Q & A with Relationship Advisor, Alison Lessard
I first learned about Alison from reading an article she had written about relationships. In it, she wrote about overcoming shame, analyzing family behaviors and working on overcoming incorrect relationship models.
Unlike so many other relationship experts, who focus on gut feelings, attracting the right partner through positive thinking, or analyzing the characteristics of your partner, Alison’s wisdom seemed to go deeper.
It’s not about finding “the one,” so to speak. It’s about working through what is holding us in a state of pain and becoming unstuck from destructive patterns and habits. I thought her insights were so valuable, I invited her to be interviewed for the magazine.
LR: What got you started as a relationship advisor?
A: I spent about 10 years in luxury sales/hospitality in New York City before I left the corporate world behind and started my career in the wellness industry as a holistic health coach. I noticed that although as a health coach my area of expertise was mainly nutrition and fitness, most of clients I attracted had issues in their relationships that were leading to uncomfortable physical manifestations in the body. I began to see a pattern emerging. The clients thought they were coming to me to lose weight, destress or learn to cook healthier foods, when, in fact, when we dug deeper we realized it was the unhealthy or dysfunctional relationship(s) in their lives that were the root cause of the physical symptoms.
I had similar health/body issues of my own in my youth and young adulthood that led me to heal a few significant relationships in my life. Once I started to connect the dots for my clients and saw the dramatic shifts they experienced as a result of getting to the root cause, I decided to shift my focus and combine the relationship advising with my intuitive healing practice that emerged after I left health coaching to pursue other alternative/metaphysical healing modalities. Now instead of the one-on-one advising, I’m focused on developing educational resources (both digital and in-person workshops/seminars) for people to raise their awareness and shift the unhealthy relationship patterns that are no longer serving their highest good.
LR: What do you see as the biggest blocks in our ability to have healthy relationships – both romantic and with family and friends?
A: The most common obstacles to healthy relationships, in my experience, are fear – fear of abandonment/rejection, fear of failure – guilt, shame, conditions and unrealistic expectations. Most people were conditioned to believe that in order to give and receive love, they either need to DO something or BE something different than who they already are. Almost nobody I’ve encountered thus far grew up with any relationship model even remotely close to unconditional love. The expectation that you must do something to be loved leads to obligatory or conditional love – connected based on expectations and transactions. And as you’ve probably realized from your own life experience, expectations most often lead to disappointment. People believe it’s up to someone else to make them happy or make them feel fulfilled, when really, unless we are already seeing ourselves as whole and complete and accepting that happiness is an inside job, no relationship will ever be truly satisfying. Also, when we learn to accept ourselves and others as they are (instead of who we want them to be to make us happy or comfortable), our relationships also have a much higher chance of being long-lasting and healthy.
LR: How do we get over old family patterns or past shame to create a life of fulfillment and purpose?
A: I created my e-course, Love Liberated: Break Free from Relationship Frustration, because I saw that most people experiencing obstacles in their relationships were actually caught in one of the 5 cycles of grief (typically stemming from old family wounds) and didn’t have the proper tools to move through that cycle and onto the next, finally making their way to the final “stage” – acceptance.
The bulk of my course consists of written exercises that ask questions about your primary caregivers (their behaviors, personality traits, etc.), your childhood, your previous partners, etc. along with journaling prompts, tools to utilize and guided meditations to help bring up what’s been buried in the unconscious mind. We tend to attract what our Higher Self wants us to heal, however, without bringing awareness to these old patterns and actually writing them out or verbalizing them and making them real. They are often playing out subconsciously and we have no method to shift what we aren’t yet seeing clearly.
From my experience after working with thousands of clients, a highly effective way to heal old family patterns and shame is to bring clear awareness to those behaviors (via some form or combination of talk therapy, counseling/advising, written exercises and meditation/hypnosis), release judgment about what occurred and come to a place of compassion and acceptance that everything we’ve experienced over time has led us to where we are now and has set the stage for our own personal destiny and legacy.
We have choices. Life is not happening TO us; we are creating our lives as we go. There is a difference between fate and destiny in my opinion. For example, our gender, hair color, family of origin and place of birth are fated. Our destiny is what we create from that fate via free will choices. Once you are aware and no longer in an unconscious, reactive mode, you have a true opportunity to shift your destiny and to make lasting shifts, which lead to deeper purpose and fulfillment.
LR: What have you learned about yourself through helping others with your work?
A: Even though I might be a “teacher”, I am always going to be a student. Every client I work with reflects back to me one or more aspects of myself and I continue to grow every day. Through this work, I’ve learned to let go of so many control issues, much greater self-compassion, humility, how to have faith in the unknown, the value of practicing non-judgment, the ability to forgive, the beauty of surrendering and how to truly love unconditionally, among many other things. I feel I’m always peeling away another layer of illusion and I love that my clients are the mirror for me to see myself more clearly and to love myself exactly as I am right now. I think this is a valuable lesson for all of us – to recognize our innate worthiness and deservedness to love and be loved as we are.
LR: Is there anything that surprised you as your work evolved? i.e. Did you used to think one way, but changed your mind because of the results or some other occurrence led you down a different path?
A: Yes, most definitely. I used to think we needed to be goal-oriented, as in, “Once I do x, y and z, THEN I’ll be fulfilled”, however over the last several years working with clients, now my approach is much less about goals and much more about the power of presence. Instead of worrying about what I’ll do over the next 3-6 months or 5 years and trying to control all the outcomes, I focus on my ability to be present in the current moment and accept whatever is happening in that moment, recognizing that I have the ability to shift how I feel and that I have choices about how I react as well. Am I able to find some peace, regardless of what’s happening around me? Am I able to cultivate acceptance, even if unexpected or uncomfortable things are happening? Am I able to remain flexible when things don’t go my way? To me, this is the essence of what I’m teaching people and what I’ve had to learn along the way.
There’s a famous quote by the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu that says, “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” That about sums it up for me.
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