Empower Your Conductor: Finding Harmony And Clarity In Your Life With Marie-Elizabeth Mali

AIH 72 | Finding Harmony In Life

 

Picture your mind like a symphony and you as the conductor. We all have these different instruments, and your role is to create harmony among them. This is the beautiful metaphor about the mind and meditation that the guest, Marie-Elizabeth Mali, brings us to this episode. As a Midlife Transformation Specialist, Marie works with people who have a lot of skill and drive in their work, but their relationships suffer and vice versa. She brings us the clarity we need in life by taking us from the inside out, working on the connection with our spiritual essence or inner selves and build in action at the same time. Towards the people around us, Marie also talks about the importance of relationships for growth and how we should learn how to value healthy criticisms and get into an open and honest conversation with our partner. Ultimately, Marie is all for empowering your conductor, being aware of the voices in your head, and developing a new relationship with your inner critic.

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Empower Your Conductor: Finding Harmony And Clarity In Your Life With Marie-Elizabeth Mali

We’re going to be talking about one of my favorite subjects, which is the mind and meditation. It caused me to think of one of the good quotes I heard on one of the tracks I listened to. I listened to a thing called The Sedona Method, which is a technique for letting go of your resistance, letting go of your attachment, letting go of your version, letting go of any belief that’s holding you back. The instructor, Hale Dwoskin says, “The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master.” What he’s getting at is that if you let the mind run wild, it will do nothing but cause you problems. The mind is always looking to create a problem so it can solve a problem. If we’re not aware that the mind is running in this way, we can’t do anything about it.

The first step would be to recognize and become aware of what our mind is doing on a regular basis. What thoughts are we having on a regular basis? What are we worried about? What are we scared of? What are we attached to? As we start to recognize and become more aware, we then have the tools to decide whether or not to keep going with the programming that we’ve got or if we want to let go and try something new. The whole idea behind The Sedona Method and the practice that I’ve been investing in is the idea that if we keep becoming more aware, if we keep letting go of our resistances, our attachments, and our versions, we get more to the essence, more to the heart, more to the core of who we truly are.

Our guest is Marie-Elizabeth Mali. She had a good metaphor for helping to picture this. I love metaphors because they help us visualize and understand complex ideas. She had this idea of a symphony and the mind is like all the different instruments in a symphony. You’ve got the drums. You’ve got the flutes. You’ve got the saxophones. I don’t even know if to put saxophones in symphonies, but we’re going to pretend they do put it.

No matter how you have it, the mind has all these different instruments that can play. If you let him play, there’s no harmony, there’s no music, there’s no performance because it’s just chaos. Marie-Elizabeth will explain this a little bit more in-depth, but if you take the role of the conductor, you’re then saying, “We need to make sure all these instruments are playing together. They’re working together and they’re working in a way that’s harmonious and that can create beauty.” To me, this is the goal of meditation and mindfulness practices. Any practice that’s unrelated to understanding the mind, it’s related to, “How can we not suppress what the mind is doing, but how can we work with it and create harmony with the mind?” If you read closely to this episode and everything that Marie-Elizabeth has to say, you’ll find all of these amazing nuggets to bring into practice in your own life. We also talked about relationships. If you’re interested in relationships, which I think all of us are in some relationship, either with ourselves or with other people. Marie-Elizabeth has a ton of wisdom when it comes to relationships. Please read on and I hope you enjoy this episode.

Welcome to the show, Marie-Elizabeth. How are you doing?

I’m doing great, Taylor. It’s great to speak with you.

It’s been a while. Everyone who doesn’t know us, we met a while back when I was a trainer with Bulletproof. I remember us having awesome conversations. This is a surprise that you’re even on the show. I’m glad to have you. For anyone out there who’s not familiar with you, I know you have such a diverse background, but who are you?

