show?

Lara:Yes.

Geoff:On the Frasier Show he goes, “I’m Frasier and I’m listening.”

Lara:I’m listening. I’m here.

Geoff:I’m here.

Lara:So, you’re ready. I like the idea of The Relationship Restaurant. So, we’ve got salad. We’ve got whine. What else do you need besides salad and whine, right?

Geoff:All the different things are involved. There’s little things like the amuse bouche, the little things you start off at a nice restaurant where they give you just a little sample of something. We often talk about this in a relationship as something that you can just start with that it’s a nice gesture. It’s a nice thing in a conversation to start off with. You don’t want to often just go right to meaty topics, the main courses. You want to often have something that’s a little nicer to talk about.

Lara:Absolutely. So what got you interested in relationships and love? I can’t wait to hear this story.

Poppy:Okay, so the backstory is Geoff and I were college sweethearts, and we were 21 years old — and we’re much older now — and madly in love, and the only problem that we had was I was ready to graduate and he had one more year of school. Right before graduation, I broke us up, not because anything was wrong, but…

Geoff:It’s because I was a schmuck. [LAUGHTER]

Poppy:Piggybacking on last week’s…

Geoff:Last week’s show.

Lara:On last week’s show, I like that. I love it.

Poppy:So, we realized — fast-forward 32 years — we didn’t have the communication skills and the maturity to learn how to speak to one another about those “what happens next” and “what’s going to happen to us?”

Geoff:We actually figured out it came down to two words. Two words were the difference of what my lightning-quick mind might have figured out being the guy, 21-year-old schmuck that you are at that age. But Poppy asked me, “What’s going to happen next year?” I simply went to… my mind said, “Well, I’ll be back here at school and I’ll be captain of the waterskiing team,” something I was aspiring to and, “I’ll be enjoying another year of school.” Lara, that wasn’t what she really wanted to hear.

Lara:That was not the answer. [LAUGHTER]

Geoff:That wasn’t the answer she was looking for. She wanted to hear about all the things I was planning to do to keep our relationship together.

Lara:Ah.

Poppy:So we made assumptions, which is what people still do so often today.

Geoff:And fill in the blanks. This was in one of these areas that we laugh about. In fact, we wrote a book about this whole adventure called 1 Billion Seconds, which is 32 years for math majors out there to figure out. But Poppy and I actually figured out these two words. We figured out that was the whole thing. It was to us. What’s going to happen to us? If she had said that, we might have still stayed together.

Lara:Oh, because she answered the question that you asked.

Geoff:Yeah, right.

Lara:So often we’re asking questions, but it’s the wrong question.

Poppy:Right.

Lara:Or it needs to be more detailed.

Geoff:Poppy filled in the blanks. She made the assumption that because I didn’t say anything else then, well, he must not really care if he didn’t think about those things.

Lara:He doesn’t love me.

Geoff:He doesn’t really love me as much as I love him, which wasn’t all the case. I was crazy about her. She was just a wonderful young lady, and I was just madly in love, and we were having the time of our lives. We dated the entire school year. Literally, almost the third day of my junior year, her senior year, we dated the entire year.

Lara:So Poppy, you broke up with him, broke his heart.

Poppy:Oh, and broke mine.

Lara:Absolutely.

Poppy:When we were breaking up, I was stunned that he was upset because, of course, I had already made those assumptions that he didn’t really care.

Geoff:That he didn’t care.

Poppy:I was like, “Well, if he doesn’t care, why is he getting upset?” I tried to say, “Wait, wait,” and he was too upset and he walked away, and we never had any contact for 32 years. Never ever had a closure or any other kind of re-discussion or revisiting.

Lara:So Geoff, you didn’t feel like you wanted to reach out or fight or you didn’t know what to say?

Geoff:Well, during that process, Lara, I actually asked her. I said, “What are you talking about? Why are you breaking us up? We’re great.” I said, “Don’t you still love me?” She says, “Well, yes.” I said, “Well, then why are you doing this?” She’d say, “I don’t know.” The whole thing just kind of became just a train wreck and my ego had been pretty stomped on at that moment, and this is a 21-year-old guy’s mind. This is not a guy who’s thinking through this whole process really well.

