PP 622: Relationship Refinement for Creative Entrepreneurs with Marie-Elizabeth Mali
Quick Show Notes – Marie-Elizabeth Mali:
“Part of it is learning our own love language so we can ask for what we need, and part of it is also knowing our partner’s so we know to give them what they need.”
– Marie-Elizabeth Mali
Self-employed since 1992, Marie-Elizabeth Mali is a relationship coach for creatives who found herself in a cycle of giving her work more time and attention than her significant others. Listen to hear how she created a business out of the lessons she needed most.
1:53 “We teach what we most need to learn.”
5:00 Behind the scenes of Kim’s marriage
13:00 How to make requests that get you more of what you want
16:30 Where am I not taking care of myself? What am I believing about myself that isn’t true?
46:50 A key ingredient to Marie-Elizabeth’s relationship
Resources – Marie-Elizabeth Mali:
“We teach what we most need to learn.” ~ Marie-Elizabeth Mali
“At some points, it becomes important to ask ourselves, “Is that work ethic serving us.” ~ Marie-Elizabeth Mali
“We have to give thanks for those reckoning moments, as hard as they are.” ~ Marie-Elizabeth Mali
“Take one darn thing to 100%, Kim!” ~Kim Sutton
“We’re not taught how to do relationships well.” ~ Marie-Elizabeth Mali
“Sometimes it’s about NOT working more.” ~Kim Sutton
“We have the skills within us to build great relationships.” ~ Marie-Elizabeth Mali
“Part of it is learning our own love language so we can ask for what we need, and part of it is also knowing our partner’s so we know to give them what they need.” ~ Marie-Elizabeth Mali
“Part of it is learning our own love language so we can ask for what we need, and part of it is also knowing our partner’s so we know to give them what they need.” ~ Marie-Elizabeth Mali
“This new me has to be comfortable in her body, her skin, her clothes.” ~Kim Sutton
“It’s on us to do what we can every everyday to turn our own energy on for ourselves first and then for our loved ones.” ~ Marie-Elizabeth Mali
“Feeling good is the thing that shines through that people remember about you.” ~ Marie-Elizabeth Mali
“There’s always a possibility for them to show up in a different way and for us to show up in a different way. This is called growth.” ~ Marie-Elizabeth Mali
“When chemistry is the thing pulling you in from the start you end up being blinded in some ways to whether or not the rest of the person is a good match for you.” ~ Marie-Elizabeth Mali
About Marie-Elizabeth Mali:
Listen as Marie-Elizabeth Mali and Kim Sutton dive deep into how their businesses got in the way of their relationships, their solutions, and the importance of self-care in both business AND relationships.
Kim Sutton: Welcome back to another episode of Positive Productivity. This is your host, Kim Sutton, and today I am so excited about the conversation that you are about to hear because it’s so important for you possibly, but I know for me because I can get so wrapped up in my work that I forget about my loved ones.
Kim Sutton: Okay. Let me just be totally honest. I forget about taking care of myself, number one. And then I forget about taking care of my loved ones, which I don’t know, maybe that should be equal, but our guest today is Marie-Elizabeth Mali and she is a relationship coach for creatives. And when we met months ago, this is what we are talking about. So I’m so happy to have her here. So happy to have you here. But thank you so much for joining us.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Thank you Kim. I’m so excited to be here.
Kim Sutton: So I just gave a little glimpse, I mean you heard it, but can you share why this is such a passion for you? I mean, how did you decide to enter this field?
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Well obviously we teach what we mostly have to learn, right? So I entered this field because I noticed throughout my life I’ve been someone who really values my work highly and love what I do. I’ve been self employed since 1992 and what I noticed in my twenties was boyfriend after boyfriend would eventually complain that I would put my clients first. I was a massage therapist back then and they would say, you know, you put your clients first, you always schedule them before you make sure you have time for me. And I would look at them kind of confused, like, of course I do. What’s the problem? You know, get a life. You clearly don’t have enough going on for yourself. You know, it was kind of the, the tape that would run in my head. And fast forward till last fall, and I’ve been with the love of my life now for about four years and last fall my work started to overtake our relationship and it started putting pressure on our relationship and I realized, Oh no, I’m doing it again. Look at this, here’s this pattern and this time with someone that I really, really want to stay with and we have the best relationship I’ve ever had. And so what do I need to do to begin to dismantle this pattern inside myself and actually put as you put so well Kim, myself and, and my loved ones and then have my clients be after that to kind of write the balance of my priorities in my life. So it’s really up for me.
Kim Sutton: I’m just curious cause while you were talking and sharing yours, your story and even going back to your twenties I was even thinking about when I was a teenager and just the pressures that were put on me, how I’m just going to put it out there, be totally transparent with this for once, mom, forgive me if you’re listening, but there was a lot of pressure to be on the honor roll. And if you’re not on the honor roll, you’re grounded. It’s not just, you know, pass and it’s not even get in the 80s it’s you get on the honor roll or you’re grounded. So that like work ethic was instilled with me. Then it carried with me into college. I went to art school where you would imagine that people would be really free and just doing their work when their spirit felt like it. But I was also an interior architecture department, which was a completely different feel altogether.
Kim Sutton: But I specifically remember junior year was the loneliest year of my life in college because I was so focused on work that my friends just stopped inviting me to go out. They knew I was going to say no. So just why bother inviting her and it got to the point that they weren’t even talking to me in class and it just continued and continued and continued and it can just be so painful. Listeners, I want to let you know that Maria, Elizabeth and I talked a little bit awesome pre-check as they always are, but we we chat a little bit before and, and the spirit of transparency again and just being vulnerable here. I mean this, I shared that this past week, I mean my husband and I literally called it quits. I want you to know that we are fine now, but we were just so fed up with each other. I was so fed up with working all the time but then getting nagged because I wasn’t giving him enough attention and it was hard for me because it was like I’m working all the time. How much time do you think I had? But on the flip side I was like, why am I working all the time? You know?
