Jun 12, 2023 | Podcast, Your Business

Yes! You Can Have It All as an Empath with Jelisha Gatling

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About the episode:

Today’s podcast episode with couples therapist, Jelisha Gatling feels like a real treat for me and I hope it will be the same for you! The biggest thing Jelisha and I chat about is how to have it all as an empath – how to feel fulfilled and loved in your relationship while also thriving as a business owner. This is something that I specifically struggled with for a long time before I met my husband, and if it’s something that I can help even one of my listeners with, I consider this episode (and maybe even podcast) a big win. Even if you are in a partnership already, Jelisha shares valuable insights on conflict resolution, boundaries, and healing, so there’s something for you, too! 

Topics discussed:

  • How to have it all in the relationship of your dreams while thriving in your business as an empath 
  • The work of letting go of your positionality and re-writing your narrative for the health of your relationship 
  • Getting clear on your triggers and history so that you can better anticipate a breakdown 
  • The link between needing to be in control and struggling to feel happy or cherished in your relationship 
  • The power of setting boundaries to not only protect yourself, but make sure you’re following through in your relationship 
  • Catherine’s healing journey with being an over giver and unintentionally using manipulation in her relationship 
  • How settling is the enemy of fulfillment and how this can affect your expectations of being in a relationship 
  • Why Jelisha attributes her success as an empath to the power of community


About Jelisha:

Jelisha Gatling is a couples therapist and a strategist for therapists who need to boost their boundaries in private practice. With an “anti-hustle” style, she helps therapists thrive financially sans burnout.


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Click here for a raw, unedited transcript of this episode


Catherine A. Wood  00:00

laughing delecia I am so thrilled to have you on the podcast today. Welcome.


Jelisha Gatling  00:09

Thank you. I’m excited to be here. I’m really, I’m excited for our conversation.


Catherine A. Wood  00:15

Before we jump in, will you share your pronouns with us?


Jelisha Gatling  00:19

Sure, she and her are my present.


Catherine A. Wood  00:20

Perfect. Before we we started recording, I shared a little bit with you about why I was so excited and grateful to record this episode with you. And I think I’d love to just share it again for our audience, because I think I’d love to start the conversation there. And it’s this idea that, you know, both, I identify as an ambitious Empath, and many of our listeners are also an very driven type a career oriented, higher high performing entrepreneurs and leaders across the board. And one theme I noticed in a lot of my coaching work is that sometimes when we’re so driven by our career, it can be at the expense of our primary relationships, whether it’s at the expense of creating that relationship, and doing the vulnerable work of opening our heart, or the day to day effort of maintaining that intimacy and connection with in that primary relationship. And I haven’t had anyone on the podcast to talk about this experience of out of having it all how can you both be in the relationship of your dreams and thrive and kick ass and your business?


Jelisha Gatling  01:37

Yeah, yeah, I can. Yeah, I feel like I could talk for hours about this. So I think can totally resonate with that. Absolutely. I mean, they’re, they’re so interconnected. And it’s something that comes up a lot in my private practice and working with couples. So yes, where shall we begin? Or I’m not sure where to go? Because I could go in a number of directions. I


Catherine A. Wood  01:59

know, well, why don’t you start by just sharing a little bit more about your practice? And how you niche niche down into working with couples and premarital counseling?


Jelisha Gatling  02:10

Yeah, so I’m, I’m a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist, I’ve been working from the very beginning with couples, I’ve always known that that was going to be what I wanted to focus on. Um, I’ve been doing that for, I guess, seven years now. I’ve been sat, right, six, seven years in private practice. And I, I’ve always just been fascinated with relationships and relationship dynamics. I remember being a kid and literally like interviewing my neighbors, just like, I would notice different things that my friend’s parents did from mine from like, the way dinner was to, like, how chores were split up. And I would often question like, Mom, is this normal? How come you do this, and at my friend’s house, they do it this way. So I was just always super curious. And any opportunity, I had to talk about relationships, write about them at school, I always tried to implement that into the project. So that’s just continued. Um, and I have recently in the last two years, I’m shifting more into premarital counseling, which I’m finding just kind of add some some spice to things while couples therapy typically is really problem saturated and focused on an issue that they’re having, and can be super challenging. I mean, I’ve worked with a lot of betrayal and infidelity repair. That was a niche of mine initially. And so I’ve worked with high conflict couples and some really layered stuff, but I’m finding that I need a mix of premarital counseling couplings as well, just because they it’s a totally different tone and energy. And I find that it just spices things up for me to kind of have a little bit of this and a little bit of that. And it’s a lot easier to you know, emotionally reset and make sure that you know you’re taking care of yourself when you have those what I call lighter sessions with new couples who aren’t usually aren’t coming in with big issues at that point.


Catherine A. Wood  04:01

I mean, I can really appreciate that because I can imagine a lot of the work you do with premarital counseling is really setting couples up for success creating the agreements and the communication dynamics that will ensure the longevity and success of their relationship versus repairing them from the breakdowns related to those challenges.