I call myself a Midlife Transformation Specialist. At this point, I’m working with people who often have a lot of skill and drive in their work, but their relationships tend to suffer. The reverse is sometimes true, where their relationship at home is going well, but their work is suffering. In the middle of your life, which for a lot of people is hitting these questions or hitting them earlier than they used to, even in your 30s, this can be coming up where it’s like, “Is this all there is? I’m bored. Things feel flat, I thought I was going to love this.” I work with people and help them go from that state to getting clear about what would really like them up and then making that happen. I’m also a published poet and an underwater photographer. I love sharks. Those are the main things that are alive for me at the moment.

It sounds to me like you’re almost taking someone from a place of stagnation and wondering what’s going on and putting them back into action, reinspiring, and reigniting them for what life has to offer.

That’s exactly right. I do it from a more inner to outer approach. There are some people who work with productivity or do these tasks and set these goals. I can do and I’m trained to do that kind of coaching, but I find it more effective to go in first and look at where am I in integrity with myself and where am I out of integrity with myself and to start there before we even decide where to go on the outside in terms of any changes that might need to happen or not.

I was reading through your website and you mentioned on there accessing your spiritual essence. Does this relate to what you’re talking about in terms of working from the inside out?

Empower your conductor Click To Tweet

That’s exactly what I’m talking about. I feel like when you’re fully in touch with who you are at the deepest part of you, in my experience and what I’ve seen over and over again. The question of if you’re worthy or if you are a good person or any of those things, those questions fall away because who you are at your core is already whole, healed, and complete. Once you’re accessing that, you go from there back out again and look at, “Where have I not been living this in my life?” Without making that deep inquiry, you can fix all the outside stuff until the cows come home, but there’s always going to be something deep in your belly somewhere that knows you’re not quite necessarily totally in alignment.

It’s like putting a veneer on a rotten tooth. It doesn’t change the fact that underneath it’s still sick.

There’s a potential for a whole tooth to express itself completely.

In the spirit of trying to access this part of ourselves, do you have any insight into how we begin to connect with our spiritual essence or that inner aspect of ourselves that we can then express?

I like to use a three-pronged approach where I’m taking into account what’s happening in the body, what’s happening in mind and then what their connection is to their own spirit. In terms of the body, I look at the body as a barometer. It is often the most honest thing in a person’s life. They may not listen to it. They may not know how to listen to the cues that their body is sending them. They may ignore it or have other drives that are stronger. I used to work out way harder than my body wanted me to, for example. I had to learn how to dial it back and calibrate to what my body wanted. Sometimes with a client, we’ll start there like, “What’s your body saying? You have a stomachache every day at the end of work. Let’s look at that. When does it start? What is it in response to certain people? Is it in response to certain thoughts?”

We’ll go in and start to look at the landscape of the body as a communication device. In mind, very often, a lot of the clients that I see have a lot of self-doubt or conflicting voices. When I say voices, I don’t mean they have a mental illness. What I mean is their thoughts are not always in alignment with each other. What does that mean? That means I want to work out three days a week and another thought is like, “It’d be great to stay here on the couch,” The couch thought wins, where the thoughts that win are not always in alignment with what the deeper desires are of the person. We start to take that apart and look at which thoughts are the loudest. Where could they put more supportive thoughts deliberately in front or highlight those? We develop practices for doing that. The third piece is the spirit part. What is their relationship to the spiritual side of things? Is there a meditation practice? Is there a breathing practice, something that touches them into a deeper space that’s beyond words where they can start accessing their own intuition and wisdom?

To me, it sounds like a big part of bringing this all together. This has been a practice in my life is awareness. I don’t know if how much you know about me but at one point, I was a yoga teacher. I will be honest when I started the practice, I didn’t necessarily understand what I was getting into. I was like, “Flexibility sounds cool.” As I did more of it, you get exposed to that culture. The practice of yoga in my mind is this practice of awareness. This practice of integrating these different aspects of self, which is to me what you’re describing. It is integrating the mind, body, and spirit. It is an understanding of what role each one plays, how to create a relationship with that and how to use that to leverage your own authentic power. Do you start with one of those in particular? Is it depend on who you’re working with?

