Billy and Brian sit down with Dr. Yvette Erasmus and listen to her eloquently break down communications style and how being a more compassionate communicator can lead to deeper, more meaningful relationships. This is a MUST listen! One of our favorite interviews to date!
As a teacher, writer, psychologist, and consultant with a Master’s Degree in Education and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, Dr. Yvette’s unique background as a global citizen makes her uniquely able to help others bridge the gaps between heart, head, body, and soul. Her programs integrate core insights from multiple wisdom traditions and offer various programs for community learning as well as one-on-one consulting and therapy.
Like what you heard from Dr. Yvette Erasmus? Contact her at:
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Billy Lahr: Thank you for taking the time to listen to the mindful midlife crisis podcast. We hope you enjoy this week's episode. If this episode resonates with you, please share it with your family and friends. We will do our best to put out new content every Wednesday to get you over the midweek hump. If you want episodes to be downloaded automatically to your phone each week, all you need to do is hit the checkmark subscribe, like or follow button depending on what podcast format you're using. While you're at it, feel free to leave our show a quick five star review with a few kind words so more people like you can easily find our show. If you're really enjoying the show and you want to help us out. Feel free to make a donation to www.buymeacoffee.com/MMCpodcast. That's www.buymeacoffee.com/MMCpodcast. You can also access the link in our show notes. We use the money from these donations to pay whatever expenses we incur from producing the show, but ultimately, we record this show for you. So if you keep listening, we'll keep recording and releasing new episodes each week. Regardless, if you'd like to contact us or if you have suggestions about what you'd like us to discuss on future episodes. Feel free to email us at mindfulmidlifecrisis@ gmail.com or follow us on Instagram @mindful_midlife_crisis. Be sure to check out the show notes for links to the articles and resources we referenced throughout the show. Thanks again for listening. May you feel happy, healthy, and loved. Enjoy the show.
Billy Lahr: Welcome to the Mindful Midlife Crisis. I'm your host Billy and as always, I'm joined by my good friend Brian on the bass Brian, how you doing over there, man?
Brian Chelminiak: I am brilliant.
Billy Lahr: Oh, brilliant. What early on? Why are you so brilliant sir?
Brian Chelminiak: I shine brightly.
Billy Lahr: You do shine brightly today, you know, and it's not just the light coming off of your forehead?
Brian Chelminiak: No, it could be. My forehead is as large as a billboard I should sell advertising on my forehead. Because it's so large.
Billy Lahr: We should do a drive in movie on my forehead. Ah, that was me. And I'm so sorry. I was wondering if you felt brilliant because we just had the most mind blowing conversation that we have had with any of our guests. So far. Our guests have been like home runs this whole time…
Brian Chelminiak: This is Grand Slam.
Billy Lahr: This is Grand Slam home run. We had the distinct honor of speaking with Dr. Yvette Erasmus. Just so you get an idea as to how good this conversation went. It really wasn't the conversation because Brian and I didn't say anything. We just sat and listened to her especially in the second segment, when she started breaking down the four quadrants of compassionate communication. As she started talking about the biology of communication. We listened the whole time intently. Like we were riveted the entire time, because she's such a fascinating person and such a dynamic speaker.
Brian Chelminiak: And I'm gone be honest, I mean, she threw so much at us that a lot of it was me just trying to sort it out and process it as she was talking about it. Because I'm like, this is amazing. And tons of information and it gets you on these, you know, gets your brain going.
Billy Lahr: And she knows that so well. Like Mike speaks about it so effortlessly. Oh, yeah. And, like Brian even says, I'm gone have to go back and listen to this episode five times. I encourage you all if there's an episode that you listen to multiple times, let this be that episode. I'm so excited for you to hear this episode. Please enjoy our interview with Dr. Yvette Erasmus. Today's guest is Dr. Yvette Erasmus. As a teacher, writer, psychologist and consultant with a master's degree in education and a doctorate in clinical psychology. Dr. Yu vets unique background as a global citizen makes her uniquely able to help others bridge the gaps between heart, head, body and soul. Her program integrate core insights from multiple wisdom traditions and offer various programs for Community Learning, as well as one on one consulting and therapy. She has an assortment of introductory programs, core offerings, private sessions and specialized workshops at www.yvette erasmus.com. Thank you for joining us. Dr. Yvette. How are you today?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Hi, I'm delighted to be here with you today.
Billy Lahr: Yeah, we very much appreciate that you're here. I have heard you speak a couple times in the past and I told you this before and sincerely you are one of my favorite people to listen to, because you have such an amazing perspective on life and every time I hear you speak, I'm like, Okay, now I'm going to start thinking about that area and a little bit differently. So, thank you for being here. I think everyone's gone appreciate hearing your take on things. So one thing that we do is we like to ask our guests 10 roles that they play in their life and those 10 roles for you are.
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Okay, so a writer, I do a lot of writing. I am a psychologist that speaks for itself. I also do a lot of coaching and consulting. I'm often invited to speak, it's probably my least favorite role because it causes me the most stress. I do a lot of teaching and educating. I have a deep, deep love of animals. So I see myself as an animal wilderness lover. I own my own business. I'm a cat owner. I'm a mother, world traveler, lifelong students secure, journeyer. Explorer, these are all things I would probably choose and focus on.
Billy Lahr: Wonderful, wonderful. And so the three that you choose shows that you're most looking forward to in your second half are.
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Travelling the world again, my daughter will be graduating high school in a month or two. And I feel like I am finally liberated. Back to me. So I'm having a big shift coming up that I'm really looking forward to sending the exploring and journeying both inside and outside internal worlds and external worlds.
