Manage Differences with Love and Respect. As two individuals we come together to create a loving union. We experience similarities as well as differences. The differences can serve to enrich and complement each other. Open, honest and loving conversations about our differences are necessary to bridge our differences and maintain loving connections.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Diana Baysinger and Kathleen Todd.
Diana Baysinger, MC is an international coach and consult. As a coach, she works with a wide range of individuals who are facing personal or professional challenges. As a consultant, she works with non-profit organizations, leaders, teams, entrepreneurs and educational institutions. Working with Diana enables clients to become clear about what they want, overcome barriers that might get in the way, and reshape thinking and behavior that align with what they truly value and desire.
Kathleen Todd, MSW is a life coach who has been helping people move from pain to a place of wholeness for more than 40 years. She works with each client with respect, integrity, and professionalism. She serves as a guide to clients in their unique journey to improve their lives and achieve the passion, success, and dreams.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
Wehave a thirty-year history of professional collaboration and friendship. We began as therapists sharing office space. Through the years, we supported, challenged and inspired each other in our professional and personal growth and development.
Our friendship grew as we shared parenting our children (Diana’s two boys and Kathleen’s three boys) and celebrated the many changes and adventures we have experienced in our lives. We have stood together through significant life events such as the death of our parents, Kathleen’s siblings and former spouse, divorce, being grandmothers, and retirement (“refirement”),
We shared a passion for developing informational and inspirational workshops that helped people learn ways to enhance their own lives and relationships. As we reached a new milestone in our work, it was the next step to share our wisdom and expertise by writing “Mindful Loving: A Guide to Loving with Passion and Purpose.” Over the years, we collected an abundance of life lessons, skills, and information that contributed to the content of the book.These lessons, skills, and information have come from both our work with clients and from our own personal discoveries and desires for living our own lives with passion and purpose.
“Mindful Loving: A Guide to Loving with Passion and Purpose” was inspired by our work with thousands of couples. Through our work in marriage and family therapy, sex therapy, and relationship coaching, we learned how important it is to navigate through the challenges, celebrations, and cycles of loving. It has been our privilege to partner with clients who have shared vulnerable and intimate details of their lives and love relationships in their journeys to heal and strengthen their relationships.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
Diana: After 18 years as a marriage and family therapist in private practice, I was unexpectedly recruited by an international strategic planning organization to train coaches in their program. Moving from the world of therapy where clients present problems to resolve and where confidentiality is an ethical requirement to a world of business where the focus is on enrichment, sustainability, and the open conversation was a huge shift for me. Because of my experience as a therapist, I was able to expand its program to include relationship and family strategic planning.
What I learned was to face my own fear of the unknown and stay open to the possibilities even when they seemed overwhelming. As I result of my career transition, I was able to train coaches around the world to have an impact on their businesses and their own communities. Upon retiring my private practice, I was able to transition to active international coaching and consulting business.
Kathleen: Through work in marriage and family therapy, sex therapy, and relationship coaching, I have learned how important it is to navigate through the challenges, celebrations, and cycles of loving. It has been my privilege to partner with clients who have worked through struggles to transform their relationships to mindful loving relationships. Many of the issues my clients dealt with mirrored issues in my own life and provided me with the challenge to do my own work.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Diana: As a new marriage and family therapist, I was working with a young woman who had lost her husband in a car accident. They had been married for five years and had a one-year-old son. She came in for grief therapy. She was feeling overwhelmed and still dealing with the shock of her husband’s death.
The mistake I made was being so focused on the sadness that I missed her anger at the injustice and unfairness she felt. She had a strong faith and yet she felt guilty about her anger at God for the accident. Once she expressed her anger, she felt some relief.
I learned the importance of creating a safe space for people to fully experience their own healing and to trust and respect that each client has their own path.
Kathleen: There have been many mistakes in my life and career. Instead of looking at them as mistakes, I choose to look at events in my life as true opportunities for growth. The things that I may have looked at as mistakes at the time, turned out to be some of my greatest life lessons.
