Mid-Week Live Coaching: Simran Sondhi
Human as we are, when presented with other people’s problems, we can’t help but poke around it. Sometimes, we become too solution-oriented that we end up performing. But is it really what is going to help others? In this mid-week episode, Adam Quiney sits down for a live coaching session with Holistic Health Coach Simran Sondhi about the problems that get in her way and how he is helping her find the solutions for them. Entering a stage of transformation in her life, Simran shares her plans to leave her comfort zone and the anxieties she feels about the uncertainty that awaits. They also talk about leaning into the devastation and still remaining to love openly. Join Adam and Simran in this conversation to learn some great nuggets about taking on life amidst transformation and creating possibilities.
Listen to the Episode Here:
Mid-Week Live Coaching: Simran Sondhi
I’m coaching Simran Sondhi. This is a neat conversation. I always have people fill out a form first so that they can put some thought into what do we want to work on. When I got the form Simran sent me, it was around marketing her business and doing stuff like that. I didn’t know where that was going to go, but it sounded a little bit like a consulting conversation, which I would steer us towards coaching. That’s where I was first looking. When she got on the call, it turned out that what she’s bringing as a request is something more akin to, “I’ve got some fears. Help me not have those.” What I like and is great about this conversation is it was like, “Here’s a problem I’ve noticed. Help me solve it.” This is common, and it’s slippery for leaders and coaches.
The way this works is we can often see problems in our life. We’re like, “I noticed I don’t tend to be present. I noticed that I tend to avoid connecting with people. I noticed I tend to avoid social situations. Help me solve that.” What’s happening is we’re like, “Here’s where I am. Here’s the problem. Let’s fix that.” The reason this is sticky is that someone is presented with a problem and that immediately triggers our solution-oriented mind, our fixing mind. It also gives us a thing like, “Let’s dive into that.” It’s also sticky because as coaches and leaders, we have a desire to perform. What I mean by perform is doing well. We want to do good. We want to model our value. We want to do whatever is needed to prove that we have worth. You can tell yourself you’re not affected by that, but you almost certainly are and the reason for that is that you’re a human.
When someone shows up and presents us with a problem, especially if we might even poke at it a little bit to try to get to something deeper and we don’t get much deeper, we’re still talking about what the problem is, we get hooked in. We’re like, “I’ve done a bit of due diligence. I got to start to solve this problem or this isn’t going to work. We’re going to have an issue. I need to address this.” What is required in terms of leadership and coaching is that we need to know three things. The two we have here is where’s the person currently and what’s in the way? What we need to know is where are they and where do they want to be? Only then do we care about what’s the thing in the way of that.
Identifying a problem and then addressing it, solving it for the sake of solving it, is trying to be better at living your life, which people bring to coaches. You don’t need support with that. You’re going to get better at living your life no matter what. We have to get clear on, like, “Where do I want to get?” Is this problem even worth worrying about? If someone came to you and said, “My car is broken. Help me fix it.” You could start doing that, but the deeper question is, “Where do you want to go in life?” If they’re like, “I want to go to Japan,” and they live in England, it’s like, “Your car is not going to help you. You need an airplane. Maybe this problem isn’t the one to solve.”
In this conversation, you might even find a bit of discomfort or desire to lean forward and push or make something happen, you’re going to notice that I spend a lot of time working with her on getting clear. It’s like, “I get that this is showing up, but is this even an issue for you? Is it stopping you from doing something?” Is it like, “I got a problem?” Eventually, we start to get down to what she wants. The way we get there is like, “There’s this thing I always seem to do.” There’s another problem and then we start to look at it like, “What’s that getting in the way of that you might want?”
That’s when we finally get a thing to move her towards. It’s a great place for you to look for yourself as a coach and a leader. Are you helping your clients solve problems or are you supporting your client on what they truly desire and then moving them towards that? Those are two different things. They are close together, but different and that’s what makes this challenging and important to discern between the two. I hope you enjoy the conversation. I hope you’re excited.
How was that, sitting in the green room for you?
It’s amazing. I love seeing people talk.
I like talking. We would get along well. We almost met purely serendipitously. I’m curious, have you gone to any A-Fest events or anything like that?
I went to A-Fest in Bali years ago. It was my first A-Fest. I was convinced I wasn’t going to get chosen because that’s such a stringent application. I thought I was the bee’s knees when I was invited into the hallowed grounds of A-Fest. It was amazing. The people were out of this world. Great memories.
It’s an awesome experience. You were not in Portugal then?
No. I didn’t go to Portugal. I was in Bali.
We went to Bali for our honeymoon.
It’s a magical island.
One of the things I was struck by, and I’m sure it’s changed because that was years ago shortly after the bombings. I don’t think there was much of a risk but they were still in the rebuilding phase. It was interesting because it was quieter. It wasn’t overrun with tourists. Everyone was incredibly gracious and grateful that we’d come because that’s a big part of their industry. What I thought was super cool was you’d see Starbucks or stuff like that but then the strength of their own culture had enveloped it. There’d be someone praying and making a flower offering. There are all those offerings all over the place.
That’s what I love about it. You have West completely juxtaposed with East. You walk all over Bali and you’re stepping over flowers and you see the traditional little touch everywhere you go. You can’t forget you’re in Bali and that’s what I love about it.
It’s an incredible, unique island. For us to get there, it’s eighteen hours and multiple flights. I don’t know how long it is for you. There’s a pilgrimage to get yourself there, which is also cool. I like that, too.