Jelisha Gatling  04:23

Oh, absolutely. And premarital counseling. Typically couples, they have more curiosity. They’re curious, they’re open, you know, and it’s just a whole different vibe. It’s easier to get them to explore different possibilities versus when you’ve been in a maybe a dysfunctional pattern for years and years. You know, you’re having I have to teach them to unlearn patterns and habits and and also learn certain things that they’re doing they think are helpful or actually not and so, it’s a lot of unlearning. I feel like that’s the hardest part of couples therapy.


Catherine A. Wood  04:57

Okay, I have like a totally out there question. And but when there has been a breakdown in the relationship, whether there’s been a betrayal or hurt, or a breakdown in trust, and there’s there has to be kind of this willingness to open your heart again, kind of give up your opinions or judgments or kind of like, you know, this is just the way they are right? There has to be a willingness to let go of that. positionality hmm, yeah. How do you do that work?


Jelisha Gatling  05:39

I, the I approach it from a narrative standpoint. So I use a lot of what’s called Narrative Therapy, where I am listening for what are the dominant storylines, or the dominant narratives that you have about your partner about your relationship about yourself about yourself as an entrepreneur, like we all have narratives that are tied to certain parts of ourselves. And so I try to listen for what is the dominant reoccurring storyline that I’m hearing it could be, my partner is really inconsistent, they’re inconsistent, they’re not consistent. You know, it couldn’t be. What’s another one, I really struggle to set boundaries, like that is something that I struggle with. So that’s a way that they experienced themselves, and it can be really overgeneralize. And so what I do is I ask them, first off, where else does this impact you like? Because usually they’re coming in talking about their relationship? And I ask, Does this show up at work? And what I’m listening for is a space where that doesn’t show up. So like, for example, I might have a couple where she’s saying he’s not being consistent with XYZ. And I find that that’s not an issue at work. I’m curious about it. And then I’m trying to sort of combat this black and white narrative that they may have about themselves or their partner. And another good example might be, I’ve worked with so many people who say that they can set boundaries at work, but when it comes to their relationships and dating, it’s so hard, or vice versa. And so I try to explore and first combat, hey, we’re not going to like take that black and white narrative, and own that. Because this actually is evidence that that’s not actually the case, because usually, it’s a problem saturated narrative that they’re coming in with. So I’m looking for evidence to combat that. And then I’m exploring what’s different in this situation? Why is it so hard for you to put boundaries up at work? What’s going on there? Let me you know, versus when you’re with your kids or with family, you’re able to do that, like hardcore you. I’ve heard all these examples. So I’ll kind of pause there. Does that make sense?


Catherine A. Wood  07:38

It does. It has me curious. What? What’s the, the modality that you practice? What’s


Jelisha Gatling  07:46

this? Oh, this is narrative. It’s called Narrative Therapy,


Catherine A. Wood  07:49

narrative therapy. So it sounds like you’re trying to disprove their experiences,


Jelisha Gatling  07:55

I’m trying to expand, I’m trying to help them expand the possibilities, especially if like, What a moment could mean. And so if your partner lets you down in some way or disappoints you, let’s say that they’re late for dinner. And you’re feeling a certain type of way about that. You can, what are you going to make that mean? That’s what I’m trying to get to so your partner was late? What does that mean to you? Like, what’s the storyline that you What’s the story that you’re telling yourself when that happens? And then being able to explain to the partner who was late what that brings up for them. So at the core of it, it’s usually I feel unappreciated, I feel like you’re taking my time for granted. I feel like you’re so selfish. And they may just respond or react, I’ll say, from a place of here you are being selfish again. And so if I hear that I’m like, okay, there might be a selfish dominant narrative going on, let me listen for if that shows up in other places. So I’m just being able to gather evidence to I really am trying to employ curiosity like that is what it’s about, hey, let’s explore what else this could mean. Let’s explore possible reframe, you know, what, what else might this mean? Maybe they got caught in traffic and their phone died and they weren’t able to reach you, you know, let’s like actually pause for a second and explore alternative meanings or invite our partner in and write the story together.