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Exactly. I mean, at some point it becomes important to ask ourselves, you know, is that work ethic serving us or is that perfectionism that some of us carry where we have to do it better and harder and perfect. And, and you know, is any of that serving us? Like to me it’s a natural imbalance in our, in our interior system where, uh, the, the healthy part of any person that likes to achieve actually becomes a tyrant and turns into more of a task master or perfectionist, whatever it looks like for each of us. And then that begins driving us so that we no longer are, are doing what we love from a place of joy or from a place of pleasure, but it gets infected with this kind of drivenness that then shrivels up the amount of love and joy and pleasure we’re able to experience in the rest of our lives.
Kim Sutton: Absolutely. I realized, and I, I had heard it so many times, I mean, listeners, you’ve heard it here on the podcast, that there were people whose businesses turned in through to their job. And for some reason, it wasn’t until this last weekend that I realized, Oh my gosh, my business has turned into my job. My clients have turned into my boss.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Yes. Yeah. And the beauty, you know, to, to reframe, uh, if I may please.
Kim Sutton: Yeah.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Is, you know, we, we, we, I think we, we have those moments and we’re like, Oh my God, I’ve done it again. Right. And then we beat ourselves up and then we go through this whole thing and there’s, you know, the crying and the beating and the, all the things. And then we have a moment of respite where our priorities are straight again and we are enjoying our life. And then slowly, slowly it creeps back in very often, right? Because we take our, our eyes off the, off the monster in a certain way, right? The monster perfectionism or task mastery or whatever your particular, um, belief or challenges that makes you drive yourself too hard. Right? And so I’ve learned to look at those reckonings those moments where, because we, we, my partner and I didn’t call it quits last fall, but we did hit a, I wouldn’t say a breaking point even, but we hit a dramatic moment for our relationship where we really had to decide are we going to go deeper in this relationship and have it nourish us and have it be everything, want it to be as a source of our personal growth relationships is personal growth.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: We ha we hit that moment where we had that decision and that choice just as you just hit that moment of reckoning in your marriage where you realize, Oh, I can’t go on in the same way anymore that I’ve been doing it. And in fact, this crisis is illuminating a place where my business has become my job and where I’ve fallen into this habit. Right. And so I think, you know, we have to give thanks for these reckoning moments as hard as they are because when things are going great, it doesn’t get our attention. That’s when we tend to slip into old habits. But it’s when, when the stuff really hits the fan as as they say, um, those are the moments where the, that snap us to attention and actually have us be willing to dismantle habitual beliefs and patterns that aren’t serving us anymore. So as horrible as I’m sure it was and as, and as much pain as you went through from Friday and I imagine through the weekend till you became fine again with each other, that’s a moment to give thanks for because it’s actually potent enough situation that might get you to dismantle that old bull.
Kim Sutton: Absolutely. And I have to share that a couple, I mean Friday was the last day, but it had been going on for several weeks before and one of the major tipping points on Friday was when a dear friend, sometimes client said to me, are you focusing enough on your own business? Because it seems to me that if you were, that your systems and your products and your stuff would be set up so that you wouldn’t have to be working as much as you do for clients and then also be trying to balance your stuff in. And I do marketing automation and business automation for clients all day, but I’ve been guilty about not setting up my own. And I’m also, I mean I’m a creative just like the people that you work with. So I get all these ideas, I get them started and what’s been my problem up till, I would have to say a month ago, a month ago, I put my foot down, but it’s still been painful is just take, and I’m just going to say it exactly how I say it to myself.
Kim Sutton: Take one damn thing to 100% Kim. Yes. Take it to 100% get it rolling. Okay. Get it rolling. And you and I, I’m gonna, I’m going to go on a complete detour for a second, but I promise we’ll come back. Actually before I do, this was one of my husband’s biggest point and then I’ll go down to detour. When he brought up with me, and this is a way that we push each other’s buttons is by bringing up each other’s ex spouses. But you said to me, he said, you know, you told me before that when you were married to so-and-so, you couldn’t stand it, that he would leave for the day. He wouldn’t kiss you goodbye. He wouldn’t kiss you when he got home from work. He wouldn’t like see how you were doing during the day. Never took any time for you and he just wanted some time, but you’re doing the same thing to me and I’m in the house with you all day. Like you’ll leave the office, you’ll use the restroom, our bedrooms right next to the bathroom. It wouldn’t take you more than two more seconds to come in, give me a kiss, say hi, look in my eyes, and then go to the office, but you don’t. And at first I was like, why do you have to bring him up? And then I just had to sit on it. I was like, Oh my gosh, he’s right. He’s right there. Yeah, really going to kill me. No. Yeah,
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: exactly. I’m just struck by, by the, the generosity in a certain way of, I know it doesn’t feel generous in the moment, but you know what he did right there. Even if he didn’t do it skillfully in a way that landed well, what he did right there was a bid for connection. You know, he, he made a bid for connection saying in, in less skillful words, but basically saying, Hey, I miss you. I want to feel the nutrient of your love throughout the day. What do you know? How about, I mean maybe if he had said it this way, it would have landed better. Like, Hey, how about when you go to the bathroom, you pop in and give me a kiss that would, that would feel so great. Um, you know, one of the things I work on with people with my clients is how to make requests that actually get you more of what you want.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: And one of the first, one of the important parts of that is getting your resentment off your requests. So the reason why his requests landed badly with you was that it had a lot of pain and resentment mixed into it. And so in a certain way, you’re there stuck holding this emotional, uh, mess that he put on you rather than being able to hear what the request was, which was a request for a little moments of connection throughout the day. And so, um, I just wanted to highlight that because I think requests how we make requests of our loved ones is really crucial and handling our own resentment. And um, and all the times that we’ve made the request and they haven’t done it, you know, all this stuff that we, that’s backlogged in there, that’s our work. Like, we need to do our work to get our resentments out and then stand in the rightness of what it is that we want. In your husband’s case. He wants connection. So for him to stand in his rightness in what he wants and then make the request with as few words as possible. So it’s super clear and no blame. Right. So he could have, for example, if he had learned from me how to do this, he could have just said, Hey Kim, you know what would feel so great? I’d find myself missing you throughout the day. I’d love for you to just pop into the room and give me a kiss now and then would you be open to that?