You need to have the patience to make it there.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever gotten is the question I ask everyone, and you said you had three hours to make your perfume in France.
That was the best experience. I can’t even call him a boyfriend, but it was a trial-run, and we went to France together. He told me that he got this experience for me and it’s to do perfumes. At this point, I was still in investment banking. I was completely out of my feminine and I was like, “How boring is that going to be?” I was like, “Suck it up and be gracious.” He dropped me at this place. I went by myself. It’s almost like going into a castle. It’s in Èze, a little bit outside of Monaco. It was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had in my life. It’s like you’re transported into another world.
I have a sensitive nose and we get to make our perfume. There’s the organ and they have champagne for you. You’re there with a nez and the nez guides you. In the end, I made this most amazing perfume that even the woman said, “We’ll market this for you.” It’s Parfumerie Galimard. I was like, “No. This is for me. No one is going to know this formula. This is my smell.” To this day, I have not had such an amazing gift as that.
Did you pick any particular notes? Do you remember like, “I want this note and this?”
Yes. It was a lot of the woody notes, some musk, some jasmine, everything that I am lacking. Your nose automatically pulls towards you because I’m not having issues grounding myself. If we get into human design later, we can explain why but I need to always come back into my body. Interestingly, the notes that my nose instinctively chose were more grounding notes.
I was listening to a podcast where they were talking about perfume. The reporter that started was saying how they’d dismissed perfume. It’s like, “It’s stupid.” They were into the whole history of it and how much goes into the notion of notes and then there’s an accord, which is a combo. Our scent is such an evocative scent. It’s potent and we step over it because it’s always there until we smell something we don’t like or we love. There’s so much wrapped up into that sense.
You have the bass notes, it’s called the organ. You have many different notes in the organ. When you speak about your olfactory senses, especially in the work that I do, we all have different senses that we use. Some people are using cognizance, which is knowing. Some people use their sight. Some people smell it. When we say, “I smell a rat,” some people do smell when something is not right. If we get into our intuition and lead with what we’re given as our strongest intuitive sense, it doesn’t lead us astray. Even attraction, you smell attraction on people, especially with pheromones. It’s inbuilt into being a human.
This was not even a boyfriend yet and he created this gift.
It was meant to become that, but we were better as friends.
He set a high bar.
He’s going to know that I love him because we’re friends. He’s not married. We tried and it was not the right chemistry, but it was the best present ever.
What should we coach around? Where are we going to take a look with you?
I’m at this interesting juncture in my life, also interesting times. I was meant to go to LA. I had given up my apartment. I was in Bali. I had also done some plant medicine. I was getting this message that this is your year of joy. I was like, “This is my year of joy.” I’m going to leave my comfort zone, which is London. I’m going to explore. I’m going to go on my Pluto life, which is LA. This is about a transformation where your soul wants to go and I’m going to have an inside out experience.
I put a notice on my flat that I was leaving my flat. A few days after, UK goes into lockdown. I can’t fly to LA. I don’t have a home. I was jumping around illegally because we’re not supposed to be out from one Airbnb to another. I went to a friend’s house and landed up at my uncle’s place, which is where I’m at now. It’s beautiful. I’m grateful to be here where I’ve been hanging out for months. You always have at the back of your mind, “This is not mine. This is temporary.” I know that I’m moving on. I was trying to think about the place I want to go to next. Gratefully, with the work that I do, I can be anywhere in the world. I just need an internet connection. I like that freedom. It fits my personality.
I am going to France. I’m going to Paris. I have great memories of Paris. I used to live there when I was eighteen. I’m feeling instinctively drawn to Paris. Every time there’s a big transition in life, we feel this sense of anxiety and uncertainty which I’m guiding a lot of my clients on. They will find this interesting me being on the other side and being guided by you about how we manage this anxiety, especially in a time of such flux. We could go into lockdown again at any point. Also, these niggling fears at the back, “What if this fails? What if I have to go back? What am I going to go to?” All of these unanswered questions that a lot of us are grappling with.
This move, it’s imminent and impending. It sounds like there’s some anxiety, uncertainty, fears that are cropping up for you. I get that. That would make sense, especially during this time. Are they getting in the way of anything or is it that they’re there?
They’re there. I’m conscious of them. I also know where they’re coming from. I don’t have to but I find myself explaining myself to people who I’m reckless. I’m courageous that way. I fly off the cliff and hope I land. I’ve done that a lot of times. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I call it a growth experience. I can’t say I regret anything I’ve done, but I have experienced huge turmoil in other moves that I’ve done. I moved to Barcelona, Spain years ago. I feel like I’m going to go and I showed up. That was a lot of upheaval for me.
I’m bringing this past traumatic experience into this one. I don’t want to tinge my move with this memory of the past. I would like to start with a blank slate. I would like to bring in more the feeling of excitement, wonder, what is possible with this, and somehow reduce the noise and reduce this bad cop in my head of, “You don’t have a plan. What if this doesn’t work out? What are you going to explain to everyone if this doesn’t work out the way you think?” I would like to reduce that so I could be open to the experience that is coming up for me.
It sounds like your fear has a bit of a voice and that voice is speaking along the lines of like, “What if this doesn’t work? What if you fail? What are you going to tell people?” That is there and it’s getting in the way of something you want to create. What is that getting in the way of?