Catherine A. Wood  09:19

I really appreciate that framing, because I imagine that when we’re clear about the breakdowns in our relationships, and we’re also clear about the meaning or the significance that we attach to those breakdowns, and we were present to them as the impacted and our partners are present to them as the impact or then there can be more, I guess, space to provide the care or the repairing or the generosity I guess. It’s needed to reconnect


Jelisha Gatling  10:00

Oh, yes, yeah. And I mean, this is I’m just sharing like, this is like a such a small snippet, there’s, it’s, there’s so much within this modality that I love, but it’s, it’s so customized. And so it’s such a great way to explore the meanings of certain things for your partner. And then you know, we can also identify childhood wounds that may align with that, the thing that you’re looking for within your partner, so if you feel like your partner is being really selfish, and that’s something that’s been said, and thought, and that’s how you view them, then you’re, you’re gonna be looking for that to show up in spaces. And you may forecast that, and you may even enable it to present that way, if that makes sense. And, you know, oftentimes couples are literally sitting on the separate ends of the couch, with two totally different realities of how they experienced the relationship. They’re writing their own story. So that’s why I’m like I’m listening for what are the storylines? What are the dominant narratives? You know, what, what, what is it that you? Yeah, I mean, it’s just really important to pull that out. And oftentimes, couples are coming in focusing on the content and the dishes and the kids and, you know, changing this about their partner, and I’m like, let’s explore how you might experience your partner as is in a more preferred way.


Catherine A. Wood  11:22

Yeah, I just got so much, so much from that, and I got even more excited about this episode. Because I work with a lot of Empath entrepreneurs, right, the name of this podcast is the prosperous empath. And something I so deeply appreciate about empaths is how much we give, how much we contribute, how much we care how much how conscientious we are. And this shows up in empowered and in disempowered ways. And I often notice this dynamic and in romantic relationships, showing up in just this really hurtful, painful way where we, we give and we give, and we give, without opening ourselves up to receiving in return or without asking for what we need, or without just being really clear about what we want. And I noticed this theme, both with myself, but also with many, many clients. And so I’m curious, maybe I’ll just take some free advice. But I’m curious for our listeners, who I’m sure can relate with this, like, where do we start in rewriting that narrative.


Jelisha Gatling  12:45

Um, it’s one thing that I think is helpful is what I tried to do is put a name to the problem. So this could be with if I’m working with a couple of them working with someone individually, let’s detach the problem from your partner, or you or their relationships. So it’s almost like externalization is the word actually, like the psychotherapy term in narrative therapy, where I’m a present with I am depressed, I have so much depression, I’m struggling with anxiety. I’m an anxious person, I am a depressed person, it feels very personal, like it’s a part of you. There’s something about externalizing that and almost making it like its own entity, like it’s separate from you. And so I use language like, it’s not something I describe to them, I literally, it’s the way I shift my questioning. So I would ask, What, When do you find that the anxiety comes about and get some between the two of you? When is it most present? Is there? Is it usually, you know, after work, is it you know? How frequent is it? Do you find that it happens around the holidays, like, let’s find this pattern and sort of explore what might help to enable anxiety to come around and try and get to the two of you and also talk about how you can ward that off, so that the two of you can turn towards each other. So like, just making it that it makes it so that it’s a team sort of effort, like we’re all exploring how we can work against the depression and the anxiety and that you know, could have to do with maybe decompressing after work. Maybe you you need 1015 minutes like of just silence before you engage with your family or before you start dinner and you just keep going like little things like that is how I explore with couples Hey, you have a say in this anxiety is not the on the driver’s seat. Like how can we get you in the driver’s seat? And you know, and best managing it. I’m not in any way trying to dismiss the reality of having anxiety or depression. But I’m trying to explore what are the possibilities in the current context, and what might we explore to better manage this that we haven’t done?


Catherine A. Wood  14:56

I love that reminder to look through the lens of like how can we anticipate a breakdown by getting really clear about when and where, and what are the conditions present in order that it is more likely to occur. In my line of work, we say, this is something I just often joke with clients about during the holidays, like, just an aside, like it is likely that your survival mechanism is going to have an attack when you go home to visit family for the holidays, because where do you think your survival instincts were born? So have your like, my like, like, spoiler alert? And then secondly, with my couples, I often I often offer the reminder, like, no difficult conversations after the sun goes down.


Jelisha Gatling  15:48

Yes. Some Yeah, I love that totally. And like really inviting them I love I’m like, This is not Felicia show. Like, come in. Let’s all explore. Let’s throw some stuff out there just like brainstorm what do you think could be helpful to you? Because I want to, like help them, arm them with a sense of agency. I’m not helping your relationship, throwing some stuff out there for you chew on and see what might fit with you. What what, what might What are you curious about? Yeah.


Catherine A. Wood  16:20

Okay, so let’s see, I have there’s another theme that I noticed a lot with clients that I wonder if we get your two cents on is that a lot of my clients are women identifying. And they are in control in their romantic relationships. They’re in a whole lot of control. And I would say the degree to which they want to be control in control varies. I think with time they they recognize that they’re actually more interested in releasing that control. But I would say that in the beginning, they’re often pretty committed to maintaining that sense of control. And they’re wondering, you know, and they’re struggling with being happy and feeling cared for and cherished by their partners. Yeah. Is that familiar?