            All of a sudden, he’s injured and he’s wounded, and he’s embarrassed that he’s being thrown aside, and I just remember storming out of the room just being too upset and hurt. I’d asked the question multiple times and never got an answer. So I said, “Well, I guess she doesn’t really want to be with me,” and I stomped out.

Poppy:So when we’re in that kind of situation… and then that whole thing pretty much shaped who we became today. I was a former therapist and a psychology instructor, and we know about things like flooding that happens in relationships when two people are highly emotionally charged with something. They cannot… it’s almost nearly impossible to process what the other is saying when we ourselves have gotten an overload of emotions going on.

Geoff:Their mouths are moving, but you really aren’t…

Lara:We can’t hear what they’re saying.

Geoff:You can’t hear it. You can’t hear it.

Lara:We can’t put it in our…

Poppy:Right.

Lara:I say we can’t hold it in our bodies.

Poppy:Right.

Lara:I can’t hold it. I can’t understand it because there’s so much going on.

Poppy:Right, and that’s what was happening during that breakup. Even when your heart rate gets above 100, you don’t process well either. It’s a physiological problem. So, that was what happens, and we both just split for that many years. Then during breaks between a divorce and a remarriage, I looked for Geoff several times and I could never find him. I pretty much gave up until…

Geoff:Until I just magically one day had this thought pop in my mind. “Whatever happened to that great gal back in college?” I was single. I was in a position to consider this, and I just did a quick search online, put her maiden name in there, Poppy Terrace, and it popped right up on Facebook, and her Facebook page took me to her professional page where her phone number was. Call for a free consultation.

Lara:[LAUGHTER] Did you do it?

Geoff:I was like, “What is she going to do? Throw me aside again?” I was like, “We’ll both have a good laugh about the fact that we’re twice divorced.”

Lara:Geoff, that’s awesome. So, love begins again.

Geoff:And it was amazing. It was all still there. [00:10:00]We realized nothing had changed. We realized that we’d never fallen out of love. We just left each other. It was still there.

Lara:That’s an amazing story. And you both moved on. You had children with other partners.

Geoff:Mm-hmm, yes.

Lara:And got divorced and then came back together.

Geoff:Right.

Lara:And your heart was full.

Poppy:It was. Through all this talking on the phone for hours and hours and hours, we discovered that we need to help other people with this, not to let poor communication or under developed communication be the reason why people are not having wonderful, intimate relationships.

Lara:That’s beautiful. When we come right back from break, we’re going to talk more about this communication, and I’m Lara Jaye with The Zen Leaderand we’ll be right back.

[BREAK]

Lara:I’m Lara Jaye with The Zen Leader and welcome back here on WSRQ and you can find me here at wsrqradio.comor larajaye.com. With me here in the studio are Poppy and Geoff Spencer. I’m going to call you certified love coaches, as I said.

Poppy:[LAUGHTER]

Lara:The relationship love coaches. If listeners want to find you, what website can they find you at?

Poppy:Our website is relationalexperts.com. That’s R-E-L-A-T-I-O-N-A-Lexperts with an S.com. You can find us on Twitter “@relationalateam” and on Facebook at the same name, Relational Experts on Facebook.

Lara:You guys are all about relationships and communication, and really, that’s the core of people being together, and it’s communication, and can people talk and share without triggering other people, and that kind of thing. Is that what would you say is your expertise?

Poppy:Well, we say that relationships and communication are basically synonymous.

Geoff:Yeah, without the communication, the relationships just fall apart.

Lara:You don’t have a relationship do we?

Geoff:Yeah.

Poppy:They definitely go more than hand-in-hand.

Lara:Because you hear people say going through a divorce or breaking up, “We are just not connecting anymore.” You connect by communication.

Geoff:Mm-hmm.

Poppy:Right, perfect.

Lara:Absolutely.

