Soul centered listening — to really listen from the soul. Instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next, really witness the other person’s authentic experience and that will allow you to connect deeper.
As a part of my series about “How To Learn To Finally Love Yourself” I had the pleasure to interview Vanessa Ringel. Vanessa is the Founder of GRAVITĀS, a coaching company that has empowered 100s of women to manifest love www.BeGravitas.com . She is certified in Spiritual Psychology and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), as well as having a professional background as the Head Matchmaker at Three Day Rule. Her MBA from Regents Business School has allowed her to connect with inspiring women globally, and she is proud to be from Guadalajara, Mexico.
Thank you so much for joining us! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.
Yes, such a great question! While I was in London working in the start-up world, I realized I wanted a more meaningful career. I actually discovered Neuro-Linguistic Programming initially as a client!
I booked my first session of NLP, and it was instantly life-changing. In just 1 session I found clarity on my purpose, where I wanted to live, and ended the confusing relationship that I had struggled with for years.
Then I uncovered my purpose in life is to help people find love.
That led me to become a professional Matchmaker at Three Day Rule, which was such an incredible experience- to basically become Cupid as a career choice! I cherished being part of people’s relationship and marriage journeys, as well as overseeing singles events across the country with Match.com.
During that phase, I became fascinated by the mind, particularly the subconscious patterns that lead people to be attracted to certain attributes in others and to certain dynamics repetitively, even when they clearly don’t work. Overtime it clicked for me, that love is an inside-out job. I became obsessed with personal development tools and learning techniques on how to change ingrained negative patterns. Coaching is honestly such a rewarding 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?
Absolutely! I’m thrilled to be launching my online high-touch program “Manifest your Soulmate” so I am able to serve more people as my time has hit capacity. This work is highly in demand globally with everything that’s going on with the pandemic, etc, and I want to make it more available to anyone who’s willing to do their inner work.
I would say there’s a greater need for NLP coaching more than ever, and people are realizing how powerful their subconscious minds are. I am beyond excited to launch the exclusive online program and boutique VIP group coaching program in January 2021, where I will personally do my best to ensure every participant manifest greater love, abundance and joy.
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?
Well, let me tell you about my first great coaching success. The client came to me when she had lost the point in living, at the young age of 18. She was a victim of her circumstances, numb and shut down from her emotions. She felt hopeless that anything would ever change. One could say she was almost dead inside.
From then until now, her energy, her being and her life are hardly recognizable. She is a beam of light and happiness, a successful businesswoman, a loving wife and mother to a beautiful baby.
My personal hero’s journey is a common one, and stemmed from my own struggles, as is the case with literally EVERYONE. I hit rock bottom at a very young age, and then discovered the power of the subconscious mind, and it changed my world.
My first client was ME, and I was the toughest one yet. Most things aligned for me after doing the deep work that I have now dedicated my life to and my life became unrecognizable from that dark place I came from. The suffering I lived in was supposed to be genetic, neurological, and permanent. I had all the reasons to remain a victim my entire life.
Today I can genuinely say I never imagined life could be this good, nor that this extraordinary love I have with my husband and soulmate could be possible for me. If I can create the life I always wanted, anybody can. It’s simply about shifting beliefs and releasing energetic blocks.
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?
I actually recently wrote a blog on this- catfishing is a big-phenomena lately, where people pretend to look different than they do in reality online, in order to attract a mate.
In my blog, I explore why people do this, and (surprise!) it all comes down to bad self-esteem and feeling unattractive compared to the picture-perfect images that are out there, and completely unreal. Nobody looks like the model in the photos you see on Instagram, not even the model does.
All of these editing apps to improve the appearance and the perfect angle and lighting, etc is a lie because truly nobody looks like that when they’re at home hanging out in their PJs, like you are when you see that “perfect photo”. It’s bound to make you feel unattractive comparatively, yet it’s a mirage.
Some of my clients are high profile models, and they suffer from the same dissatisfaction with their appearance as anyone else, if not worse. Social media has unfortunately heightened the already shallow world of marketing and ads, that sells you happiness and love through items. The subconscious promise is that “if only you looked like this model, and had this hot outfit or car, then you too would be living the fabulous life, and then you would be happy/ loveable”.