Billy Lahr: So can you talk a little bit about what you're looking forward to as an empty nester in it like what like, what is? What are some of those thoughts? What? What are some of the what are some of those thoughts that have crossed your mind? Like, oh my goodness, like it? Yeah, cuz some people have a hard time transitioning into being an empty nester, it doesn't sound like you're gone have that difficult of a trial [inaudible 07:39]
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: You know, talk to me in six months’ time when I'm grieving and lonely. This moment in time, all I can focus on is, you know, I'm going to have my house to myself, I can have breakfast whenever I want. I don't have to get up and make sure that we're getting to school on time. I'm not doing homework in the evenings. I'm not following up with school emails, I, I just see a lot of space and time and freedom and travel. And, you know, she'll be 18 she'll be graduated, she'll be going to college. And I'll feel like, I can actually go away for a weekend. If I want to go away for a weekend, I can actually grab a last minute flight somewhere and fly off somewhere for four days if the inspiration hits me without worrying about who's going to look after whom and you know, so I feel I feel very excited about the impending freedom.
Billy Lahr: Brian, is you here you bet talk about that. How does that make you feel Brian has three boys under the age of 11?
Brian Chelminiak: I can relate right now. We're in the thick of it. So that sounds pretty darn tantalizing to have a little bit of freedom. Yeah.
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: I think I think the trick is to enjoy every stage that you're in. Right?
Brian Chelminiak: Absolutely Yeah.
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Um, so there is that enjoying every stage. I'm currently enjoying the preparing for graduation parties preparing for graduation, preparing for summers, you know, apart. So
Billy Lahr: Is your daughter going to school closer she going out of state?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: My delightful child has a hard time making any decisions. So she is unclear about what she would like to do next. One of her options is to take the entire year off and live with her father in Egypt for years. So I am just staying out of the mix and telling her whatever she decides will be great. She's on her journey. She needs to you know, follow her inspiration. And I'm trying to keep my micromanaging self-offline.
Billy Lahr: But one of the options is not stay at home with mom.
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: No. This journey exploring while travelling applies to the both of us that is what I'm insisting upon.
Billy Lahr: So what do you talk about journeyer? Tell me Tell us more. What do you mean by journeyer? Because that can be a lot of different things. So elaborate on that.
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Well, I just booked a trip with my very closest boyfriend to go to Ireland this summer. And we're doing a walking tour six days of hiking on the western coast of Ireland. She's Irish. And so, you know, I'm not I'm just going along because it sounds like fun. I've never been to Ireland, and I love walking and I love being out in nature. So that's a little kick off. Travelling. But yeah, getting to go and see the places that I've read about heard about. I mean, I've done a lot of travelling in my life. But then I had a child and everything kind of went on hold, my priorities shifted for 18 years, which was wonderful and lovely. But I almost feel like I get to pick up my life again, where I put it on hold 18 years ago. And so a lot of the things that used to inspire me, I feel like I can bring back online in a whole new way. So that's the external piece, you know, there's many places I still want to visit. And the internal piece is the, you know, the depths work and the interior exploring work that my work is built around, and that you know, I just, that's my form of play, you know, all of the shadow aspects of yourself in the blind spots you haven't yet on earth and the patterns you haven't yet detoxed. You know, that internal liberation that I really seek in my own quest for inner peace.
Billy Lahr: Brian has been Ireland, what suggestions do you have for.
Brian Chelminiak: I was gone ask you where precisely Do you know exactly where you're going on the western is like Galway, or like [inaudible 11:34].
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: So I think we start in Galloway, and then I think we're going west and up and it's hiking all the way. I that's how I'm thinking of it up. That's as much as I know.
Brian Chelminiak: That’s exactly where I was when I was there. We went. Well, we took a detour into southern Ireland when we got there and got completely lost. But finally, when we arrived at our destination, it was Galway, and then a little town called Clifton, which is about 40 minutes or an hour and a half. I don't remember west of Galway. So if you're going around there it is absolutely gorgeous. It's so cool. You're gone have so much fun.
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Yes, I cannot wait. It's I am really looking forward to it. It's the beginning of much more of this.
Brian Chelminiak: The people are so wonderful. And then you get into looking at the castles and all that kind of stuff is so great. I'm excited for you.
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Thank you. Thank you.
Billy Lahr: Are you a bucket list? Traveler? Are you making a list of places you want to go? Or?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Yeah, I'll tell you something funny. When I was in college, I must have been what 20 I was about 20 I had a flipped a piece of flip chart paper in my dorm room. And I had made like a list of all of the things I wanted to do before I died and they were numbered. And I don't have that list anymore. But it is burned in my memory. I can still read through that list. And it's on hold and there's not that much left on it. You know, going to the Amazon River Basin is one of them. Getting back to the aka aka Van Gogh's swamps in Botswana is another one. Getting to Kilimanjaro would be one of them, you know, all of my things have to do with nature, nature and hiking and being out in the wilderness. Getting to New Zealand and Australia. These are on my list. So yeah, but I can still see like I had like ride camels around the pyramids, done swim with dolphins done, you know, right? Become an author done, you know, get a doctoral degree done. Like there's a lot of stuff I've accomplished that was on that list.
Billy Lahr: Oh, my goodness. Okay. We're gone pause here for a second. And let's talk about some of these experiences that were on this list because I'm very much a bucket list or like we've talked. Yes, yeah. So my, my two biggest goals right now in life are to paddleboard off of the coast of every continent, and every ocean. So, yeah, I've only I've only done North America and the Atlantic Ocean so far, but I have Asia and the Indian Ocean in my sights, very soon. So can you talk about lit I kind of want to hear about Camelback or riding camels? Or
Brian Chelminiak: Oh, yeah. In Egypt. How did that How did that come about? And what was the light?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Well, I lived in Egypt for five years. So, yes, yes. So that's how that came about. And there's many opportunities for riding camels, especially around the pyramids, you know, it's a big tourist trap. And then every time somebody comes to visit you, when you live in another country, you take them to all the tourist things that you do all of the you know, riding camels, and these were all the different things. You know, scuba diving in the Red Sea was another thing that I've always wanted to do. So I got certified and did that. And, yeah.
Billy Lahr: I like how she explained. Camelback riding around the pyramids is like going to the State Fair. Is something you do when you're in Egypt?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Oh, really. I love riding camels. It's like, it's like being on a ship a little bit. You know, it's a lot of rocking, which was very, I hadn't expected that.
Billy Lahr: So, did you have friends who would get sick on them?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: No. If we were ever on them long enough to keep [inaudible 15:14].
