//

“We consciously and unconsciously teach people how to treat us based on how they see us presenting and treating ourselves.” with Marlena Cole and Sasza Lohery

We consciously and unconsciously teach people how to treat us based on how they see us presenting and treating ourselves. Love is not just about a feeling of happiness. Love is something that is shown by action. When you love yourself, you treat yourself with kindness, grace, and gentleness. When others see you taking care […]


We consciously and unconsciously teach people how to treat us based on how they see us presenting and treating ourselves. Love is not just about a feeling of happiness. Love is something that is shown by action. When you love yourself, you treat yourself with kindness, grace, and gentleness. When others see you taking care of yourself, then they will do the same. This is what kept me in a cycle of failed relationships for so long. Men picked up that somewhere deep down inside of me I was unsure of my worth and what I had to bring to the table. Therefore, they treated me the way I felt deep down inside about myself. Once I found my inner strength and voice, I appreciated who I was more. I began attracting people to me that respected and cared for me the way I cared for and loved myself.

As a part of my series about “Connecting With Yourself To Live With Better Relationships” I had the pleasure to interview Marlena Cole, Relationship Expert, Strategist, & Life Coach. She is the Author of Renewing of Your Mind & Spirit For Marriage. Marlena is the creator of The Love Me Right Coaching Program serving African American women in transforming their lives by overcoming limiting beliefs and the paralyzing voice of their inner critic. She helps position them to attract, connect, and build meaningful relationships in their personal and professional life.


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.

I purchased my wedding dress 5 years before I met my husband. That’s how sincere the desire to be married and raise my daughter in a two-parent home was for me. As a young single mother, I was stuck in a cycle of failed relationships. I struggled with the fear of rejection and abandonment. I lost my sense of self-worth in relationships where I continually poured love and care into men who only drained my open heart without replenishing. At one point, I felt so depleted, I didn’t even want to get out of bed. But I was reminded in my heart that I knew what love was and settling for scraps would only continue to leave me consumed. From that point on, I declared I would start focusing on my desires. I was taking the wrong turns in relationships, and I needed to find a fresh start on how to have real connections with people where we showed equal respect and kindness. This journey of rediscovering my self-worth and loving myself birthed my book, “Renewing Of Your Mind & Spirit For Marriage.” It also led me to more in-depth studies about relationships and human nature and how we connect and behave with each other to build long-lasting and fulfilling relationships. I am now on a mission as a Relationship Expert, Strategies, & Life Coach to help other women free themselves from a place of fear, sadness, and powerlessness so that can have a life and relationships they desire and deserve.

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?

“The Love Me Right Tour” is coming to a city near you. It’s a high energy conference that will leave you with a more profound and genuine sense of self-love while focusing on women who are struggling to have the success in life and relationships that they desire and deserve. This tour will help them uncover what has been blocking them from building meaningful and fulfilling relationships. It will give them the necessary tools and strategy to break down the blocks, fears, and limiting beliefs that are keeping them from feeling like they are worthy of love and connections. The conference will give them new perspectives and help them become the leader in the lives they choose to live personally and professionally.

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?

Ten days after giving birth to my 5-year old son I suffered, Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection, a rare heart attack that has a high mortality rate among young postpartum. At 37 years old with no significant medical history, I woke up in the ICU after undergoing a triple bypass and was on a breathing machine. My husband and father were standing over me holding my hand. It was a miracle that I survived. Experiencing a near death situation changes your perspective on everything. I had to rediscover who I was and what I wanted out of life. Through the months and even years of recovery, I found a new depth and breadth of courage, grit, authenticity, power, and appreciation for myself and the world in general. I now know that my life was not saved for me to be mediocre or to play small but for me to share every drop of love and knowledge that I have so that I can make a difference in my life, my family, my community and the world at large.

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?

Have you seen the magazine covers or the influencers on Instagram? Everyone is airbrushed and posed to perfection, so those results are no surprise when we’re constantly inundated with those images. Parents spend years pouring self-love and self-appreciation into their children to let them know they are loved and beautiful as is. Yet, as they start to age that confidence dims overshadowed by what society tells them what they should be. This way of thinking has diminished self- confidence. This comparison and pressure to “be perfect” and “be on point” all the time is draining and destructive to your self-esteem.

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?

We consciously and unconsciously teach people how to treat us based on how they see us presenting and treating ourselves. Love is not just about a feeling of happiness. Love is something that is shown by action. When you love yourself, you treat yourself with kindness, grace, and gentleness. When others see you taking care of yourself, then they will do the same. This is what kept me in a cycle of failed relationships for so long. Men picked up that somewhere deep down inside of me I was unsure of my worth and what I had to bring to the table. Therefore, they treated me the way I felt deep down inside about myself. Once I found my inner strength and voice, I appreciated who I was more. I began attracting people to me that respected and cared for me the way I cared for and loved myself.

Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?

There are many different reason people remain in average relationships. Most times people do not know they are in a mediocre relationship because a successful relationship has never been demonstrated for them.For those that are aware that they can do better and still choose to stay in the relationship without working on it is due to the hope that one day the relationship will get better miraculously. And just a hint… it never does. People will also stay out of fear that they won’t be able to find anyone else or they will be destitute without their partner. If you are ready to have a satisfying and fulfilling relationship, then I recommend taking these five simple steps to help you get out of that romantic rut.

1. If you are in a relationship that is not fulfilling you must first stop romanticizing a different future with this person.

2. Allow yourself to experience the sadness, frustration or loneliness that you have in this relationship.

3. Resolve in your mind that you want and deserve more.

4. Work with your partner to seek opportunities to improve the relationship

5. Seeking a therapist or life coach to support you and your partner is recommended if you choose to stay together.

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 for 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?

