Terri Cole is a New York-based licensed psychotherapist, relationship expert and founder of Real Love Revolution™ & Terri Cole’s Boundary Bootcamp™Before earning a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychotherapy from New York University and adopting a daily meditation/green juice/exercise lifestyle, she worked as a talent agent for actors and supermodels. She was your typical Type A overachiever with zero balance and no internal peace. Her ambition and fearless attitude fanned the “must get to the top” flames as I zipped across the country from Los Angeles to New York City fueled by caffeine, nicotine, and adrenalin. (I was shocked to discover that espresso is not a food group!)
When it became evident that the things (money, power, sexy job) that I thought would make me happy – didn’t, I could no longer ignore the voice in my heart asking, “Isn’t there something more meaningful you could be doing with your life than making supermodels richer?”
What she learned in the trenches with my clients informed and continues to inspire the work I do today. Her mission and dharma is teaching women how to attract and sustain healthy, vibrant, Real Love into their lives and how to establish and maintain effective boundaries with ease and grace.
How do you work through feeling “triggered”?
Information is liberation. Embrace whatever it is that you know you need to hear, in spite of the short-term pain. If this is something that potentially needs your attention, slowly but surely find the courage to give it that attention. Healing may require a lot of unlearning. But it starts with giving yourself permission to pause and realizing that it all starts and ends with you. “Soothe yourself with the knowledge that nothing is required of you,” says Terri. “We’re never required to change.”
What are some signs of codependent tendencies or patterns?
Codependency is all about covert control. A telltale sign is when you are overly-invested in the decisions of the people that you care about. By “overly-invested”, Terri means that, if anything bad is happening to your partner, you feel as if it is happening to you—as if it is your burden to bear. We then tend to give the other person unasked-for advice and get angry if they don’t accept it. The key, as opposed to codependency, is interdependency, where each partner adds value according to their strengths, and the emotional burden is equally shared.
How do you deal with the fear of losing those you love?
It’s easy to confuse this behavior with love itself. You may believe that your actions, prompted by this fear, are loving. “Who died and made me God?” asked Terri once she became aware that she was thinking and acting in this way. She eventually realized that helping people means supporting them in doing what they think they need to do in their life. This means not doing it for them; but instead giving them space to do it themselves, of their own volition. Believe in other people’s potential; that they are the only ones who can achieve their fullest potential.
Why is your self-awareness (or lack thereof) the first thing to focus on?
You are always the common denominator in your life: Change starts within you. Therefore, you need to become aware of the things you say or do that harm you and those around you. Identify the original belief or paradigm out of which your codependence was born. Notice the lies you tell yourself to avoid having conversations you feel ill-equipped to have, drawing boundaries you don’t know how to draw, and avoiding the things you fear (ex. abandonment, judgement, losing love, etc.).
When it comes to you and your partner, it helps to drop our ego and any feeling of self-entitlement. You’re both sharing your respective strengths to make the relationship work day by day. You’re building what Terri calls a well of goodwill. The more developed this well of goodwill is, the more you and your partner will remember, in hard times, that “it’s you and me against the problem rather than each other.”
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