Brian Chelminiak: Camel I've never heard anybody getting motion sick on a camel. But then again, I don't know that many people that have written can
Billy Lahr: Do I do I that's really fascinating. Did you say you went swimming with dolphins too?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Yeah. When I lived in Bali, I lived in Bali in Indonesia for a while. And there was a hotel on the northern coast when we were there who had gotten into dolphin rescue. You know, dolphins that got caught in fishermen's nets. And they had converted all of the swimming pools of their resort into saltwater pools, and they had dolphins that they were rehabbing that they had saved from the wild. And I don't, all I remember is that my daughter was three years old. And it was offseason. And we were staying in the hotel and nobody was there. And the hotel owners had a daughter who was three years old, and they ended up playing. And next thing I know we're invited to jump in the pool with all of the dolphins and feed them and hang out with them. And it was lovely. It was just it was just magical. And so we went back there quite a few times and got to you know, play with dolphins close up, which was delightful.
Billy Lahr: So okay, so we've established that you lived in Egypt, and you've lived in Bali and Indonesia. I have you do not have a Minnesota accent. So when you were born in South Africa, correct?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Yes.
Billy Lahr: Where else have you lived?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: So my first memories were in Malawi, after I was born in South Africa, we were in Malawi, which is in South Central Africa. I lived there until I was about six. And then I did Elementary School in Germany in Germany. So we were in Germany until I was 10. And then South Africa, then LA, I went to high school in LA, Minnesota, I went to my undergrad at the U of M. And then Egypt, England after that I was in England for a while. And then Tucson, Arizona for a while and then Bali in Minnesota. So that those are the places.
Billy Lahr: So what brought you back to Minnesota?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: My daughter was five years old, I was teaching at Bali international school. And I had just landed my dream job as an international school teacher working at the International School of Kuala Lumpur, which is really where I'd always wanted to go and work. And then I found out that if we took the job and moved that I would be teaching high school English at the high school campus and my daughter would be taking a school bus to the elementary school campus 20 minutes away, and I couldn't get my heart wrapped around moving this little girl to a huge city. And being on a 20 minute bus ride at five years old. And being in elementary school far away from me while I'm working long days, I just I couldn't get my head around that. And so I turned the job down and thought I'll come back to the states for a year or two and kind of regroup a little bit and figure out what my next step is, and give her a bit more stability than I had as a child. So my mother was living in my mother and my sister were both in the Twin Cities. So we came back here for a little bit. And then one thing led to another, you know, you make connections and you start doing work. And then you go back to school. And next thing you know, here you still are buying a house and building a business. And, you know, except fast forward. She's now 18 right? And I get to start reinventing.
Billy Lahr: So do you see yourself when she moves out? Do you see yourself still staying here? Or are you like, okay, no, I'm maybe I'll maybe I'll move somewhere else then.
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Yeah, the world is my oyster. I love my little house, I bought a lovely house, I love my house. And I feel like I have a home base. She has a home base, we've got a home, we can leave a lot of stuff in one place. But we don't need to be here. Right, we can be in and out as much as we want. So I think that's very much what I envision home basing in the Twin Cities and living for long periods of time and other places.
Billy Lahr: As you're talking about this, like we can see the glow as you just are reflecting on the you know, the upcoming life that you have left lives. That's awesome, that's awesome. So you also put explore, I guess, how would you say that explorer differs from journeyer and world traveler?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Uh huh. Yeah, no, I think they're very much related. When I think of a journey, though, I think of it more like a quest like there's a destination or there's a deep intention and there was some directionality or intention to a journey, you know, and I think of it as having steps along the way. I don't know you know, But exploring is a little for me more freeform. You know, it's about, like, I've always thought that I would love to one day just go to an airport with a carry on suitcase, and wander around and figure out what inspiration hits me and get on a plane, you know, like buy a ticket, and just go and have no plan. And just follow the next thing. And the next thing, the next thing is see where it takes you. So that's a little bit more of an exploration to me is the following it from moment to moment, which I've never done, because I'm super controlling in some ways, but it's very appealing to me. Now, to create more exploratory adventure oriented, inspired experiences.
Brian Chelminiak: You need to blog this for us all. So we can follow your adventures, because I am genuinely interested now in seeing where you just because of where you've been already. I'm like, wow, this would be a fun story to follow.
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Yeah, yeah. You know, I would want to do it with someone, I would totally do that. But it's something that I think I've got to wait for somebody who wants to play in that way with me, because doing it alone feels a little isolated. You know, I know that people make a lot of friends in blah, blah, blah. But I think I'd wait until I found someone who wanted to play in that way.
Billy Lahr: I have nothing going on next year. So let me know. I'm in, I'm in you want to go to the airport? And we just spin around in points? That's fine. I'll hang on. Oh, that sounds wonderful.
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: I can start blogging and photo journaling. And all this good.
Billy Lahr: Exactly. Exactly. So you kind of talked about this loose form of exploring and travelling. Usually when you travel, are you a we're gone be here at this time. And we'll be here at this time and go to this event at this time, or are you pretty freeform?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: You know, that's, that's actually a great question. I used to be very structured and organized, like I would have everything very planned out. And then I've had so many experiences where that just doesn't happen. You know, my all of these plans get thwarted by real life that I've really developed. I've developed a lot of humor about what life can throw at us and a willingness to play with the unexpected, that I I've learned to have a pretty rough plan, I have kind of a sense of how I think things are gonna go. And then I have probably the way I live now is I probably always have three contingency plans in my back pocket for when I need them. So that it doesn't stress me out when everything sort of takes up 180. So, but I do like a plan. I like working the plan. I've just learned to make my plans more aims and intentions than needing to be micromanaged in a very particular way, because that causes me great suffering when it doesn't go the way I was attached to.
Billy Lahr: Can you talk a little bit more about that? Why, like, what do you mean by that?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Well, you know, sort of psychologically, right? If I get very attached to my own idea of how things should go, or I get very attached to my preferred outcome. And I sort of couple my sense of well-being with it going a particular way or having a particular conditional outcome. It creates a lot of suffering and tension, the journey is less fun for me. And then when things inevitably as they do, life happens. It makes everything less enjoyable. Whereas I've learned that if I, if I know that what I want to do is learn new things, see new places, meet new people try something new, then even if the details get all wonky, I'm still accomplishing the goals and still seeing something new and I'm still seeing new people. It just didn't show up the way that I quite had thought it would. But I can enjoy it a lot more.