Jelisha Gatling  17:15

Oh, yes, absolutely. I probably say 60 70% of the couples I work with, usually heterosexual relationships. Yes, women identifying clients, absolutely. Hands down, often do lead with, it’s all on me, I do everything. And then as we kind of explore back to the beginning of the relationship, I’ll say something like, it sounds like you’ve been driving the whole time. You know, like you’ve been driving, and it makes sense that you’re tired. And the frustration and resentment often comes from wanting their partner to take more on or to to, yeah, create space for them to just be and take things, you know, off the plate of whatever responsibilities that they might have. And they have to recognize how they’ve helped to maintain that dynamic. So it’s not blame, but it’s stepping back. And like, I think what you said earlier, how do we both contribute to this dynamic? I always say dynamic, I don’t say like I say, this is a dynamic, it’s a context. Okay, I’m not, you know, I want to Yeah, so I do that. And we then really talk about, okay, what are all the contextual factors that may have played into how this problem is being maintained? are you always talking about serious stuff like, right before you go out the door? Maybe we shouldn’t talk about budgeting, because that, you know, like that, that might not be the best time? Are you talking? When you’re hangry, I cannot problem solve, or if I’m hungry, I can’t do anything. So, you know, like making sure that you sort of know, what are the things that might make you more susceptible? And now I’m not sure if I even answered your question. I think I’m, am I and then I go off on a tangent there. I think no,


Catherine A. Wood  18:57

they’re all they’re all connected, like I hear you speaking to. I hear you speaking to kind of setting yourself up for success and having those difficult conversations versus what are the circumstances that might kind of facilitate a helpful and supportive conversation around these patterns and dynamics as you say or not. And I’d love to I’d love to come back to the control piece and hear what what other gems you have to contribute because I think that that experience of of doing it all and having everything feel like it’s on you that emotional labor it it really does breed resentment in relationships. Absolutely. And I also think it’s can be very easy for women identifying clients to justify why they feel upset and hurt and they need to be in control because they have all the Evidence for how their partners fell through or how they didn’t pick up the kids on time or when they snapped at the kids like, you know, there’s we have the kind of this ability to be very detail oriented and remember what they are, what our partners did and didn’t do and how they did and didn’t do it well and correctly and perfectly.


Jelisha Gatling  20:25

Absolutely, oh, this is, it’s so tough. Um, aside from, you know, really investigating how you might be helping to maintain the dynamic and exploring what you can begin to do. Sometimes I might even take it out a little bit more and say, Where else can you just start to practice to ask yourself, ask for more? Where can you take steps to not overwork at work? And maybe it’s saying no to that extra project? Or staying late? Like, what can how can you set up this boundary to help you really provide more space for yourself and also set up the expectation with your boss or with your partner, or whoever it might be? Or your client even? And so if there’s, I think it’s really taking into account how do I how can I have a say, How do I have some control in terms of releasing things? So, so not taking focus on your partner in terms of what they need to do? But putting, that’s not the way I want to say it? Because there’s typically a lot of focus on what they’re not doing, how they’re letting you down, but really taking into account Okay, am I following through with boundaries? Like, am I actually enforcing? Is there a response that aligns with what I said, what happen if XYZ doesn’t improve, and I find that a lot of times there is no follow through, and there’s not really much at stake for the partner who is disappointing left and right, because it becomes a fight. And then they sort of move on. And then three weeks later, it’s back up again, maybe it’s good for a couple of weeks. But it’s been that way for years, usually, typically with clients that I’m working with. And just like basically describing to them that and normalizing that this is going to be hard, unlearning. And also, yeah, I’ll stop there. I feel like I’m rambling.


Catherine A. Wood  22:29

No, it’s gold. This is all gold. Something that I I mean, first of all, I really appreciate your approach because it feels very solutions oriented. And what can we practice differently? How can we create new patterns and new dynamics, and rather than reinforcing old ones that don’t work for the couple, something in my in, that I get to have a big chuckle with clients around is really taking stock and taking ownership for how we created the dynamics to be this way in the first place. And that, you know, if we, if we essentially we, we, we train our, we train the people we’re in relationship with, about, we train them and what to expect from us, we train them in how we show up and what’s predictable, and how we’re going to respond in what we will do. And the people that we’re in relationship with, they come to have expectations of how we’re likely to respond when they do X, they will do why. And so when we can really start, and what I hear you saying, and I really agree, this is something I work a lot with clients on too is that was when we really start to see that. Oh, wow, this is how I allowing the dynamic to continue in this way. This is how I’m contributing to it. This is how this is how I created this, then we can, you know, reinvent who we be in relationship with our partners and not just partners, right? It’s same as true across the board.