Kim Sutton: And it would’ve been a whole different conversation. Yeah. Or just give me a kiss. Give me a kiss. Yeah, yeah. No, you’re totally right. Cause my husband tends to go off on big tirades
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: We’re not, we’re not taught how to do relationship well. And I don’t want to, I don’t want to be like I’m defending him, but what I’m saying is we were not taught how to do relationship well, and so we’re stuck with these patterns. We’re stuck with these beliefs. We’re stuck with these habitual things that we saw from our parents or the culture or, or education, you know, religion even. I mean, we’re just stuck with all these patterns that we absorb from the people and the and the learning that’s available around us and it’s up to us to actually choose to become more skilled.
Kim Sutton: Absolutely. Any. Now I want to go back to what you said about resentment because I think a lot more the resentment. Well, I don’t think, I know a lot of the resentment was actually self-imposed on me by me because I mean in, especially in the field that I’m working in day in and day out, I see what my clients are doing thanks to the automation that I’m setting up. Yes, it is so painful. I mean, I feel okay.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Oh, not wrong. Just so that you see, no, that came out really great because what I heard you say was you through seeing the beauty of the work you do and how it supports them, you actually can yourself for not taking care of yourself.
Kim Sutton: Absolutely.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Impact in your life. And then you’re out as husbands complaining or et cetera, which then intense. Why is that resentment at yourself? Cause like, Oh my God, look at the, he’s not happy. I’m not happy with myself. He’s not happy with, you know, and then it snowballs into this bigger thing. But what the real nugget is and the place to have your attention as it is for me too is, Oh, where am I not taking care of myself and where do I need to take better care of myself? And what beliefs do I hold that have it difficult to do that? What am I believing about myself that isn’t true? And what isn’t true is that you have to be a slave driver. Do you know to yourself and a slave to your business? That’s the part that’s not true. And that’s the beliefs that needs to be dismantled.
Kim Sutton: Absolutely. Pardon the four year old in the background who apparently at this time of day goes into werewolf mode.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Oh my God.
Kim Sutton: But yeah, I love what I do for my clients, so don’t get me wrong. I know, I know you understand, but, and I love seeing the success that they have with the systems that I have set up. But in that very moment I was like, I just need to work more. My clients are getting multiple five figures to six figures. Why are NY I just need to work more. I just need to work more. And sometimes it’s just about not marking more.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Well isn’t that, isn’t that beautiful? Cause it’s like that’s a spot where you’re in my language, I call that one the driver, our inner driver, the driven one, taskmaster driver, whatever you want to call it. But it’s like your driver actually is obscuring the real question, which is so your drivers like, I just got to work harder so I can make more. And it’s like, Oh no, what actually needs to happen is I need to set up the systems better for myself. That’s the actual thing.
Kim Sutton: Exactly. And that was where the detour was going to go. But I’m so glad that it took a little while to get to the detour because often when I’m just that close, I mean I just don’t see it. We don’t see it. No, we have blind spot. Nope. So you and I have a mutual connection, Dani boyfriend. Oh yeah. He’s awesome. Yes. So one of, and another mutual connection who will be one of the next episodes? Listeners Lorianne Oh, she’s wonderful. And Vaughn, yes. Lorianne told me to go join Donnie’s group on Facebook and yes, there will be a link with his permission in the show notes. Um, of course, I don’t want to deter from you, Maria, Elizabeth, but, um, there’s a point to this. So she’s like, go join this group and it’s, it’s been mind blowing. I just need to put it out there.
Kim Sutton: Um, but the thing that got me was when I filled out the form, he asked for my email address and I didn’t think anything of it. I’m like, okay, sure. Pumping email address. Then shortly after I got a welcome email, it’s like, Oh, that’s cool. Next day I get another email. No sales in any of these emails, no pushing products, no nothing. And it was with that second email because I was so like in the midst of everything that I was working on, it was when I saw the second email, I was like, hold up, wait a second. He just put me into his funnel. It’s like Bethany’s genius and that I took a scene. If I took a step back, I have a Facebook group with 40,000 members. I get one to 200 new member requests a day. Until that point I had never asked for their email address.