My motto in my life on how I want to go forward is to be in flow and ease. Everything that I bring in my life, I want the vibration of flow and ease and that could be clients, friends, opportunities of creation in my business, partners, everything. My motto is I want everything to flow. I don’t want to go against the grain. This is not to bypass tough lessons if they come up, but I don’t want to preempt them.
Is there something being preempted here?
Some of the things that are coming up is if we go into lockdown again, what is that going to mean? How do I grow my client base more in France where I don’t have the same network? It doesn’t have to be France, by the way, because I have global clients. It’s a small thing. For a lot of the hands-on work I do, I need to be face to face. I would like to create a community because in human design, if anyone knows about that, I’m two full profiles. I’m a hermit but I also get a lot of energy from my tribe. My tribe is important to me. I’m feeling anxious about creating and nourishing a tribe and environment. That’s all of the things that you get when you’re moving and changing life again in uncertain times.
What I’m hearing is that on the one hand, you’re taking a courageous, bold step. You’re moving. You’re heading to another country. You’re going to live somewhere. You’ve got a past there that’s been awesome. Nevertheless, it’s not new. Alongside that, you’ve got some fears showing up, fears about how it might go, what might happen, what could happen. I would expect to see some fears show up with that. Have you read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield?
It’s a fantastic book. In The War of Art, he talks about this notion called Resistance. He says, “Resistance’s job is to stop us from moving from one sphere of spiritual expression to the next.” He’s speaking in terms of being an artist, writing a book, doing your next thing. He says, “Resistance only operates in one direction, and that is when we’re moving to a higher sphere.” If we’re in Calcutta, working with Mother Teresa, saving the world, and then we’re like, “What I need to do is go and work in a call center for AT&T.” Resistance isn’t going to fight us on that. It’s like, “No big deal. There’s nothing scary about it.” Whereas if we were to go to the next level, Resistance is going to fight us, it’s going to drive up anxiety, doubt, etc.
On the one hand, to me, it makes sense that you’d have some fears. I get it. You’re stepping into the unknown. I have two things that are coming up for me as I hear you. I’m curious, are those fears getting in the way of anything? It’s like, “I got fears and it’s annoying, but it’s not stopping me. It’s just that it’s there.” Is there something where it’s blocking you where you’re like, “If not for this fear, I would be doing this as well and these other things would be happening?”
It’s not stopping me. What it is doing is bringing up my thing about not being able to commit to things long-term. It’s my commitment stuff. I don’t know if it’s a bad thing because I’m going along with my design and it’s my growth. It seems that I’m quick to move out of situations that don’t feel good to me anymore. On the outside, this looks like a lot of chaos. Also, for me, while I’m going through it, it’s chaos. It almost feels like I have to do it because there’s a big soul desire for me to have that experience. I’m feeling this is how I’m going into my next move. There’s a big soul desire. Even if I’m afraid, I know I have to do it. It’s important for me.
What I would like to do is to be able to go all-in without having one foot on the sidelines to say, “If this doesn’t work, I have a plan B.” I always have a plan B because I’m always expecting things to maybe they won’t work out. Instead of going all in, I’ll say, “Yes. This is my next move. I’m going to be here for ten years.” I took my Airbnb for a month, not six months. I didn’t look for a permanent housing situation. I’m like, “I’m going to see how it is the one month.” It’s this commitment that it’s going to work.
You used to be an investment banker, right?
I used to work on the trading floor. When you talk about hedging, everything is about hedging there.
Even the pattern you’re describing, I would imagine that would serve someone in investment banking where you got to jump in, you got to not be too attached to your position, but you also need to hedge so that you’re safe. At the same time, you’ve got an exit strategy.
You’ll lose what you have.
A great place where this has served you. It sounds like that’s a bit of a thing you’re recognizing like, “There are places in my life where maybe it’s not necessarily serving me. I’ve always got a bit of an exit, a bit of an escape hatch, a bit of a hedge at the same time.” I’m not saying that you may not even want this but if you were all-in, fully committed, what would be different? What would we notice that might look different about what you’re up to?
The way it would look different is instead of putting myself in storage here, I would move it all to France. It would mean that I would start to look for a permanent place as opposed to an Airbnb. At the moment in Europe, even with Brexit, we don’t know what’s going to happen about the working situation. Nobody knows anything that’s happening in the UK pretty much. We don’t need work visas. From the structure of my business, I can be as I am for the next few months easily. The fact that I haven’t gone into saying, “What business stuff do I need? I’m not moving all of my stuff there. I’m taking one suitcase. I’m not looking for permanent housing.” It means that I’m going to try it out. I’m going to see.
Is that a problem?
The way I feel at the moment, no. That’s the right thing to do.
Let me provide us some altitude and this is for everyone reading too. Where we started was, you’re doing this thing and some fears are showing up around it. The way I relate to fear is that it’s only a problem if it’s getting in our way. If someone can’t even get out of bed and they’re shaking, that’s a problem. If someone is afraid that they’re going to get rejected when they ask out a beautiful man or woman and they’re committed to being in a relationship with someone they’re attracted to, that’s a place where fear is getting in their way. If it’s like, “There’s this thing. I’m moving. I’m afraid. I’ve got fears showing up but I’m still going to do it.” It’s like, “Maybe the fear is not such an issue. It’s there. It’s annoying.” We have to learn how to be with it but we don’t necessarily need to resolve that. That’s where we started and where we’re at.
