Work with a coach. We can have blind spots we may not see, therefore working with a coach can be helpful. Last year, I worked with a famous life coach. I always thought it was great I was able to manage a high level of tasks. She worked with me to delegate more and now I have a stronger connection with myself as I have more time to work on strategic projects and do activities I love and find inspiring.
As a part of my series about “Connecting With Yourself To Live With Better Relationships” I had the pleasure to interview Kerry Wekelo. Kerry is the Chief Operating Officer at Actualize Consulting, an executive coach, yoga instructor, award-winning author, and entrepreneur. Her book and program Culture Infusion: 9 Principals for Creating and Maintaining a Thriving Organizational Culture is the impetus behind Actualize Consulting being named a Top Company Culture by Entrepreneur Magazine. Kerry has authored multiple children’s book including her award-winning title If It Does Not Grow, Say No. She is also the founder of Zendoway, a company that encourages holistic wellness. Kerry’s mindful wisdom has been featured on ABC, NBC, NPR Marketplace, The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Inc., and New York Post.
Thank you so much for joining us! Let’s Get Intimate! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?
Yes, I am working with a friend on a workshop that will provide an opportunity for the people attending to learn how to listen more effectively, use hands-on learning, and tap into our playful selves to utilize as a way of reducing stress. As adults, many of us forget to play. Just as meditation takes us inward to a place of self-understanding and reflection, so does play. We want to encourage couples to attend the workshop to bring more listening and play into their relationships.
Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self acceptance?
I am a recovering people pleaser and used to put others first. I would find myself feeling resentful and depleted from giving too much. My struggle with self-love made me seek validation from others. I learned to love myself by doing an activity that I love each day and only saying yes to that which I truly desire to spend time and energy on. Now my time and patience levels have expanded for myself and others. Additionally, I used to struggle with my personal weight, and over the last 10 years, each year I added a positive change and now I fully love and accept myself internally and externally.
According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?
There is more pressure with social media and airbrushing techniques. People are sharing their best pictures and we see these images on a daily basis. It is hard not to compare ourselves to these ideals. The consequences of feeling “less than” are created by unrealistic expectations of what the norm is.
As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?
When you love yourself and lead by example the energy of love gains momentum and spreads to others. Unconditionally loving ourselves gives us permission to have flaws, show our authentic selves, and be comfortable with the outcome. When I set the intention to love myself in all forms, I am in a better position to give to others.
Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?
It is easy and safe. It is hard to meet people as we have more commitments and more online activities such as working remotely and meetings via conference calls. We are not meeting people as much, so being in a mediocre relationship is easier than starting over.
When I talk about self-love and understanding I don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?
My pattern of having relationships with men that were not emotionally or physically available needed to be looked at honestly. I had to ask myself the following questions:
What patterns do I need to break?
Why do I keep repeating this pattern?
What habits do I have that are not healthy for my mind, body, and spirit?
Once I answered these questions I decided to honor moving forward in a positive relationship, all shifted. I first had to have the realization and then the courage to stop the pattern.
So many don’t really know how to be alone, or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?
I like to schedule alone time at least once a week to remind myself of how much fun I can be. Relationships will come and go. Being friends with ourselves is the best gift we can give ourselves.
How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?
When you understand your patterns, your ways, likes, and dislikes, you will be able to articulate your needs and desires in your relationships. Years ago, when I was not self-aware, my relationships suffered as I would get angry versus explaining “why” I need certain things. For example, I love to have alone time in the first hour after I wake up to be able to do my personal practices. Not having this personal time can cause my day to get off to a rocky start and my mood will not be as good.
In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?
Take a self-assessment such as DISC, Enneagram, or Myers Brigg to understand yourself better. I find that once I know my tendencies, I can make light of my weaker points and highlight my strengths.
What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?
1.) I love myself affirmations. I created a soft squeezable Affirmations cube. The focus of this cube is professing your love to your best friend: yourself! Roll this cube as a die, randomly pick a side, or go through every side. You might find that it helps to stand in front of a mirror. Even if it sounds silly at first, practice saying “I love you” to yourself until you believe it.
2.) Doing something you love or inspires you each day. For example, when I started making time for myself, the more I wanted to do the activities I love. I am happier and more grounded when I take daily time for myself, whether one hour or five minutes, I never skip “me-time.”
3.) Nourishing body and mind with healthy choices. For my mind, I stopped watching the news and have found that others tell me the news highlights and I don’t need to tune into the negative energy of the news.
4.) Work with a coach. We can have blind spots we may not see, therefore working with a coach can be helpful. Last year, I worked with a famous life coach. I always thought it was great I was able to manage a high level of tasks. She worked with me to delegate more and now I have a stronger connection with myself as I have more time to work on strategic projects and do activities I love and find inspiring.
5.) Say no. As a recovering people pleaser, saying no is a challenge. I now tune into my heart’s desire before saying yes and even if I say yes in the moment, I give myself permission to go back and say no. I now have a deeper connection with myself on how I truly want to spend my time.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?
Louise Hay — any of her books or videos are a great way to easily tap into loving yourself more.
Leadership and Self-Deception Getting Out of the Box by The Arbinger Institute — It is an excellent story of how we all must take accountability in each situation, acknowledging that there are always two sides of an issue. We all contribute to any conflicts and negative emotions we are feeling by staying inside our “box” of being right, so the solution is to get out of the box, to let go of the need to be right.
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? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…
Extreme listening. Taking the time to listen to understand. Put away your devices and tune into each other.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?
Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” Go for it because life is short and take risks. If Helen Keller can make life an adventure, we all should as well.
Thank you so much for your time and for your inspiring insights!
About the Author:
Sasza Lohrey is the Founder & CEO of BBXX, a digital platform for intimacy and wellbeing. She is also the host of the BBXX podcast, “Let’s Get Intimate!” which hosts provocative and entertaining conversations with experts in order to challenge the way our culture conditions us to talk about sex, intimacy, and healthy relationships. BBXX was created in order to help people better understand themselves, so that they then can form deeper and more fulfilling relationships with others. Sasza is a former D1 athlete with a background in psychology and digital media. She is a member of the Women of Sex Tech collective, the co-mentorship community Dreamers and Doers, and a regular columnist for several online publications. Originally from the Bay Area, Sasza founded BBXX during a Stanford entrepreneurship program in Santiago, Chile. Learn more on our website and listen to more interviews with experts on our top-rated podcast!