Kim Sutton: Guess what I’m doing now and leading straight into my funnel. Brilliant. I’m like, which is non salesy. Listeners go find virtual assistant jobs on Facebook. If you’re interested in being a VA and you’ll see, I ask for your email, I tell you I’m going to send you valuable resources and that’s what I do. Yes, there will be a little bit of products later on, but not for like weeks out. Um, full disclosure. But you know, it’s all about the relationship building and I absolutely loved it. I had just been struggling with how to get people into it because I was so close to it. I was like, Oh my gosh. I mean it took no time at all to get over a thousand new people on my list.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: That’s amazing. That’s an amazing story. And, and I, so one of the things I do is, uh, or one of the ways that I see my work is, um, I support people in, uh, having like taking the skills they already have in one arena and looking at the arena that they feel isn’t working as well and applying those skills in that arena. Cause I really firmly believe, even though we’re not taught how to do relationships, for example, we, we do have the skills within us to create great relationships. We just haven’t made that link before. Just like you hadn’t made that link before of how to link your group to growing your list and your F and getting people into your funnel. And I took a third party. It took Donnie doing his own thing, not, you know, not teaching you but actually just demonstrating by doing it himself that you could go, Oh my God, of course that’s a gorgeous and elegant and simple way to do it that doesn’t feel salesy or gross but actually builds relationships.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: And so I think there’s something similar here of how we could approach our own relationships too. So we’re so close to it. We have our partners, they push our buttons, we push their buttons, and sometimes it takes a third party to be able to go, uh, you know, there’s this other way you could do this. You could make this request differently or you could handle your resentment, like go and journal about it. Or you could, you know, there’s, there’s sometimes it takes a village. People create a happy and healthy and thriving family and business. You know, I think we all are here to help each other with that. And so your example is a beautiful demonstration of the power of, of, you know, getting inspiration from someone else, seeing how it’s done, which I think applies to our relationships too. Cause we don’t see them clearly and something, someone, you know, our partner says to us, lands on our button that is just there waiting to be pressed.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Right. And so they land on our button and then we’re off and running in a reaction as opposed to slowing down and going, Oh wait a minute, you know that thing he or she just said that’s actually really true. You know, I do struggle with that. Or yeah we haven’t connected enough lately. Or wow they’re seeing something really true or they’re making a real really vulnerable admission that I missed because I’m so reactive. But that vulnerability, that vulnerable admission, that vulnerable desire to connect or whatever it is that they’re asking for is really sweet and let me love on that and go handle my reaction on my own time. Cause I know that’s something I need to see for me so I can grow. I love all of that.
Kim Sutton: And I just want to say flat out that I am one of the most stubborn people that I know.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Oh amen. Me too. Yeah.
Kim Sutton: And so I was sleeping on the couch for two weeks, which doesn’t help anything at all. I mean that’s, I need to read the five love languages, but I know one of my husband’s languages, and I’m not even sure if this is out of the book, is touch. Like even if her fighting, he just wants to know that I’m there and that he can reach over and just, you know, not engage in anything, you know, but just touch and, uh, and that is when we’re not talking, I don’t want to be touched. So I was sleeping on the couch and that was not helping anything either. It was just like driving each other, driving us apart even more.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: I hear that, you know, and I am the thing about the love languages, it’s so great to know them. I, it’s funny that you mentioned it because just last week I retook the quiz, um, to see if it was still the same as it was 10 or 15 years ago when it first came out. You know, and there’s a free quiz online so you can do that and learn your love languages. And mine actually were the same as they were back then. But, um, I did notice how many questions were about touch, which I think I didn’t notice the first time around as much, but um, part of it is, you know, learning our own love languages so we can ask for what we need. And part of it is also learning our partners so we know to give them what they need, right. But if our focus becomes, it’s the same thing like in our businesses, when we start to focus on our clients and forget about ourselves, if we start to focus too much on giving our partner what they need and not asking for what we need, um, again, we’re going to end up in that same boat where we’re over-giving and we’re tired and we’re resentful because we’re empty.
Kim Sutton: Absolutely. And, and I never got the whole analogy about the empty cup. You can’t pour from an empty cup or putting on your own oxygen mask first until I know I really, yeah, I mean, until I just really hit rock bottom, I pardon the pause. That was before. I didn’t even know that there was a five love languages quiz. I had to pull it up quick just so we remember to take it one more off because isn’t it? Yeah, it’s so great. I know what my love language is not. I just have no idea what my love language is to be totally honest.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Oh I’m so excited for you to take the quiz cause then you can start. You can also ask for that. Then you know, when you know more clearly really what your top ones are, you can support your husband and winning with you more.
Kim Sutton: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. And, listeners, it will be in the show notes. So yeah. What are you most excited about in the next 90 days?
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: I’m most excited about actually coming up with my signature talk. I’ve been really, um, I’ve been really grounding down in why am I doing what I’m doing and what am I here to do? And you know, all the things that we’ve talked about, how do I, how do I have my relationship feed my work in the world? How do I have, I have my work in the world, feed my relationship and I’ve known for some time that it’s time for me to begin speaking. But I, I’m so creative. I think you can probably relate to this. I’m so creative and I still have so many ideas that it’s been hard for me to really focus on just one to build a talk around. Um, so that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to actually sit down and focus. It’s a miracle. People, I’m going to sit down and focus on, on a topic that I really want to talk more about and weave my life in the way we’ve been talking about it through that.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Um, because there are so many things that I think we all share and the more we vulnerable and real in the way that you’ve been on this show and the way that I am when I do Facebook lives or when I talk to people, you know, it’s that, it’s that realness and it’s that willingness to be, to open the kimono as, as they say, or to that willingness to show like, Hey, this is what’s happening with me. This is what I struggle working with it. This is how I come to like, whew, you come to huge wins in my life. Um, which incorporate and include the things that I find challenging. It’s not by cutting those things off that we succeed, but it’s about, uh, it’s about loving them and including them in who we are. Um, I’m excited. I’m excited to come up with it to share that more fully. So that’s what I’m doing for the next 90 days.
Kim Sutton: Oh my gosh. I am right there with you. I was actually looking at, I noticed there was some traffic to my speaking page in the last couple of weeks and when I saw that the traffic was going there, the question came up in my mind, what is even on my speaking page? I haven’t looked at that in years.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Right.
