We’ll explore how prioritizing our own personal growth and self-care can translate into stronger and more fulfilling relationships with our partners. We’ll also be sharing tips and strategies for cultivating a sense of inner fulfillment and well-being, and how to apply these principles to our relationships.

Welcome to another episode of our podcast, where we explore topics related to personal growth, relationships, and well-being now releasing every 3 weeks instead of once a month!

Today’s episode is all about the connection between personal fulfillment and healthy relationships. We’ll be discussing how finding fulfillment within ourselves can positively impact our romantic relationships and lead to greater satisfaction and happiness.

Many of you know I like to cite research as the beginning background of each episode to validate why it is an important topic. Research has shown that there is a link between self-fulfillment and relationship satisfaction. Here are three studies that support this connection:

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people who have a strong sense of personal identity and feel fulfilled in their own lives are more likely to have positive and satisfying relationships with their partners. The study also found that people who are not fulfilled in their own lives may be more likely to experience conflict and negative emotions in their relationships.

Another study published in the Journal of Family Psychology found that self-fulfillment and personal growth are important predictors of relationship satisfaction in both men and women. The study found that when individuals feel a sense of personal growth and fulfillment, they are more likely to feel satisfied with their relationships and less likely to experience conflict with their partners.

A third study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that people who have a higher sense of well-being and personal fulfillment are more likely to have positive and satisfying relationships with their partners. The study found that individuals who prioritize their own happiness and fulfillment are better able to cope with stress and conflict in their relationships, which can lead to greater relationship satisfaction.

Overall, these studies suggest that there is a strong link between self-fulfillment and relationship satisfaction. Prioritizing personal growth and well-being can lead to positive outcomes in both personal and romantic relationships. Remember, personal fulfillment is a journey, not a destination. Be patient and kind to yourself as you explore what brings you joy and purpose, and don’t be afraid to try new things and take risks along the way.

Inner fulfillment is a lifelong journey: Finding inner fulfillment is not a destination, but rather an ongoing journey. It requires self-reflection, self-awareness, and a willingness to embrace change and growth. It’s important to stay open to new experiences, to learn from challenges and setbacks, and to continue exploring what brings you a sense of inner peace and purpose throughout your life.

So sit back, relax, and join us as we dive into the fascinating world of personal fulfillment and its transformative impact on relationships. Today’s guest is Shirin Etessam is an entrepreneur, seasoned media executive, contributor to Rolling Stone and transformational speaker. She has produced films, original television series and specials, created several companies, and led campaigns for some of the world’s most recognized companies. Shirin founded OML TV, a popular platform dedicated to streaming and curating quality, queer female, video content. She  has/will publish her newest book Free To Be : A Six Week Guide To Reclaiming Your Soul.

Rhoda: Let’s begin with how would you define inner fulfillment? And why is it important for people to cultivate a sense of it in their lives?

Shirin: Great question. So I would define inner fulfillment as the natural ability to live our lives from the inside out that it becomes our default. Why is it important? I can’t actually imagine anything more important, I completely, and I mean, completely believe that self transformation is global transformation. Because that should actually be our starting point. At any given time, if I was queen of education, I would make that the number one priority in educating our children. So I’ll stop there.

Rhoda: I love that I really do. I think that that kids thinking about their own path in their own ways, I think sometimes education contributes a little bit too much to conformity, and not enough to seeking individual needs and wants.


Oh, absolutely. I mean, we want to have these, you know, very unique, fulfilled content, passionate children. And yet we give them a cookie cutter education. And to me, all of those, you know, all the things that they studied the basics, or important, and they should have it, you know, but for them to spend, you know, weeks studying Mesopotamian times, but yet not know how to relate to their siblings or their friends. Or, you know, why am I feeling this way? There’s there’s a strong Miss there.


Yes, absolutely. Many people struggle to find a sense of purpose or direction. Sometimes it happens in retirement, which I’ve been talking to a lot of people about, how can people identify their own values, passions and sense of purpose in order to find inner fulfillment?


