Parenting Teenagers Using the EMBRACE Method

Samantha Woo parenting teenagers

Samantha S. Woo, author of How to Stop Yelling & Start Connecting with Your Highly Emotional Teen, shares The EMBRACE parenting method for parents dealing with teenagers who are tempted to yell or anything else.  The EMBRACE method is a seven-step model developed by Internal family systems and the concept is that we’re all made up of parts inside of us. We have access to this healing inside in the deepest part of our souls through the Spirit. Once we know which part of us is reacting to the part of your teens, then we can start connecting as parents.

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Bio

Samantha Woo, LCSW, is a Certified Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapist and author of the book “How to Stop Yelling & Start Connecting with Your Highly-Emotional Teen”  She is also in private practice helping anxious people find their spirit-led balance.

Samantha has a BA in Neuroscience and Behavior from Wesleyan University, an MSW from California State University, and a Clinical Fellowship from Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work.

She is married and has three young adult children herself, with plenty of “schooling” in the parenting realm, both past, present, and in years to come. She is a believer in process and sharing, even when things are not perfect.

Myrna: In your book you teach a method of, parenting, that’s called the, EMBRACE method. Can you tell us what that acronym stands for?

Book: How to stop yelling & start connecting with your Highly emotional teen
Book: How to stop yelling & start connecting with your Highly emotional teen

What is the EMBRACE Method

Samantha: Yeah, so I’m so glad that you noticed that it was both an acronym and the word embrace.  That was part of the intention in me coming up with this is a seven-step layman’s approach, based on internal family systems model by Dr. Richard Schwartz. He came up with the internal family systems, parenting, model and I took it and expanded on it knowing that how hard it is to get trained on this system.

So, I digested it, broaden whatever I could and then came up with this for the everyday person, everyday parent that’s dealing with, teenagers, who are tempted to yell or anything else.  So, it’s a seven-step model and the two main aspects of this is very similar to the internal family systems which is that we’re all made up of parts inside of us and we have access to this healing inside in the deepest part of our souls through the Spirit.  Basically, it says we should check our own parts before we check somebody else’s parts.

This whole idea of parts is also confusing for the everyday person. So let me explain. The internal family systems believes that we’re all born with parts like for instance, the way where we have hands and feet and all these physical parts. But our personalities also have parts, we have personality parts that make us individuals. You have seen the, parents, yelling at the sidelines of a soccer field.  So, it’s just kind of recognizing we all have these parts, and then as we live and have, traumas, as parts become very burdened with messages that they take in, and then they become very extreme in their behavior. And then their behavior takes over.

Other parts, become disconnected with other parts and you and the Holy Spirit inside and they just kind of take over. So, this view is what we’re kind of bringing in to the, parent teen relationship.  When a teen for example, is saying I hate you get away from me and then slams the door, we can see that it might be an unhealed part of them, not all of them. Because, it’s so tempting for us, parents, to say, oh my gosh, my, teen, hates me. Well, I hate them too. It’s being able to take a step back and say, you know, it’s a part of them that is unhealed and kind of helps us to get curious, and also to recognize that we’re reacting to I hate you.

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Is your parenting style to yell at your teens?

Myrna: My, parenting style, would be to yell “Get back in here right now”

Samantha: Yeah. That’s what usually happens, right? We can get curious about that. Well, part of me is reacting to that and as we kind of become more aware of our parts and their parts.  We have more space to kind of let the Spirit work and help us to connect all these parts that are pretty much isolated and extreme because they don’t know that they have access to this healing center.

Myrna: Now I understand. You explained how you came about the seven steps, EMBRACE method. I actually never heard before that we have parts like personalities because, it’s very interesting, because one of the things that I do is I do yell at my, teenagers, almost all the time. You’re saying that’s because of my unhealed parts or maybe my parents yelled at me and that’s what I’m yelling. But I wanted to understand what EMBRACE stands for.

Samantha: Yes, it does. This is the, EMBRACE method

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The Embrace method of parenting

  • E – stands for, exhale. It means to take a step back. You know how we breathe when we’re really stressed?
  • M – is to move and its meaning to like move according to what the Spirit is telling you is. Get in tune with the discomfort and move.
  • B- is to, befriend, the parts in ourselves that are uncomfortable.
  • R- is to relate, recognizing we have things that we can, relate, to them like our own internal, teenagers.
  • A – is for, access, accessing what is underneath all this behavior. Access, to the vulnerable stuff underneath all of this external stuff both in our, teenagers, and in ourselves? Why are we yelling? What is that protecting? What is the need? So, something to be curious about.
  • C – is create, create, something different.
  • E – is to, engage, not move away from but, engage, with your teen. And it’s a level of commitment.

Myrna: I absolutely love it. So, let’s test my memory here. So, exhaling, is good because they also tell you that you should take a breath, anytime somebody, pisses you off, or you’re angry or something, then you take a breath. So that’s really good, whether it’s your, teen, or your spouse, or your boss. You, exhale, and you take breath.