Kim Sutton: So then I went and looked at it and I was like, Oh yeah, no wonder I haven’t been alerted about anybody contacting me about my speaking page in the year.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Yeah. Well you know what you didn’t know.
Kim Sutton: Hmm.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: All right. What was that like? That’s okay. You don’t, you didn’t know then what you know now. Right. So that that page was right for you when you created it. Right. And now you have more and deeper and other things to share that I’m sure it will be super compelling once you get a chance to put them up there. Oh yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. What is your biggest takeaway from working with any clients so far? Oh, I just had the most incredible experience last week, was it last week? It either last week or two weeks ago with a client where as we were in the middle of a coaching session, I, I literally saw the framework of how I facilitate growth. Like how I see personal growth. I saw this four part, these four stages of growth that I facilitate people in moving through so that they learn to love themselves in their lives. So my tagline for my business is love yourself, love your life. And um, and I saw it and do we, do we have enough time for me to walk you through what these four stages are? Absolutely. Okay, cool. So, so the first stage, uh, we’re in, in our lives basically by default as we grow up is what I call application. And that is, uh, we want to change, fix cutoff, suppress the parts of ourselves. We don’t like the, the, the things about ourselves that bug us. You know, the things that get in our way.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: People talk about trying to kill the ego. You know, to be spiritual, something like that, this idea of killing or, or cutting off. And in fact what happens is the things we abdicate, go back into the background. You can call it the shadow, you can call it behind the scenes, whatever you want to call it, subconscious. They go back there and they mess with your life and your life isn’t working as you want it to work. And so that in the abdication, the thing you need to cultivate is self-awareness. You need to start seeing those things that you’ve tried to cut off. Maybe you’ve disowned that you’re an angry person and you need to reclaim your anger, whatever it is. But you need to develop self awareness. And then in the second stage, this is where a lot of coaches work. I call it administration.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: It’s uh, you have tools and strategies to work with the parts of yourself that are less than functional, you know, that are getting in your way or that are blocking you. Um, a lot of coaches like myself, you know, teach skills you do, that’s just kind of skills learning stage. And it’s a stage where you get to a good level of functioning in your life. Marie-Elizabeth Mali: However, there’s still this voice of self doubt in your head because you still feel like there’s things wrong with you or things you want to fix that aren’t quite right. So you have to use all these tools and strategies to manage them. So in this stage, the thing you need to cultivate is self-acceptance. And then the third stage from there, as you start to cultivate more separate self-acceptance, you develop what I call agency, which is your old reactions come up.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: But you’ve built enough of a gap so that you can pause and go, Oh, there’s that old reaction. And then you can make a new choice based on knowing that you have the power to do what you want, to do, what you want to create in your life. And at this point you recognize yourself as a person who’s already whole and complete and you’re fine, you’re lovable, you, you’re worthy, all that stuff in an agency, you, you know that all of that is there even as you continue to work to refine your responses. To the things that happen in life. You know that you’re, what you’re actually doing is rewiring old neural pathways and those old pathways are still firing but you are activating new ones by deliberately making new choices every day that take you in the direction that you want to go, that that allow you to be the person that you know you truly are underneath the stuff that you used to hold you back and in this stage you’re cultivating authentic expression.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: You’re learning to show up in your life as who you really are more and more and more in your quote unquote most you know your best self or your functional self or whatever your real self is. I would call it that real self that’s been hidden underneath all the other stuff all along. It’s not a self out there that you didn’t already have. It’s a self you actually are underneath the stuff that you learned when you were growing up. That gotten away. And then the fourth stage is where you come into artistry. You actually see the things that were challenging, those difficult parts of you that you first tried to cut off, then you learned how to manage and then you learned to accept, uh, you come into artistry with it, which means you see those things as the constraints that forced you to grow.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Those are the constraints that had you get on the path in the first place to figure out who you are and how to, how to do your life better so that you could be happy. And so you, um, now you learning in art history, you learn to dance in those constraints. So those, it activates your creativity instead of wrecking you. Like it used to wreck you. You know, I mean you learn to dance with life in this creative and resourceful way. So in this stage you’re, you’re cultivating creative freedom. This is where you really access freedom and creativity in your life and at any given time to be in one stage, in one part of your life and in another stage, in, in another. And, and you move back and forth between stages depending on your stress level. But the idea is that you have this direction that you know you’re headed in and um, and that, that pulls you through those times where you’re dipping back into your old reactions, your old habits, your old, um, mind, you know, the, the parts of your mind that aren’t as, uh, supportive to you. And, but at the same time you’re recognizing, Oh yeah, well, in this other area of life, I’m a total artist, but over here on an administration or over here, I’m actually an abdication. I need to pay some attention over here. So this is where I’m going to place my attention. So that, that whole thing basically downloaded while I was coaching a client, um, and I’ve been unfolding it and, and, and writing about it and flushing it out over the last couple of weeks.
Kim Sutton: I’m just over here thinking, wow, because you, you made me think about so many things about myself. I, while you were going through the different phases and okay, as a mom of five, I do a lot of moms chauffeuring and there used to be, yeah. And especially right now, I, my second oldest is Mr. Popular. So he always wants to ride here, there, everywhere.
Um, last night I decided that there must be a mom show for punched card that I forgot to pick up somewhere because I swear there’s bonus points I should be earning. He asked me to drive him last night to a volleyball game at his school and even just a year ago, Kim of a year ago would have made sure that she looked okay to go out. You know, heaven forbid, you know, I get pulled over, I better make sure I look all right. Well I posted or I took a picture last night when I got home because I looked down at myself and I’m like, Oh my gosh. I just went out looking like that. I had on dr Seuss fleece pajama pants and a flannel shirt. Totally clashing.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: It was like my God, that’s adorable. Totally adorable to me.