Brian Chelminiak: It sounds like you've learned to be more present, I guess. Yeah, that's…
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Yeah. Being present in the moment and knowing that the hearing now has everything I need is a big practice and reorientation from my younger years.
Billy Lahr: Well, we're gonna take a quick break and when we come back, we're gonna continue our discussion here with Dr. Yvette Erasmus. Thank you for listening to the Mindful Midlife Crisis.
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Billy Lahr: Welcome back to the Mindful Midlife Crisis. We're here talking about compassionate communication for deeper, more meaningful relationships with Dr. Yvette Erasmus, who has just been blowing us away with her life experiences. So far, we've really enjoyed that first segment. And, you know, our first question here is, you have a unique background, which is an understatement after what we've just discussed. So can you tell us more about how your own life experiences have shaped your work as a therapist?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Yeah, well, I think for many of us who go into mental health work and therapy work, I think many of us come to it, because we're trying to figure ourselves out and our own lives out, right. I don't want to speak for every therapist, but that does seem to be part of the theme. And my, my father was, so my, both of my parents of white South Africans who grew up, you know, in apartheid wide South Africa. And so the cultural heritage, if you're white in South Africa is one of patriarchy, and white privilege, and racism. And that is deeply entrenched in the culture. And it gets deeply internalized right, when you're brought up in this kind of culture. My father came from an Afrikaans background. So in South Africa, white people generally either speak Afrikaans, English, and there's a lot of division between English and Afrikaans culture. So my father was Afrikaans. My mother was English speaking white. My father grew up in a tobacco farm, my mother grew up in a highly educated liberal family. So they, they had cultural differences just between the two of them, okay, even though they both grew up, in, you know, as white people in a racist society that was very patriarchal. They came from very different cultural and political backgrounds. So my mother was a nurse and a social activist and a community developer and actively spoke against the government and apartheid policies, and you know, did a lot of social justice work while my father was a diplomat, for the South African government, representing the status quo of white South Africa. And yes, so growing up in this household, which was between two different languages, to different cultures, in a diplomatic family, that's partly why we travelled so much, and why we were in so many different countries, because, you know, my father was stationed in different consulates, and then watching, you know, my mother and my father take increasingly divergent life paths. And what that was like as a kid, you know, when you go to different parts of your extended family, and you love all of them, and they all represent different parts of who you are, but they don't go together. And then living in apartheid-white South Africa, where you would live in white towns, and there would be white towns and black towns and there was, you know, institutionalized segregation and having my mother actively defy the laws and take her two children into the townships and, you know, as a kid experiencing this trying to hold all of those tensions of Am I safe? Is this okay? Is this not what part of my family agrees with me? What part of my family doesn't? Where do I stand? How do I hold this? I think it really did set me up. Oh, and then wait, I'll add not living in South Africa, you know, for 16 consecutive years, but being in and out in Malawi, other African countries, Germany, coming back. Nothing ever felt stable. Like nothing really got internalized in a way that it just became a part of my unquestioned identity. If anything, I think I've been questioning my identity since I was like five, you know, like, who am I? What language do I speak? Where do I belong? Where do I fit in and my office answers to those questions as a kid were always No way. No way you don't belong anywhere, nobody is like you. And at the same time, as I think I became a teenager, the answer became a little bit more like, well, everywhere, you know, you're just a chameleon, like you can just fit in, in any place and camouflage. So those experiences of identity development of trying to hold very divergent points of view and one being, figuring out how your internal container needs to expand and flex and flow in order to maintain connections with people that you care about when they're very different from you. I mean, I think a lot of those experiences set me on a journey of trying to figure out what is universal to human beings? What does it take for us to live together in peace? How do we bridge massive ideological differences and still share this planet? You know, so lots of those questions, I think, were ingrained in me from very early on.
Brian Chelminiak: We need your answer to that right now. The world needs your answer to that right now.
Billy Lahr: I was just gonna ask you that. It's you see, what is unfolding throughout the United States. I'm just kind of curious what your thoughts are like Brian said, what, what's your response to that?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Yeah, well, this is a very deep and complicated question. I'm not sure if I can do it justice. But I'll give you a few things. That two bodies of work that I found useful in my own development was integral theory. Ken Wilber is an American philosopher who's done a lot of mapmaking and a lot of integrating of many maps. And he talks a lot about cultural and individual stages of development and how we take perspective. And he also talks about types of people and states, states of consciousness and stages of development. And I find a lot of that body of work very orienting. On a practical level, that's a really great roadmap for me. So I draw a lot from integral theory. But on a very practical level, the work that has influenced me the most is the nonviolent communication work by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. Mostly because it's a deceptively simple communication model, and a profoundly deep spiritual model about how we are meant to live together. And I think it's, it's one of the most practical tools that I found to give people something that they can do on an individual level to feel like they're really changing the focus of the relationships that they're in and qualitatively, changing how they perceive themselves and other people, because a lot of it begins with how we're thinking about ourselves and others, and what we're believing about ourselves and others, and then how we are either able or unable to really connect at the heart level with each other.
Billy Lahr: So what parallels do you see between apartheid South Africa and where we are as a country in the United States?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: I see many, many parallels.
Billy Lahr: Wow, really? That's very interesting. That’s tragic, actually
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Very tragic parallels. I mean, yes. I mean, absolutely. There's a lot that's been unfolding in the last five years where I've often said to friends of mine, I feel like I'm back in apartheid South Africa. I mean, I feel like, you know, a lot of what I've grown up with has become very salient and accepted rhetoric. And, you know, I have a lot I could say about that, but I'm not sure this is a very political show.