AIH 72 | Finding Harmony In Life
Finding Harmony In Life: The body is a barometer. It is often the most honest thing in a person’s life.

 

It depends on who I’m working. I find that most often in nowadays world, I have to start with the mind.

Is there a reason for that?

Usually, that’s what people are most aware of as being an issue for them. A lot of people, depending on how much they’ve done something like yoga or meditation, any kind of awareness practice, they may or may not be tuned into how their body is communicating. Most often their body is an afterthought. It’s like one of my students put it, a brilliant person, she said, “My body is the thing that carries me to the library where I can do the real work.” I was like, “We’re going to have to work on that.”

For a lot of people, they live in their heads in our culture. Often, I find starting there to be the place where I can have the most direct impact, that has the largest impact. If I go directly for spiritual things, but they don’t know how to be with themselves and their thoughts, it’s hard. Whereas if someone starts with learning how to allow all their thoughts to be present. In other words, we have this idea that we’re supposed to be happy all the time and if we wake up cranky or we have a bad day, there’s something wrong with us for that. That something is wrong empirically.

A lot of times, I ended up starting therewith, “Let’s reframe that. What are the ‘negative thoughts’ that are most present? How could we learn to look at them differently? As perhaps an indicator of something that you might want to change or perhaps a place?” I often say a complaint is a veiled desire. I teach people to look at if there’s a place where they’re complaining a lot or where their thoughts are complaining a lot, what’s the underlying desire? That’s often where we ended up starting is looking toward, “What does this habitual complaint tell me about what I want and I’m not doing?” It puts them into more of an active action-oriented. It gets them out of their victims and puts them into more of an action-oriented part of themselves. From there, we can start to deepen their awareness and build in action at the same time.

I appreciate you so much for saying that, “It’s okay to have negative thoughts.” I think in our culture, there’s this premise of like, “Everything is supposed to be good. You’re supposed to feel good. You’re supposed to be happy all the time.” From what I have seen around in LA, I call it the spiritual ego, which is, “Everything’s beautiful and pretty. Everything is love and awesome. That’s the best day ever and everything is right here, right now.” To me, it’s ignoring 50% of the equation.

I think of it as the Instagram notification of life, where you start to believe the thing that you’re portraying on social media, that you’re supposed to be that. I don’t do a lot of that. I try to be super revealed on social media and present a more authentic picture, but there’s a lot of that beauty of everything that I’m not sure is a great direction for us to be going. I also don’t think it’s good to wallow in our pain or to wallow in what’s difficult, but we need to acknowledge whatever it is and not cling to either thing. I think the ultimate goal is to recognize that there’s up day and down days, helpful thoughts and not so helpful thoughts and not to get stuck in any which one.

Questions about our worth fall away when who you are at your core is already whole, healed, and complete. Click To Tweet

On that note, my producer, Gloria, passed me from a previous guest, Andrew Skinner, who is wheelchair-bound, but he told his story on the show. If you haven’t read it yet, go read it. He says, “It’s okay to have a bad day, but don’t have a pity party.” The other analogy that came into my mind in alignment with what we’re talking about here is if you think about a house, right over time, there are going to be certain parts of your house that are going to break and degrade. When that happens in your house, you don’t go, “This is the worst day ever. Why me?” You go, “That’s old. I need to fix that so it can be whole and new again.” I think like our inner self in the way we’re talking about this is similar where when we have a bad day or a bad moment or a bad thought, it’s not that something is horrifically wrong. It’s an aspect of ourselves that are wanting to be healed, wanting to repair it so that it can be whole and complete again.

That’s a beautiful analogy. I love that. It’s like a rusty pipe talking like, “I need to be cleaned out here.” I love that.

What’s your process for beginning to heal those rusty pipes?