Kim Sutton: I was like, I, yeah, I’m surprised he didn’t say to me, you’re not getting out of the car. Right. But you know what? I wouldn’t have cared as opposed to a year ago cause I’m like, I’m just going to be comfortable. I think this new me has to be comfortable in her skin, her body, her clothes. And I mean, you and I met at an event and that was my fourth time at the event. I was finally comfortable in my clothes that time. The first time I went out and got all these clothes, including bras that were just not comfortable, they weren’t me, you know, but we had to be comfortable with ourselves inside and out. Period.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Period.
Kim Sutton: Yeah. So full disclosure, I am still wearing the dr Seuss pants in the flannel shirt because it’s a cold day and I put them back on. I was like, ah,
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: I don’t have a bra on right now.
Kim Sutton: I work at home. I am going to be comfortable in a bra is not going to help me get my work done faster. Amen. Yeah. Yeah. Um, which is, it’s sort of funny, you know, when we’re talking about relationship coaching, I mean, I want, I want to be attractive to my husband always and forever. You know, that if it was a concern of me of mine, I mean, it’s still is a concern of mine. I want him to be attracted to me. And when I get that, you know, the sweet messages and the kisses, even on the days when I really look like a slob, he’s like, I don’t care what you look like, you know, it means a lot to me. But like last night I was like, you know, when we’re rolling with dough, I’m getting, uh, a boob job. And the 13 year old, I had just actually picked him back up and he’s like, are you getting the bigger?
Kim Sutton: Do you need them bigger? I was like, no, I’m not going to say I almost said the name of, I do my best not to share the kids’ names. I was like, no, you five did a job on them and I want my boobs back. And my husband surprised me because I think it’s a man thing. I might be generalizing all men, and my apologies if there’s any man who doesn’t like boobs, but I haven’t met one of you yet. He’s, you know, he had, he had always been like, Nope, Nope. And then last night he’s like, yep, whatever you want. I was like, good, because I want to be comfortable and I’m not saying that a boob job is going to make me comfortable, but it would make me feel better.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Right, right. I mean, you, you raise such a beautiful point. I, I, I want to go back a moment to the texts and the sweet, um, you know, because I think that’s a thing we forget is women. Sometimes we sink in the same way that a man, I just went through this, uh, going to a fundraiser last weekend, I was all hopped up, you know, Oh, I should look professional and I need to live blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I ended up wearing something that was me that really was me. And actually I didn’t wear a bra, but I wore this dress that was flowy and me and I can’t tell you how many compliments I got on that dress. And, and I would’ve had, I listened to the part of myself that believes I have to show up, quote unquote, professional and, and buttoned up.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: I have to show up some certain way to be accepted, which was kind of how it was in my childhood. I had to dress appropriately to be accepted. Um, if I give into that, then people don’t get to experience me. And so I got to shine as, as me. And that radiance is the thing that people respond to. They’re they, they’re complimenting the dress. They’re complimenting the fact that my energy was on which it was. And so I think it’s similar with our partners that they are not looking at the clothes they’re feeling for, is her energy on or is it not? And when it’s not, it’s like a nutrient that they’re starving for that we don’t have available to them, which is why it’s on us to do what we can every day to turn our own energy on for ourselves first. And then for our loved ones, because it spills over like the full cup, as we talked about before, filling our own cup, turning our own radiants on, doing the things that give us pleasure that then spill over that radiants onto the people we love. And they get fed by that. They don’t give a hoot. Oh, I almost used a curse word here, but I’m trying to be, I’m a new Yorker and so I will tend to curse, but I’m really trying to be clean for your podcast.
Kim Sutton: Okay, so you get it all my pain. Thinking about the full cup though, that doesn’t have to mean a bra up. Take the bra comfortable, fill your cup.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Yeah. Fill your cup, you know, and it and, and, and then spill over all that juicy love and pleasure and joy. That is your birthright because it’s who you are on the people you love and they will be so fed.
Kim Sutton: Yeah. I’m sure there’s personal style is out there who are going to grown an it, this, but there’s nothing that I dislike more than clothes shopping period. My husband on the other hand, takes pleasure in clothes shopping. Like for me, he just buys stuff. Yeah. Yeah.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: I would take that and run with that. I would say, great. I need go find me some gorgeous clothes.
Kim Sutton: And he does a really good job too. I mean, I sent him with the two older boys out last year, clothes shopping. My husband has lost like 50 pounds. He gave it all to me. Full disclosure, I was like, you need to get pants that you don’t need to like have three belts on to keep them up. Well he didn’t come home with any clothes for himself. He came home with like a whole bunch of false sweaters cause it was going. The school year was starting. He’s like, you’re going to need these. And it was just so awesome.
Kim Sutton: But I love what you were talking about, the flowy dress, because going to that event that we met at six months ago, I, I was short on time. I went to one store, just didn’t like anything. I was ready to just come home and I actually passed Goodwill. I was like, what the heck, you know? So I went in, I work Goodwill close to the whole event and I felt so good because they were my style. They were what I wanted and I felt even better because they cost me three or $4. I mean, yeah, that’s amazing.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Feeling good is a thing that shines through that people will remember about you. Cause I remember how good felt to be around you. Yeah. And the reason it felt good to be around you is because you were feeling good. I have no idea what you were wearing. I frankly don’t remember. But I remember you felt really good to be around and I knew I wanted to talk to you because I liked you
Kim Sutton: And I was wearing flip flops. I was like the heck with uncomfortable shoes.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Oh yeah, I will. Yeah. I wore sandals last week to the event. I was like, Nope.