Billy Lahr: That's, I think, I think just hearing you say that you see so many tragic parallels between apartheid South Africa and the United States. Says, says it all. Yeah, it says it all. [Cross Talk 34:20]
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Yes, we've got one thing, you know, and I don't know how much I believe this is I'm thinking, but I'll say it anyway. I find racism much more difficult to deal with in the United States than I find it in South Africa and South Africa. We have a very different kind of conversation. It's a little bit in your face. People aren't afraid to talk about it. Everybody acknowledges it. I mean, everybody is an overstatement, but the cultural vibe around working with it is very different. I don't want to generalize the whole United States, but at least in the Twin Cities in Minnesota and in the parts of the state that I’ve lived in, it feels like there's so much covert racism. It's so much more difficult to get at because there's so much denial and slipperiness around it and people are filled with so much shame that it becomes very difficult to get a handle on it in any productive, constructive way.
Billy Lahr: In the Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X actually talks about how he respects white Southerners more so than white Northerners, because white Southerners will be racist to your face.
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Yeah, yeah, they're authentic. I mean, you know, there's a realness and a directness and there's something you can work with as much as you don't like it, you can work with it with something that's expressed, when it's not expressed. And then we're pretending it's not there. It's just so much more difficult.
Billy Lahr: You offer a couple different free courses on your website, and one of them talks about how to let go of things that are not serving you. And so I feel like this kind of transitions into that a little bit, because Can you talk a little bit more about, you know, the quadrants of relationships, and what role those play in compassionate communication, because especially when we talk about race we need to be more compassionate, we need to be more empathetic. And because we don't have a deeper understanding of ourselves. That's where we fall short sometimes. So I'm curious if you see a parallel there, if you can connect that.
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Yeah. I like the things you mentioned, I think we also, we also need to have more constructive action that actually makes a difference on the ground, right, like, so you asked about the four quadrants, and I think you're talking about in a communication model, we can think about communication falling into four different sort of realms. And so if you think about a grid that, you know, on one axis, you have the axis of care, we can be caring, or uncaring. And then on the other axis, we have the sort of realm of skillfulness, we can be unskilled in our communication, and we can be skilled in our communication. And so these are the two things we want to be thinking about when we open our mouths and we communicate with another person, where am I in my level of care for this person, and where am I in my level of skillfulness, around what it is that I'm trying to communicate. So if I don't care about you, and I have low skill, my communication, my way of being in that relationship is likely to be pretty abusive. And it can be abusive as both actively like yelling at you accusing you attacking you calling you names, overtly trying to control you. And it can also be a more covert or passive form of abuse, which is the stonewalling and the silencing and the freezing you out and the denial and the withdrawing. So it can be an absence of something in both the presence of something. And the way I'm using the word abuse is to point to a relational frame where my main objective is to exert control over you. Okay, I will control the situation. And that I do it in such a way that you, whoever the you is, is unable to sort of defend themselves against or protect themselves from so that's why we would call it sort of an abuse quadrant. On the other hand, it could be that I really love you, I care about you so much I care about our relationship, it really matters to me, and I'm really, really unskilled. You know, I'm just speaking unconsciously, I'm speaking habitually, I'm speaking the way I was spoken to, I haven't done a lot of my own work, but I care so much. Here, we really have a lot of miscommunication. You know, we just keep missing each other, we keep trying to communicate with each other. But we keep not aligning, there's no resonance, because I don't have a lot of skillfulness in my own awareness and language. On the other hand, I could go to a lot of communication and relationship trainings, and I can get really clever, and I can do lots of psychology degrees, and I can get lots of skills. And I can learn neuro-linguistic programming, and I can learn all kinds of tips and tricks around how to use language for persuasion. And if I don't care about you, I'm using all of this skill, but I don't care about you, your interests, who you are as a human being. Now we're in the realm of manipulation. Now our relationships are characterized by a lot of manipulation. Okay, so the sweet spot that we're looking for, is to have loads of skills, self-awareness, self-regulation, self-soothing, you've done your identity work, if you heal your wounds, you've got yourself online, you've got your skillfulness plus a lot of care for both people. I care about what I'm needing. I care about what you're needing. I care about my perspective, I can talk about it, I can share it with you, I can be completely online. And I can also take your perspective, especially when it's different from mine. And I can include the diversity of how we may see the world really differently. Now we have collaborative partnership oriented communication and relationships. And that's really what a lot of the work that I do is to help people get into that quadrant, and to figure out where they where they're needing some work.
Billy Lahr: So that leads me to my next question. I imagine it's easier for you to teach the skill than it is to get someone to care and I'm wondering how you manage that?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Yes, so that's such a great question. Because teaching goes with skill teaching, and coaching is about skill development. But we develop care by healing. So the reason that people don't care about somebody else is usually because there is a pain and unresolved pain that's blocking their care. And that's where the therapy will come in, is to unearth what are the things that are stuck? What are the unhealed wounds, where is your hardware, have you defended your heart so much, and needed to shut down out of shame, guilt, embarrassment, fear, you know, experiences that was so painful that you swore you would never get hurt that way, again, that's healing work, right. And so the healing work can increase care. And maybe you still don't want to be with this particular person. But the healing work will help you live a more open hearted life where you're more available to your own heart, your own tenderness, your own emotional, tender, loving self. So you can bring that part of you more online. And then you can also be a lot more discerning about which people you'd like to share that with.
Billy Lahr: In the course that you offer on your website, you talk about how biology and socialization can get in the way of compassionate communication. So I'm curious if you can elaborate on that.