If I had to pinpoint one of the things that I now look back at and wish I had done better, it would be loving myself and trusting my wisdom and intuition. Thankfully, I now live from a place of loving and honoring myself.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Diana: I had an advisor in college, Dr. Sandy Mazen, who helped me in my professional growth. When I was an intern, I needed to secure a paid position to complete my Master’s degree practicum. I went to Dr. Mazen and asked if I could participate in his work at the prison with sex offenders. Although that was not my area of specialty, I needed to generate income for my family.
Dr. Mazen challenged my decision-making process and helped me get clearer about my real passion for working with couples and families. As a result, I shifted my priority and I started my career as an unpaid intern for the Family Services Agency. Within three months I was hired as a full-time therapist at the agency.
Kathleen: My greatest teachers have been my children who have helped me learn about unconditional loving, forgiveness, patience, and the healing power of laughter and joy.
I am grateful for the many other teachers and mentors in my life. It has been my privilege to partner with clients who have shared vulnerable and intimate details of their lives and love relationships. As these couples dealt with common and difficult challenges like facing changes in the relationship, feeling unloved, repeating the same fight without resolution, changes in the family, the loss of a loved one, betrayal and trust issues, sexual intimacy changes, and health problems, they taught me valuable lessons about strength, healing, and resilience.
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
Through our work as life and relationship coaches, we have touched thousands of lives. We teach and empower people to love more fully and live with passion and purpose. We have helped people make their relationships, families and their world a better place. Our book, “Mindful Loving: A Guide to Loving with Passion and Purpose”empowers couples to sustain connection in their relationships. Being mindful, loving and responsible is key to creating and sustaining loving connections. This connection allows passion to flourish and becomes the foundation for a relationship in which each partner feels loved, understood, and desired. When passion flourishes, the purpose is fulfilled, and mindful loving becomes one of life’s greatest sources of joy and fulfillment.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
“Mindful Loving: A Guide to Loving with Passion and Purpose”reviews the Basics of Mindful Loving which are Loving Communication and Understanding & Respecting Differences.
The five “lifestyle tweaks” that help toward better wellbeing come from our book and include: Use “I” Messages, Listen from the Heart to Understand, Follow the Golden Rule of Mindful Loving, Be Each Other’s Go-To Person, and Manage Differences with Love and Respect. The following explanations and examples are illustrated in “Mindful Loving: A Guide to Loving with Passion and Purpose”:
- Use “I” Messages:
The first skill of Loving Communication is Speaking “I” Messages. This skill enables us to speak respectfully. It is simply speaking about ourselves rather than about our partner. When we recognize and articulate our true thoughts and feelings, it is easier to use “I” Messages. “I” Messages help us tell our own story, share our own feelings, and allows our partner to experience us more authentically.
“I” Messages help us take responsibility for our own experience and own our own feelings. The intent of using “I” Messages is to communicate so our partner can understand what’s going on with us. Using “I” Messages helps create greater understanding and intimacy.
Using “I” Messages takes practice and time. It is a discipline that enables us to speak respectfully.
Old Pattern: Debbie and Toby have an ongoing battle about clothes being left on the floor. She feels angry because this problem is not going away. She confronts Toby and says,
“You’re such a slob. you know how important a clean house is to me. I think you are doing this on purpose just to make me mad.”
New Pattern: By using an “I” message, Debbie learns to own and manage her frustration and then to speak more respectfully.
“I feel frustrated when I find your dirty clothes on the floor because we have talked about this before. I would appreciate it if you would put your clothes in the hamper.”
This enables Toby to accept responsibility and he responds,
“You’re right, I’m sorry, I’ll pick them up right now. I didn’t realize it made you feel that way, I will work harder to pick up my messes.”
2. Listen from the Heart to Understand:
The key to Listening from the Heart to Understand means we put our reactions and responses aside to really hear what our partner has to say. It allows us to confirm what our partner is saying and reach a greater level of understanding of our partner’s experience and story.
It is also important to really listen and believe what our partner says instead of believing in what we think we know about our partner. This practice of believing what our partner is saying helps decrease assumptions and increase acceptance. The skill of Listening From The Heart To Understand builds trust in the relationship.