Geoff:In fact, we even developed a tool. When we wrote our book — Poppy mentioned this earlier, too, about the concept of what we discovered in our own journey — we developed a tool called the “emotional clock.” It took the analog clock that we are all familiar with and each of the emotions, especially on the right side, where all the disempowering emotions, the disheartening emotions, where we don’t communicate, where we aren’t sharing, we aren’t getting a point across. We’re just letting things slide and letting things build up, and it builds up to a point where you actually get to a point of anger often, shame and guilt, the things that are carried inside, and you hit a wall. You hit a wall we call 6 o’clock where you have to make kind of a go-no decision.

            This is often where a lot of people reach out to us where they’ve hit a wall in their relationships, and they don’t know if they can move forward or not. They don’t know if they should say, “I think I’ve gone far enough and I don’t think there’s a way to save this, and I think I’d like to talk about next steps.” That’s where we usually have a lot of people talk to us. We do all we can to help them, guide them back towards the relationship if they both want that. Or if they don’t, we try to very gently and nicely take them into the next steps of their lives.

Lara:Beautiful and next steps could be it just depends. It’s different for everyone depending on what they’re willing… kind of effort probably that people are willing to put into it. What would be the couples that come to you… and maybe they’re not just couples. Do you have singles come to you?

Poppy:Oh, sure.

Lara:Both. You have both. What would you say are the top couple three reasons that people come? Is it the communication, lack thereof, or just struggling?

Poppy:I think you mentioned it before. One is that lack of connection of a fulfilling relationship, that they don’t feel worthy in that relationship. There’s not a lot of intimacy, I guess.

Geoff:It usually comes down to an intimacy thing. Because if they’re not speaking and there’s other things that get in the way, usually things like lovemaking goes away. They realize that they’re sharing less and less and less.

Poppy:A few weeks ago we were in Santa Barbara, California with our master coach Jack Canfield, The Chicken Soup for the Soulguy. We spent 12 hours for two days in a row with him. He was wonderful. Out of that with our fellow mastermind coaches, we discovered… somebody came up with a word, a phrase that we thought was so powerful because many relationships are comfortably numb. We thought that was really compelling.

Lara:That’s amazing and it’s so true. Not only are relationships that way, but we all walk around, a lot of us, like that, comfortably numb. I talk a lot about that in my book and here on the radio show. We numb and dumb ourselves so we don’t have to feel, because sometimes it’s too painful. It is too painful.

Poppy:Right.

Lara:But I love that comfortably numb. Then how do you, as couples, come in, try to work with them? Because a lot of it is really although it shows as a communication issue or a problem between two people, really it’s deep down inside are they loving themselves enough? Are they numbing themselves? It’s coming out, maybe, in the marriage. Would you say that?

Poppy:Yeah. I think it’s absolutely completely the individual and what they bring to it. I can speak from my own two past relationships and marriages that I took 100% accountability and responsibility for a marriage that didn’t work. I think I feel pretty good about relaying that to my four children that blame has no place in a relationship, that you need to own up your stuff, whatever that is.

Lara:I like that.

Geoff:One of the things, Lara, I always talk about. This is usually a big challenge for guys, too, is the idea of vulnerability. Many guys really look at that as weakness in some way. “I can’t be vulnerable. That’s being weak.” It isn’t. It’s so critically important in the relationship that the guys are willing to open up, share their fears. It always usually comes down to that. There’s fears that they’re covering up, that they’re hiding and numbing themselves might be through alcohol, through whatever, just mindlessly watching television. It can take them anywhere.

Lara:Right, work, eating, medicine.

Geoff:Anything.

Poppy:Over working.

Lara:Over working, mm-hmm.

Geoff:There’s so many different ways to let these things just get stepped on and stepped over. It takes a lot of courage. This is always the one thing this always comes down to, the courage to look at it, to be willing to open up and say, “This is where I’m at,” and people are often afraid to bring up the topic. This is where this emotional clock comes in because it might actually expose what they really think and they really feel that the relationship can’t work. They might be afraid of that and they discover it can work, in many cases, and they just never shared this thing. The other spouse will go, “I never knew that. Why didn’t you tell me that?”

Lara:They could have been married 20 years and not known this about each other.