Jelisha Gatling  24:17

Yeah, totally. And I think like, once you recognize that and you’re like, oh, wait, when I go back to the beginning. I never said anything about wanting my card or open. I’m just going to like an example that came up this week. And like really wanting that. And now all of a sudden, like, having feelings about that. It wasn’t something that was necessarily set up or shared was important. But it’s aside from identifying it, I think owning it. So like I’ll give an example in business with a few years ago when I realized that my boundaries were out of whack as far as like cancellations and maybe people being late or time going over. I was like, Oh, I don’t know how to get them to I don’t know how to stop the session. Shouldn’t I was like I was helpless. And then I’d be mad because I went over 20 minutes, I didn’t charge for that, or I didn’t charge for this late cancellation because I felt bad or like I was punishing them. I basically did a lot of work, I revamped my policies, and I opened up, as I shared this with each client, I said, Look, I want to take accountability for not enforcing my policies and being a little, you know, all over the place where I charge you sometimes, and I don’t, I said, I moving forward and no longer going to go over time I named all these things, and I set up things to help me do that. Like I have a little light timer that goes off, when we have seven minutes. There’s something about seven minutes just before we transition off, and it lets everyone know, it’s been so helpful. And also just having that conversation and stating it and owning it. Like I’ve followed through with that my clients now expected. But you know, that’s a way that I look at how we can sort of repair, I’m owning it, not saying that’s you, this is my part and this things are going to shift. I’m I’m apologizing for not being consistent. But moving forward, I will be Do you have any questions? How do you feel about this, blah, blah, blah.


Catherine A. Wood  26:07

So it’s so that’s so juicy. I mean, I love that from a business coach perspective. And I also love it through the lens of what we’re talking about with our partners, because when we can recreate the boundaries and the dynamics about how we’re going to show up in the relationship, and we can communicate with our partner what they can expect from us moving forward. Well, then we get to follow through on what we said, our partners can expect from us moving forward. And I, I just have to share this story from a book and I’m dying to know if you’ve read it. Have you heard of the book, drop the ball achieve more by do doing? I think it’s like achieve more by doing less by Tiffany du feu?


Jelisha Gatling  26:55

No, I’m writing it down.


Catherine A. Wood  26:56

It’s a beautiful book. And she, she’s wonderful. And she talks about this dynamic and her relationship with her husband, where she this very dynamic that we’re talking about that she was realizing that she was doing everything that all of the emotional labor was falling on her, and that she was a working woman just like he was a working man. And they had two children. And she couldn’t do it anymore. And through working with mentors and self reflection, she, she really took stock of the relationship and how she had set it up for her partner to know that, you know, if she would always have it that if anything that if any ball was dropped, she would always pick it up. And so she had one of these very conversations that you mentioned having with your clients a couple years ago. And she, they she created agreements with her husband about what was hers, and what was his to handle in the relationship? Right? What was she responsible for? What was he responsible for? He was responsible for the mail. Her husband, one of the things one of the things he had to pick up the mail, and bring it up into the kitchen, open the mail and handle all of the mail. Right? This was his responsibility. And then, lo and behold, he gets an assignment in somewhere in Africa, and he has sent away on a work consultancy for six months. Right? So now Tiffany is facing this challenge of oh, I create recreated agreements with my husband. He is responsible for checking the mail, like, who am I going to be about the mail? Am I going to pick up his ball that he dropped or what. And she really had to take a stand, she had to take a stand for the agreements that she had recreated with her husband so that he would respect her when she said what she needed and honor them right on her his side and trust that she would honor hers. Six months later, he comes home and six months of mail is on the kitchen island. This is a true story. She didn’t pick up the mail. And she talks about in the book how this was such an immense learning for her as much as it was for him because it was truly through being willing to not pick up the ball that her husband dropped, that she learned to honor what she said and follow through on it. And her husband learned to that he was going to have to follow through on what he said to because his wife was no longer willing to pick up his book dropped balls.


Jelisha Gatling  29:40

That is such a great story. I get this book. That’s so great. It’s such a great example also of you know when I’m talking about this with couples, I’m the person who is doing the over giving I say you’re overextending your you know and your partner may be under working and that’s been the dynamic is oh, I just lost it, it was so good. Oh, that you have to, you have to honor your needs. First like that is kind of integral. And so if you are Yeah, overextending yourself in other spaces, or that’s being witnessed or your partner sees you may be going over coming home late from work exhausted and just, you know, just doing everything, how do you expect them to, like help you with that, because I think you have to honor and take care of your needs. First, you show people how to treat you. You know, if I say it, you know, we got one more minute left, I gotta go, you know, our time is up. That’s, you know, setting a boundary versus maybe just going with the flow and hoping that you will in the call in five minutes, or 10 minutes, or maybe you’ll notice or, you know, I’m putting worrying about how it might impact you, over, you know, my need to protect my time or go to my next appointment or whatever.


Catherine A. Wood  30:58

I mean, I love that reminder that as over extenders as over givers, that we have to honor our needs first. Because I think so often in those dynamics we we give, in order to get our needs met, versus taking the time prioritizing the time, our self care, whatever that looks like for us in order to meet our needs for ourself, versus essentially using other people in order to get our needs met.


