Practice Intentional Speaking. Many of us never pay attention to the words we speak to ourselves and others. We live on autopilot, rarely noticing that our negative words can create a negative reality. If you want to find a loving connecting with yourself, get clear on the words you speak out loud and to yourself. Are you speaking words of love and kindness, or are you speaking words of judgement and lack? Begin to shift your words to intentional positivity. Tell yourself how strong you are on a daily basis and watch your reality begin to shift.
As a part of my series about “Connecting With Yourself To Live With Better Relationships” I had the pleasure to interview Lauren Zoeller. Lauren is a CTA-certified life symmetry coach, yoga instructor, and motivational speaker based in Nashville, TN. Lauren guides her clients to achieve work/life balance, increasing their overall sense of happiness and heightening their personal and professional performance. Lauren’s unique approach blends yoga, meditation, and proper self-care to help her clients gain unwavering confidence, receive clarity on their heart’s purpose, access full abundance in every area of life, and gain a greater sense of health on a physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional level.
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.
As a young girl, I was told I was different, that I looked like a boy and that no one would like me. I was taller and more mature than my friends and because of bullying, I lived in a constant state of unworthiness. Acceptance is what I craved, so I went where I could easily find it: I started performing. I found that when I was dancing, singing, or in front of an audience, I could take on a story other than my own.
The inability to accept my story led me to perform in every area of my life, both on and off the stage. This constant pretending led me to a deep, dark place in my early twenties and I started making personal choices that were unsafe and unhealthy. I surrounded myself with people that I knew were not the influencers I needed in my life.
After hitting my breaking point, I began therapy, and through conversation, I realized that the dark place I was in needed light. I immediately said farewell to the toxic lifestyle and relationships, and I kept the people in my life that truly loved me for who I was. I surrendered to something bigger than myself. The world became full of life again. Yoga helped me find peace and connect to myself and finding a life coach helped me uncover my importance and purpose in the world. It was through the work of both that I discovered I had a story to tell. I knew that the constant performing of my past was a mask I was using to keep myself from loving who I was put on this earth to be.
My ultimate goal as a coach is to give people the access to healing, as it healed me. Life is way too short not to be lived.
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 leading a Self Care Retreat with Retreat.You in Moab, Utah at Under Canvas Resort April 9th -14th. I am also getting ready to release my 8-week Radical Self Care Mastermind Program on April 1st. Both the retreat and the mastermind program will lead students into a deeper conversation with themselves and uncover the stories that are keeping them stuck in their fear-based mindset. In both the retreat and the mastermind, we will use coaching tools, yoga and meditation to cultivate a deeper sense of well-being on a physical, mental and emotional level.
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?
One morning after my dance career ended, I woke up and remember seeing a person in the mirror that I did not recognize. I didn’t like the person I had become. I knew I was living a vicious, destructive cycle by destroying my body with alcohol, smoking and toxic relationships. I was at the end of my rope and I knew something needed to change. I began therapy, and through conversation, I realized that the dark place I was in needed light. I immediately said farewell to the toxic lifestyle and relationships, and I kept the people in my life that truly loved me for who I was. Yet my body was craving more.
One morning, walking out of my therapist’s office, I saw a sign that read “Breathe. Yoga Inside”. A simple call to take a yoga class was the moment that changed my life forever. Yoga was the catalyst to MAJOR chance in my life, and it was through my practice that I discovered the tools I needed to change my life for good. Since then, I have made a vow to show up on my mat daily. Self-love was something that over time, I fought to find for myself. I had to hit rock bottom to realize how important it was to pull myself out.
Self-love is a choice I make daily, and it was through yoga and coaching that I found the tools I needed to say yes.
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?