Geoff:And never known this. Right, right.

Lara:Maybe they’ve hidden a part of them or thought that they would be made fun of or no, I…

Geoff:We all carry these kind of burdens, as I’m sure you’ve seen throughout our lives. It’s something that a teacher told you, parents told you, some other person you dated told you that can cloud so many of your judgments. So often those things need to come out and it can through just good open dialogues. We try to open that up in people.

Lara:Beautiful. Yeah, we internalize things that are told us when we’re young and it comes out later. So, you two are so unique and I love your story. You learned these tools when you two got back together, so would you say you’re different people now? I mean if you were married to the other people and had these tools, it would be a whole different ballgame, would you say?

Geoff:Yeah, we’ve talked about this at length, about what if we’d stayed together the whole time? Maybe we did in a parallel universe. We even wrote that in the book. Maybe that did happen because we had so many times where our lives have overlapped in many cases, and we were always stunned by the many different times we were actually in the same kind of track together.

            But, yeah. We’ve talked about this, but we said we wouldn’t appreciate where we are now and what we have without that journey. That journey really made it so crystal clear to us what works in a relationship really well and what doesn’t.

Poppy:It’s almost like you need the contrast to know that. So, we took each other for granted when we were 21 year olds. We were at this beautiful college, an ideal paradise, and going back into the working world, I had a job that was waiting for me and it was sort of like, “Well, that’s not the real world. College is just fun.” That even shadowed the way I used to think about our relationship. My relationship with Geoff, Lara, is that I thought, “Well, maybe that wasn’t real because it’s not the real world. Maybe that was just magical and not authentic.” [00:20:06]

Geoff:It was magical. This is Rollins College, if we didn’t say that already. It was a magical, lovely spot and we had just a magical time together. But the relationship really was that good. The minute we reconnected, it was the most amazing thing, too, in this phone call. It took literally seconds for us to realize that we had both made a mistake. Poppy… and this is one of the things we’ve written about, too, about how immediately vulnerable both of us were. There was no pretense. There was no gamesmanship.

            I know my mind was like, “What am I going to fool this lady with? We dated for a year. She knows who I am. I’m not going to fool her with any kind of fast talk or anything else.” We both completely opened up, exposed ourselves, we were honest.

Poppy:So you weren’t going to be a schmuck.

Lara:[LAUGHTER]

Geoff:No.

Lara:No schmuck.

Geoff:Because guys can be schmucks, as we all know.

Lara:Guys can be schmucks, as we know. So Poppy, when you got that phone call from him, what did you do?

Poppy:Oh, I was actually buying a car and I was in a dealership, and I thought, “Well, I don’t know anybody in North Carolina,” where Geoff was living at the time. When I heard his voice, I didn’t recognize it right away, which still astounds him to this day.

Geoff:I mean, I think I have a unique voice most people can pick up on.

Poppy:But I hadn’t. Thirty-two years was a long time with absolutely no contact. I had no idea where he was living, and he said, “This is somebody from Rollins,” and my kids were teenagers at the time, my younger two and all I could think of was, “Oh, this is probably the annual fund calling to ask to give money.” [LAUGHTER]

Geoff:[LAUGHTER]

Poppy:I was like, “Oh, I don’t know if I can do it this year.” I said, “You’re probably calling about the annual fund.” He said, “No, I’m not calling about the annual fund.” I was just like, “Oh, my gosh! I just looked for you four months ago on Facebook and you weren’t there.”

So, we talk about Law of Attraction — I know you’re familiar with that, Lara — and I felt like I pre-paved these 32 years with intentions. As a former therapist, I used to do vision boards and was heavily into the Law of Attraction. I felt like I had pre-paved it, and the timing was not right when I reached out to him. Geoff was otherwise occupied. He did not have an account on Facebook at the time, and it didn’t occur to me to look on LinkedIn, which is where he was. [LAUGHTER] So. I just sort of gave up and I was like, “You know what? It’s fine. I’m going to take care of my kids.”

Lara:That’s surrendering to divine timing is what it’s about.

Poppy:Yes.