Jelisha Gatling  31:31

When you say that, just so I understand it, using people to get our needs met, does that look like? Um, I don’t know, like doing something for someone like maybe I say, Yeah, I’ll get my lunch and I’ll help you do this task instead of that, would that be


Catherine A. Wood  31:51

totally Yeah. I don’t know if that relates with your what you’ve experienced in work. But I do notice a pattern working with impasse is that when we’re disconnected from ourselves and our own internal needs, we often overextend we often over give to other people, whether it’s doing the laundry, or doing tasks or paying more bills, or, you know, spending more time or, you know, and I’m speaking from experience here, like that, I think that when we’re disconnected from ourselves, we oftentimes try to be generous and give in order to fill that void, or feel that sense of, you know, care, love, like we feel, you know, we perhaps feel good for helping or we, you know, temporarily are proud of ourselves for, you know, doing X or spending y. But in reality like that, that’s, in my experience, like that’s manipulation. Like we’re actually doing something not from a place of being grounded and route Well, resource, like we’re actually using that person in order to meet a need for ourselves, which, you know, is this is a setup. Yeah, I’ve


Jelisha Gatling  33:12

never thought about it like that. But it is, that’s really interesting. Yeah, manipulating, Ooh, can I steal that I’m like,


Catherine A. Wood  33:22

I mean, I, when I’m not gonna lie, probably eight years ago, at this point, my coach, my coach accused me of manipulating my partner, and it was a tough pill to swallow at first. But then, in doing that in their inquiry, and it wasn’t overnight. Like I actually took stock and realized how true it was that I was actually. I was actually like, completely disconnecting from myself, prioritizing the other person’s preferences, wishes needs, even kind of even often making up what I thought that they needed, in order to feel good about myself, rather than just, you know, writing in my journal or taking a bath or taking myself out on a date. A lot of that work for me, like, I started that healing journey by taking myself out on weekly dates.


Jelisha Gatling  34:20

Yes, yes. And that’s like, it’s so because ultimately, would you say that when you when you recognize that when you were in that space that you were maybe escaping the discomfort of like, being with yourself?


Catherine A. Wood  34:35

It’s, you know, well said,


Jelisha Gatling  34:38

like, because I resonate with that and like wanting to escape into work and productivity and, you know, all these things, because I could not sit with myself and my thoughts and I couldn’t have my feelings. Um, yeah, especially as someone who you know, was, is leaning out of an avoidant attachment style. Yeah, I can compartmentalize. Important minute lies like the best.


Catherine A. Wood  35:02

Totally. And I think also for many givers who, you know, empaths often identify as givers. Like, we’re so disconnected from our internal needs. That giving overextending is often it’s a knee jerk reaction. Like I find with a lot of my clients, it’s actually pretty uncomfortable. To sit in the question, what do you need? Yes. Because so many of us don’t know.


Jelisha Gatling  35:29

Yes. Oh, yeah. I see that a lot. Yeah. And even just to sit with What’s it feel like to not? No, that’s what I say. When people are quieter. They say, I don’t know. What’s that? Like to know? You know? Oh, yeah, that’s juicy.


Catherine A. Wood  35:48

Did you did you? Did you listen? Did you watch the recent movie with JLo? Marry me and Owen Wilson? No. I love her. JLo. But yeah, I haven’t seen it. Highly recommend. But there’s a brilliant quote in that movie that that I’m not sure if I’ve shared it on the podcast. This may be a first but it’s an it’s so good. And Owen Wilson says to his daughter, when he’s preparing her for the math meet, he says, if you sit with the question long enough, the answer will come to you.


Jelisha Gatling  36:26

Simple but yeah,


Catherine A. Wood  36:28

I think that that’s so true with our needs, right? If we sit with the question long enough, if we create the conditions and the space to sit with our own thoughts, the answers will come.


Jelisha Gatling  36:41

Oh, totally. Yeah. It’s like an it can be as simple as, like, I have a little outdoor patio situation here. And earlier, before recording, I was like, Okay, let’s like get grounded centered. You know, I go outside to sit for a moment. And I like, was like, put your phone back or you bring your phone? Like, why can I just be you know, and so I’ve been like really trying to practice that. And it’s getting easier. And even to the point where I don’t have to tell myself like, don’t take the phone with you in the bathroom or guilty. You know, like, just be and like, I think that can kind of build that tolerance. I don’t know if that sounds bad, but like tolerance for you know, being alone or in that so


Catherine A. Wood  37:26

quickly. Huge. Yeah. I love that.


Jelisha Gatling  37:31

Yeah, yeah. And that’s where I try to start when that does come up with clients. What’s a realistic small little starter thing that you could practice or employ? Like, where can we start to work that muscle? So I sort of phrase it usually.