I was like, “Is there something Simran is up to that this fear is blocking?” I’m not hearing that so much. Where you went from there was, “From my fears, sometimes there’s a little bit of a tendency to hedge my bets to never fully go all-in.” We are looking at that. As far as this move is concerned, it sounds like that’s not an issue. I’m curious, is there a place in your life where there’s something you want for which you do see this is in the way? Is it like, “It’s another thing that shows up, but not a big deal?”
How we do one thing is how we do everything. A theme that I’ve had is this whole thing about hedging myself and not getting all into everything. It also filters into relationships and that could be with friendships, that could be in romantic relationships, that probably for past fear of having been hurt or trying to prevent being hurt. Everything is about getting away from being hurt. I feel like I am never fully committed.
If there was a place for us to take a look at that and explore it and see what there was, where in your life do you think, “If I could shift that out of the way, I might be able to create a different result that I’d love?”
If I look back, I feel like I want to commit and it feels good to be able to commit. There seems to be something there, which is the past. It’s feeling betrayed. It’s about betrayal where this could have happened to me in friendships. It has happened to me in past relationships. It’s a human experience but I feel like I am functional in managing my walls, my defense mechanisms. This might prevent me from fully letting go.
I can relate to that. I’m not putting this on you as what’s there for you, but one of the places and ways that can show up for me is I’m good at dusting my hands over a relationship and moving on. It’s easy for me to be like, “That’s dead. Now I go over here.” On the surface, it’s like, “Adam is never devastated.” It’s true. Left to my own devices, letting my ego and my blind spots work their nefarious purposes without me being able to see them. I’ll never be devastated, which is also a bit of a problem if I want a deep, intimate relationship with someone because that’s part of what comes of it. I get it. You can see, “I can be functional, almost sophisticated, or high functioning in the face of this stuff.” Is there something in your life you want for which this thing we’re distinguishing is in the way?
I’m not sure it stops me. It stops the depth of the relationship. I do have deep relationships with a handful of people. These relationships have been cultivated over decades. It feels like the people that I have entering my field, it’s almost like, “I give you my trust.” It’s too difficult to not being trusting. However, if I feel that at any point that is betrayed, this is from my perspective, they might not even be doing that, but I retreat. It’s not like I don’t feel bad about it. I suffer. To the outside, it would seem like, “She’s dusting herself off and being functional and moving on.” It’s almost like being cold, which I’m not at all but it’s a functioning mechanism for me. I feel deeply, which is why I’m also hesitant to allow people in unless there are 1,000 things of trust that you have to jump over and that’s not fair for people and I recognize that.
As soon as you said trust, I wrote that word in all capitals and put a square box around it. My experience of you is that’s a part of who you are as a person. A part of what you bring into any space is a lot of the innate experience of trust. One of the things that occur to people who trust is they are attuned to betrayal because it’s the absence, it’s the breakdown of trust. For some people that don’t bring that same quality into the space, they’re less attuned to it. For generous people, they’re hyper attuned to selfishness. Me, not so much.
It’s not that I don’t have the capacity to be generous, it’s not my strong suit so I’m not hyper-vigilant to the other side. It makes sense. There’s a bit of hyper-vigilance towards betrayal and it also sounds like part of the impact of all this dynamic, if you like, is it takes a long time. There’s a lot of steps that must be built, the evidence put together to trust. People are on the pedestal but then as soon as they fall, it’s quite a fall down and then it splats and the relationship is done.
I’ve been working with those dynamics where I allow a lot of people in and go super deep with them, especially with the work that I do. Even with friends, we get super deep because intuitively that’s how I am. I’m hyper-vigilant for these things. Betrayal can be a lot of things to many people. When I sent sense some betrayal, I don’t always confront which is interesting. I don’t like to confront. I have a problem with drama, arguments, or anything that would make someone else feel bad. At the same time, I can’t tolerate that in my field anymore. What I usually do is disconnect.
It’s like an allergy, you got to get away from it.
I was like, “This doesn’t feel good. It’s itching me.” Sometimes I will try to hint at what the issue is. A lot of the people I work with are intuitive. They know it. If they still don’t get what I’m hinting at, I will usually retreat like a crab. I’ll go into my shell. I’ll move on.
Let me speak to everyone reading. If any of you reading have been like, “Dive into the commitment thing,” or maybe even raise a finger for yourself like, “I wanted them to dive into that.” One of the things that are compelling for coaches is as soon as the problem is presented, coach the problem, jump on the problem, fix the problem, solve the problem, coach the person. When we started talking about fears or when we started talking about commitment, I’m like, “Coach.” Everyone’s watching and you’re meant to do the thing at them. It’s like someone that keeps fixing cars but never drives anywhere. We have to have a destination we want to go to. There needs to be a reason to address some of this stuff before we start to address it.
Coaching is about getting us from where we are to where we want to be. That’s why Simran and I have been not diving in yet. That’s where I’ve been not going those places because I want to get with Simran. It’s like, “What’s the impact of this? What do you want in your life that this may or may not be in the way of?” What I’m curious about is what do you notice this tends to keep out of your life then? You’re well put together. You occur successful, radiant, and graceful. Life seems to look pretty good connecting with you. I imagine you could point to a bunch of stuff and be like, “This is all the stuff that is working.” What does this stop you from getting? What’s the impact of this that you’d like to not have?
The issue is never the issue. I started with my move and we went to something else. In the intuitive arts and probably with coaching as well, the issue is never the issue. We drill down and you can’t start to get your staff until you uncover what is the underlying issue. For me, that seems to be trust, betrayal, and commitment all wrapped up. This is in the form of relationships, relating to people. What is this stopping you from? It’s stopping me from real, deep, intimate relationships, whether that be romantic or whether that be on the friendship side. I’m lucky that I’m functioning on the front of it. Everything is good. I can’t complain. I’m in a good place but things can always be better.
