Angela Amias of Alchemy of Love: “Allow for silence and solitude”

Allow for silence and solitude. Social support is essential when we’ve just experienced a loss or dramatic life change…but we also need to make time to be alone. It’s common for people who’ve just experienced a loss to feel alone and isolated, even when they’re surrounded by others. The world seems to be reeling from one […]

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Allow for silence and solitude. Social support is essential when we’ve just experienced a loss or dramatic life change…but we also need to make time to be alone. It’s common for people who’ve just experienced a loss to feel alone and isolated, even when they’re surrounded by others.

The world seems to be reeling from one crisis to another. We’ve experienced a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, political and social turmoil. Then there are personal traumas that people are dealing with, such as the loss of a loved one, health issues, unemployment, divorce or the loss of a job.

Coping with change can be traumatic as it often affects every part of our lives.

How do you deal with loss or change in your life? What coping strategies can you use? Do you ignore them and just push through, or do you use specific techniques?

In this series called “5 Things You Need To Heal After a Dramatic Loss Or Life Change” we are interviewing successful people who were able to heal after a difficult life change such as the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or other personal hardships. We are also talking to Wellness experts, Therapists, and Mental Health Professionals who can share lessons from their experience and research.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Angela Amias.

Angela Amias is a holistic psychotherapist, divorce coach, and certified life coach. She empowers clients to use difficult life experiences to transform their lives. Her latest venture, Alchemy of Love, blends modern psychology and ancient wisdom teachings about love to help individuals and couples create deeper connections and more meaningful relationships.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Well, I grew up in a quiet suburb of Kansas City. I was very close with my maternal grandparents, and spent a lot of time with them because my own home was a pretty scary place to be. I ended up leaving home when I was 17, and I moved to another town in Missouri where my older sister was going to college. In order to support myself, I worked full time at Taco Bell while I was finishing high school. Back then, the minimum wage was 4.25 dollars/hour so the only place I could afford to live was a tiny room in the basement of a run-down house full of college kids. I’m pretty sure the room I was living in wasn’t legally approved as a rental, given there were no egress windows and no lock on my door…but I lived there for a year until I went to college and I actually felt safer there than I’d ever felt before.

Looking back, the experience of leaving home and figuring out how I was going to support myself when I was still a kid was very difficult, but it also showed me early in life that I was capable of leaving a bad situation and landing on my feet. It gave me the confidence I needed to leave my marriage many years later, when I was a stay at home mom with three young children and no work experience.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite quote is by Indian writer Arundhati Roy. She says, “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” For most of my life, I’ve felt like I have a mission to bring more love into the world. It’s what led me to become a therapist. And it’s what led me to create Alchemy of Love with my partner, Daniel Boscaljon, so that I could reach more people with our relationship programs than I could ever reach working with individual couples.

I think of this quote often when I’m feeling overwhelmed by news of tragedies and systemic injustice. There’s always plenty of distressing world news, especially right now with the pandemic. It’s easy to get discouraged and forget to also look for signs of positive change. When I remember to look, I see all the ways that the heart of humanity is expanding and opening to a new vision of what it means to love ourselves, others, and the world. I’m trying to do my part through Alchemy of Love. I see my role as being a lighthouse for others trying to find their way into this better world.

You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

I’m a very curious person. As an undergrad, I changed my major five times because each time I took a class in a new field, I would get so excited about the subject, I’d decide to major in it! Before I decided to get my Masters of Social Work and become a therapist, I’d thought about pursuing graduate work in anthropology, philosophy, nonfiction writing, and law. They all greatly appealed to me. It didn’t end with school, either. In the decade between starting my private practice and launching Alchemy of Love, I’ve had a side business as a self-taught artist, written a blog, led workshops, taught myself web design, and discovered a strange passion for philosophical theology. I used to worry that I was just flaky and couldn’t stick with one thing, but I’ve since discovered this is actually a common trait for creative entrepreneurs. Elizabeth Gilbert calls it being a hummingbird, Marie Forleo calls it being a “multipassionate entrepreneur” and Margaret Lobenstine calls it being a “renaissance soul.” I’ve learned over time to trust my instincts when it comes to pursuing new interests, because they usually show up in my work in interesting ways. Ultimately, reading and learning across fields and subjects has really enriched all the work I do, because I can see the same thing from multiple perspectives. And as every successful entrepreneur knows, when you’re starting a business, you end up wearing a lot of different hats.