We live in a world where a skewed perception of perfection bombards us on a daily basis. We are constantly slammed with images and words that give us a false perception of what life is really like. Photoshop, social media and advertising geared towards perfection gives us a bar that is impossible to meet. We live in a world of comparison, and comparison kills joy and forward progress. There is not and never will be another YOU in the world, embrace what you have to offer instead of comparing yourself to someone you see on social media or in an advertisement. The more your compare yourself to others, the more you hold yourself back from true happiness and giving the world all that you have to offer. You can eliminate the comparison game by decreasing your time on social media. Start small by setting a time limit for yourself each day. Hint: Instagram now has a timer that will go off when you have reached your limit for the day. Decreasing your time on social media will give you free time to focus on the qualities YOU bring to the table, not someone else. Compare yourself to who YOU were yesterday, not who someone else is today.
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?
Self-Love is the most important thing you can do for yourself. Think of your available energy as a cup full of water. You are always in an act of giving or receiving energy. Each day, we are involved in activities that require us to give our energy away — drain the cup of water. The act of self-love, which includes self-care practices, gives us the time to re-fill our energy bank — pour water back into the cup. It’s that simple.
Self-love is an act that should be practiced daily. Check in with your level of self-love and do something a little “extra” to remind yourself how important you are to yourself and others. Ask yourself the following questions: “How strong is my self-love and self-care practice? What can I do for myself today to remind me that my energy is valuable?”
Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?
People stay in mediocre relationships because it feels comfortable and they are afraid of change. Leaving a mediocre relationship will cause you to shift your current reality. In doing so, it will force you to look inside of yourself and honor what your heart truly desires. Sometimes, this deep work can be a lot to handle alone. If you are in a relationship that does not feel fulfilling, first ask yourself what you need in a relationship to feel fulfilled. Get clear on your non-negotiable items. You cannot receive what you need until you clearly identify what you need. Once you get clear on this, hire a coach or a therapist to help guide you through the transition of letting the relationship go.
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?
Questions to ask yourself:
Where in your life are you holding on to things that no longer serve you? (Think about what feels heavy)
You cannot show up for others if you do not show up for yourself first. Take a long, hard look at the relationship you have with yourself. Do you feel fulfilled? Are you happy and peaceful or angry and frustrated?
Where in your life do you feel stuck?
Four years ago, I was in a romantic relationship where I refused to honor myself. This lack of self-love left me with an empty feeling of unworthiness. I knew something needed to change, but I was too afraid to ask myself the hard questions. Luckily, I had a coach who pushed aside my fears and asked the questions I was too afraid to ask myself. Once I dove in, I immediately knew a change needed to be made. I left the relationship and gained a clear picture of where I needed to grow as an individual. I now know that the only way OUT is THROUGH. If you want radical change in your life, you need to ask yourself the tough questions.
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)?
You must love yourself first before you can ever love another person. When you give yourself time to figure out what you love about yourself, you can operate from a space of authenticity. This is very important when looking to establish meaningful relationships. Learn to be alone so you can listen to what it is you need for yourself. The relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you will ever have. Lean into spending time alone. It will teach you how to operate with greater love and compassion for yourself and others.
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 yourself, you understand others. Compassion and healing are an inside job. We have all experienced hardship in our lives one way or another. When you learn to deal with your hardships and address it head on, you heal. From this place you can recognize that every person is fighting their own battle. We are all healing in one way or another. Understanding yourself from this place gives you the ability to hold space for others who are doing the same.
In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?
As individuals, we need to start looking within ourselves for answers. So often we look to others to answer what it is we need to answer for ourselves. Find activities that give you the ability to connect with yourself. Listen to what you need. This will help you understand yourself from a place of humility. As a society, we need to be more aware and compassionate of the healing process. Often we dismiss others and the time it takes to heal. Every person heals at a different pace. Increasing the awareness around the healing process would be a greater step in the direction of preventing self-destruction.
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?
- Put a “ME” Day on your calendar. Make time to connect with yourself once a month. Decide what you need to do to refill your cup and go do it! Take yourself out on a date. Load your day with pampering. Go to yoga. Spend a day disconnected. Do whatever you need to do to check out and spend time with yourself. Every month my “ME” day looks different, but regardless, I have the time blocked to make it a priority.