It’s also good to get up and move about. You know, wherever you’re sitting or whatever you’re doing, movement creates a little bit of energy, and that also helps to calm the situation and calm you. Befriending, your disrespectful, teenager, is very difficult.

Samantha: It’s very difficult and impossible, unless we understand the parts of us that really are annoyed by them. You know what I mean?

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Relating to our teens

Myrna: Yes, when, teenager, says I hate you, you’re ruining my life. It is very difficult to be thinking, befriend, at that moment. So, in order for you to, befriend, I would think you need therapy. As parents we can, relate, to when you were a, teenager, you can, relate, to how important friends are to them and you can, relate, that your, teenagers, want to be liked at school.  And maybe that’s why they’re not doing their homework because they want to be liked. So, relating is this easier for most, parents, to do so.

Samantha: You’re so right. It’s so much easier. I guess. The challenge of, befriending, that word would be becoming curious about what they’re wanting. We want to kind of modify the behavior, we want the results. So, we, befriend, to access what is underneath. We, befriend, to gain access to that vulnerability of what is driving that behavior. And just being able to do that takes that relating. Because you’d be surprised, teenagers, want to know even though they act like they don’t. So, they’re kind of wanting a little bit of that attachment and knowing that there’s a home base, but then what they want to be separate at the same time.

Teenagers, want to know that they are conditionally accepted in love.

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How to Use the create parenting method with teenagers

We use, create, to create new memories, because this dance becomes old. The dance of, I hate you, you’re grounded, leave me alone. It’s a repetitious cycle. So, we, create, something new and it starts with what we can, create, inside of ourselves as, parents. What defense mechanism are our, teens, using and how can we create something new. For example, of saying “you’re grounded” maybe creating something new would be a different response. Maybe offering them a choice. Oh, I hear that you hate me. Here’s some choices. What would you like to do? Would you like to talk about it? Or do you would you like to just be left alone?

Myrna; I like that. We are staying engaged for the longer term, it’s kind of like that commitment. It’s like staying in that fight. A lot of, parents, have given up, on their, teens, and they live their own lives. Teenagers, are just left to themselves, but that’s not what they need. They still want to know that you care.

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What are some, parenting tips for teenage son?

Samantha: The first, parenting advice, would be to, exhale, first and foremost, because we can’t just mindlessly engage your, teenager. So that is really important to, exhale. And as you, exhale, I would ask what part of me is triggered right now? And what part of my, teen, was just talking? And just even understanding. Using parts language and saying, it’s not all of him? It’s not all of me.

Another, parenting tip, would be again to, befriend. And if that is hard to do, I would try to, relate. Try to remember the, teen, inside of you and most likely yelling part might be stopped. Then finally, the last, parenting tip, for your, teenage, son would be, create. Let’s disrupt the old dance. That takes some creativity, and that comes from that spirit inside that I was talking about. And I think we need to remember that access to that healing, core spirit is there. I think that is the hope that’s in this model. Therapy is helpful and you know, coaching is great. And when that is not available right away. Do you have something available here?

Myrna: Awareness is the important thing in anything. So, what we’re doing here is we’re building awareness that there is a method or there is a way to connect to our, teenagers, in the, EMBRACE method.

So how do you teach, parents, to form lifetime friendships with their, teenagers?

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Your kids won’t be teenagers forever

Samantha: Thank you, it starts with your relationship with you. Which I’m sure you as a coach you know that a lot of times when we see the, teenager, child that we specifically don’t get along with, usually because parts of them that really resonate with parts of us. And so, being able to access your awareness, you can be able to be aware of that and standing the game and staying there as that. That steady hand and steady heart as they’re going back and forth and you know, acting out and all that and letting them know you’re here for the long haul, and not like demonizing.

Myrna: Awesome. What do you want, parents, and other readers to walk away with after reading your book?  You said, it’s not only for Christians, it’s not only for, parents of teenage children.

Samantha: Yes, thanks for asking that question because it’s so important and I feel like the answer is important. At the end of the book, when I wrote my acknowledgments, I realized that it came from an intersectionality of many communities. So, I think I would want listeners and readers to walk away with hope for, parenting teens, and being in a relationship with, teenagers. Sometimes those are the things that drive us to despair. I want, parents, to not give up, I want them to know this method works. This stuff actually really works. I’ve seen it in my practice. I’ve seen it in my personal life.

Conclusion

In conclusion I want to say It’s hard when the, teens, are yelling at you and telling you what to do. But don’t give up on them. Don’t walk away or shut the door. Have hope that they will grow up.

You can pick up a copy of my book on Amazon

How to Stop Yelling & Start Connecting with Your Highly-Emotional Teen: Healing Anxiety, Depression & Trauma Using The E.M.B.R.A.C.E. Parenting™ Method

or on my website is  SW Counseling & Wellness For Anxiety (swcwellness.com)  at a discounted price of 99 cents until end of November.