From an energetic point of view, a lot of the work I’ve been doing has been on my sacral chakra, about creation, about connection. I can create things that don’t go deep into my heart because I’m good at working with other people. When it comes to myself, my creations, my deep relationships, I feel that there’s still some work that can be done on this fear of betrayal. Betrayal is it is what it is. Maybe it’s a fear that is keeping me from holding myself back and having boundaries.
I’ve grown up in a way that I always wanted to be a people pleaser and I came out of that where I was like, “This is who I am. If you don’t make me feel good, I’m not going to be there.” That’s also been a process for me where I’ve gone beyond always trying to say the right thing to the right people. It’s not healed completely because I can’t always confront people. That’s an area of growth for me. If I could get past this, I could deepen my relationships and be more discerning about who I even have in my life.
Thanks for saying that it’s not all bad. It’s good. This doesn’t have to be the way it is but we tend to seek out therapy when life is like a 2 out of 10 when it’s bad. Often, we’re drawn to coaching when it’s an 8 out of 10, where it’s good and more like, “I’m getting tired of it being good.” We could look at all the ways this isn’t a problem. It’s not even a problem but you know all the stuff you already are reliable to get. The stuff that exists beyond this edge is depth, intimacy, friendships, and romantic relationships. Is that right?
If we were to choose one of those two for us to look at as a placeholder for us to be, “It would be cool to have it here,” should we go with friendships or romantic relationships?
Let’s go for romantic relationships.
How does this play out there? What’s the way this tends to go?
Let’s speak about how I have been because I’m not the same. How it usually has been in my life is I’m fiery. I’m visual. I’m into aesthetics. I have Venus that rules my chart. It’s always been about attraction in the beginning. It’s not necessarily compatibility.
Is it energetic attraction or physical or both?
Energetic, physical, everything. I have to feel like, or I have been in the past, I need the boom like fireworks.
You know you’re drawn to this person and you know they’re drawn to you on some level.
You feel it. Chemically, intrinsically, it’s there. Usually, that clouds so much in the beginning because that’s all there is. There’s all this chemistry and you’re wearing rose-colored glasses. I have evolved from that to a place where I’ve done a lot of work on myself, I’m more conscious, I know pretty much what I would like to have in a partner. Maybe this is because of the Coronavirus time but I’m in a place where I would like to meet someone.
I was seeing someone before and that didn’t work out because the Coronavirus would separate us. It was a good thing that it didn’t work out. I find my place where I don’t fancy anyone. It feels empty. It’s not that I’m stopping myself but I don’t feel that fire. I don’t know if there’s something wrong with me or what that is. Much of the time, I’m used to this fire and now I don’t feel the fire. I’m saying, “What’s happening now?” I feel like it has transitioned into something else. I’m not quite sure what that something else is.
You feel the energy. You go towards the energy. I’m going to ask you some questions about that but it sounds like where you’re at is not feeling the energy. Let’s draw out the rest of that pattern. You’re energetically attracted to someone. You’re like, “Hell yeah. I’m feeling the fire.” You lean in. What tends to happen?
I am in this romantic-you-can-do-no-wrong period and I am not paying attention to how they are and more how they make me feel. In that moment, it’s possible to get carried away with the romance and the excitement of things and with the newness of things. I’m not always paying attention to people not following through with what they say or promising the things they don’t follow through with or talking a lot but not following up with action. When I’m in it, that annoys me because I realized this illusion that I’ve created is not a reality. I get disappointed and I disengage.
I’m guessing disengaging is like ending the relationship?
Yes. I have never been someone who can be in things because I’m scared of being alone. I’d rather be alone than being something that doesn’t make me feel good.
You’re pretty reliable on yourself.
I feel like I’m the only one I can rely on, which is not always a good thing.
If what you’ve learned is that trust is not to be trusted, then that would be the perfect solution. It sounds like there’s a lot of trust in yourself. You can trust yourself. With other people, the way it’s gone, the way you’ve learned based on the evidence you’ve gotten is I can trust this person here but I can’t trust these other people. The way we see that is, at least in romantic relationships, initial attraction. There’s this period of like, “They can do no wrong.” They’re pedestalled, all-in, full trust, “This is the one.” You are in that and then they don’t follow through in some way. It sounds like there’s some betrayal, a little bit. You get annoyed by that, you get disappointed by that, you disengage at that point, and then repeat. I imagine that in doing that, as you go through that cycle or pattern or whatever we call it, it also reinforces that belief. It’s like, “You can’t trust people.” Is that fair?
Even though on a higher level I know that’s not true, it’s possible. It feels like in my experience, there is something that has not figured out this whole trust thing.
My impulse here is to bring us to the lower level. Even though we relate to our higher level as the greater or whatever, it’s like, “We’re spiritual beings having a human experience.” The spiritual being is the thing, but the human experience is as important and inextricably entwined with the spiritual part. I want to honor that part of you that’s running the show maybe a little bit or that’s arguing with the spiritual higher power that’s like, “You can trust people.” There’s like, “No, I can’t.” He’s got some evidence. Is that fair?
That’s fair. You’ve completely described how I’m always living. Most of the time, I’m living above my heart chakra. I’m not grounded.