Geoff:Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Lara:Well, it has been a pleasure to have you two and I cannot wait to hear the show next Thursday. Tell me again next Thursday at 5?

Poppy:5 o’clock to 6 o’clock Eastern Standard Time.

Lara:Eastern.

Geoff:Right, The Relationship Restaurant.

Lara:Here on WSRQ.

Geoff:Mm-hmm.

Lara:Well, thank you so much for joining me today.

Geoff:Thank you, Lara.

Lara:And we’ll be right back after this break.

[BREAK]

Lara:I’m Lara Jaye with The Zen Leaderand welcome back for our last segment. Geoff and Poppy Spencer are here with The Relationship Restaurant Showthat’s starting next week, and they are love and relationship experts. Right before break, we were talking about your journey back together, which is so beautiful. I think about sometimes people might say, “Oh, well, do you think it was a mistake marrying other people, breaking up and marrying other people?” I just truly don’t believe in mistakes, especially when children are involved and life. Did you ever have regrets or believe it was a mistake, or ever have those thoughts come through your mind?

Poppy:Absolutely not. I’m totally on the same page with you. I have four children. Geoff has one.

Geoff:We have five children together.

Poppy:We have five together. They’re millennials now. I would have to say that if when Geoff re-entered my life had he not been fully embraced by my children, we would not be sitting here today. So, no. The previous marriages that produced these beautiful children, I’ve always honored my ex-husbands as the father of my children. I’ve never disparaged them and I think we can attest to that.

Geoff:Yeah, we are actually friends with… both of Poppy’s exes we’re friends with.

Lara:That says a lot about you, too.

Geoff:Well, part of this — and this is one of the things we’ve written about before — is don’t forsake your ex for the sake of the kids. It’s because of the love for the children we’ve worked really… made a big, big conscious effort to be as ingratiating and as good with the exes, and it’s really gone beyond that, too. We developed friendships. We were just very recently… Poppy is from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area and her family, big Green Bay Packers fans, okay? I’ve had to take that on, Lara, or get divorced. One or the other.

Lara:You didn’t have a choice. [LAUGHTER]

Geoff:No, I had to do it.

Poppy:It was in the vows.

Geoff:It was in the vows.

Lara:That’s right.

Geoff:So, we went up and watched the big championship game in Atlanta, the NFC championship game, and stayed with her second ex and his new wife and had a delightful time.

Lara:That’s beautiful.

Poppy:They were lovely.

Geoff:They couldn’t have been nicer hosts to us, and this is something that we’d worked towards, though. It didn’t happen overnight. It was making sure that we invited them to significant events, children graduating from college.

Poppy:Always.

Geoff:Those kind of things.

Poppy:Even eighth grade graduation, that kind of thing, but big party, celebration afterwards. So, I’ve always embraced them and to the point where my three daughters and one son, occasionally they’ll come and they’ll go, “Oh, I’m annoyed with Dad because of this,” and I’m always the one, “Well, you know what? Your dad is really, really good at this,” so we were always really good about pulling out all the positives.

Lara:We know them well enough.

Poppy:Yes.

Lara:Even a couple weeks ago my mom passed away and my ex-husband came up and spent time because we were from the same hometown and married 25 years together, 28. So, it was supportive for me to have him there because he knew everyone. He knew everyone. It’s still part of the family regardless of the paperwork that changes, the unraveling, but definitely important.

Geoff:I really enjoyed, by the way, Poppy was mentioning meeting the other children and meeting her children. I had a wonderful time with that because one of the things that I discovered in watching the interaction is her children were so delighted at how happy their mother was. They saw a different mother.

Lara:That is huge.

Geoff:They saw a different…

Lara:Children want… yes.

Geoff:A different woman. To me, it was always so surprising because I saw the exact same girl that I dated in college. I saw that same person. I didn’t see anybody different from that. The kids were like, “She’s so different. You brought out a different side in her.” I was like, “Well, okay, but [LAUGHTER] this is the same girl that I fell in love with, the same person that I know.

Lara:But our kids didn’t see that if we were going through a tough time.