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: You know, I'll give you just a simple frame and then I'm going to come back to biology and socialization. I'll start with socialization. The way that most of us are raised the cultures that many of us are raised in, I think of them as domination cultures. And in a domination culture, we care about hierarchy, we care about, you know, in the hierarchy happens in a triangle where fewer and fewer people have access to more and more resources. And the goal and a domination structure is, you know, to be on top is to get more rank, to get more power to get more money to get more access to resources, whatever those are. And the way we do that is we pit people against each other, and we have people competing with one another. And we are really in a dualistic frame of mind that you're either good or you're bad, or you're right or you're wrong. And we play a lot in a domination culture with ideas of power over and power under we have perpetrators and victims. And we and rescuers, right we have very particular roles. And then we are trained to see the world through a very particular question, which is the question of what is wrong? It doesn't matter what's happening. When you're in domination, consciousness, you're thinking through the frame, what is wrong. And when you know, like your child cries, they come in indoors, and they're tearing up and they're crying about something every parent, you know, usually asked what's wrong, you know, like it is our habitual way of relating to each other is through this frame. And there's only one of two answers. It's either you will meet. And if there's something wrong with you, I'm going to want to change you. And I'm going to feel pretty self-righteous, and I feel angry and justified in my anger, because you're the problem. So that I'm going to help you see how you're the problem. And I'm going to get angry and forceful about trying to get you to change. Or I internalize and I think the problem must be me and too emotional and too over-sensitive and too defended. I'm too manic, I'm too whatever. And then I put myself in therapy, which is lovely, because these are easier people to work with very often. And I get more depressed, I get more anxious, my self-esteem goes down, I have more shame, I have more guilt. And then we switch places, usually in relationships. First, I am a terrible person, and then you're a terrible person. And then our relationships are based on trying to balance this thing out. So that is the cultural conditioning, the cultural conditioning is to see one another through a critical judgmental dualistic lens where we're diagnosing wrongness in ourselves and others all the time. We stay in our heads, we can tell each other very easily what we think about each other, especially the things we don't like. And then we come at one another with a lot of demand energy, where we are insisting that you must, you have to do and you should be a quote unquote good person by my standards, and then everything will be better. And if I'm not doing that to you, I'm doing that to me. And this is a realm where there's a tremendous amount of human suffering that gets cycled over and over and over. And so the compassionate communication model and the nonviolent communication model that Marshall Rosenberg developed is a way of reframing some of that. So instead of asking the question, what is wrong? We train ourselves to ask the question, what would help? So what would help is not about going backwards and anthologizing everything. It's about getting into the moment right now. Presenting, what is arising between you and me right now? And asking ourselves and each other, what will help each of us with what is our next step? What will pull us forward in a direction that we really want? So instead of trying to control one another, we're trying to connect with one another. That's the fundamental shift.
Billy Lahr: I love that. It feels like you're encouraging. Or you're discouraging a deficit mindset by asking what's wrong? And you're encouraging a proactive mindset saying, How can I help you just open my eyes completely too even just working with students moving forward? Like as they come into my office, rather than saying what's wrong and putting them in that deficit mindset? Asking them? Well, how can I help? Tell me and so then…
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: What do you need right now? Yeah, right. So in nonviolent communication, we're off we're asking very basic questions. What is happening right now, in this moment? What is arising in this moment? What am I feeling? What is alive in me? What am I feeling? What are you feeling right now? Is this about frustration, about sadness, about pain, about love about delight about curiosity? What is the feeling that is alive? For each of us? What is the need that we each have? You know, what's deeply important to me? Is this about meaning and purpose? Is this about belonging? Is this about appreciation? Is this about emotional safety? What’s coming up that is needed? And then we make requests, you know, we ask one another, we invite one another, in a in a more loose way, you know, would you be willing to do this? Would it be possible for us to try such and such, you know, I think what might help me is XYZ, does that feel like something you can do? Do you feel inspired to do that or not? What gets in the way of you wanting to do that it's um, it's a looser, more dignity, like you're honoring the dignity of the other person. So the way that you make requests and nonviolent communication, is by really centering people's ability to choose what they do and don't want to do. And having it be really important how people are feeling and what people are wanting. And then a domination system, we don't care about what people are feeling and what they're wanting, we find feelings inconvenient, and what you want unless it serves my interests, or you know, what my agenda is, I don't care about what you want. And so what we're trying to bring alive again, in our relationships is this ability to be in the present moment in the here and now with one another, and ability to become aware of what is happening for each of us in this moment. Because all healing happens in the present moment. It doesn't happen in our storytelling of what happened once. Even though there is a place for that, there is a place for understanding the story, there is a place for getting into the narrative and understanding what happened. But that's not where we actually heal, a transform will change. And it doesn't change the quality of the relationship. It can be part of an important roadmap that people need in their journey. But it's not the active ingredient. Does that make sense? It's an additive, perhaps necessary prerequisite. But it really is the intention to connect with one another's humanity, seeing each other's goodness, calling forth one another's hearts, and developing both the attention skills and the language skills and the perception skills, that we practice doing that with one another where real change can happen.
Brian Chelminiak: Yvette, I'm gonna read all your books. I'm telling you. This is great. This is really amazing. I mean, hearing this stuff and being able to put it into context like that, you know, because oftentimes, feelings are so hard to contextualize for people, but the way you put it is very organized. It's wonderful.
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Oh, I'm so glad. Yeah, it's not my book, right. I teach other people's work. So you know, definitely look up the nonviolent communication look, which is what I'm drawing from and then the biology piece just to get back to that is, you know, we often perceive danger and when we perceive danger, like somebody is about to do something to me that I find painful, whether it's judged me this is a very common one. They might judge me. I hear that a lot. Then my stress response system kicks in. And my biology doesn't help me because it puts me in a fight flight freeze mode. And what happens is my child consciousness or my victim conscious so I get put back into an earlier way of being which isn't my adult mature self. And I start reacting out of all of my defenses. And then back in a domination system because I'm seeing danger. And usually I'm turning you, whoever the quote unquote, you is, into an enemy. And this is a very disconnecting structure that doesn't help us with relationships and healing. And so that's the biology piece, learning how to work with your stress response system, learning how to become mindful in the moment and track what's happening in you and other people, learning how to slow things down and open our hearts, learning how to become a more emotionally safe and psychologically safe being that other people can relax around so.
Billy Lahr: Do you use mindfulness then when you meet with clients?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: It depends on the client and what we're working on. But yes, a lot of mindfulness work, you know, what some of my clients we do, you know, quite a bit of getting back into your body, you know, like, we'll do some guided work to just get your consciousness back into your body, because so many of us have been taught to jump out of our bodies and into our minds. And that the only place that it's safe to be is to talk from one brain to another brain, and we can talk about our feelings, but we can't be in our feelings. So some of the therapy work and the healing work is really about learning how to embody your full experience again, and then also developing the skill to talk about what you're experiencing, in a way that really connects you at a deep level with the people you care about.