Thanks for owning that. In this day and age, when everyone is posting a picture of them mountain meditating or a meme about turning the cheek or whatever it is, it takes some courage to acknowledge our humanity, which also runs the show as much as their co-pilots. What have you learned to do to address this problem as we call it? The cycle is a bit of a problem. What have you learned to do to deal with that?
What I’ve learned to do is I’ve identified the areas in my life where I first started this behavior. I go into this with clients and I’ve worked on myself. I’m quite aware of where it’s coming from. It’s almost feeling out of control. It’s this control safety thing. I’m not in control of how other people treat me or handle me or other people. I can only handle myself. This comes from childhood. We all have wounds from childhood, whether it was amazing or not. I remember this time when we were moving. A lot of my core wounds have come from there, moving from the UK to Hong Kong with my parents. That was traumatic for me. It’s almost like I felt I had no say, no power. It was a huge betrayal. Kids don’t have a say, they get taken. It was painful for me to move to Hong Kong. I had to go through a lot of bullying and things. It was traumatic for me. From that moment down, at some level, I didn’t trust people.
You came by this honestly. It’s not like you decided one day, “I’m not going to trust.” It’s not like you got hit by a bolt of lightning or bitten by a radioactive spider and then suddenly stopped trusting. You had evidence. The world trained you, so to speak, in this. It sounds like one of the things you’ve done to address this pattern we’ve been drawing out is look to where it got created. I could imagine, being a successful, talented, radiant woman like yourself, that you might want a partner, someone to share all of this with. I would imagine then that this pattern would be a bit of a problem. It’s like, “That’s in the way a bit.” I’m curious. As humans, especially when we’re thinking people, we try to solve it. We’re like, “That’s a problem compared to what I want.” What solutions at the moment have you tried to craft to overcome this?
I’m quite clear on the type of person I would like to be with. I’m quite clear on what I have to offer to this person because it’s not a one-way thing. I’m quite clear on what I’m not able to give. I’m also clear that I can’t always go by my initial instinct, which is what I’ve been doing in the past. It’s not always this initial chemical reaction that has been running the show for so long for me that I need to take a step back and allow myself to get comfortable with the person rather than the chemistry.
I’m romantic at heart and maybe quite idealistic. This whole thing that you said about coming down to earth is like, “How do people relate? How much time do they have? Do they even live in the same country as you?” Whereas none of that was important to me before. From the experience, I’ve learned that if you want a relationship, maybe they shouldn’t be living on the other side of the world. Look at how they are in their daily life, do they have time? Look at the relationships in their life and look at their business life. Look at all the areas of their life and not how they treat you in that one moment that you’re on a date or holiday. Life is about not your relationship with them but the whole gamut of what makes up our life experience.
I’m a lot more cautious. I’ve not given up, but I surrendered to the process. I’m clear with what I want and I feel like I have done a lot of work, that’s never going to be done, but I’ve done a lot. The right person will come along when I’m feeling grounded. This is why I started with the fear of the move being the most important thing because I thought, “If I’m feeling grounded and happy and safe, then the container is right for that person to come in.”
The biggest strategy is to be cautious and to assess a lot. There’s a lot of assessment that starts to happen when that energy is felt.
I wouldn’t say assessment. It’s more like observation. Before, I would jump right in. Now I’m like, “Let me watch.”
There’s almost some critical thinking in it. There’s some questioning to an extent. What do you notice that does to the energy? What’s the impact on the energy when you’re doing that?
It’s new for me because I’m not used to that. It does feel comfortable because I like to jump right into things, work, play, everything in my life. It’s a learned behavior that doesn’t come to me naturally. It feels a little bit like walking with bricks on my feet.
Which I would imagine would detract the energy a little bit. If a part of it is like sailing off while you’re holding a balloon, this is like cementing your feet onto the ground.
It’s finding the midway that I need to.
It sounds like that. The one side of the pendulum is like, “This is going to be amazing forever and they’re never going to let me down.” They then let you down and your balloon pops and you fall straight to the ground. The other one is like, “I’m going to wear these cement shoes. Your balloon has no impact on me.” To your point, you’re not feeling the fire. There’s not much. It’s like, “I’m safe. There’s no risk of falling to the ground.” At the same time, you’re not able to take off.
I’m going to put a few things on the table and let you tell me how they land with you. Who, I get you are innately, is giving yourself over to whatever is happening. We could call it trust or romance. One of the things I got from that is people who innately bring a lot of trust into the space are also romantic. You don’t start the game necessarily, like, “This person sucks.” You’re like, “Look at all the amazing stuff.” You can see absence to all of the defenses, which is romantic. It’s like, “All of this stuff.” Part of romance is that romance is, to some extent, fantasy. Life is romantic but it’s also cruel. It’s everything. It’s all of that stuff. What I noticed you can’t seem to be with is that part of people’s humanity that creates an experience of betrayal, letdown, or disappointment. When that happens to you, what do you do?
It’s like, “See you later.” The other thing I heard you do is you hint around it rather than, like, “I was left disappointed or hurt by that.” What do you notice about that as far as your role in creating or blocking intimacy is concerned?
That’s quite interesting. Depending on the situation, I behave differently. With romantic partners, I do say it. I’m careful how I say but I always say, “This makes me feel X, Y, and Z,” to open up the discussion because maybe they were not aware of it.
Can I stay with you on romantic conversation then?
They disappoint you. You say, “That disappoints me.” What happens next?
They say that they’re sorry but then they do the same thing again.