Geoff:No. Yeah.

Poppy:I even said that to my children. I am not role modeling the best version of myself for you as a mom, and I suppose as a wife, either, I’m not being the best that I can be. I’m not sure how to do that in these relationships. Both of the divorces were mutual and I think everybody is really happy now. Both my exes and…

Geoff:We even played golf.

Poppy:Yes. [LAUGHTER]

Geoff:Her first ex was down helping the daughter to move back to Milwaukee, and we took them. We picked them up at the airport. We had lunch and dinner with them with the family. We played a round of golf the next day, and we had a great time together.

Lara:This is why you’re relationship experts because not only for each other, but then also the exes and how you’ve brought all of that because it’s relationships. It’s people. This is why you are experts at it.

Geoff:We try.

Lara:Tell me how you… a lot of people… coaching is still fairly new, a new field, especially here in the Midwest, in the South, versus the Coast. How is coaching different than therapy?

Poppy:So my coaching mentor, Dr. Dave Krueger, who’s awesome — he’s in Texas — but he likens therapy to being an archeologist and he says that coaches are like an architect. So, the therapist will spend time in the process of digging up stuff from the past, from childhood, from whatever past relationships. But their primary goal isn’t to move forward, which is what we are. We’re architects. We’re like, “Let’s take your goals. Let’s reframe them and then let’s move forward.” If you get stuck, certainly a non-judgmental environment. We always promote that. If you get stuck, that’s okay. You’re not going to get blamed or shamed [LAUGHTER] or any of those things, but we will help you get unstuck.

Lara:So you would say therapy more is past focused.

Geoff:It is and it’s often… we’ve had a couple of clients that we’ve actually said, “We don’t think you’re really in a position to do coaching.” It was clear that they had a lot of things in their background that they hadn’t dealt with. [00:30:00]

Lara:That they probably needed a therapist for.

Poppy:Absolutely.

Geoff:They absolutely needed a therapist, so we have relationships with therapists. We’ll say, “This person really needs to figure out what’s really deep down within bothering them and then causing them to have these issues because they aren’t in a position to move forward right now.” They let us be the architects of a new life, a new relationship, a new story.

Poppy:So when we meet a perspective client, it’s a two-way street. We have a mutual thing. Is this a good fit or is it not? There’s oftentimes where they’ll say, “Yeah, yeah, it’s a good fit,” and we will say, “I think a psychiatrist or a psychologist might be better to serve you.”

Lara:Depending on the issues and how deep seeded and that kind of thing.

Poppy:Correct.

Lara:So, give me an example. Walk me through, maybe, a first coaching session with a couple.

Geoff:Do you want to start it?

Poppy:You go ahead.

Geoff:Well, it’s really kind of just… and you also said with a couple and you asked this question, too. Is it always a couple? No, often it isn’t. It’s often one of the parties.

Lara:So maybe one person is unhappy, but the other is not.

Geoff:Right.

Lara:That happens.

Geoff:Today it’s usually…. it’s the wife. It’s the lady who comes to us and says…

Poppy:She initiates.

Geoff:She’ll initiate it and say, “There’s a lot of things that are really wrong here,” and it might be any number of things, substance abuse, lack of intimacy. There can be any number of things that are bringing this topic forward.

Poppy:Or even empty nesters. “Oh, my gosh. I just realized we haven’t communicated really in several years, and now my kids…”

Lara:Transition periods of love.

Poppy:Right.

Lara:That’s painful.

Poppy:Especially here in beautiful Sarasota. People want to move down here and maybe they’re in their late 40s or 50s, and suddenly they’re like, “Well, I’m going to be displaced and I’m going to move here. Then what?”

Geoff:So we laugh and we try to get that conversation just opening up as to what is the issue that they’re dealing with, and that might take awhile. Poppy and I have gotten pretty good at reading people’s expressions and reading all those little micro expression things. We’ll often be able to start to pose those more opening up the dialogue questions to try to get at what it is, and the very important thing to find out early on is the commitment level of both parties. Are they both wanting to make this work? Get that topic on the table and get that out.