Billy Lahr: Do you find that people default to answering the question? What's wrong? When you even respond with tell me how I can help you?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Always? Yes, yeah. So you know, even when I say, you know, what would help? How are you feeling? You know, what are you needing? And they'll say, Well, the problem is that he just bla bla bla, bla. And so then you know, what you're beginning your beginning with all of the cognitive analysis of what is wrong. And if you're really practicing on violence, you first join people right there, you join people where they are at. And then you find the places where you can begin building the next step, and bridging and this is the part of, you know, working with all of our parts, not making anything bad or wrong. And understanding that absolutely, everything we do is our best attempt to meet a deep need that we have in that moment. And getting curious about what the need is when somebody stays in their mind and stays in ideas of wrongness, understanding that this is a safety system, that this is a habitual default way of being designed to perhaps help them get more understanding, help them get more clarity, help them find a new move, you know, and then you join them with that intention. And then you can begin exploring and journeying into the internal realms together, but you do it side by side, not from a top down, you know, analytic anthologizing. I mean, I hear that a lot like now you're back in your head, again, don't be in your head, you should be in your feelings, it just becomes more domination system, that new content, you know, so we try to live it, instead of just teach it.
Billy Lahr: Do you find so we did a three part series on the book, the male brain by Lou, Anders and Dean. And she talks about how men are biologically prone to want to solve problems. Yeah. And so, as you talk about domination, I'm curious as you talk to your female and male clients, do you see that? Do you see that brain work in there? Do you see men wanting to change the other person when that question is presented? What's wrong?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Yeah, absolutely. So again, fixing something is a beautiful and lovely impulse wanting to solve a problem. This is all strategy to meet a deep need to contribute to one another's well-being men and women, and any other gender, you know, on the spectrum, people want to contribute to one another's well-being this is a natural state of being for healthy mammals. You know, it takes a very particular kind of trauma and developmental trauma, to have a human that isn't interested in contributing to another human's well-being. And that's a trauma response. Naturally, we have that desire. But we're socialized. And we have biology that gives us different preferences for the strategies we may use, to try to contribute to one another's well being. So one of the ways that we solve conflicts, especially in a lot of the couples that I work with, is that when you can understand that everything we do is our best strategy to meet a deep need. We can find a lot of coherence at the need level. When I can understand that what you're wanting to do is contribute to my well-being, and the strategy you're using isn't working for me. And here's one that would, then we can help one another help one another. Does that make sense, we learn how to become flexible and attuned. And it's not about you being a good or a bad person. And it's not about there being a right and a wrong way. It's just about a tuning to how we're wired differently, and how we prefer different things. You know, I like apples, and you like oranges, and I prefer mangoes, so let's just bring them all in and use them appropriately. You know, it's a very domination mindset to want to rank, which ones are better and worse, and which ones are good and bad, you know, and that kind of thinking is fragmenting thinking.
Billy Lahr: That's funny, because that's what I was doing, as you were talking about apples and oranges and vagos was like, which one do I like the best.
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: And, you know, it's also very important to love up that part of ourselves and not to see that thing that we do, as bad or wrong, either like to really appreciate the clarity of concerting that that part of our brain can provide for us, and just recognize that we might not want it making our relationship decisions.
Billy Lahr: So you've talked a little bit about relationships as a spiritual practice, and just kind of what exactly do you mean by that, when you say, we need to get to a more spiritual practice in our relationships?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Well, this is just a very personal thing. I mean, I first I wanted to say everybody gets to define their own spiritual practice and meaning and purpose on this planet. So you know, I don't know that I want to impose this on others. But for myself, the relationship work that I do in my own life, is very much motivated by my deep desire to remove in myself all barriers to love, unconditional love for myself and other beings. And so when I'm practicing, when I'm setting an intention for more loving relationships on the planet, I'm also taking the position that it is 100% up to me to bring that into my relationships, that it is about how I can be a more loving being, how I can live into being a loving, compassionate, being compact, compassionate, conscious, loving, being on the planet, not about how I get all of you to become that so that I'm more comfortable. And in that sense, it feels very much like a spiritual practice that my invitation to myself is always to come back inward and to find out what is the barrier to love and me right now what needs to be healed in me? How do I increase my capacity to bring the love that I'm wanting, not come from a place of, I can't be safe or Okay in this world until all of you can love me and my preferred ways. And in that sense, it feels like drawing on divine life energy and transcendent concepts and ideas that are bigger than me.
Billy Lahr: Have you I don't have you ever read the book? You are a badass by Jensen [inaudible 58:11]. Are you familiar with that book?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: I actually have it right here on my, on my bookcase.
Billy Lahr: Yeah, so we're actually going to talk about that book at some point here. And what you were saying totally reminded me of when she talks about, like, you need to get in touch spiritually. And it doesn't necessarily mean you have to believe in God, but that you believe in a spiritual existence, so that you can so that you can love yourself. Like she says that over and over and over again, love yourself throughout the book. And, and part of that, she says, is that spiritual practice to, to come to that ability to say, Hey, I'm a badass, I need to love myself, and that there is an energy that's out there that I need to tap into. So what is that energy?
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Yeah, I love that, you know, counter intuitively, for me, the more that I love myself, the easier it is for me to love all of the difficult people in my life. You know, and the more that they move into shame, or guilt or self-judgment, the more I perceive other people as shaming, judgmental, dangerous, unsafe, and the less available I am to them, you know, the more they're going to deal with my defensiveness and my slightness and my passive aggressiveness and all of my, you know, default defensive behaviors that are designed to hurt and drive people away. And the more that I'm living in a place of like real deep self-appreciation and knowing my own goodness, and knowing that I'm actually okay. The more supple and available and tender and attuned and gentle. I am with the humans that I Interacting with. And I mentioned that only because so many people have some programming that it's selfish to love ourselves. And it's actually the other way around. It's, it's incredibly selfish not to love yourself. Because when you don't love yourself, you're bringing a really unpleasant energy everybody else around you. Whereas when you're radiating goodness, you are, you know, it's like lighting candles, you know, when you light a candle, you're not taking anything away from the original candle, you're just bringing more light into the world. And so it's the same thing, when we love ourselves, we just bring more of what is needed. And since we are the people that we get to change, and everybody else, we sort of need to stay out of their lane, it's really important to put the energy on the one being that you do get to change.