In sharing that, the hope is that it’s going to stop happening. They won’t keep disappointing you. First of all, I get that. To be clear, at least this is the model I’ve created and work with, we have these qualities of being that are innate to us. Part of what you bring is trust, almost in a childlike sense. You’re like, “Let’s do this. It’s going to be awesome.” They’re like, “Yes. it’s going to be awesome. There’s no doubt.” Also, there’s a vulnerability to that. The punch you don’t see coming and you don’t brace for hurts you the most. There’s a purity about you, Simran. Also, that sets you up a little bit.
I’m like, “Yay.”
“This person is going to be amazing. They got me again.” The lesson you’ve been learning is it’s not worth it and I can’t keep exposing myself that way. Either you hedge yourself so you only half expose yourself or you give yourself over. They say they’re sorry, but that means they’re not going to keep doing it. The path I see for you or the thing for you to be with to be intimate with people. I’m making an assertion here. The bad news is to be willing to let them let us down over and over again and for us to work ourselves out so we can get like, “That’s not a deficiency in them and it’s not a deficiency in me.”
The gate that we have to walk through if we want to create love is heartbreak. You can’t fully love something if you’re not willing to be heartbroken. It would be weird. If you want to have that experience to be fully expressed in the trust and purity that you are, which includes that delicious experience of like, “It’s amazing.” The romance that you bring into the space is going to require a willingness to keep walking through the betrayal and the letdown that can come with that. The most romantic people that develop the capacity to ongoingly be romantic are also the ones that are willing to have that shattered a little bit and then be deepen from there and then recreate that and so forth. Before we go into what you might do around that, how is this landing with you?
That makes sense. I also feel that has been a repetitive cycle towards me. It’s almost like people think I’m a glutton for punishment because I am a romantic and I’ll fall for it again and again. Not fall for it, but I like to be romantic. I want to be open. I want to be trusting. That’s how I want my relationships to be. To your point, I need to also understand the humanity of people, including myself, that sometimes people are going to make mistakes. It has to be meeting both ways. It’s not like I keep shoving something under the carpet to be romantic. Give and take a little bit more. I’m going into my own cave and say, “This is not what I thought it was. Let me leave.”
How do I protect myself from getting into what I didn’t think it was? I’ve got a few practices for you. I want to be super clear. In one conversation, we can start to get under the surface and find something and create some practices. This isn’t going to magically solve this or anything. It’s going to allow you to keep deepening your inquiry. The first thing I would have you notice is you’ve created some pretty good strategies to avoid having to confront or be with the betrayal part, the letdown. As a starting point, notice yourself doing those strategies. I’m curious, would it serve you to write these down?
Yes. Be with a betrayal.
Even before that, notice how you avoid it. To your credit, this is something you shared. This began early on, as does most of our stuff. Maybe you put this together when you were around four or however. It’s like, “I got some practice around this.” It’s not even a bad thing. It got you to here. It’s just you want something beyond this. It might require something new. If I tell you, “Go and notice red cars.” The first reaction people say is, “I know Pete has a red car. I know there’s a red car down there.” That’s great. I also want you to look for where you don’t notice that there already are red cars. Discover them as opposed to looking for where you already know they exist. You’re going about your life and like, “I’m avoiding that letdown, betrayal thing right here.”
Discover where I’m avoiding the betrayals.
Where and how? “Look at this strategy. I’m hedging what I’m saying in the conversation so that I don’t have to be with the full brunt of that feeling.” The other part is to be with it. The context of our conversation is relationships, so hang out with people in that feeling. You’ve got a one-off practice with someone where you’re like, “I feel hurt that went that way.” See if you can stick with them in that uncomfortable feeling of being let down and stay with it longer. It doesn’t mean you have to seek out people that are going to betray you. My guess is you’re probably doing that too because that’s what we always do.
On a subliminal level because I did stick with it for quite a few months and then I realized he’s not able to. It probably goes to why is this present in my field and being aware of that.
That’s the challenge of this stuff. Whenever there’s a thing we can’t be with, what we’ll do is counterintuitive but it makes sense things happen. One is we create good strategies to avoid letting it show up in our life and the other is we completely created in our life. To your point, you’re like, “I fall in love. I get romantic ideas about someone across the country,” which is almost like a setup for this. The other thing you may notice is to notice how you’re setting yourself up for it and notice how you’re avoiding it. The thing that I would have you going towards is, “How do I create more intimacy?” When you share like, “That hurt me,” that’s creating some intimacy. When you share, “I feel like I’m falling into you and I’m scared that you’re going to let me down,” that’s creating more intimacy.
The moment you said that my stomach was like, “I don’t think I could do that.”
The process leading up to creating a client, I quite enjoy. There’s a real thing for me that’s terrifying when we say yes to each other because what I know will happen there is real and we’re committed. I know that we’re going to get more intimate and I’m scared because I know I’m going to let them down and they’re going to let me down. We’re humans. Like you, I don’t love that. It’s like, “I want you to be perfect and I want me to be perfect.” I was cleaning up a mess with someone where I’d created this. I stepped in it with them and created a mess. I was reflecting, “I never like going into these calls. I need to clean up a mess I made.” On the other side of it, we’ve deepened. There’s a beautiful path for you, Simran, in letting yourself be let down and then sharing with that and then staying with them and noticing this stuff as it plays out.