Yet the person in the photo isn’t living the supposed “fabulous life”, she’s in debt and lonely, she probably has acne she covered up with lots of makeup and retouched her body with an app… and it’s all a sham for sales. I’ve had mega influencer clients too, and that’s not an easy job either. They feel immense pressure to live up to their reputation and most times, they are doing it all for the gram VS really living that life you see on their feed.
The mental health repercussions of these unrealistic beauty standards can be more awful than we realize, especially with teenage girls who are very impressionable. As a society we need to change the values we are sharing with these types of posts, and become more authentic, more vulnerable and more honest about what actually fosters the feelings that everyone wants such as love and joy.
The truth is that feeling beautiful or loved is way less about your looks than it is about your attitude and beliefs.
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?
Loving yourself is the most important thing you can do with your energy, truly!
When you “love yourself”, and by that, I mean embrace yourself with all your flaws and fully accept yourself exactly as you are, then others can love you too.
It’s that simple. Nobody is going to love you in the long run if you don’t love yourself first.
Dr Brene Brown researched what differentiates those who attract love from those who can’t, and the findings were astonishing. After interviewing thousands of people, she found that the only difference was that some people believed they were worthy of love, while others didn’t.
It really comes down to that. Deep down, do you believe you are worthy of being loved? And if so, then why not love yourself first, to set the example of how? Once you treat yourself the way you want to be treated, that will become more familiar in terms of neural pathways. And therefore you will be attracted to it subconsciously.
Once you love yourself, everything becomes easier, things manifest more effortlessly, people treat you better, and most importantly your internal state is more stable and at peace because external circumstances don’t affect you as much. You don’t take things personally. You know you’re awesome. It’s that kind of mentality about the self that creates long term joy.
Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?
Please don’t do it! I do understand that mediocre can feel better than alone in the short run, but there are a few reasons why settling for a relationship is a dangerous choice in the long run.
- You will get more and more comfortable in the mediocrity of the relationship, and create deeper and deeper neural pathways for it, which will only make it more “normal” to you and therefore harder and harder to leave it. Humans are creatures of habit. So if it’s hard to leave the relationship today, believe me, it will be much harder in a few years.
- Opportunity cost. Every minute you’re in this mediocre relationship it’s a minute you’re not available to meet the love of your life, your soulmate and life partner. You are missing opportunities you might never even notice because you’re not receptive and emotionally unavailable. And if you want biological children, then time matters.
- You deserve to have extraordinary love. Don’t settle for less than that, because you’re sending yourself the signals of unworthiness through your actions, which makes your subconscious believe you are unworthy and may attract other mediocre situations into your life.
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?
These are a few great questions to ask yourself when things aren’t going your way:
What part of this situation was my responsibility? What can I learn from this? How can I be the bigger person? Did I communicate my needs authentically? Did I say things I didn’t mean in anger? Was there a more loving way to share that thought?
With my husband, I have learned that nobody is a mind reader. He expects certain things and so do I, but without communication, we will all fail often. An example is when my hubby first moved in and kept getting angry at me when he was hungry. I would be like ok… go make yourself a sandwich? It kept happening that he would frustratedly share his hunger complaints with me, and I did not get why it suddenly was directed at me. He was a 40-year old man who had lived on his own and fed himself for over 20 years.
Once we aired it out and I shared my experience of his anger, it turned out he subconsciously expected me to make his food once he had moved in because that’s what he always saw his mother do for his father. Now we laugh about it, but at the time it was perplexing without any communication!
It is key to a healthy relationship for both parties to be self-aware.
You are always partially responsible for outcomes because no matter what, you always have a choice in how you react to a situation. Yet I don’t see that as being a caveat to self-love. You can be self-aware, knowing you make mistakes and owning them, while still loving yourself unconditionally throughout the growth process.
Accepting your flaws doesn’t mean you don’t want to improve them or change. However, you can love the hell out of yourself in the process of transformation. Ironically, you actually need to accept the what-is-ness before you can make any positive changes. I mean, how can you effectively change something about yourself you haven’t even accepted is true?
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)?
Yes, we all need to be able to be alone with ourselves.
That’s when you get the freedom to choose your partner, not out of need, but out of authentic unattached love. When we are attached, love is a lower vibration because it’s ultimately a more selfish kind of love. “I need you” is about my needs, “I don’t want to be alone” is again about my needs.
When you love at a higher frequency it’s more like “I love you so much that I want you to do what makes you happy” and “I have a great time with myself, so you better be awesome if I’m going to spend my time with you”.