Additional Resources 

Why Health Literacy for Children is Important

The Link Between Narcissism and Mass Shootings

Narcissism social media and mass shootings

Lena Derhally, author of the Facebook Narcissist shares what is, narcissism, what is the difference between,  narcissists, psychopaths, and other personality disorders. Lena shares her research on why, narcissists, commit, mass shootings, and why they are using, social media, to get attention.

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Bio

Lena Derhallyis a licensed psychotherapist certified in Imago Relationship Therapy. She was formerly a clinical instructor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the George Washington School of Medicine, where she mentored medical students. Lena is passionate about antiwar movements and social justice, and Author of the Book The Facebook Narcissist A comprehensive guide for understanding how narcissism on social media impacts our mental health, how to protect ourselves and our children from those affects as well as from narcissists, and how to use social media more mindfully. 

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Book The Facebook Narcissist

Myrna: How did you transition from a psychotherapist into behavioral sciences? Do you have a personal story?

Lena: I got really interested in, narcissism criminology, when they called it, personality disorders. Because when I was in my 20s, I was in a relationship with a, narcissist. So that was very verbally emotionally abusive, and it really informed my career path and I’m in a private practice now. But what I really wanted to do.  I used to work with cancer patients and I work with mentally ill homeless people. And then I transitioned to working in couples work, but part of what I do with couples and individuals is I help them identify red flags and, abusive relationships.

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Narcissistic abusive relationships

And it’s always been a passion of mine, especially with women of course. Men can be in, abusive relationships, but really to help women recognize that.  There’s a lot of, abusive relationships, out there. I think more than that even reported, and so it’s really just been a passion of mine, just to help people and not just in, relationships, as we move to the topic of, mass shooting, for media narcissism. My first book was a true crime, about a family annihilator who murdered his pregnant wife and toddler daughter so he could be with another woman.

And that book was also to sort of break down for people because he showed no warning. They really wanted to break it down. So, people sort of see well how does something like this happen? How does somebody have this mask on for so long and then take it off and become really evil? I sort of explore these, narcissistic, people in hopes that we can educate people because I think protecting ourselves from these toxic people is one of the fundamental skills of life especially for younger people.

Myrna: I absolutely love this topic. And it’s really interesting, but I became psychological linked to, narcissism, after reading a book called “The Psychopath Next Door.” And that story resonated with me. I read that maybe even like 20 years ago, but I always resonate with that story of a how a, psychopath, and, narcissism.

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Difference between a narcissist and a psychopath

I’m not even sure what the difference is. Between the two them, but how they can just plan to destroy you. Like just if you said this gentleman that killed his pregnant wife and, and child because he wanted something else and to me, that’s the link for the, narcissism, and, psychopaths, because they can destroy you without a conscience without a thought.

Just so that maybe they can get to the other side or whatever. So, I have I have actually loved this topic. I don’t do enough of them on the show, but I talk to people every day about, narcissism, and I’m glad that you as you said, a lot of people are these, relationships. And I want to say beautiful, but it’s not really beautiful.

I want to say the amazing thing about these people. Is that oh you know, we’re gonna get into the basic, narcissist, and the, mass shooters. But the, narcissist, that I know that I’ve heard about or read about who charming, they’re beautiful, they’re the life of the party and you would not yes, yeah, yeah. Do you want?

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One of the important things you brought up is that there’s a common theme with, narcissist sociopath, psychopath, and that’s low to no empathy and that is working with the ability to destroy other important content just to get ahead. Even if it’s just throwing someone under the bus at work. It doesn’t have to be a murderer, but it’s just the, lack of conscience, no empathy, and they don’t feel remorse and I think it’s really hard for people.

I call quote unquote, normal people or people who are not who don’t have these, antisocial traits. to even understand that somebody can’t feel remorse or empathy. But that’s again, that’s why we’re talking about this is because you don’t you want to cut those people off. You don’t want to have anything to do with self-protection.

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The connection between mass shooting and social media

Myrna: So right off the bat, I want to get into the, social media, stuff so I’m questions I have here is what is the connection between, mass shootings, and social media breaks it down for us?

Lena: It’s a great question, and there’s a lot of connections. I’m gonna break them down. One, you know, the social media culture that we have today especially, we’re looking at these, mass shooters, they’re getting younger, they’re getting deadlier, and 2022 alone, almost all of them are under the age of 22. So, one of the things they’re very much inundated and enmeshed in the, social media culture. In fact, I found there’s a counterterrorism expert is John Cohen. Who said almost every, mass shooting, attack in the past few years, was inspired by online communities and threats were made online as well.

So, one social media is inspired by the, mass shooting, and all of us some of the examples unfortunately, we’re still fresh from some of the most prolific, mass shootings, we’ve seen between revolving buffalo, just to name a few. And so, we’ll start you know, with Buffalo all the evidence we have.

I don’t use their name because again, today with social media what they’re interested in is notoriety and, and so this is why we’re seeing them live streaming, mass shooting, you know, they don’t cover their face, they go in there with a death wish they know that maybe they’re going to commit suicide or they’re gonna get killed, but they want me talking about them and social media.