Catherine A. Wood  37:49

Well, let’s, let’s shift gears a little here. Because you and I were joking before we started. This episode was before I hit record about how I didn’t know what the acronym sa TC meant. But I would love to talk about the Sex in the City sa TC myth of choosing between work relationship and fulfillment. And you know how that shows up in your work? Yeah,


Jelisha Gatling  38:17

um, well, yeah, we were talking about sex in the city. And this may be just a me thing. I don’t know if anyone else will remember this, but it stuck with me. When I started watching Sex in the City, it was super old, I watched it when I was in college, like 2000 456, something like that. Um, and I


Catherine A. Wood  38:36

remember being


Jelisha Gatling  38:40

cool. And so I remember, I don’t know what episode I couldn’t even tell you what the context was. But Carrie said something to the effect of, you know, you, you can only have, you’re always going to have one of these three things missing or not in a good place, work your home, like apartment, like feeling good about where you live, and like Ha, and relationships. So you’re, you’re going to likely be struggling with relationship issues. Maybe you don’t like your apartment, or like maybe you’ve got roommates that you can’t stand or issues with work. And for some reason, that really resonated with me in that moment. And I was like, oh, gosh, okay, I’m asking for too much. And so in a way, I think that I sort of move forward with almost allowing and loose boundaries and not really speaking up because I’m like, well, things are really good at work and things are really good in my relationship. So you know, or vice versa. And so I say that to say that typically it with clients, I am exploring how the issue or the problem shows up in different spaces, but also clocking if they have similar sort of maybe beliefs or expectations, like what did it look like? In growing up perhaps Their parents worked around the clock, and we’re never home. And they sort of think this is just what it is like, we don’t have time to check in on our relationship, like, we’ve got to make money. And this is what we’re valuing. And so a lot can come from that. But as far as how that is impacting, I guess I’m listening for that, in sessions, I’m trying to think how long is that sort of is something that I use in sessions, but it is something that I like to share, if I’m observing or hearing that, where you know, and also there can be patterns where people literally come in with this storyline that, you know, when work is really great, my relationship, you know, it deteriorates, or vice versa. And so that was a myth that I really had to work hard at undoing because I wasn’t really happy with it, Let’s even say I want to add this caveat that when we’re talking about relationship, I have since expanded that to be relationship with self. Like, so it doesn’t even necessarily have to include a partnership or like if you don’t have a relationship, oh, that’s not going well, because, I mean, I think it’s not a necessity, and are you know, if you’re kind of listening in on what women are speaking about culturally, and what we’re seeing in the media about, you know, shifts in marriage and expectations that you, you know, must get married, have a kid blah, blah, blah, I could go off on that tangent. But does that make sense what I’m saying it, it totally


Catherine A. Wood  41:27

makes sense. And a couple themes that I hear and what you’re sharing is like, this theme of becoming resigned in or settling. And I think that was being resigned. And settling is, you know, the enemy of fulfillment, the enemy of joy, when we settle the way things are, it creates no room for what’s possible. It creates no space for a different experience, for a transformation for a breakthrough for possibility for magic, because, you know, our beliefs create our experience.


Jelisha Gatling  42:05

Yes, absolutely. Yeah. And I think that, um, you know, it was about three, four years ago, when I really started working on my healing journey and realizing how that was showing up. For me, especially as I was working my business, I remember going to some kind of, I don’t know, someplace in New York, I went with friends to get drinks to my really best friends. And I was telling them work is amazing. Like, I can’t believe the money I’m making, I feel really secure financially. And I just, it feels so good. And I feel like I’m doing good work. And I was really excited about that. And I got my dream apartment, like I was so proud of myself, I had been such a long, like, I just felt like it felt so good. But I wasn’t in a relationship. And I want it to be but I didn’t want to admit that. And I basically was was I had a really negative attitude about dating. And I was telling my friends about all the stuff that I see on, you know, Instagram about bad dates and guys, and this and that the third. And they were like, Felicia, what do you do whenever you have a problem, you can take a course you work with a coach, you will invest money to learn and expand on something you don’t know you’ve done it in business, you know, you Why are you not doing that in love? And I was like, Oh my gosh. And I was like, Well, what would that look like? And they were like get off of Reddit. First of all, like, I was looking at all these really negative threads online about how dating sucks, how there’s no good men left. And as a woman who primarily dates men, and you know, just all this stuff was not making me open, it was having me close up. And I was like, I just need to accept that I’m gonna live a single life. And that’s fine. And I got it, I’m gonna get okay with that, and dive myself into work and travel and whatever. But that conversation it was like, that’s an example of like, the sort of looking at another context, like, I’m over here learning all the things I have to learn to run a business where I feel taken care of, and that I actually enjoy. I’ve done I’ve taken a million classes spent 1000s of dollars, but I’ve not invested a penny in this area. I’ve read some books, but that led me too, working with a dating coach. And it was the best experience of my life.