In the earlier example, Debbie told Toby about her frustration with his leaving his clothes on the floor. Even though Toby wanted to respond with explanations and excuses, he stopped, took a deep breath, and practiced the skill, Listen from the Heart to Understand. He followed these steps and said,
“I understand you are frustrated” (hearing and expressing your partner’s feeling is the first and most important part of using this skill.)
“because I leave my dirty clothes on the floor after we have already talked about it.” (recognize and accept responsibility for the behavior)
“Is that right?” (check-in to provide acknowledgment, clarification, and acceptance.)
Debbie nods and responds,
“Yes, that is exactly what I mean. I really want to talk about this and come up with a solution that will stop us from recycling this fight. Thank you for listening.” (Debbie feels validated and heard.)
Toby did not try to defend or explain why he left the clothes on the floor. His response was to listen and confirm what he heard Debbie say.
3. Follow the Golden Rule of Mindful Loving:
The first skill for Understanding & Respecting Differences is The Golden Rule of Mindful Loving, “Love your partner the way your partner wants to be loved,” means we treat and love our partner the way he or she wants to be treated instead of how we want to be treated and loved. We first need to identify how we want to be loved and then teach our partner how to love us. Without using the Golden Rule of Mindful Loving, we typically operate from the traditional Golden Rule. With good intentions, we treat our partner the way we want to be treated not necessarily the way he or she wants to be treated. This difference can cause problems.
Both Molly and Will are caring toward each other, but they missed the mark when it came to taking care of each other when they were sick. When Molly got the flu, Will’s way of loving and caring for her was to leave her alone and wait for her to ask for his help. This made Molly feel even worse, thinking that Will was ignoring her and not giving her the care, she wanted.
When Will got the flu, Molly showered him with constant care and attention. This made Will feel frustrated because all he wanted was to be left alone.
After recovering, Will suggested that they talk about how they care for each other when they are ill. Molly recognized how much she loves to get attention when she is sick. Will, on the other hand, recognized he wants to be left alone when he gets sick. During this conversation, they came to understand and respect their differences and each other’s needs.
Using the Golden Rule of Mindful Loving, Will agreed to give Molly the kind of care and attention she needed, and Molly agreed to be patient and wait for Will to request her help when he was sick. Their commitment to mindful loving enabled them each to recognize their own part in the disharmony and seek resolution and reconnection.
4. Be Each Other’s Go-To Person
The second important skill in Understanding and Respecting Differences is Be Each Other’s “Go-To Person.” Our “Go-To Person” is someone we trust to love us and be there for us. It is the one person, above all others, with whom we share our most intimate experiences.
We need to practice being each other’s “Go-To Person” when dealing with each other’s families and friends. One of the ways of being each other’s” Go-To Person” is when we move our relationship allegiance from the family of origin to the love relationship with our partner. It is in these relationships with family and friends that we are often challenged to be the champion for one another. Our early life experiences with family and friends are important pieces of the fabric of our lives. It is helpful for each of us to be curious and understand how those relationships have shaped us.
Caleb and his wife, Cindy, were excited to visit Caleb’s hometown over the Christmas holiday. Since his last visit home, he had gotten married, had two children, and established a successful career. He was grateful to his parents for inviting his new family to share holiday stories and traditions from his childhood.
He acted as Cindy’s “Go-To Person” when she expressed a sense of sadness about not having their own tradition of reading special holiday books to their children on Christmas Eve. He advocated for her and talked to his parents about adding this tradition to their Christmas Eve activities. His parents were delighted to add this new tradition of reading the holiday stories to their grandchildren.
5. Manage Differences with Love and Respect:
As two individuals we come together to create a loving union. We experience similarities as well as differences. The differences can serve to enrich and complement each other. Open, honest and loving conversations about our differences are necessary to bridge our differences and maintain loving connections.
Judy and Mike have been married for over 30 years. Judy, now 55, describes herself as a free spirit. Mike is 68 and describes himself as a loveable control freak. Judy thrives on spontaneity and admits she has never enjoyed organizing and cleaning the house. Mike, on the other hand, thrives on order and organization. Over the years they have been creative in managing their differences. For example, Judy and Mike planned a “yes” day every quarter. On their “yes” day they would say “yes” to any spontaneous, unplanned adventures that either would suggest. Similarly, they scheduled quarterly clean up days where they both participated in organizing and purging clutter in the home.