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What is narcissism

It’s what, narcissism, is all about attention seeking, grandiosity and title that they think they’re better than other people and, and the, lack of empathy. And so, social media, has given people with this wish to flip their misery and hatred and rage on other people that audiences really want the audience. And so that’s really dangerous.

But he was also found media people and one of the things I researched in my book was this concept of, white supremacist, radicalizing young men online and one of the ways they do this is they start off a little bit vague. They have the team so they show that the spicy humor, but they’re actually very effective, and they’re, racist.

When we’re talking about really serious issues like, racism, we should just be able to say anything about any group of people cuz it’s a joke, you know, so that’s the way they start. You try to break these socially isolated, lonely young men who have other kinds of issues going on. And then now they have the community on the dark web.

Myrna: It’s almost like the drug dealers recruiting lonely people in the olden days.

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The narcissist in the online community

Lena: So, imagine now the network’s they have, it’s almost like international. So, a lot of the times these people in these networks are egging them on to do these kinds of things. And so now here they are, or they want to impact the community.

They want the sort of badge of honor. I had this quote from the shooter from Buffalo, who, you know, we have the information that I think that he was radicalized online.  I believe it’s 2021, He wrote, it’s time to stop shit posting it’s time to make a real life effort. I will carry out an attack. He said this is December 2021. So, again, I’m seeing these killers that are putting their attention on, social media.

Myrna: Why do you think the Buffalo shooter targeted the Black community? How did, racism, get into, mass shooting?

Lena: So if you think about something like, racism, and, narcissism; narcissism is an entitlement, exploitation and, lack of empathy. There’s a hallmark of what it actually is. And, racism, is all about, I don’t know. And the, lack of empathy, I am better than better than you, and you are lower than me, you know, and so I think he probably already had these traits and then online communities exacerbated, and bring it out and really kind of normalized it.

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The narcissist and mass shootings

Myrna: So that’s I understand, narcissism. Why does, narcissists, now go out and kill a bunch of people? Can you make the connection? Why is the, narcissist, a, mass murderer, all of a sudden?

Lena: I believe that the university has done a lot of research on violence and a lot of my work too. I focus on violence prevention. And his work found that the majority or I say a significant majority or significant number of, mass shooters, are what you would call, narcissists. And, looking at, again, FBI profilers and counterterrorism experts and people who profile the, mass shooters, all agree that the common theme here is the word inclusion as well.

And so there’s a score to settle with the higher levels in rage and I feel that something was done to me and I’m angry. That’s why another connection that we see with these shooters is they’ve been bullied. There’s another part when we’re just talking about empathy as a society. I think we need to do so much more work just on bullying in general because I also think that bullying is part of what pushes people over the edge and makes them want to settle the score. And, you know, again, there’s no excuse for what they do ever.

There’s a type of, narcissism, called, covert narcissism, where there’s a lot of anger and rage about not being recognized for how special you are. So, I think they are really like, I’m going to show you that I am special. I’m so angry and I don’t have empathy and I’m just going to go take out my anger on people and cause pain. There’s a lot of times also, there’s another common theme with a lot of, mass shooters, and that can also be sexual assault. Different variations of abuse or drugs in their home of origin.

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Bullying is usually the trigger for these mass shootings

Myrna: So why is it let’s say that you’re an aggrieved person being bullied by high school students? Why do you go to the elementary schools and kill babies?

Lena: I think, you know, again, that’s going back to the, narcissistic, behavior they want to be recognized so what’s going to be the biggest thing? They want other people to suffer and what’s going to bring them the most attention than killing people’s children.  You’ve all seen what happened at Sandy Hook. I think that was the worst thing you’ve ever seen in this country.

Myrna: Yes, I agree Sandy Hook was brutal, so was Parkland and Columbine.

Narcissistic relationships

Myrna: You started off our conversation today by saying that you were in a, narcissistic relationship, in your early 20’s and one of the things that you do now is to counsel women on how to recognize the signs and get out of these relationships. So, what are some of the signs and personality traits of a, narcissist, in a relationship?

Lena: When you’re in a romantic situation, or even a friend, right? They just really lay on the flattery when we want to read you over in, narcissism, world. We call it rock climbing. And so, this is always a big red flag. I tell people like if after one week they tell you they love you and want to move in, that’s a red flag.

Myrna: I’m laughing because I always quote Halle Berry, she said her mother told her that “anything that looks too good to be true usually is.”  She had a really bad relationship with David Justice.

Lena: Yeah. And so yeah, there is manipulation. And I think most of us actually kind of know. Some people get a weird feeling about that a friend who does this type of love bombing.  Narcissists, are like Jekyll and Hyde. There are two personas and this is also a dynamic for, abusive relationships. It doesn’t have to be physical abuse, there’s emotional verbal abuse as well.  I think whenever you’re walking on eggshells around someone and you feel anxious all the time, it is time to leave.