That higher frequency of energy is so attractive, while the needy energy is a repellant.
When you enjoy yourself that’s when you become empowered because you no longer need someone else to be happy. The joy that emanates from you is contagious and highly magnetic.
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?
Your relationships are a projection of you.
This is a point that few people understand, though it is a law of human relationships. Like attracts like.
If you keep attracting emotionally unavailable men, you might want to take a look at what part of you might be emotionally unavailable. If you keep attracting needy and controlling men, you might want to check and see if there’s a part of you that’s really needy and controlling. If you find that you’re always bored in your relationships, you might want to see what part of you needs to come alive — there could be a “boring” part of you that needs your attention to be ignited.
It’s always an inside out job. The good news (and the bad news) is that nobody out there is going to save you from your life. Only you can save yourself. Nobody out there will make you happy, it’s up to you to make yourself happy. We all are ultimately responsible for our emotions and our part in relationships.
Viktor Frankl, while in a concentration camp, wrote something like this “Between stimulus and response there’s a space. In that space lies our freedom.” And that’s where the magic is, in that space.
In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?
- To better understand and accept yourself, do your inner work, slow down and see what are your patterns, what’s your part in it, try not to judge yourself nor others, just see your life’s situation like a neutral observer. When we remove the filter of judgment, we are able to see more clearly. Simply by seeing the situation from an unattached neutral observer position, you are able to access way more choices and perspectives. Then you can accept the what-is-ness with more grace and find the energy to change what isn’t working. Making those changes can always be done with love and compassion, and that’s a key part of the transformation.
- Society could start by teaching our children these valuable life lessons in primary school, or even kindergarten! It should be a part of our schooling system to do the very crucial work of managing our emotions and perception checking, heart-centered listening, tapping into our intuition, questioning our beliefs and learning to rewire habits that keep us stuck. It would prevent a huge amount of suffering in kids and young adults.
I wish I had learned these tools when I was younger, it would have contributed far more to my success as a human than learning calculus. Another thing is that society could stop revolving around materialism and focus more on helping people find long-term fulfillment from the inside out, instead of selling happiness as objects or looks.
Finally, society needs to monitor the effects of this social media craze, and its effect on cognitive development. Not sure how to shift it but the unrealistic expectations of social media seem quite detrimental to the mental health of our youth, and mental health is, in my opinion, the most undervalued asset in our society.
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.Seeing the loving essence within us — when someone is upset at you or driving you crazy, you can cut through all that ego stuff and see right into their soul. I did this with my sister once, when she was really angry at me for something I didn’t do. I saw her like a baby and wondered what does her soul want? Once I saw the beauty of that loving essence it was clear that she wanted to be heard and seen and embraced. Therefore, I didn’t need to react to the accusations, I could cut through it all with love and she melted. That is the fastest way to resolve conflict.
2.Soul centered listening — to really listen from the soul. Instead of thinking what you’re going to say next, really witness the other person’s authentic experience and that will allow you to connect deeper. People spend a lot of time thinking about themselves, even if it’s in a negative way, it’s still about the Self. The trick is to get out of the Self and think of others. How can you give more of your time, your energy, your love or even just listening to others? And truly be of service. That has been shown to create more self-love and more sense of purpose. You can also shift your focus to gratitude. When you do that, it opens your heart up to greater receiving because you are reprogramming yourself for abundance.
3.Self Forgiveness- forgive yourself for anything that you messed up. Life is a school, and we are all learning. I see my toddler learning to walk, and he falls often. Imagine if he fell once and said that’s it, I failed at walking, I’m a failure! That would be ridiculous. Nobody thinks their toddler is a failure because they fall when learning to walk, so have that same compassion and learning orientation for yourself. You are always doing the best you can with the resources and knowledge you have. The falls are all part of your perfect journey and success.
4.Meditation- this has shown to have incredible effects in rewiring the brain, and cognitive functioning. I wish I meditated more, but with a toddler and business it’s not something I do enough of. When I do, I feel a huge difference in terms of my resilience and ability to see life from an elevated perspective. It brings you more into brain coherence, where things manifest quickly and more effortlessly. During a period of intense personal development and meditation practice in Bali, I manifested my soulmate and now husband, who I am grateful for every single day. I don’t think I could have done it without meditating and getting deeply in alignment with spirit.