Lara:Very important.

Geoff:If they are both very much wanting to make it work and there are things that are just in the way, you’ve got a great basis for making this happen.

Poppy:Also, in making it work, and why you want to make it work has to be… it just can’t be because, “Oh, well, my parents were divorced and I never want to get divorced, so I’m going to stay in the marriage, but I’m not going to change.”

Lara:We have to look at the reasons.

Geoff:Yeah, this has been a hot, debatable topic often with different religious overtones to it. Of course, the idea of staying together no matter what.

Poppy:For the sake of the kids.

Geoff:Yeah, for the sake of the kids. We often look at this. We understand and appreciate the religious connotations to it, but we also know the things… this is what Poppy was talking about earlier, too. What are we teaching our children? We see so many… these cycles just repeat themselves if there’s a lack of respect, if there’s a lack of courtesy, and there’s just nothing but fighting and anger. Well, the children will typically learn that and take on. They’ll find a spouse with the same kind of dynamics, and they’ll just continue that kind of relationships in their own lives, which is sad. They should learn a very different kind of relationship. Poppy and I have been very excited to be able to show our children the very best possible way to communicate, the best possible love.

Lara:Not just your children and now the world here on WSRQ.

Geoff:Yes.

Poppy:[LAUGHTER]

Lara:I am so excited to have you guys join the WSRQ family next Thursday 5 o’clock Eastern Standard Time live here in the studio will be Poppy and Geoff. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Geoff:Thanks for having us.

Poppy:Thank you, Lara.

Lara:We’ll be right back after a break.

Geoff:Okay.

[BREAK]

Lara:Welcome back. I’m Lara Jaye with The Zen Leader. For this last segment today, I’m going to talk about one of my favorite topics and something you may not have actually heard of, and it’s called projection. Projection is a theory in psychology, in which humans, we defend ourselves against our own unconscious impulses or qualities, actually both positive and negative. What we do is we deny our existence or deny whatever the existence in ourselves while attributing it to others. Now I’m going to explain this.

            For example, a person who is habitually rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude. It’s sort of a blame shifting. This projection is so common, quite common in everyday life. Now another way to look at it and one way that I always explain it to clients is we all walk around with projectors on our heads, just kind of imagine that looking out into the world. So as we’re all walking around, we’re all projecting our own stuff on to others.

            Now, it shows up as we’re doing things and talking to other people, as maybe it’ll show up as me saying… my projection maybe somebody else is being rude when really it’s me that’s being rude. Or I might say, “So-and-so is being very selfish,” when in fact, it’s me that’s being selfish. Even positive attributes. Saying someone is so beautiful. They’re mirrors to us. In reality, most of the time what we are seeing in others is really a mirror of our own stuff.

            So, I really want you to grasp this concept today. It’s so important because it’s a clue to how we are doing or what it is we need ourselves to work on inside. It especially happens when we have a lot of unprocessed emotions that we don’t want to deal with. Maybe we are numbing ourselves so we don’t have to look at whatever part that is. Eventually, though, it’s going to show up. It may show up as anger projected on to someone else. Usually, it’s projected on to those people closest to us, our loved ones, the people we don’t want to hurt.

            It’s also important so that before we go on blaming others for being a certain way or complaining about so-and-so being so selfish, we really need to look within. We often have a bunch of uncomfortable, even embarrassing and frustrating, emotions that we do not want to deal with. According to famous psychologist Sigmund Freud — I’m sure you’ve all heard of Sigmund — these emotions are projected on to other people so that other people become our carriers of our own perceived flaws. Now fortunately or unfortunately for us, this form of emotional displacement makes it easier to live with ourselves because that way everyone else is responsible for our misery, not us. We are the victim or the good and righteous person.

            Now, there is no end to the types of feelings we can project on to others, but here are some of the five most common that I see often. One of them is insecurity. We feel insecure about some aspect of ourselves, especially our body images. We often project on to others those same insecurities. For example, we can say, “He or she is so ugly.” In reality, it’s you that thinks you yourself are ugly or whatever it is you’re calling the other person. You’re probably just insecure about yourself. People with low self-esteem tend to put others down, because in reality, that’s how they feel about themselves. You can always spot a bully by this because bullies are always putting other people down. But really it’s that’s how they feel about themselves.