Google Podcast Transform Your Mind
Google Podcast Transform Your Mind

The red flags to watch for in a narcissist

You never know if they’re gonna like flip on you or that, that’s a big sign. The gaslighting which is like making the reality telling you Oh, you’re too sensitive, that they’ll say something really horrible to you. And then they’ll get upset and you’re the problem.

You’re the problem, you’re too sensitive. You need to go to a therapist.  They’ll make you almost go into a place where you’re questioning your sanity. So, there’s all kinds of things they do. Financial abuse, controlling, they isolate you. A lot of times, narcissistic, people don’t want you to be around your friends and family.

Myrna: Yeah, I agree. Because you know, they know once you start talking to more people and more people are like, hey, are you sure you really wanted to stay in this relationship?

Lena:  They also don’t want you to leave because, narcissists, they love attention. So basically, the motivations are attention seeking, feeling special, but also things like little, empathy, because they’re so centered on themselves. They don’t have, empathy, for others.

The entitlement, I’m better than other people. I deserve more than other people. I deserve special treatment, special privileges and the exploitation which is why you have so many people in real positions of power from politicians to people like Harvey Weinstein. That is true. exploitation.

Deezer Transform Your Mind Podcast
Deezer Transform Your Mind Podcast

Narcissistic abusive relationships

Myrna: Wow, so we know that it’s hard to get out of, abusive relationships, because you’re kind of mentally tied to this person and that manipulation. How do you coach people to know that their boyfriend or girlfriend is a, narcissist, to get out and run?

Lena: I’m also a couple’s therapist. I will get people who actually can be helped, and sometimes I’ll have people call me and say, oh, my mom or my friend thinks my husband or my boyfriend is a, narcissist, and I’ll get some more information and usually I’m like, I don’t do couples therapy with, narcissists, because it doesn’t really work. I mean, it can but it depends on the scale of, narcissism.

Transform Your Mind Podcastland
Transform Your Mind Podcastland

Book: The Facebook Narcissist

Myrna: So tell us about your book “The Facebook Narcissist” why you wrote it and I love your first book “ My Daddy is a Hero” you can also talk about that as well.

Lena: The Facebook narcissist is a guide to identify and protect yourself and your loved ones from, social media narcissism, and it was really inspired to help my kids.  They’re not teenagers they are in elementary school, but close inspired by this idea of everything we’re getting bombarded with on social media and what it’s doing to our culture from influencers and celebrities to Family Feud to catfishing from fidelity to cyber bullying, cyber stalking, trolling. You know, there’s a chapter about false narrative.

What does it mean when people create a narrative on social media? How that links to, narcissism. So, each chapter is a different theme and how, social media, is linked to, narcissism, and then one of the last chapters is about, racism, politics, social media, and how that leads to, narcissism, as well. And so, it’s just a comprehensive guide about how, narcissism, on social media is impacting all of us and how it’s consuming it and what does it mean when we’re consuming all this content that’s being put out by, narcissists.

So, it’s not just who hears it on social media, but what is it doing my mental health when I’m exposed to all of it? Whether it’s vanity, whether it’s bullying, trolling, like what is it doing to me and my family, and how do I want to use it mindfully? How do I want to raise my children to use it in a way? So, it’s basically just a guide, giving people a lot of information and there’s questions at the end of every chapter that makes people think about how they want to use social media for them and their kids.

Book My Daddy is a Hero
Book My Daddy is a Hero

True crime narcissisms

There’s a couple of parenting chapters. I think one of the interesting is chapter two, how much should we should be posting about our kids on social media and so I’m not telling them what to do but giving them a sense of the consequences. Okay, there’s a lot of case studies and it’s even here about real, narcissists, on social media. So, it’s, it’s got everything in there.

And then my first book is a true crime. And it’s called “My daddy as a hero.” How Chris Watts didn’t show any traits of a, narcissist.  It’s about the Watts family murders which took place in Colorado in 2018. Where this man again, opposite actually, and this is why I wanted to write about it because he had all the opposite traits of a, narcissist, except with a little bit closer look it was there all the time.  He was very shy, quiet, from birth all his life.  His wife was the more controlling one in the relationship.

And then he just again, he met this woman at work and his wife took the kids to be family in North Carolina for five weeks and within that time period, he decided, again, going from love bombing to devalue and discard, he decided that his family had no use. And it wouldn’t be easier to kill them than to divorce the wife. I mean, it was a brutal killing

So that was a narrative storytelling about this crime, victimized either their relationships, they even have now had all their text messages and transcripts. And so, I told the narrative story, and then there’s a psychological analysis of the different types of, narcissism, and analyzing him and making the case that you know, essentially a, psychopath, and a, narcissist, that was a good of hiatus from those places.

I’m on Instagram @ therapywithLena and my websites is www.LenaDerhally.com You can also connect with me on LinkedIn.

Additional Resources

How to Heal Your Brokenness

 

Building Relationships With Relational Mindfulness

Shari Foos Relational Mindfulness

Relational mindfulness, is the humanistic practice of compassionately relating to others, with an open mind and mutual respect. By putting aside your own beliefs and judgments, you can better empathize and understand others from their perspective.