Kim Sutton: Listeners, when you and I meet, I am not going to be looking at your shoes unless my feet hurt and then I’m going to be jealous if you’re wearing something comfortable. But I am not going to judge you on your shoes. I’m not going to judge you on your clothes or your hair, your makeup. It’s just what Maria Elizabeth just said. It’s going to be your energy. Cause if your energy sucks, it’s going to be a short conversation. I don’t care how nicely you’re dressed, I’m not going to want to be around you.
Kim Sutton: Yeah. So just one more thing about my husband. That is one thing that we have never like are until we’re like in that point when we’re scratching each other’s nerves, we have very open conversations and I’ve seen, I mean, I’ve seen pictures of his exes like, and there was that bit of comparison and I talked to him about it. He’s like, yeah, you know, magazine wise, they’re pretty, but their attitude just sucks. They’re, you know, they’re just rude and a B word that I won’t say on the podcast in respect of any kids who are listening with parents in the car, he’s like, it was like shallow hell if, yeah, if I were hypnotized, I would have seen them for their, for their personality, and we probably would’ve never gotten together.
Kim Sutton: Donnie, full disclosure, Donnie must’ve heard us talking about them, which is so funny and I don’t normally, somehow the Facebook notifications came up on my computer just now. He’s like, Hey, can your podcast handle me? Donnie will be on in a future episode.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: That’s great. Oh, you guys are gonna love him. He’s phenomenal.
Kim Sutton: Ears burning. And there will be cuss words in that one. So maybe you can let a few slip listeners before what you might want to turn it down.
Kim Sutton: But what I would just love one key ingredient to your relationship. Well one thing, and I know it’s different from everybody, but what does that one thing that really is working well for you and your partner right now?
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: I would say curiosity, staying curious each other. And we’ve been in a long process. We actually entered a couples coaching container when we discovered this pattern surfing surfacing last fall. And we’ve come to the end of those nine months. And one of the, one of the main things that has come through is really this curiosity and willingness to hear where the other person is at. You know, to actually take responsibility for our own reactivity instead of throwing it at each other and give each other room to express who we are and what’s happening for us and how things feel. And what’s been a gorgeous evolution out of that decision last fall to give each other more space to be ourselves is that my partner is finding, um, more ability or more space to express himself than he ever has had before. Uh, he grew up having to kind of keep a lid on it.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: And as many men are taught, you know, to be, um, a man, you can’t express your emotions and how, how you really feel. And, and so for the first time in his life, he’s in a relationship where it’s actually really safe for him to express his emotions. And I’m not gonna say that I’m perfect. Sometimes I do react. Um, especially because as a person begins to develop a new skill with expression, it doesn’t always come out neatly. So sometimes his expression on his way to learning how to do it more skillfully has been kind of messy. And so I, sometimes I’ve reacted to the messiness, but I catch it really quick or he catches it really quick and we come back to, okay, so what is it that you’re really feeling? Or what is it that I’m really feeling and what can we do here to honor that?
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: You know? And so I would say curiosity, like maintaining curiosity with each other, recognizing that human beings are mysterious and vast and deep. And we never fully know somebody. Even as we get into these routines and we think we know what their reaction is going to be, there’s always a possibility for them to show up in a different way. Um, and for us to show up in a different way. This is called growth. And then this is, I think, or I believe deeply that this is why we engage in relationship, is to have a mirror in our lives showing us where we need to grow and showing us where we’ve perhaps gone on autopilot a little bit and we need to up our level of curiosity and wonder and openness. So that would be the key ingredient. Curiosity. And just because I’m nosy. How did you two meet?
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Oh, we met, it’s actually a great story. We met in a personal growth community that we were both involved with and we first started, um, doing in that community. Part of it was, uh, you would research if there were parts of relationship we knew you were weak in at like you knew, let’s say you know, you’re a jealous person and jealousy just kills you and then you’re, and then you’re mean to people because you’re jealous. So let’s say that’s a problem for you. So in this community, you would design, you would pick a partner and design a research container around jealousy where they would deliberately provoke your jealousy for seven, 15, 30 days. Um, and you would learn and, and you would practice feeling that reaction and learning how to deal with it and learning how to respond differently so that by the end of the research container, you had a little more range and, and skill in this thing that you had a hard time with.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: So Patrick and I started researching different aspects of relationships that we each wanted to work on as research partners. And then through our research we discovered that we, each of us kind of had the perfect way of holding the other person’s difficult thing. And so we ended up falling in love as a result of our research and, and then became a couple. And I love that story because so many of us enter relationship through what I call the romance door. You know, maybe we like their picture on Tinder or Facebook or whatever, and then we meet them and we’re already kind of attracted to them, you know, and Patrick and I were attracted to each other. It’s not that we weren’t, but um, but when that, when that, when chemistry is the thing pulling you in from the start, you end up being blinded in some ways to whether or not, um, the rest of the person actually is a good match for you.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Whereas Patrick and I entering our relationship through the research door instead of, and then discovering romance a later, but actually entering through the research door, we found ourselves to be really great working partners in this individual endeavor of personal growth and, and this couple endeavor of supporting each other’s personal growth and, and so that’s why it’s a relationship. I would say the best relationship I’ve ever had in my life because we kind of came in through a really great door and, and growing each of our growth forms, the foundation of the relationship and the romance part is there, but it’s an outgrowth of our ability to be great partners to each other.
Kim Sutton: Wow. That’s so cool.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Thanks. I think so too.