I like to start with the process I call Empowering Your Conductor. I teach people to look at the thoughts in their head or the voices, as I call them. If they were members of an orchestra, get out of the thinking that my critic hates me or I hate myself because there’s a voice that happens to beat me up all the time. Those voices are bad and the love voices are good. If it’s all members of an orchestra and one’s a trumpet and one’s a clarinet and the other one’s the timpani, it becomes more of a question of, “Who do you want to have playing? Who should be sitting back down and not playing? Where is the conductor?” What happens for a lot of folks is they’ve never realized that they have a clear aware heart of themselves, that’s not conditioned or not that didn’t come out of their childhood wounding.

These thoughts that run around our heads tend to be byproducts of whatever wounding that happened as a child. All of us have some wounding in one direction or another. The thoughts that tend to dominate tend to be ones that come out of our wounding and that colors how we see everything. Even as all of that exists, we also have a clear, aware, wise, intuitive, unconditional part of us that is often slightly off stage because we’ve never accessed it. We’ve never known to look for it. Maybe we did have access to it at one point, but then it stepped away. I work with people to empower that clear and aware part of them to be more in charge. When the inner critic comes up, they can go, “Inner critic, I hear that you’re afraid that this thing I want to write is going to suck. I get it. I know you want me to be better. I appreciate that, but I want you to sit down right now and let me write. I got you. Thank you. Please sit down. I’m writing.” It’s like you develop a relationship with the various instruments in your head that each has their particular slant on what’s going to make you better. Here’s the thing, every single one of these thoughts or voices think it’s doing what you need, it’s trying to love you, but has a cracked idea of what loves sounds like. This is the foundation I work from and that I teach.

You think your inner critic is your enemy maybe but it’s not. If you turn and ask, “What do you want for me?” It’s like, “I want you to go out there and be great.” It’s going to find its own way to say that and you’re like, “Great, but the way you’re trying to have me do that had me shrink, shrivel, and feel terrible. We need to find a new relationship.” That’s a lot of what the empowering the conductor process is about. It’s like having the conductor come in line and be in charge, then developing a new relationship with each of the most present thoughts to have it feel like it’s on your side and also not dominate the conversation anymore.

How do you begin to decide when to listen and when not to listen? When the voice is coming to you and you want to say sit down, but when do you say, “Go ahead and play your instrument?”

AIH 72 | Finding Harmony In Life
Finding Harmony In Life: The ultimate goal is to recognize that there are up and down days, helpful and not so helpful thoughts, and not to get stuck in any which one.

 

That question is more easily answered by a different image. Another way to look at this idea is like a group of people sitting around a board table at a company. You have a chairperson of the board and you have the board members. Similar to the instruments, the voices are like your board members. In a board meeting, a chairperson is going to invite each one to speak and invite them to sit down when they’ve heard enough. In a good meeting, the person who’s leading the meeting gives room to speak, but also doesn’t let anybody drone on forever and ever and tank the meeting.

This is the way I imagine the orchestra or the board meeting. It’s a bunch of dogs and there are moments where your dog comes to you. It’s asking to go outside or to eat because it genuinely needs attention. There are other times in your life where your dog is barking at nothing. You have to start to realize what these voices are in their head.

How do you know which is which?

It’s a process of trial and error, honestly. It’s knowing and creating that relationship with the conductor and the observer and saying, “Is this coming up because I need to address something? Is this coming up because it’s trying to keep me safe, but is that keeping me safe coming from a place of understanding or is it coming from conditioning? As we start to unravel these different voices and understand why they’re saying it and where they’re coming from. If the voice is coming from a conditioned pattern from your childhood, chances are it hasn’t been updated in a while. What we’ve been learning, we’ve had a lot of guests on talking about different ways to heal emotionally in different practices, but as we essentially update that information, that voice becomes more valid.

That’s exactly right. One way that I do with people is I will have a conversation directly in session with whichever voices need to be repurposed and I assign them a new job. Maybe it’s been playing the trumpet super loud, but it really ought to outplay the clarinet instead. What you need in your orchestra as a clarinet. If the voice is willing to move, if it understands that you love and value it, it will often willingly shift and do the job that you needed to do. That’s something that I more often handled directly in session than I do have someone do on their own because that’s trickier work to repurpose some of these voices. That’s part of that process of updating the voice from the childhood wounding version to its highest and most useful version. That’s the work I often do in session versus giving them a framework to do on their own.