Download the podcast here:

https://pdcn.co/e/https://chrt.fm/track/897G7/www.buzzsprout.com/1761155/10971762-building-relationships-with-relational-mindfulness.mp3?download=true

Bio

Shari Foos is a Marriage and Family Therapist, adjunct professor and the creator of The Narrative Method, a California 501c3 non-profit organization. Part of the Human Connection movement, TNM creates programs, products and experiences that address the growing isolation and need for real connection through sharing stories. Foos also co-founded the Bridge in 1999, a free humanities program for low-income adults at Antioch University Los Angeles. She received a MS in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University and a MA in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Los Angeles.

As a sought-after expert on the subject of, relationships, remote group dynamics and meaningful connection, her writing and commentary have appeared in a range of online and print publications and podcasts, including Real SimpleHuffington Post, Women’s Health, KBLA, Fatherly, Thrive Global, Shondaland, The LA Weekly, Sparks & Honey Culture Briefings, Sondership, Let Pleasure be The Measure, and Bustle. Ms. Foos serves on the board of the City Kids Foundation and is the recipient of the New Directions for Veterans Community Hero Award (2015) and The Antioch University Los Angeles Lifetime Achievement Award (2016).

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Childhood trauma affects our adult relationships

Shari: I do think every one of us has had, trauma, different degrees, but we certainly all know the feeling of loss or shame or humiliation, or unfair treatment etc. I think of emotions like a piano with all of the keys, we have all of them to different extents at different times. But even if we don’t always use those really high notes or the low, low, low, notes, they’re there and that serves as our empathy. And because of that, we can sit with someone who’s going through something terrible that maybe in our day-to-day life, we’ve never experienced, but we can feel it in our soul because it’s a human experience.

When we put ourselves aside to be truly present and available with our lovingness acceptance or non-judgment or empathy, to hear someone’s story, from their perspective, not our judgment or assumptions. That person feels better. No matter what the problem is, they feel better, because without being heard, we go crazy, that is all part of, relational mindfulness.

When someone comes to you who you love, and they’re really excited about something and you’re so excited with them, that’s when you are aligned, right? You are, head-to-head, heart to heart. That’s easy. But when somebody comes to you, with a complexity that you have a lot of feelings about whether it’s addiction or someone’s choice of spouse or whatever that may be. It’s more difficult. And that’s why we practice awareness, wonder, empathy that is called, AWE, or, relational mindfulness.

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Building relational mindfulness with AWE

Myrna: Exactly. And here’s where I think it’s going to lead into something else, I know you’re interested in, which is, relational mindfulness.

You had a bad childhood bridge, the gap for us. How did you go from having a bad childhood to being a therapist, and a, marriage therapist? Did it have something to do with your parents’ marriage?

Shari: Well, yeah, that wasn’t very good, my father was a rageaholic and it was at a time where even more so than now, there was a lack of understanding about, mental health. And so, he wouldn’t seek treatment and it just wasn’t in the mentality of people then. So as a result of my having a childhood in which I was wounded, and on top of that, I was never heard or seen, you know, and it’s not uncommon. Lots of people grow up like that, but don’t know that it could be better. So, I was fortunate in that I had friends and I would go to their houses and see like, Wait a minute. This is different from my house.

I watched Leave It to Beaver, where the father would, talk, about it in the library. Our family definitely didn’t have talks.  As a result, and probably because of who I came in as into the world, I’ve just always been incredibly passionate about what makes people feel behave. So, I would study my father,  the sweat on his upper lip, depending on what was happening there. I knew he was about to blow, and that’s when I got interested in, body language. 

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Relational mindfulness starts with reading body language

Myrna: That is excellent on so many levels. One, let’s, talk, about the, talk, issue. I mean, I love that, when I’m talking to someone on the show, I can always bring in personal experience.  I read a lot of books, I listen to podcasts and watch television shows.  Just yesterday, I was watching of all things Reba, where the it was meant to be comedy, but Van was talking to Reba about her relationship with her daughter and he says, you guys do something called, talk!

And that was so funny. And that’s basically what you’re just saying. You went to other places and saw people actually talking and there was no talking going on in your house. So, you’re right, about your, childhood trauma. Everything starts from there. In fact, I was even reading this book yesterday and it says that every child goes through some kind of emotional damage, even the ones that think they had a great, childhood.

So, talk to us now about, relational mindfulness, and how this, awareness, builds, relationships.  You know, a lot of times men has moods, and women have moods, and being aware of when they’re going into a mood or something could be, relational mindfulness.

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Transform Your Mind Podcast Pandora
Transform Your Mind Podcast Pandora

Talking is the start of communication

Shari: Right, that’s a great concept. And it’s a great question. Here’s again, I know it’s a new word. It’s gonna take a while to sink in. But that talking thing, talk, talk, whatever. When you live with someone, you don’t have to consciously think whoa, his shoulders are slumped or, her bottom lip is really pouty  but there is a tremendous value in our being able to break down the, communication, the nuanced, communication, that is silent, because it’s one thing that we rely on we rely on it not just for survival.