Kim Sutton: I met my husband on Craigslist and I’m still alive.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: What amazing. I’m so glad you’re still alive and you know, I have to say from the snippets you’ve told me, you, you’ve, it feels like you have a great partnership too. Like you just, you know, sure. You push each other’s buttons, but that’s what you’re here to do. Like that’s the whole point of the thing to till your button is you’re no longer activated. Yeah. But like it feels like you two are beautiful together.
Kim Sutton: Well, it also started off really strong because I had actually a couple of weeks before we met, had met or had made a soulmate spec sheet of placed seven things that I wanted out of art. It was like 50 something or maybe low sixties and he had all but five.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Amazing.
Kim Sutton: Yeah. And so we had that and I was on Craigslist looking for furniture, saw them in looking for one, clicked on it just because I wanted to go laugh at the a-holes parents. I’m sorry. I hope that’s good enough. The first one I laughed at, the second one was with my husband. So yeah, I mean we got all the dirty stuff outright right away. I mean he knew how much debt I had before we even met. I knew, you know, about his past before we even met in person.
Kim Sutton: And you know, the whole, I did a lot of lying. I’m just going to be totally honest. I did a lot of lying in my previous marriage and that was my security blanket, um, for a variety of reasons. And I’m not going to get into that now, but I decided that when that chapter of my life was over, I was committed to 100% honesty. And there are times when it would be better if I kept my mouth shut, I think. But it’s definitely worked out for the best being completely honest.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Oh, that’s great. Because that’s another ingredient that I highly, highly value in our relationship too. I think it’s so key. I mean, and you know, there’s honesty and there’s calibration, right? There’s times where you may not blurt the thing out that you’re sinking because the senior thinking might be a product of your patterning or your conditioning and not actually true. And so I like to, I like to temper honesty with self reflection.
Kim Sutton: I love that calibration that you just said.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Yeah. Calibration is key. It’s one of the main things I teach.
Kim Sutton: Yeah. When we got together, he was basically a minimalist and I was a clutter bug and I wrote in our marriage bowels that I would work on minimizing my clutter and now I would have to say that it’s flipped. Wow. So we try, we do our best to keep each other. I mean he’ll hold on to stuff now. I’m like, why? Why? So I’ll just throw it out. It’s nothing big. It’s like Luke crate boxes. Okay. We don’t need empty Loot Crate boxes, but I’m not tearing out anything valuable. I just want to let that be. No [inaudible].
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Yeah, I mean I think it’s such a beautiful example of the way our partners often hold parts of ourselves that we need to have more permission for because there’s a chance that there was probably an inner clutter in him that he, he was disowning and didn’t have permission for. But through being with you, it actually gave him more room to allow that out. You know? And same for you with the inner minimalist, you probably had an inner minimalist who was dying to have more space in your life. And it was through being with him that it got to have room and then the two of you could find some kind of calibrated mill middle that feels good to both of you.
Kim Sutton: Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean both of my parents collected newspapers, magazines, you know, that type of stuff. So it was around that and he was born, he was raised in a house where there was nothing extra, you know, get rid of it crystal clean. Perfect. So yeah, it was that swing of the pendulum. We got to find that middle ground that we’re both happy with. Exactly. Yeah. So cool. Well, I have loved every second of this conversation and I want to thank you so much. Where can listeners find you online connect and get to know more about you.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: Go to memali.com and the spelling is M E M a L i.com, and you’ll find a free gift there. Um, this, this recording is going to be posted in some time, so there may be a different free gift there at that point. But right now the free gift is, uh, four keys to unlock support in your life now. And so you can go there and get that free gift. We can start connecting and I’ve so enjoyed our conversation. I mean, like I said, I just really, really loved meeting you at the summit. You were one of the people who made my time there, especially pleasurable and had me feel, you know, like I belonged and I felt, um, seen and supported. And so I just really want to thank you for that. This conversation has been a total reflection of that initial meeting.
Kim Sutton: Thank you. And I just want to tell listeners, because this is something that comes up before every recording starts, I have no idea where the conversation is ever going to go. And I love that because it goes exactly where it’s supposed to go in my opinion. And I know exactly where it was supposed to go for somebody.
Kim Sutton: Yeah, well listeners, please, if you’re driving, if you’re trying not to burn dinner, don’t fall off the elliptical. Go to https://www.thekimsutton.com/pp622 and you will find all the links, everything that we just talked about. Everything will be right there.
Kim Sutton: And also leave a con. Oh my gosh. Okay. That blooper can stay in. You don’t know. You don’t want to know what I was going to say, but you can figure it out. Leave a comment. Um, yeah, down below. Wow. That’s the first time that’s almost come out of my mouth on the podcast. Leave a comment down below the show notes. Let us know what your big aha was out of this episode.
Kim Sutton: Holy moly. Wow. Okay. You can leave one of those, too. Somebody can use it. Um, anyway, Marie-Elizabeth, thank you so much for joining us today. Do you have a parting piece of advice or golden nugget that you can share?
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: yes.
Kim Sutton: Oh, I’m over laughing here.
Marie-Elizabeth Mali: I know. I’m gathering my thoughts cause I was laughing too. Um, so yeah, my partying, my parting nugget of wisdom would be that all those things that we II think are unlovable about ourselves are most likely the quirky things that make us unique. And special if we just, you know, would look, would turn our lens a little bit and look at them slightly differently. We don’t want to erase our uniqueness and favor of trying to be perfect in some way, and so if there’s a way that you can love and accept the parts of you that right now you find inconvenient or messy, and, and through that love and acceptance, learn how to create agency and artistry with them in your life, you’re, you’re going to be.