When Mike retired and found himself spending more time at home, the loveable control freak transformed into a critical complainer. He found the chronic clutter and piles of mail on the kitchen counter to be a constant irritant and began to lose his patience. When Judy came home from work, she was met with criticism and complaints about her housekeeping. The stress in the relationship continued until Mike reached a breaking point and told Judy they needed to talk.
Even though the conversation had a rough start, they stopped and used those loving communication skills that had helped them throughout their marriage. They both recognized that the changes created by his retirement had intensified old challenges that now needed to be addressed.
They resolved some of these challenges when Judy recognized the difficulty Mike was having in spending so much more time at home. Mike became more patient when he realized that Judy was still dealing with the stress of working every day. Together they produced creative solutions that helped them manage their differences not only with love and respect but with greater flexibility and patience.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
We would start a Mindful Loving movement. Mindful Loving is a conscious decision to love with intention and attention. It is being present, thoughtful, and open to the experience of loving and being loved. The foundation of Mindful Loving is grounded in our emotional health and our willingness to love and commit. The quality of our love relationships is impacted by many factors, including the relationships in our family of origin, past love relationships, and our level of emotional health and maturity. It embraces our physical, emotional, mental, sexual and spiritual selves. The success of Mindful Loving is based on building trust, being vulnerable, and accepting ourselves, our partners and the world around us. Mindful Loving is more than a concept, it is a practice that translates into loving with passion and purpose.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
Diana: 1. Know that challenges translate into lessons learned and lived. Growing up with a learning disability led me to question myself and my capabilities. Over the years of learning and living, I began to see that challenges were not about my deficits but my opportunity to be curious and creative.
2. Life is a journey, enjoy the ride. For years I was driven by my goals: getting married, having children, developing a successful career and building a strong community. It took me a long time to learn to rest, relax and receive the fruits of my labor.
3. You are always going to learn and grow. I thought that once I received my degree and started my career, I would know everything I needed to know to be successful. What I learned is that knowledge is an ongoing practice and that the greatest knowledge comes from my ongoing life experiences.
4. Trust that the Universe provides me with everything I need. When life did not turn out the way I had planned, I learned about letting go and trusting that something else was calling me. As a result of letting go and staying open to the possibilities, I have lived a life I never dreamed possible.
5. Listen to my own wisdom. Growing up I was taught that adults and teachers had all the answers and that I was to listen to them for learning and guidance. It was not until I faced a divorce that I listened to myself and had to shift into a belief that was counter to what I had been taught. That shift was challenging and painful and yet it led me and my sons to a life that can only be described as extraordinary.
Kathleen: It’s difficult to think back about specific things I wish someone had told me before I started. If I were to talk to my younger self from what I know now;
- I would remind her to pay attention to the wonders and joys in life; to start each day with meditation to help set the day on the best path possible.
- I would encourage younger Kathleen to strive to always be the best she can be and to live each day to the fullest, with curiosity, passion, and integrity.
- I would encourage her to be responsible and caring for this planet and most importantly, to be kind and loving to herself and to others she meets on her path.
- I would let her know that the Universe provides all that she needs; trust and listen to the wisdom and love that the Universe provides.
- I would teach younger Kathleen to now believe everything she thinks and to listen to and trust her higher self.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Diana: For me, sustainability is the biggest topic and means that we start with each of us sustaining our own mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, and sexual health and wellbeing. It is up to each of us to drive our own wellbeing and then collectively we sustain the wellbeing of the world around us.
Kathleen: All of the above are important causes. Care and concern for each other and for our world is important now and for our future and the future of our planet. We each have a responsibility and ability to take care of our internal/mental health and our external/environmental health.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Facebook: Mindful Loving Book
If you are interested in connecting with us, feel free to reach out via phone or email:
Diana Baysinger, MC
Kathleen Todd, MSW
Thank you for these fantastic insights!