My experience has been essentially I did a ton of work alone and by myself. It was revealing and helpful. I got to a point where I realized that there’s only so much you can do alone and you need someone from the outside to look at you and give you someone who you trust. Someone who’s looking out for your best interests and who can give you that honest interpretation of, “This is what I’m seeing.” What someone else brings to the table is always going to be different than what you think of yourself. Being open to healthy criticism is extremely valuable and not being upset when someone comes to you saying, “This is how you’re showing up. I want you to know that.”

I think that’s crucial. It’s important to have in our lives who do that and also people who do the same thing, but the flip side of it, which is, “I don’t think you totally see yourself here. You have this critical thing happening and how you’re handling this is amazing.” I think sometimes we need to perform that function for each other too.

A complaint is a veiled desire. Click To Tweet

That’s why we have communities and families to share experiences and figure out how we can all learn from each other. That’s been a big theme that comes up with a lot of our guests is this idea of community. If we are working together collectively, we’re stronger than if we were on our own.

There’s a lot of self-delusion that can happen. I worked deeply on my own for years as well and it was great. I saw a lot and did a lot, but I still had blind spots. I still had certain places I would default into patterning. Without someone there catching me like, “You’re doing that thing you always do when you’re stressed out. You’re defaulting to not feeling good enough.” Without someone there to the point that out, I would believe that the not good enough thing was real and I would miss that. I was defaulting to that because I was stressed. Does that make sense?

Yes, absolutely. We’ve all experienced that one time in there, but I know you’ve had this diverse life experience. How have you learned this? Do you have any stories from your own learning experience of uncovering this process?

A lot. I used to have and still have a pretty strong self-critical voice. When I was married, I thought I was incapable of being happy in a long-term committed relationship. I thought it was broken. I thought relationships were by nature sandpaper. I literally used to say that relationships are sandpaper. I’m naturally a nun who’s meant to be by herself. I need to be in relationships, which are sandpaper so that I can grow because there are ways that I’m not going to grow if I’m by myself. Relationships are by nature difficult. I, by nature, cannot be happy with them. I’m going to get married.

That analogy seems ridiculous. I was like, “I’m going to work hard in therapy to try to be happy in this marriage.” I’m characterizing and I’m overdramatizing this for effect. There were a lot of things that were great about our marriage. Our marriage was highly great in many ways, but in this deep, fundamental way that I needed, it wasn’t great. It took me a long time of that voice is loud that something’s wrong with me. That I was the problem. That I couldn’t be happy and I had to fix things. I was critical of him and me and everything. My health went south. That’s when my thyroid tanked. My adrenals tanked. I ended up in adrenal exhaustion. I had chronic physical pain. I overexercised and got obsessive around my diet as a way to try to have control. I did all the things.

One day, I was on a dive trip and I’m photographing, sleeping for 4 to 6 hours a night instead of the 10 to 12. I needed to sleep at home. This lightning bolt hit me that maybe I’m not broken. I’m just unhappy. From that moment, I started to heal. We came home, we were in therapy for six more months trying to work out the parameters of our relationship. I wanted to open our relationship. I thought maybe opening our relationship, since it was good in many ways, but not in others. I thought maybe opening it up would be more of what would work for me. That didn’t work for him. He’s not wired. He’s wired for monogamy. We split. From that point, my health started to improve because I began to engage and listen to myself as someone who wasn’t inherently broken, but who knew what I wanted but didn’t have the guts to think or feel or say it. Once I got that and started to listen to myself and listen to what my body wanted, it began to heal.

You were convincing yourself in the relationship. I’m trying to make sure I understand. Were you convincing yourself that something was wrong with you because you weren’t happy in a relationship?

AIH 72 | Finding Harmony In Life
Finding Harmony In Life: The thoughts that tend to dominate our heads are those that come out of our childhood wounding and that color how we see everything.

 

Yes.