That’s what lovemaking is. And that’s what disconnecting is. So, here’s, here’s a good thing that you may do consciously or unconsciously, but you could see that the other persons in a bad mood, and then maybe it triggers you to think, Oh, great. Now I got to take care of you. You know, I have some needs too, but had you been able to, talk, to the person you both might have found out what was going on with each other? Here’s the number one thing to do. It’s so easy. If you need to have a serious, talk, because when we, talk, about, relational mindfulness, it’s a very deliberate action.

It would be really hard to live in that 24/7 You know, but it’s a state of hyper awareness. Of the impact of your words, settled communications, as well as the other person’s. And the idea is you never begin a conversation like that, unless both people in this moment feel willing to be selfless and take turns listening.

And it’s okay. It’s gotta be okay if the persons not there. Because we know that sometimes they’ll say, okay, I’ll talk about something. And if your heart isn’t into it, and a person is asking you to really look at it from my perspective, if there’s resistance, it’s not a good time to talk about it. It’s okay, let’s wait.  That’s, relational mindfulness.

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Relational mindfulness builds deeper connections

Honestly, you could cancel out so many problems with, relational mindfulness. It’s just good to hear for 20 minutes five minutes, whatever. Would you be willing to have a session of all where we’re both agreeing to mutual respect, awareness, wonder and empathy, taking turns sharing our feelings and then reflecting them back to the other person.

Reflecting them back in the storyteller, making sure that they’ve got it right. And lovingly, of course, correcting each other, then we’ve got it right. Now we can move on to another point that the same person estimate or the other person can share their perspective, but constantly check in because it’s a lot to put yourself aside, especially when somebody is saying things that like, you know, 10 minutes ago.

Wait a minute. I don’t agree with that. So, one thing I often will do for myself is I’ll keep a little pen and paper just so that I can get something off my mind. I don’t even have to look at it to scribble it.

Or ask the person to stop, but everybody realizes that this is a very focused state that is difficult to maintain. There are times we maintain it for a long time, especially for meeting somebody new who may not be pushing our buttons the way our spouse does, but who out there has or has had a spouse has never felt like I’ve told you that a million times before.

I mean, if they had said what they thought they had said, you would have heard it. The problem is either in the delivery or the receiving, let’s find out. Let’s find out with the, communication.

Transform Your Mind Amazon
Transform Your Mind Amazon

Awareness wonder and empathy

Myrna: That’s a good point. So, you’re saying when they say that I’ve told you a million times, they’ve said it in their heads but not to you?

Shari: Or the way that they’re articulating it? isn’t getting through to you.  A lot of times, they’re saying the words but their body action is not is not conveying the message, and the receiver doesn’t actually believe it.

Myrna: So that’s great. But I want to circle back to something you said there where you’re right sometimes is not the right time to ask somebody to talk or ask somebody to get into. I like that, you know, awareness, wonder, and, empathy. I normally work with energy, because I can feel, energy. And I know when it’s not the right time because of, energy. How do you respond with that?

Shari: Well, I think there are two factors for me in terms of reading someone else. One is certain things are obvious. For instance, if someone’s crying, you don’t necessarily know right off the bat, why the person is crying, or if they’re crying for joy or sadness. You soon see the difference. But we can misinterpret someone because of the way they think about something.

So even though I pay attention to my instincts, I always check in so you know if I see someone’s upset and I feel like they want to be alone, I still want to say I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know if you want to, talk, about it, but I want you to know I’m here for you or I want you to know I’m so sorry I have to leave or whatever is true for you.

Myrna: I like that, because sometimes you see something and there’s one and why are you bothering me? If you’re saying you’re just checking in, I don’t know if you want to, talk, about it or not. That’s good, but I’m just checking in let me know when you want to, talk, or something like that.

Transform Your Mind Podcast Player FM
Transform Your Mind Podcast Player FM

What is relational mindfulness

We’re touching a lot of stuff on, relational mindfulness. How would you describe, relational mindfulness?

Shari: Relational mindfulness, is the humanistic practice of compassionately relating to others, with an open mind and mutual respect. By putting aside your own beliefs and judgments, you can better empathize and understand others from their perspective. And that’s really what it is. So, the idea is, we take turns, especially if we’re having a problem with each other, we’ve already tried both talking at the same time.

And I know, we both know, we’re right, but I’m right. Okay, we’ve done that. And at some point, we may get to a place where we decide I’d rather communicate than be right sometimes I’d rather apologize can be right, because if you perceive that my action, or behavior, or style or subtle communication was offensive, it doesn’t really matter. If that was my intention. I am sorry. I’m especially sorry, that wasn’t my intention.

Google Podcast Transform Your Mind
Google Podcast Transform Your Mind

How does awareness wonder and empathy deepen relationships

Myrna: How do you think that, awareness, wonder, and, empathy, deepens, relationships?  What does the science say?