Experience has also taught me the value of persistence. When I was younger, I had a terrible fear of rejection. I loved writing poetry in high school. When I was in college, a professor encouraged me to submit a few pieces to literary journals, so I did. All three poems were returned with two sentence rejection letters. I stopped writing poetry after that because I took those three rejections as the final word on my ability to write. I stopped putting myself out there in any way in my life, because I didn’t want to risk rejection. Over time, though, I realized there was no way I was going to get where I wanted to go in my life if I didn’t get over my fear of rejection and start putting myself out in the world. In 2017, I decided to start sending my art out to journals and galleries. I actually made it my mission to collect as many rejections as I could that year. What actually happened is that, along with collecting a lot of rejections, I ended up getting accepted to several gallery shows and having my work published in several magazines and journals. That was a turning point for me. I realized that a large part of being successful has to do with your ability to tolerate rejection or failure and not take it as the final word on your abilities but rather see it as an opportunity to get even better.

Pessimism, at its root, is about taking every failure personally and seeing every success as just good luck. When I was in my 20s, I came across a book by Martin Seligman called Learned Optimism. When I took the optimism quiz in the book, I discovered I was a raging pessimist. I was horrified! I was determined to change this quality about myself, to start seeing life in a more positive way. A lot of people associate optimism with having a naive outlook on life, but optimism’s not about denying reality. It’s about recognizing that within every challenge in life, there’s an opportunity for growth. It’s about seeing reality and also seeing ways to transform the world into a more beautiful and loving place. More than a few of my clients over the years have said that I seem to have a superpower for seeing a glimmer of something hopeful, something positive, even in the midst of their darkest days.

If you’d talked to me twenty years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed that I “had what it took” to create two thriving businesses, as well as a side career as an artist. I thought these abilities were gifts you had to be born with. But what I’ve learned over the course of my life is that even though we might be born with certain gifts, we have to develop them through intentional effort. And, if we’re not born with those gifts, we can still develop the skills to do what we feel called to do in our lives.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Healing after Loss’. Based on your experiences and knowledge, what advice would you give others to help them get through a difficult life challenge? What are your “5 Things You Need To Heal After a Dramatic Loss Or Life Change? Please share a story or example for each.

1. Make space for grief. Grief has its own timeline. It won’t be rushed. Oftentimes when I’m working with someone who is at the start of their grief journey, they’ll ask me how long it will take to get over their loss. They want reassurance that they’re not going to feel like this forever. The truth is, I don’t think we ever truly get over losing someone or something very dear to us. My grandmother died when I was 20. 27 years later, I still miss her. When we make space for grief, we allow it to show up in all its forms, which vary from day to day. You might spend Wednesday weeping, and Thursday laughing in a fit of gallows humor. You may spend Monday avoiding it, and Tuesday wanting to talk about it in depth. Eventually, you wake up one morning and it’s not the first thing you think about. We can never go back to the way things were before, but we can gradually find our way into a new life that’s not dominated by our loss.

2. Allow for silence and solitude. Social support is essential when we’ve just experienced a loss or dramatic life change…but we also need to make time to be alone. It’s common for people who’ve just experienced a loss to feel alone and isolated, even when they’re surrounded by others. Grief is a very individual experience, so we need to allow time for silence and solitude. I nearly always recommend that people going through loss make time to journal or write about what they’re feeling. Journaling helps us to listen to ourselves deeply and to reconnect with ourselves. It also gives us a space in which we can try to make sense of everything we’re feeling.

3. Mourn the loss of your imagined future. Part of healing after loss is mourning the loss of what you imagined your life was going to be like in the future. Whether you’re grieving a layoff from what had seemed to be a promising career, the loss of a marriage and the future you’d imagined with your former partner, or you’re grieving your mother’s death while also preparing for the birth of your first child, it’s important to grieve the loss of what you’d imagined for your future that will now never come to pass. In my experience, this is a powerful component of grief that sometimes gets overlooked.