When I finally got married after wanting to be married for about ten years. I felt helpless, in this institution I had lusted over. I felt like I had no power in my marriage. It took getting married for me to realize I did not want to be the wife that I had always imagined I would be. I started feeling resentful towards my husband and unsure of my ability to be a “traditional” “good” wife. But I realized that it was not my husband’s job to define and tell me what type of wife I needed to be. It was my responsibility to choose and become a wife that is in alignment with my highest values, strengths, passions and my purpose as a whole person. I had to dramatically shift out of the “victim” mindset and create the person that I felt was best for myself and my family. I took an in-depth look inside of my thoughts, feelings, and actions and asked myself:

– What am I unwilling to tolerate any longer about myself?

– What is it that I am resisting?

– Is what I believe serving me or limiting me?

– What is that thing in me that I am afraid to tell anyone?

So many people don’t know how to be alone or are afraid of being alone. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to indeed be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?

We are built for relationships and human touch.

However, it is essential to have time to yourself where you can have the ability to face you and recharge yourself in whatever way you feel best without judgment or needing to do anything for anyone else.

We are like rechargeable batteries and spending time alone without feelings of guilt allows us the time and space to give ourselves what we need without looking to others to provide it.

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?

Bruce D. Schneider said “at the highest levels of awareness our ego fades, and we realize that everyone is part of us and that we are all One. Once you can understand who you are and that you are part of a whole that keeps everything in harmony, you will then begin to discover the purpose of your life and how it impacts the greater world-agenda.

This knowledge breaks down perceived fears and self-doubt because you will know without a shadow of a doubt that your life has meaning. We all take care of things that have meaning and purpose.

In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?

To better understand, respect, and allow ourselves and others we must first realize that as humans we all have strengths and weakness. When we stop judging others as unlovable people because their strengths and weakness are different from ours, I believe this new way of thinking will be the start of true love and connection on a global level with ourselves and those around us.

What are five 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. Strong faith. I have a strong faith in Christ. I believe that everything will work out for my good even if it is not the results that I hoped for. When I was single and had done the work to better position myself for true love, I discovered the love I needed to fulfill me was the love I had for myself and the love of God. That faith in God’s love for me and knowing I was lovable broke the cycle of failed relationships. My faith got me and still takes me through the rough patches of life when I feel like I don’t deserve love. I lean on the knowledge that God will never stop loving me.

2. Honesty. I am honest with myself about my strengths and weakness. I am an overachiever and can get stuck in an isolated and draining place when I don’t accept my limitations and ask for support. Being honest with myself helps me continue to stay connected and not withdraw from those I love when I face challenges that I don’t have the skills or ability to get past.

3. Evaluate my values. My values are what keeps me grounded in who I am and guide me on things I look to achieve. I make a deeper connection with others based on our shared and complementing values. I seek opportunities that our values align or complement each other. Every year I reevaluate my top values and create a strategy of how I will live by those values.

When I feel uneasy or anxiety about a situation it usually is something that I am considering doing or saying that is out of alignment with my values.

4. Dance with fear. My greatest fear as a young single mother was being homeless. This fear was not real because I had a great support system. However, it was still a fear that hung over my head, and I overextended myself many times to make sure this never happened. I recall a time when I was exhausted from being in school and working two jobs to make sure “we didn’t become homeless.” I let this fear consume me by allowing it to drain me.

That was when I made a hard line in the sand that I was not going to work myself to death and miss time with my daughter because of fear of being homeless. I taught myself how to budget my money. Paid off all my debt and improved my credit score. Within one year I was able to buy my first home, and I learned to dance with fear and not allow the illusion of fear to stop me from being all that I can be!

5. Give myself and others grace. Grace is giving someone something they don’t deserve. I provide myself with grace all the time. I don’t make excuses for myself or allow myself to keep doing the same thing over and over. However, I have an abundant amount of grace stored up for myself and others. Extending grace allows everyone to give each other permission to be human. When we see each other as humans, then we can connect and love each other at a much deeper level.

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?

Favorite podcast

Encounter. This a Christian meditation podcast that I listen to every morning to remind me of the power that is within me to accomplish whatever I set my mind to achieve.

Side Hustle Pro is a podcast about African American women who are entrepreneurs. This podcast is empowering to see other women who look like me create something out of nothing and doing it on their terms.

Favorite Relationship book:

Men are from Mars women are from Venus: This book saved my marriage. It helped me understand the difference in how men and women communicate.

Whether you are single or married, this book is a must if you want to improve a relationship with the opposite sex. I think it should be required reading in every institution in the world.

Renewing of Your Mind & Spirit For Marriage: I refer back to my book often to help me appreciate how far I have come in loving myself and having the ability to build healthy relationships. I recommend this for anyone struggling to make deeper connections with themselves and others.

You are a person of significant 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 movement would be “The Love Me Right Movement.” This movement would inspire the world to uncover, embrace, accept and share their authentic self with others in love. We would all extend grace and openness to be curious to learn more about each other without judgment. We would understand that at the core of every human being is the desire to be loved, accepted, and respected. In “The Love Me Right Movement,” you would be the first to extend love and not wait for others to make the first move.

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?

“The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.” I use to think that I could be one way in certain situations and the opposite in another.

However, I learned it’s a lot more energy to show up differently based on the situation or the environment.

Living in this way had me confused on what my real potential was, and it gave me an excuse to skip the problematic things.

Learning that how I show up in one area of my life will impact other areas of my life gave me the freedom to be authentic and powerful no matter the situation or the environment.

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!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

Why People Always Treat You According To The Way You Unconsciously Treat Yourself

by Tony Fahkry
Wisdom//

Here’s the Secret to Really Loving Yourself

by Dr Perpetua Neo

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.