Billy Lahr: I'm not gonna lie, I actually almost had an emotional response to that last, that last part right there because that really hit home. So we want to thank you so much for this amazingly enlightening conversation. We just absolutely blown away by what you had to share today. And we hope all of you out there listening are feeling this as much as we are. So
Brian Chelminiak: I got to be honest, I'm gonna have to go back and listen to this episode like 510 times to just process all the information accurately that you've delivered for us. So thank you. That is quite impressive. First off, but and very good of you to do.
Billy Lahr: Yes, we really, really appreciate it. We strongly encourage people to go to www.yvetteerasmus.com. She has introductory programs there. She has core offerings there. You could do private sessions with her. And she has specialized workshops available for you as well. Dr. Yvette thank you so much for being on the show today.
Dr. Yvette Erasmus: Thank you. It's my pleasure. It's been a delight to be here. Thank you.
Billy Lahr: Thank you.
Break: Thanks for listening to the Mindful Midlife Crisis. We will do our best to put out new content every Wednesday to help get you over the midweek. If you'd like to contact us, or if you have suggestions about what you'd like us to discuss. Feel free to email us at mindful midlife. firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Instagram at mindful_midlife_crisis. Check out the show notes for links to the articles and resources we referenced throughout the show. Oh, and don't forget to show yourself some love every now and then. And now back to the show.
Welcome back to the Mindful Midlife Crisis. Brian have all that information that Dr. Yvette shared with us, which was all gold. Mind you it's all gold. What do you remember what sticks out to you? What is something that that you're going to continue thinking about?
Brian Chelminiak: This? This may be a little off topic. But this is the first guests that we've had that we've involved three separate continents in our conversation. I mean, I feel a little more worldly. Just having the conversation.
Billy Lahr: Yeah. And I've lived in Minnesota my whole life. So my worldview is really limited. And I feel like travelling has helped me broaden my understanding of the world just but only my neatly. This is somebody who has grown up in, like, think about apartheid South Africa. I know the historical implications and relevance of that in our lifetime. That alone is a story.
Brian Chelminiak: She lived in Egypt she lived in.
Billy Lahr: And it cracked me up just like yeah, and we would go to the camels like she was like, we ride the camels and go to the pyramids, like we would take somebody to the Mall of America.
Brian Chelminiak: Oh, yeah.
Billy Lahr: Like the fact that her dad was a politician to uphold the policies of apartheid and her mother was fighting against them. What was also interesting to me is how she talked about because she moved around so much. At first she didn't feel like she belonged anywhere. And then she recognized that she was a chameleon. And I feel like that word has come up a lot in our conversations with people.
Brian Chelminiak: You're right.
Billy Lahr: Tom Cody mentioned something about being real. And you can [inaudible 01:04:29] talked about being a professional chameleon. And she and Dr. Yvette mentioned also that she just feels like a chameleon. To me, if we're talking about themes popping out. The importance of being able to adapt to new surroundings is really something that we need to embrace as people.
Brian Chelminiak: So to answer your question a little more directly. I think what impressed me most is just her the depth of her life experience. I mean, even if she was not a doctor and not as well learned as she is on all the subject matter she was talking about. I mean, just as a person, she's completely fascinating so.
Billy Lahr: Agreed, agreed. Two things that really stood out to me when she was talking about two more things that really stood out to me the one that she was talking about, was shifting that question from what's wrong to what do you need, and taking people out of a deficit mindset? And really giving them an opportunity to express that? This is what helped me in this moment here, rather than ruminating on the injustice that's been done, let's talk about an action plan, what is it that you need to in order to move forward.
Brian Chelminiak: Positive action to remedy the situation? Yeah.
Billy Lahr: And I feel like that is the next step to what she talked about at the end here, which was loving yourself, and, and it really hit me when she talked about its not selfish, to love yourself. And I think there's a fine line between loving yourself and being arrogant. And I think that kind of goes back to the four quadrants where she talked about when you have the skill, but you don't care. Right. And I think that manipulation piece plays a big role in that too. But you can love yourself and not be arrogant and not be seen as selfish. And we need to do that because we need to heal ourselves first before we can project our interpretation of what's wrong with others on to them, and it really connects with I just finished reading the book The person you mean to be by Dr. Dolly Chug, which is, oh, we're gonna need to talk about that one.
Brian Chelminiak: Yeah, that's a good one.
Billy Lahr: Yeah, it's, it's unbelievable. It's, I'm not lying, like this conversation with a doctor, your vet was life changing. That book is also life changing. And I just feel like we need to continue seeking out resources that are life changing.
Brian Chelminiak: Oh, yeah, that's great.
Billy Lahr: We also talked about you are a badass by Jensen cero. And even it's great that even Dr. Yvette has that book on her bookshelf. So that's almost reaffirming in a way to know that, hey, we're reading a book that someone who is so worldly, and so knowledgeable is also reading that book. And so we would recommend that book and we would recommend the person you mean to be we'd also recommend that you access Dr. Yvette’s free online course and workbook, which breaks down the four quadrants of communication that she discussed, you can access that at her website, www.yvetteerasmus.com. Go through that material. It's a it's like a journal. It's like a diary. It's an opportunity for you to reflect on what toxicity exists in your relationships, so that you can remove those and open yourself up, like Dr. Yvette said, removing barriers to loving yourself. And if you find yourself in a power struggle, whether it's at work or with a relationship or with a family member, that workbook and her free online course may set you on a path towards loving yourself more. Thank you Dr. Yvette for sharing your worldly experience with us. Thank you for sharing your incredible depth of knowledge with us. We greatly appreciate the time that you took to speak with us. And for Brian. This is Billy, thank you for listening to the Mindful Midlife Crisis made you feel happy, healthy and loved. Take care of friends.