4. Mourn for what was never there. In addition to grieving our loss, in many cases we also need to grieve for what we’d wanted and wished for but was never really there. This is especially the case when we’re grieving the end of an unhealthy relationship. An essential part of healing from an unfulfilling or unhealthy romantic relationship involves facing the truth that we never got what we deserved in that relationship. Often this means that people will have to face the ways they allowed themselves to be treated poorly or unkindly by a former partner, or compromised their own values in order to please someone else. This is also part of the grieving process after the death of a parent when the parent-child relationship was very complicated. People often assume that if they’re not close with a parent, it means the grieving process will be easier. But, in my experience working with adults who were neglected or abused by a parent during childhood, the parent’s death brings up all the feelings of loss from childhood as well as grief about the parent’s death. So, they must simultaneously grieve a parent’s death and their own childhood. This makes the grief process more complicated, but it also allows for a deep form of recovery from the wounds of childhood.

5. Honor the caterpillar. Ecopsychologist Bill Plotkin describes personal transformation as the movement from a caterpillar to a butterfly and notes that in order for a butterfly to emerge, the caterpillar must die. Whenever we undergo a major life change, we have an opportunity to transform our lives in powerful and positive ways. But the transformation process requires that we mourn the loss of our old life. Before learning how to fly as a butterfly, we must also honor the passing of the caterpillar.

Let’s discuss this in more specific terms. After the dust settles, what coping mechanisms would you suggest to deal with the pain of the loss or change?

Be willing to slow down the process and really experience it. Grief is scary, especially after a major change, because it feels like it’s going to open the door to the basement where you stuffed everything you didn’t want to deal with. But if you can allow that things are difficult, you’ll also find that learning to grieve actually expands your ability to experience true gratitude and real joy. Taking time to grieve and slowing it down also helps you transition into a new life — one that often fits better — rather than trying to “get back to normal.” People who are willing to move ahead instead of looking back generally discover that they’ve grown through the process of grief and that they’re actually capable of functioning well while also feeling the weight of sadness.

How can one learn to heal and “let go” of the negative aspects of that event?

Once a dramatic loss or life change has happened, we can’t go back and change what’s happened, which is why we focus on figuring out how to let it go. But that proves difficult as well. If I think about my childhood, it was scary in ways I would never wish on another child. At the same time, I can say without a doubt that it profoundly and positively influenced my values and who I am now as an adult. It has influenced how I chose to parent my own children. It’s led me to a far deeper understanding of love. I’ve discovered my memories of childhood can exist alongside a deep love and appreciation for my parents. I understand now that they were doing the best they could with what they were given from their own childhoods. I don’t think I would have discovered the treasure at the heart of my pain if I’d tried to just get past my early experiences. So, instead of understanding healing as letting go of negative aspects of events, I believe that the process of deep healing comes when you can look for opportunities to grow from your loss and make it a positive part of your identity. Suffering loss is part of the human condition. There isn’t a single adult on this planet who hasn’t suffered a loss of some sort. Part of healing from loss is also recognizing that loss brings you into the circle of humanity. It connects you with the larger human story. We can look at loss as breaking our heart… or we can look at it as breaking our hearts open so we can love ourselves, others, and the world more fully.

Aside from letting go, what can one do to create an internal, emotional shift to feel better?

First and foremost, show yourself love and care. Really tune into yourself and ask yourself what you need, several times a day. Self-nurture is a powerful tool for healing, especially when paired with time. Look for opportunities to show yourself kindness. Look for opportunities to show others kindness. Gladly accept the kindness that’s offered to you. Be gentle with yourself and remind yourself that healing is a process that takes time. Accepting this truth, and not resisting it, is an act of courage.

How can one eventually reframe the consequences and turn it into a positive situation?

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we are all stronger than we think we are. Viktor Frankl, who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning about his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp, said that we still have the power to choose how we respond to what’s happened even when everything in our life is taken away. That’s a powerful truth. Whatever challenge or difficulty you’re experiencing, you may not have any influence over what’s happening to you, but you still get to choose how you’re going to respond.

It helps when you understand that every loss carries the seeds for personal transformation. Ask yourself what sort of transformation you want to experience in your life. What do you want to leave in the past? How might you move into the future and become more of the person you truly want to be?

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Honestly, that’s exactly why my partner and I created Alchemy of Love. My hope is that our programs help people develop more fulfilling relationships and deeper connections, both with themselves and with their loved ones. I believe that if we begin by transforming our intimate relationships, we can ultimately create a better future for everyone.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂

I’m a huge fan of Krista Tippett and her radio show, On Being with Krista Tippett.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

They can find me at or visit Alchemy of Love to get a free copy of our guided, at-home couples retreat or a set of free journaling prompts to help you cultivate self-love.

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

Thank you so much, Pirie! This has been delightful.

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