Were you basically fighting to become happy with something, even though if you were honest with yourself, it wasn’t working?

Exactly. I thought all relationships have trouble over time. There was a way that I didn’t acknowledge it. It was good in many ways. I didn’t trust myself. I think that’s the main thing. I didn’t trust my body that was indicating to me by getting more exhausted and gaining weight and slowing down. I didn’t trust that it was a communication. I tried to fix it by physical things. I tried to fix it with therapy as opposed to asking, “What’s going on here?” As opposed to assuming that there was some wisdom there that I wasn’t getting. I think that the difference is that because the relationship was mostly good, I assumed, “I feel terrible because something’s wrong with me, not because my feeling terrible is an important barometer.”

It is an indicator that I need to pay attention, that the feeling terrible is the path to getting more right with myself. It was changing something that was out of alignment, which happened to be us as a mismatch. We’ve both gone on to have wonderful relationships. We had an amicable split. He was married within a year. He has two kids. He’s with the right person. I’m with the right person, who’s someone who shares my passion for personal growth. Relationship is a vehicle for each of our individual growth. That was the structure that I needed and the person who’s devoted to that is the right person for me. Whereas I was like, “What’s wrong with me? I’m not happy with this structure.” Something’s wrong with me instead of the structure isn’t my structure.

I was sitting here while reminiscing about my own relationships. What came to me was sometimes it’s not a matter of this person is terrible and I hate them. It’s a matter of this person who isn’t able to give me what I need in a relationship. I think we, as human beings, I’ve done this and I’ll speak from my own experience. I’ve fought for a relationship that keeps breaking down because I care about the person. I’m not basically in the process of listening to the signs. I’ve been in a relationship lots of times. My own experience was on and off again. We’d be awesome for a while, then not good at all and back to being awesome. There was no hate in the relationship. There wasn’t that same drive and focus on what each person needed. That’s what you’re getting at is a relationship that is about my term for it is co-independent, which means two individuals coming together, who are helping each other to become what they each want to be. That’s why they started calling them partnerships instead of relationships, because if you want someone who’s going to push you to be what you want to be and vice versa. You want someone who in your life who wants to grow and evolve.

I think that’s a beautiful way to see it. I love the co-independence idea because there is a ‘co’. We live in a society that’s stressed and values independence that sometimes we miss the ‘co’ piece. There is a place where you do open yourself to be influenced by the person you love. However, we don’t want to go far over into the ‘co’ that we lose our individual responsibility for our own growth. I’m responsible for my growth. My partner, Patrick, is responsible for his growth. We support each other in each of our growth. We can look at it as a triangle. Patrick is in one corner of the triangle, I’m another and the apex is what we call the union. Sometimes, when we’re making decisions, we’ll ask, “What would benefit the union?” Where it’s less about, “I need this and I need that.” It’s like, “What would benefit our union? How do we each show up in such a way with each other that had benefited the union?” That’s how we work our relationship quite a bit.

You’ve got a lot of good visualizations. I like the visualization of the triangle in that each piece is essential for it to be complete. Where my mind goes in terms of thinking about relationships is there’s an inherent danger in relationships of not getting what you want or not going in the direction you want to go. In my mind, it’s a risk we all have to be willing to take. The flip side of that is you’re getting someone in your life who’s going to know you better than anyone else is ever going to know you when you let them in. They can act as this catalyst for extreme personal growth if the environment is set up for that to happen because they’re going to be the honest one who’s going to see you for who you are and say, “This is what I keep seeing with you. I’m telling you this because I love you.” If we don’t get those conversations as much with friends or family, we get those conversations with people we deeply connected with. We’ve got to build the triangle together.

The thoughts that run around our heads tend to be byproducts of whatever wounding happened to us as a child. Click To Tweet

That’s why I like that image because it recognizes that there is a third thing that comes into being when two people come together. That is the relationship between the apex of the triangle that I call the union. Some other people, we all call it the union. Other people, Robert Bly wrote a poem about it and he called it The Third Body. Each person’s function in the relationship is to feed the third. It’s another way to language the same thing. That’s a recognition that there is something special and real that exists between two people who have said, “I’m down for this with you. I’m here to go through life with you and grow together and support each other. Even when support looks like tough love, I’m here for that too. I’m here for the most support when you’ve fallen down and you need to grind someone’s shoulder. I’m here for that too. All of that.”