It’s powerful that you share that. Thank you. You’re right. We think that if we guide people, we have to always be perfect but we’re not. We’re humans and we’re going to make mistakes. In the past, I might have said, “I’m going to block, delete, move on.” Now, before I do that, I will have that conversation and say, “Hi. I felt bad when this happened.” I’m not saying I’ve never done that, but I tried to avoid it as much as possible.
The game is to be 1% more intimate as opposed to avoid what you don’t want. What all of us do as humans is, we’re like, “I don’t like this thing. I’m scared of this thing. How do I avoid it?” I get you. It’s part of who you are. You are intimate. What will move you forward is to put your attention on the thing beyond what’s scary, “I am committed to creating intimacy. I’m going to be 1% more intimate in this breakdown and see where it takes us and the next.” Is there anything left on the table for us to have this conversation be complete?
No. This has been interesting, how I started with a move to Paris and we got super into intimacy and relationships because this is the area that I was like, “We don’t need to go there.” It always goes to your weakest point. It makes me feel vulnerable to even speak about this in public. Also, I work with people on this. I always feel like, “You’re a fraud if you haven’t got it all right.” I’ve then gone past that. “I’m human. Just because I haven’t got it all right, it doesn’t mean I can’t help you.” That’s what I have to keep reminding myself. You helped bring that out. It’s like, “Be vulnerable and let it all hang out and some people might benefit from it.”
The metaphor I think of is a bit for coaching but most helping professions is that its stuff like me and the client or me and my coach scrambling along rocks and they’re sometimes a couple of feet ahead of me and sometimes half afoot and they’re like, “Watch out for that rock. I stumbled on it.” They’re in their work and our job is to be progressing in our work, meaning we’re getting supported and we’re not pretending we’ve got it all figured out. To be a work in progress, meaning we share the work as we do it rather than as it’s all done in cleaning complete.
I want to acknowledge you, Simran, for that vulnerability and for what it speaks to about the trust and intimacy and purity and truth that you are innate. I can imagine, in your presence, a lot of people feel like, “I can share myself. I don’t have to guard. I don’t have to keep that stuff from someone.” Your willingness to go there is beautiful and it’s cool. I’m on those rocks with you. I don’t know where we’re going to go. Are we going to talk about what’s scary? We’re going over here. Let us go there. Thanks for your willingness to release and surrender to do that. I honor the trust you’ve put in me in this as well. Let us co-create this. Beautiful work.
Thank you so much for having me. It’s been uncomfortable and fun at the same time.
Is there anything else you’re present to or that you feel called to, speak to, or point to that came out of this conversation? It’s like, “We went there and that was surprising.”
The issue is never the issue. Your deepest, heartfelt desires are always going to be at the bottom of everything that appears in your life. What my conversation with you showed me is that we can’t compartmentalize our life. If we start working on one part, all the parts are going to be affected. Even though I think that I’m looking for a home, safety, security, and it’s about my move, it’s about being safe and secure with myself and my most intimate relationships, which is, for me, what life is about.
Trust has always been a thing for me. You and I have similar stuff. I’m brilliant. I get the sense that you’re quite brilliant, too. What I noticed a lot of brilliant people do is like, “I can trust this guy right here. You people are soft and squishy and tend to let me down and don’t do what I think you need to do. I’m not going to trust you so much.” Never even mind spirituality, that gets pushed right out of the frame for a long time. For a long time, as I started to dismantle all that and create a relationship of trust, I thought it was trusting that things would work out no matter what.
What I’m present to is trusting that I can be with whatever shows up. That doesn’t mean to resist breaking. It means that even in my most broken state, I will come through on the other side. From that trust, there’s such power because I can be with people and they can let me down. I still don’t love it but they can let me down and I can fall to pieces and I can deepen from there and come back to what’s next. The world can explode into COVID, racial riots, and all this, and I can be with that and feel my pain, the empathetic suffering, all that, and be with that.
It’s exactly everything you said. Soften into all of those hard bits where I have been prickly before as a way to defend myself and I was like, “I’m going to completely break down and then I’m going to wake up the next day.”
The other thing that this conversation reminded me of is when I first started training as a coach, I was righteous, rigid, and I had everything figured out. I got that exposed pretty quick, thank goodness. One of the questions at the start that someone asked me was like, “Adam, have you ever been devastated by love?” I was like, “I don’t even know what that would mean. I’m going to say no.” I was contained and protected. There’s a saying that boats are safe in a harbor, but that’s not what they’re for. Your heart is safe if it’s protected, but that’s not what it’s for either. I’m grateful to you for that reminder to keep leaning into the devastation and to love openly and vulnerably that people can devastate me. That’s a beautiful life for me.
I am a lover in that way. I’m a fool right into it.
It’s clear. Thank you for being here. It’s a treat. I want to plug The Forge, which is the program my wife and I run for nine months for coaches and leaders. We have one spot remaining. We know it will fill. If you feel called to that anyway, please reach out so that you can be convinced. Not so that you have to do something but because the conversation is fun and it’s cool to get to be in a conversation about creating possibility together and that’s all we would do. If that is something that inspires you, reach out, and let us know. Thank you so much, Simran.
About Simran Sondhi
Simran is an advanced Theta Healing practitioner, teacher and Holistic Health Coach. She has spent the past twenty years in the area of self-development, whilst working full time in the corporate world. Her life has been about transformation in every sense of the word. Her purpose in the world has thus unfolded with her own journey, one of self discovery and radical self acceptance. Simran is devoted to helping others shift from an old limiting paradigm, to a more fulfilled, aligned and expansive view of themselves, and therefore their lives.