From helping a bitter divorcée forgive a philandering ex to teaching a young co-ed how to set boundaries are just some of the issues that self and relationship coach Jennifer Twardowski tackles at work.
Based in Northern California, Jennifer works with clients worldwide, helping them to identify and remove the blocks that prevent them from living their full potential. She has been featured in scores of media outlets, including The Huffington, BeliefNet, Your Tango and Cosmopolitan.
Here she shares the story that brought her to coaching, along with a couple client success stories. To learn more or to work one-on-one with her, go to http://jennifertwardowski.com. For a sample of her work, sign up for her Guided Meditation.
Can you share a little about your personal story and what motivated you to become a relationship coach?
A few years back I had graduated college with my undergrad and was looking around for jobs. Though I was going through the motions of what appeared to do everything right, inside I was screaming for something more. I felt empty, unfulfilled, and as if something within me was starting to die and I had no idea what I had to do to change that.
In a complete leap of faith, I decided to move to South Korea to teach English as a Second Language with the hope that with this move I would, somehow, find whatever it is I felt like I had been using. This journey of living and traveling abroad ended up being one of the most challenging yet transformative experiences of my life. Through all the heartbreak, disappointment, pain, and challenges I managed to finally learn how to be strong, confident and empowered on my own and able to truly make myself happy rather than to rely on others for my happiness.
And, eventually, I was finally able to create for myself a stable, happy, and loving relationship.
This journey transformed me so much that I felt as if I had no choice but to share my story with others who are in a similar place to where I once was.
Since the beginning of time people have met, fell in love and got married without outside assistance. Why might someone need to hire a relationship coach?
We’re living in a very different time now. The whole concept of “becoming an adult, getting a job, getting married, buying a house with spouse, having 2.5 kids, a dog and living happily ever after” isn’t really the ideal anymore. Things are changing. People are getting married older. People are choosing not to have kids. People are finding themselves planning to live their “happily ever after” and find themselves going through a divorce.
The way the economy works now is very different. The whole “wife stays at home and husband works” doesn’t work anymore. We’ve had a lot of social changes. The world isn’t the way it used to be — and neither are we. Deep down, it’s as if we all know in our collective unconscious that something need to change. The old way of living just isn’t working and we’ve got the results of our past generations to prove it. It just isn’t sustainable for future generations. As a result, many of us, deep down, are feeling driven to make changes in our lives. To ask ourselves: Why isn’t my life the way I wish it would be? Why do my relationships seem to not be as loving and supportive as I hoped they’d be? Who do I really want to be and experience in this world?
We may not exactly know what needs to change in our lives, but there is an inner calling to look inward and explore what we might need to change.
Can you explain a bit more about how you work with your clients and what is the end goal?
I work with my clients on a very case by case basis. There is no set “curriculum,” so I tailor it and individualize it for each and every person. I look at coaching as a very collaborative process, so we often start out by setting several objectives to meet during our time working together. I take a very holistic approach in my process of integrating the mind, body, and spirit. We talk through things and I give my content advice, tools and methods to use. I also like to integrate different meditations and activities that involve visualization and are body-focused. I really focus a lot on self-care, boundary setting, and becoming confident and empowered in making decisions.
In the last few weeks, I did a research project on intimacy, sexual desire and it’s impact on relational outcomes. One of the things I found in my research was that, for women, having a differentiation of self within the relationship is crucial to overall couple satisfaction — for both the woman and the man in the relationship. This is something that, for men, isn’t as much of an issue cause they already have a high differentiation of self, yet, for women, it is crucial.
I think that little finding that I discovered recently just reaffirms the importance of what my end goal is in my work: For the women I work with to be confident in their own skin, to be able to say “yes” and “no” when they truly want to, to become the masters of their own self-care, and to feel in-alignment with their own inner truth, so that they can be in relationships that are satisfying, joyful, and loving.
In your personal opinion, why are some of the main reasons people have trouble finding and keeping love alive?
I think a lot of what emerges in our relationships can be a reflection of what is going on within ourselves. I always like to go back to the question of: What can you do to help make the situation better or to change this kind of dynamic? We can’t change anyone else in our lives — only ourselves, so what exactly are you able to change? For this reason, I like to go from an “inside out” approach. It’s about working on your relationship with yourself so that you’re relationships with others improve. Even in my sessions a lot of times I’ll go into teaching clients mindfulness methods for regulating stress, learning to let go, and doing the work to forgive. When we shift our own energy, others recognize that. They may not be fully aware of it consciously but they feel it. We start to act different and, as a result, they can begin to shift their behavior as well.
I really truly think that the more we all start to look within ourselves, take more ownership for our own part in things, and put forth the work and effort to shift our own energy then the world is going to start being a very different place
Do you have any success stories of the clients you’ve coached that you can share?
Oh, lets see…
I’ve had one client in particular who always second guessed herself when dating because everyone would always tell her that she’s being “too picky”. Once we dived in and started exploring it, we both realized that it’s not necessarily that she was being “too picky” but that she really just “wasn’t that into” those particular guys. So after we worked together, she was able to let go of all of her worry and self-judgment that she had been holding on to. She started really trusting and being confident in her own intuition and has since been able to really help it guide her when dating rather than to internally “wrestle” with it so much.
I’ve had many clients who have really learned how to set effective boundaries and to do it with confidence and unapologetically. Clients who have learned how to really “unplug” from other people’s situations (sometimes even toxic situations) and to start really taking care of themselves.
I’ve had other clients who have really learned how to forgive — either an ex, family member or friend for something that they felt deeply hurt by — so that they are no longer bounded by these feelings of resentment and they themselves and the relationship is able to heal.
Those are just a few that have come to my mind right now. 🙂