There’s this third that comes into being that exists between. I think it’s important to remember that because otherwise it can get very tit for tat or my way, your way. You can get into a lot of power struggles. Whereas, if both people’s attention is on how is this affecting the union, or how is this affecting the third, then both of you are on the same team approaching this thing that is your union as opposed to in an adversarial power struggle with each other of who’s going to get their way.

That was well-articulated. Thank you for that. It is helpful. It’s when you say the team and you have this idea of a third-party, it makes it seems like we’re on a collective mission versus we’re dependent on each other for survival. That’s how a lot of relationships end up becoming, we’re dependent on each other for survival. We need two incomes. The other thing that I picked up in what you were saying was this idea of unconditional love. It’s a very rare thing in the world because often, even if we don’t consciously do it, we’re putting up these conditions like you got to do this or I can’t love you completely or you have to be this certain way. What you mentioned is being there on the good days, the bad days, and the in-between days are what it’s all about.

It’s funny. I think it’s the difference between having a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset, which is something people talk about quite a bit. Patrick and I were talking and I said to him, “I would rather you bring me something that’s true for you, that you’ve learned about yourself or a desire that you have or something that comes up for you. I would rather you bring me that even if it makes me deeply uncomfortable and I have a terrible reaction to it. I would rather you bring me that than not to tell me because you’re afraid I’m going to have some reaction. Our relationship exists on some comfortable, bland level, where we’re not bringing each other what’s true for us, but we’re trying to say the thing that the other person can be okay with.”

This is what a lot of my work has been with myself is to be a person who has enough room. I have it with my clients. It’s difficult to shock me like no one. It’s pretty hard to say something that I’m not going to have room for. I may have ideas about it. I may have a response, but I cultivate room for people, in particular, I cultivate room for Patrick. Does that always manifest? If he wakes up late one day and I needed him to do something and he doesn’t have time, do I get irritated? Of course I do. What I’m talking about is if he realizes he wants to go somewhere or do something, that something needs to shift about our relationship, I have room to hear that.

That’s one of the most important things we can give each other is not to police each other’s communication and be like, “You need to talk to me in this certain way. I can’t hear about whatever.” Grow up and make room for another human being to be themselves and give yourself the room too. Get with people who give you room to be you and then be adults about it. If somebody triggers you or you trigger somebody, say, “That hurts and then work it out. Stay and stick around to fix it.” I feel like there’s a pussyfooting around as we have started to do with each other because we’re afraid to step on each other’s toes. I don’t advocate being brutal. I advocate calibration, but I don’t advocate disguising your truth to keep things comfortable. I’m not for that.

I’ve been guilty of that before because I’m always trying to keep the situation calm, peaceful, and happy. I was always the person who wasn’t going to bring stuff up because it would make it uncomfortable. It’s been a practice of mine to be more upfront and communicate when something doesn’t feel right. It’s a hard practice to get into. I think the end result in my experience is worth it.

AIH 72 | Finding Harmony In Life
Finding Harmony In Life: Get with people who give you room to be you.

 

What has shifted in your relationships as a result of doing that?

I haven’t been in any loving relationships, but in terms of most of my relationships with people, it has opened the door to growth. I’m not feeling stuck on the same problems. In relationships, oftentimes, someone will trigger something in you. My default mode was always like, “No worries. It’s all good. It’s okay.” That comes from how my family dynamic was growing up, but I’m not perfect at it by any means yet. I’m trying to be more proactive in listening to myself and listening to when I’m triggered. If it happens once, no big deal. If it’s the same trigger coming up over and over again, then that’s the sign to me of like, “Something needs to shift here.” If I’m willing to walk through fire essentially. There’s growth on the other side of it. That’s the hardest part about growth is being willing to do the uncomfortable things necessary to get to the other side because there are constructive conversations in relationships that are going to be uncomfortable. It’s holding that space and having room for that to get to a place of collective understanding. From that place, that’s where you see the growth. You see the evolution. You see the beauty in a relationship where we’re not sweeping stuff under the rug only to lift the rug up years from now and realize, “How did under the rug get dirty?” I’m working on it. I’m not perfect yet.