Shari: Well, first of all, one thing that connects our brains is, eye contact, which we can accomplish online which is amazing. Our, eye contact, connects us, syncs our brains. And if we were in MRI machines, you will see our brains are lit up in the same place. But if our backs are to each other, first of all, we don’t know what expression is on someone’s face.

Maybe their faces are mean. If you’re at some level of aggravation, it’s a good time to not have an, AWE, session. Take care of yourself first, run around the block, take a shower, ask for a hug if you’re able, you know, but we need to do what we can do to kind of get our homeostasis back. I suggest to people this self-soothing tool that you can do any place at any time. You take your dominant hand, put it on your heart, and when you really start feeling your heartbeat, you let your hand take comfort from that and vice versa. So, it’s a loop of calm. I don’t know exactly how I’m going to deal with this moment.

Conclusion

Myrna: Tell us about your company The Narrative Method.

Shari: This is the organization I founded in 2014. And it is devoted to bringing together people from completely different backgrounds to connect through sharing the stories of their lives and creative experiences. So, as I mentioned earlier, we do writing groups that are for free on online and they last one hour. You write for a total of 20 minutes, you see pictures, you get prompts. You go into breakouts; you share your stories. At the end, we do this mosaic where everybody pitches in one sentence. One hour, in and out.

Nobody has writer’s block. Nobody’s judged, nobody’s wrong. There’s no mistakes possible. People have a blast with themselves, because we’re really working on how to turn on your creative faucet without that voice inside that says how many.  And then the conversation groups which we do on Thursday nights are a matter of seeing compelling videos about anything.

Then getting a prompt and going into breakouts and sharing a story that just came up as a result of those things. And so, people get to know each other because there’s no small talk. And it’s fascinating to hear, not just another person’s story, but whoa, that made you think of this? It’s fascinating. It’s so cool. We offer those free. We have classes, we do trainings. The website is www.thenarrativemethod.org

https://youtu.be/56vHerZMDlk
Additional Resources

Nothing is Impossible: How to Turn Life’s Challenges Into Opportunity

How Does Emotional Intelligence Affect your Success In Life

Positive mindset

If you do not take control of your,  emotional intelligence, and thoughts, they will repeat in cycles. We have over 70,000 thoughts per day and 90% of these thoughts repeat over and over. That is why people get stuck in life, reliving the past like Groundhog day.

Jenny R. Craig, LCSW, BCD is a, transformation, specialist, utilizing her expertise in assisting leaders in creating authentic, profound, long-lasting impact in their organizations and personal lives.

Emotional intelligence, is important because, Strategic planning,  does not kick in until the mid-twenties.

Also any huge trauma changes the way the brain works.

As a, transformation, coach we give our clients tools and techniques that can move them through the darkness of being stuck in rewind, and into the light. The light is to find out your true purpose and discover who you really are.

Emotional Intelligence, allows you to do the mental work in living a purposeful life.

Here are four traits of Emotional Intelligence:

* Self Awareness: Knowing what we are feeling and why we are feeling this way.
* Self Management: Handling distressing emotions so that they don’t cripple you.
* Empathy: Knowing what someone else is feeling. Being capable of walking in another man’s shoes.
* Skilled Relationships: There is not a better barometer of, emotional intelligence, than the quality of one’s relationships. When you put the top three skills together, you will have quality and healthy relationships.

Transform your Mind Spotify Podcast
Download on Spotify

What is Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence refers, to the ability to identify and manage one’s own, emotions, as well as the, emotions, of others.

Emotional intelligence, is generally said to include at least three skills:

  • emotional awareness,
  • the ability to identify and name one’s own, emotions
  • the ability to harness those, emotions, and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving
  • the ability to manage, emotions, which includes both regulating one’s own, emotions, when necessary and helping others to do the same.

There is no validated, emotional intelligence test.

Test for, emotional intelligence, looks for the general intelligence factor—and many argue that, emotional intelligence, is therefore not an actual construct, but a way of describing interpersonal skills that go by other names.

Despite this criticism, the concept of, emotional intelligence, sometimes referred to as emotional quotient or EQ—has gained wide acceptance. In recent years, some employers have even incorporated, emotional intelligence tests, into their application and interview processes, on the theory that someone high in, emotional intelligence, would make a better leader or coworker.

Soundcloud Transform your mind podcast
Transform your Mind Soundcloud podcast

Conclusion Emotional Intelligence

I am grateful that you have tuned into this podcast from all around the world. I believe that the spirit of God has attracted you here so that you can receive the insights, revelations and knowledge revealed on this broadcast. Whatever you need for this day in your life you will receive. I can truly say that your life will never be the same because a brain that has been expanded with knowledge can never return to it’s original size. I invite you to subscribe to this podcast so that you will receive new podcasts every week with more insights, revelations and knowledge so that you can live your best life now.

Visit me on the web at www.myrnayounghelps.com and sign up for a free strategy session.

Additional Resources 

How to Apply, the Law of Divine Oneness, to your Life