5.Yoga- it’s not just the stretching or physical exercise, but it is the getting out of your mind and into your body. It could be something else for you, yet yoga is my savior. It keeps me sane and connected. It means a lot to me because I studied the philosophy of it, and understand how it’s a spiritual practice, the deeper meaning behind the moves. For others, it might just be a workout, and that’s fine too. I feel the movement is a sacred ritual, and when I am in flow with yoga I feel more in flow with my life and connected to my soul.
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?
I have actually curated and featured my favorite books, documentaries, TED Talks, and inspirational items on the resources page of my website. For the full list, you should check it out!
A few highlights are “Loveability” by Dr. Robert Holden — such a gem of a book in the arena of self-love! Truly a must-read. Anything from Brene Brown is fantastic but my favorite is probably “Daring Greatly”, which is about finding the courage to take risks emotionally. A book I send many girl boss clients is “Calling in The One” by Katherine Woodward Thomas. It lays the groundwork for the kind of therapy I do and works well in tandem with my coaching program. Like my program, it comes with weekly exercises that people can apply practically into their lives.
The TED talks on vulnerability and introverts are fantastic. Anything from Esther Perel is fascinating — I trained with her and love her perspective on keeping desire alive in relationships. The 5 types of love languages give a lot of insight into how we love and want to be loved.
As for podcasts, the Goop Podcast is a great resource and there are so many others now, but I’m a bit old fashioned and still prefer books!
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…
“Follow your joy” is something I always advocate to my clients. What are you most excited by? What is the thing that thrills and terrifies you? Do that! Life is too short to do what you “should do”, what others expect of you, what your parents want, what your friends think is cool… only YOU get to live your life so live it exactly as you want! And people will adapt.
The truth is the people who love you just want you to be happy. Anyone who can’t get with that program is not worth keeping around. Period.
When I first came out of my spiritual closet, it was uncomfortable. Nobody in my family was spiritual at the time, I was raised pretty much atheist and cynical. It was all about making money. There was no guidance in the direction I took, and people could not understand what on earth I was doing with my life. It seemed bizarre to them that I wanted to be a Matchmaker and then a Love Coach — I might as well have said I wanted to be a Wizard as my career path!
10 years into it, and now everyone is so supportive and inspired by the transformative work I do. I feel they came around and even expanded their worlds by reading my favorite books, taking workshops, learning yoga, and basically exploring the spiritual realm through me. I am proud to be the catalyst for this energetic shift with my family and friends, in addition to all my clients, which will butterfly in ways I probably can’t imagine.
We all have the power to live our lives exactly as we want, it just takes courage and creativity.
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?
“Every passing minute is a chance to turn it all around” I first heard this in the movie Vanilla Sky and I thought it was brilliant.
Truly every minute you have the opportunity to make different inner and outer choices, that will lead to different reactions, and set off a chain of events, that lead to a different life. I find that so liberating and exciting to think about!
You are never stuck with your situation, no matter what age you are or what the circumstances may be. I have seen people come back strong from cancer, bankruptcy, divorce, car accidents, a burnt down house… you name it, and someone out there recovered from it and came back stronger because of it. Therefore, you can too. The mind is such a powerful thing, we still haven’t tapped into the immense power we hold if only we used more of our brains.
This motto has helped me stay motivated when things fall apart or felt far out of reach.
When I turned 29 I remember thinking I hadn’t achieved any of the things I had wanted and expected to have by 30. It seemed impossible that I would get it by then, so I chose to accept and embrace the what-is-ness of my situation. I was single again after an explosive break-up, wandering without a home, without a job, and was unsure about the next steps in my career, and coping the only way I knew how — by drinking way too much wine. I wanted to escape my reality. Then I tapped into my intuition, and remembered “every passing minute is a chance to turn it all around”. Off I went to an ashram, which had always spoken to me, and began my path of spiritual awakening.
Miraculously, by 30 I was engaged to the love of my life, thriving in a successful career that is 100% my purpose and calling, attuned with myself, having found my spirit guide Ninja (the puppy of my dreams!) and in the most beautiful home, that later became the place we had our baby Anton. The journey blows my mind because sometimes the light comes right after the darkest night.
I know the same is possible for you, you simply must believe in the beauty of your dreams.
Thank you so much for your time and for your inspiring insights!