We all are. I’m totally working on it. Patrick’s working on it. We’re all working on it.

We did another show with a couple that reads a relationship course. I went to their event and their whole premise in terms of interacting relationships, their moniker is you’re one conversation away. It’s about turning arguments or disputes into conversations and being honest with each other and being open and being communicative. From there, reaching a place of growth.

I have an image. It popped into my mind from a book I read. Speaking of triggers, in this book, this was a heterosexual couple. The wife was triggered because every time she came home, the garage door is open and she was furious. She was like, “He’s so stupid and careless. It’s been twenty years, he’s still left the garage door open. I hate that. I’ve asked him a million times to shut the garage door. He doesn’t listen to me.” That’s the whole story that we get into. As they talked it through offhandedly at the end of the conversation, that was about something else, he said, “I opened the garage door just before you’re about to arrive home from work as a way to welcome you.” He wasn’t careless at all. He’s doing it on purpose as a way to show his love for her. She had this assumption that she made this story about he was careless and didn’t care about safety. She was furious about it.

For twenty years, over this thing that he had been doing deliberately as a sign of his love. I think those things often happen in relationships. If we could take a step back and go, “How come you leave the garage door open? You probably have a good reason for doing that. I don’t see it. Would you be willing to let me in on it?” Something like that where we get curious about the thing that the person is doing that bugs the crap out of us.

That was a perfect story and a perfect way to wrap up our time together. I got one more question for you. This is one we ask everyone on the show and that question is what is your inspiration?

Relationship is a vehicle for each of our individual growth. Click To Tweet

I’m inspired by that moment when the light comes on in a person I’m talking to. They make a connection. They see something that used to confuse them or have them feel terrible. That light comes on where they get free or they see it differently. Something expands in their understanding. I’m inspired by that. When that happens in me, and when that happens in people I talk to. I loved that moment when whatever limited idea was affecting me or anyone else falls away and a truer larger, more expanded understanding reveals itself. I love that moment. I live for that moment.

I love seeing that moment and experiencing that moment for myself because that is fun. For everyone out there who wants to come to connect with you, where can they find you? Where can they get connected and get your coaching services?

They can go to my website which is MEMali.com. You can email me at MEMali@MEMali.com. You’ll find a button to schedule a complementary clarity session with me. If you’re wrestling with the things we’ve been talking about on this show, I would love to talk with you. You can also grab my free gift there. I have a download, get on my list. I send out videos, blog posts, resources on a regular basis that are useful so that you can also join my mailing list there or go straight to scheduling a clarity session. If you’re clear, you want to have a chat.

A free clarity session with Marie-Elizabeth cannot be beaten. If you’re out there, go ahead, jump over to her website. Take some action. Thank you very much for coming on.

Thank you, Taylor. It was such a pleasure to connect with you. I’ve always loved our conversations. I’ve loved this one too. You’re such a delight to talk with.

Thank you so much. I love hearing from you.

Bye.

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About Marie-Elizabeth Mali

AIH 72 | Finding Harmony In LifeMarie-Elizabeth Mali is a Midlife Transformation Specialist who works with successful professionals who struggle in their personal relationships. She also shows people how to let the love and pleasure they cultivate in their relationships expand their professional success.

She believes accessing your spiritual essence is the key to transforming limiting beliefs about yourself and what you’re capable of. Experiencing the depth of who you are (however you describe it) is the path to wholeness, personal power, and being proactive in your life.

Marie-Elizabeth is also a published poet with an MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and an underwater photographer who has a thing for sharks. Find out more at www.memali.com.

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