Using Relationships for Personal and Spiritual Growth

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personal and spiritual growth

Relationships can be a path to personal and spiritual growth. My podcast guest, Dr. Susan Campbell, shows us how!

Susan Campbell, PhD, is a relationship coach who for over 50 years has been helping singles, couples, and professional teams communicate respectfully and responsibly. She is the author of Getting Real, Saying What’s Real, Five-Minute Relationship Repair, and The Couples Journey. She has been featured on CNN’s News Night, Good Morning America, The Dr. Dean Edell Show, and in Self magazine, New Woman, and Cosmopolitan. Susan also trains coaches and therapists throughout the United States and Europe. 

In this episode of Last First Date Radio:

  • A radical approach to sharing yourself honestly with someone you’re just meeting
  • Why people are afraid to say what they really feel and want
  • Tips and practices for making truth-telling easier
  • If someone takes a risk and it doesn’t go well, how can they quickly recover their emotional equilibrium?
  • How to use dating and relationships for personal and spiritual growth

EP 570: Susan Campbell – Using Relationships for Personal and Spiritual Growth

In your book, Truth in Dating, you suggest a radical approach to sharing yourself honestly with someone you’re just meeting. Can you describe this?

My approach is first to have the intention to show up fully in dating, and have the mindset that you’ll support each other to heal and grow. Let your date know you’re committed to telling the truth, and you want more intimacy in your life. Be compassionate, not brutal in your honesty. Take more risks in the early stages of dating. Truth is about being present to yourself and the other person. Feel your body. 

Why are people afraid to say what they really feel and want?

Childhood neglect and mini traumas of asking for what you want and need can lead to fear of speaking up. We learn the wrong thing as a child. Most of our parents weren’t horrible. But, most of us had painful experiences around wanting things and not getting it. We learn to associate pain of rejection or being criticized around asking for what we want. As adults we need to unlearn that. We need to learn to co-regulate and self-soothe.

Go online and look for a list of feelings, and begin to develop your vocabulary for feelings. Notice when you’re not present in the moment. Check in with yourself and your body sensations, so you can tune into what you need in the moment.

In Getting Real, you offer tips and practices for making truth-telling easier. What are some of these practices?

If someone asks you to tell them about yourself, ask them what they’re looking for, or tell them, “I’d like to share about my childhood. Is that okay?” Observe the response from the other person, and respond accordingly.

Be fluent with your in-the-moment feelings and needs. “When I saw you look away, here’s what I felt.” 

If someone’s talking too much, you can say, “Can we push pause for a moment. You’re telling me so much about yourself that I’d like to know. It’s getting hard for me to join in the conversation. Can you slow it down?” Then if they keep going, you can say, “Are you anxious? Because I really like you!” 

What if someone takes a risk and it doesn’t go well? How can they quickly recover their emotional equilibrium?

We need to learn co-regulation. Self soothing to self compassion. Pay attention to whether your body is contracted or open. If contracted, it means you’re not safe. What do you need to feel safe? One thing you can do if someone’s saying something that doesn’t feel safe: “As you say that, I feel some resistance coming up in me.” “It’s scary for me to bring this up, but __________. My mind jumps to ___________. Help me out here. What’s going on for you?”

What are your final words of advice for anyone who wants to go on their last first date?

Don’t worry about whether there will be another date. Try to enjoy the experience of getting to know the other person, speaking the truth, instead of the outcome. That will have you be more relaxed. 

Watch this episode on YouTube

Susan’s social media and website links




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