- Start a Morning Pages practice. Each morning devote 20 minutes to journaling. My favorite way to journal I adopted from Julia Cameron in “The Writer’s Way”. Take out your journal and write three full pages free hand, without a prompt. Write whatever is on the top of your mind, and try your best not to overanalyze what you put on the paper. Think about this exercise as a brain dump and a way to check in with how you are feeling on a daily basis.
- Learn to say “No”. How often during your day do you say “yes” to people or events that deplete your energy? When you learn to say no to circumstances that drain you, you in turn are saying yes to yourself. A great way to do this is to notice how many times throughout your day you are saying yes to things you dislike. Shift your awareness and then practice saying no from a place of self-love and respect for yourself.
- Practice Intentional Speaking. Many of us never pay attention to the words we speak to ourselves and others. We live on autopilot, rarely noticing that our negative words can create a negative reality. If you want to find a loving connecting with yourself, get clear on the words you speak out loud and to yourself. Are you speaking words of love and kindness, or are you speaking words of judgement and lack? Begin to shift your words to intentional positivity. Tell yourself how strong you are on a daily basis and watch your reality begin to shift.
- Go to yoga! Yoga is the #1 practice I use to keep the connection to myself healthy and clear. Yoga forces you to take a look at your life from a physical, mental and emotional point of view. Clear out time in your week to get on your mat, the only requirement is that you show up to devote time to yourself.
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?
- Tantra Class: Research a Tantra Class in your area. Exploring sacred sexuality is a great way to deepen the intimacy relationship with yourself and with a partner. Never heard of tantra? Do your research first to decide which class you are comfortable attending. A great book to introduce yourself to art of Tantra is “Urban Tantra” by Barbara Carrellas
- The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein — This is my all-time favorite read. In this book, Gabby dives head first into choosing love over fear. The Universe has Your Back has shifted my outlook on life and has re-defined my purpose as a human.
- The Mask of Masculinity by Lewis Howes — Such an incredible read for both men and women. In this book, Lewis speaks to the different masks that men wear in their relationship with themselves and others. Men, if you want to learn how to become the best version of you for yourself and others, give this book a read. Ladies, if you want to deepen your intimacy in relationships and gain a greater understanding on how men operate, this is a MUST read for you too.
- The Four Noble Truths on Love by Susan Piver — If you have trouble making relationships work, this is the book for you. Susan will challenge your thoughts about dating, sex, and romance, and will give you tools to eliminate the habits and expectations that hold you back in your romantic relationships. You will gain a deeper love for yourself and others by the end of this book.
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…
“The Meditation for Greater Self Care Movement,” that would encourage every person to start a daily meditation practice. If every one of us set aside 5 minutes to meditate daily, our love for ourselves and others would shift drastically. 5 minutes of meditation has been linked to lower stress levels, less pain and greater sense of self love. in a 2012 scientific study by NCCIH, researchers compared brain images from 50 adults who had a regular meditation practice and 50 adults who did not. The results suggested that people who practiced meditation regularly for 5 minutes a day had more folds in the outer layer of their brain, giving heavy meditators a greater ability to process information and empathize with others. Can you imagine a world where every person had a regular meditation practice?
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?
“Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here.” — Marianne Williamson
This quote is a reminder that we have a choice daily to choose love over fear. At birth, the only thing we know is love for fear is never present. Over time, trauma and other’s experience with fear cause us to create our own fear-based realities. The negative stories begin to build and we start to choose fear over love because it feels easier. My life shifted when I was able to fully grasp this concept. I took ownership in knowing that I always have a choice. I made the conscious decision to break my habit and choose love over fear regardless of the situation. When you can learn to choose love over fear, you will begin to see that life is happening FOR you, not TO you, and that is a beautiful thing.
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!