            Another example is attraction to someone other than your partner. Now this is actually quite common. When someone is attracted to a third person, they feel inside it’s not acceptable to be attracted to someone else. Instead, they blame their spouse for cheating and it’s their way of not dealing with their own feelings.

A third example is body image issues. He or she is ugly or overweight. In reality — we’ve talked about this, the insecurity earlier — it’s that whatever it is you’re calling the other person, you’re probably just insecure about your own image issues yourself. That’s how we feel about ourselves.

            Another one is disliking someone. “He or she doesn’t like me.” If you dislike someone, say, for example, Sally and I aren’t willing to admit it, you might try to convince yourself that Sally doesn’t like you. But in reality, it’s you that doesn’t like Sally, but you’re unwilling to admit your own feelings.

Another example is anger. Of course, this is a huge feeling that is often projected on to others. You might be steaming on the inside and instead of handling it yourself, you tell yourself, “So-and-so is such an angry person.” [00:40:05]:Or you create an outburst even in a grocery store line, a story telling yourself about the teller being so angry, when really all along it was you inside of you. Again, we’re walking around with these projectors on our head, “This is my image,” and projecting it on to other people. It’s our unconscious or subconscious way of seeing what’s happening.

            I also talk about if you’re noticing or being triggered by someone or something, or something that somebody does, these are important to look at it closer. We all project in our daily lives. We project to protect ourselves against emotions, against thoughts, against perceptions that we ourselves judge as being too bad or ugly, shameful, or uncontrollable.

            Often these disowned aspects of ourselves, they form what I call our “shadow selves.” I do want to say that if you feel as if someone is actually projecting their own stuff on to you, even though you’re pretty certain that they’re doing this, I want to suggest that telling them probably isn’t going to do any good. You will most likely be met with some massive resistance that you think you’re all that. So holding up the mirror to them, this is probably going to be a time in your life that you’re going to have to lay down your own ego and your desire to be right and focus on your own stuff. Go within.

            I’ve been the target many times for people to tell me what they think I should be doing different in my life or what they see for me. When I’m not asking for your advice, let me tell you, I’m not open to hearing your opinion. I will ask you if I want to hear what you think. Now people ask questions when they’re ready to hear the answers. Until then, I recommend keeping your opinions to yourself, and this includes telling others that they’re projecting on to you.

            Honor that everyone is on their own journey and learning along the way is optional. [LAUGHTER] So projecting thoughts or emotions on to others allows the person to consider them and how dysfunctional they are, but without feeling the discomfort of knowing that these thoughts and emotions are their own. We can criticize the other person, distancing ourselves from our own dysfunction, and that’s what projection is.

            But one of the problems with projecting our stuff on to others is that it makes us think that we are so much better and superior to others. It makes me think I don’t have to look at myself and my own inadequacies. I can just focus on how messed up you are. We fail to see the good in people because we are so busy picking out others’ flaws, which in reality, they’re our own flaws.

            Secondly, projection can create a mess because we don’t deal with the feelings inside of us in the first place. This is one of the main points that I teach, embracing our emotions, not being afraid of them. Welcome them, feel them, let them become a part of you. It’s then and only then that they can’t hurt you anymore. Until dealt with, the unprocessed emotions will always find their way to the surface sometimes even hurting others.

            In order to stop projecting on to others, we must become aware of what we’re doing. It’s about getting quiet and being still and noticing what’s happening in our lives. What are we saying to people around us? What are we saying to ourselves? When you’re seeing others in a negative light, ask yourself if you’re projecting. Also understand that when others are criticizing you, they may well be criticizing a projection of themselves.

            Remember the visual I gave you of all of us walking around with a projector on our head shining on others our own stuff. Become aware of what you’re beaming out into the world and choose to handle it yourself. Thank you for joining me this morning on The Zen Leaderand I look forward to seeing you back here next week. Have a great week!

 

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