Catherine A. Wood  44:19

Oh, I love that. I love that. I mean, I think that our willingness to declare what we want is incredibly powerful. Yeah, it was also it was my break first break through and coaching also declaring that I was going to fall in love and bring the man I was going to marry home for Thanksgiving that year. And yeah, this is a longer story that I don’t know if we have time for but the short version of it was that, that Thanksgiving, four days before Thanksgiving, I went to a mutual friend’s wedding with a friend I A who I’d known for four years, and we had our first kiss at that wedding, and we’ve been together ever since. And I did not bring him home for Thanksgiving. But we did have our first kiss four days before Thanksgiving. And for me, like, you know, sometimes the outcome doesn’t look exactly like what we declare, but I fulfilled on my declaration, and the the wild thing was, is that a big part of my of that, that coaching project was to visualize how I wanted to feel in that relationship. I think so often, we focus on what we want our partners to look like, and what we want them to do career wise, and what their interests are. And so often the people we end up with, they don’t, they don’t, they don’t feel, fill and meet those ideas and visions, right. But we know how we want to feel in our relationship. And I, every day for gosh, it was like six months, Felicia, I sat on my meditation cushion every morning, first thing, I’m really good with routine. And I visualized how I wanted to feel in this relationship. And one of the visions that came to me stronger than any other was this idea that we would be at a party, and we would be on opposite ends of the room. But I would feel so connected as if he was standing next to me with his hand on the small of my back. And literally the next month in December, at the time, I lived in Washington, DC on Capitol Hill, and we went to one of our neighbors holiday parties in his house. And when we got home from the party, I asked him his experience of the party. And he told me my visualization.


Jelisha Gatling  46:50

Oh, my goodness, this is so good. And


Catherine A. Wood  46:54

he did not know my visualization. I hadn’t shared it with a soul right at the time. I was probably pretty sheepish about it. But for me, it was I mean, it was terrifying, right. I don’t think I’ve committed to visualizing anything to that degree ever since. But it really for me reinforced the power of our thoughts.


Jelisha Gatling  47:17

I love that story. That’s so great. Visualization it really that’s that’s really powerful for me as well. Yeah, that’s such a great story. Yeah, I


Catherine A. Wood  47:30

didn’t know I was going to share that would


Jelisha Gatling  47:35

be Oh, and goes to show like, I feel like we can get really caught up in like the how, like I want to get here. But what is it going to look like? And how do we get there? And I say over and over to couples forget the how I want to make sure we got the ending and what that looks like, feels like how would you know you were there? Don’t worry about the how right now. And I feel like that’s what I felt when you were telling the story. You just Just what do you want to feel? How do you want to feel about yourself? You know, like, Oh, love it,


Catherine A. Wood  48:07

that that everything you just shared is absolutely. How I coach. Alright, the how is none of our business? Yeah, we control the how we’re not leaving any space for magic, or spirit or transformation or growth or expansion. If we need to know how we’re going to get somewhere. Then we’re focusing emanate for me. That’s ego, like that’s fear, versus trusting and allowing ourselves to expand and for the path to unfold.


Jelisha Gatling  48:36

Really? And isn’t it freeing like not to have to worry about the how like, I’m like really leaned into it, which is like, I’m not worried about that. I don’t know. I love it. I’m so with you.


Catherine A. Wood  48:50

And honestly, as you know, as we wrap up this episode, I think that that’s just a really beautiful reminder in relationship also, that we don’t necessarily need to know how in order to share what we want. We don’t necessarily need to have all of those answers figured out in order to trust our partners with our desires and our dreams and our preferences and our wishes. We can trust them with our desires. Absolutely, yeah. So final question as we wrap up here today. This has been such a just a delightful conversation. I’ve really loved it. What has made the difference for you and becoming a prosperous empath?


Jelisha Gatling  49:35

It sounds simple but community I mean, that’s been everything I absolutely would not be here without community. I mean, even with that last example, you know, with the the dating coach and feeling like you know, I’m just going to resign myself. I’m not even going to participate in this. And having some shame around that. Like I uncovered some shame that I didn’t want to even let anyone in on because I felt like that’s super vulnerable, but The antidote to shame is community. Like that’s what I found. And so when I’m feeling alone when I’m feeling like oh my gosh, how am I gonna get through this? Or why does this keep happening? I’m gonna find a community somewhere I’ve become really good at it and it’s really helpful finding a positive solution focused because there can be some groups that want to harp on you know, problems and you want to get away from that but yeah, positive like minded community. Whether that’s online, whether that’s having a call, I have a call every two months with a group of practitioners like I have certain things that come up every so often that keep me connected with community even when I’m not necessarily struggling with something and it helps remind me and it helps me to feel like reminds me of who I am that’s the those are the spaces you want to go to right? Literally. Like I’m like myself when I’m when I talked to you, Catherine, I like I feel like I can be myself and I I like how I experienced myself in your presence. And that’s something I’m you know, always listening for around anyone in my life.


Catherine A. Wood  51:06

Couldn’t agree with you more. This has been so wonderful. I can’t wait to share this episode. Thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you, Catherine. It was lovely.


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