Another great question. And I actually spend the first half of my book talking about it, because you hear people who are like, you have to live your passion, or, or follow your bliss, or, or you hear follow your heart, which is a total misnomer, which I could talk about a little bit later. But, but, like, most people don’t know what their bliss is, how to find it, you know, it’s sort of, like look within people look within, and it’s just full of like muck and Schmidt, and white noise. So truthfully, like how you can’t really, you sit there, you know, even if you’re oming it out, I mean, unless you get to a place where you’re truly owning it out and meditating. But when you first look within, usually it Isn’t this like, vast valley of butterflies and rainbows where your, you know, true self is, is sitting there, you know, in lotus position. You know what I mean? It’s just waiting for you. Right? So, so much of and again, the first half of my book is literally undoing unlearning, unpacking, excavating your way to your true essence, your your soul. So, you know, it takes some doing, but it is very, very possible. So it’s not a, I don’t think that it’s a matter of just knowing I think that it takes work in order to get to get back to our true selves, which is the work of the work of the book.


Can you give one idea that my audience could do while they’re waiting to buy your book?


Um, you mean as far as activating Well, so, actually. So the first three weeks are in part one, and they’re detoxing the mind, detoxing the heart. And detoxing our bodies. That’s that’s the process. So again, the whole detox is the removing the unlearning. So you can get to yourself, yourself your bliss, you know that, that inner sense of knowing and, and fulfillment. And, and it’s, you know, especially in this society I think we are very we’re always looking for that kind of quick fix. And the truth of it is that there is no quick fix. I mean, it took me six years to figure out the process that I’ve condensed into six weeks, I truly can’t condense it more than that. But if I was to say, like, I would just say that with you know, week one, it’s all about limiting the content that you absorb. And also truly realizing that we are not our thoughts. Finding the ability and I offer a few different ways of doing so, of separating ourselves from our thoughts. So we truly get that we are having thoughts rather than thoughts having us and and I would say that, that, that having that aha moment, alone was one of the biggest magical miracles in my process. And once you get it much like balancing a bike, balancing on a bike, you can’t on you can’t on an unbalanced, you can’t unknow it, you know, week two is all about the heart detox. And usually when we talk about the heart, it’s visa vie relationships. But as you said in the intro, so much of that has to be with ourselves. First how we relate to our feelings, and then also not tasking the heart with things that the soul or our minds should take care of, you know, like, you know, anything that is logical that shouldn’t be done with the heart, the heart truly is your inner child, I call it your inner puppy. So acknowledging the emotions, caring for them, loving them, but not taking our cue from our hearts. And I think that’s important. And then our body, besides eating well, sleeping well. Exercising and such, it’s also changing our, our relationship with our bodies, as our sacred vessel through this life.

So as far as what they can, people can start today, I would just say, knowing that we are not our thoughts. Not allowing our heart to lead the way because that’s a total misnomer. And I can talk about that. And with our bodies just like knowing that there is a better relationship to be had with our bodies, then either ignoring it, or abusing it, which is pretty much our default. We they’re expected to come along with everything that we do up until the time it says fu I can’t anymore, you know, and usually that shows up in the form of some form of disease. Or we’re just abusive to it. And I mean, the way we talked about our to our bodies about like not being in shape into fat being too old, all that you know. So, again, I don’t know if those are quick fixes, but I would suggest those


But these are ways to think and evaluate yourself and get yourself a little more grounded, which is helpful. Why don’t we go ahead and pursue how the heart is a misnomer.


Following the heart is a misnomer. Because the heart as a as I mentioned, a lot of people refer to it as one’s inner child. I think that’s a little cliche. So I started calling it your inner puppy. But truthfully, if you look at a child, you look at a puppy, all they want is your attention, your love, your care, your acknowledgement, your encouragement, right? You wouldn’t ask them to be like, Okay, well, what do I want to do? You know, who am I to be like, I don’t know. Oh, can I have some popcorn? You know what I mean? And, you know, I mean, I joke and just the bid but But truthfully, that is like, the heart needs tending. And it needs protection. So we feel all the fields, whether they are the good feelings or the bad feelings, because they’re just all feelings. So if anger arises, you acknowledge anger, you don’t push it down, figure out a channel, and I go through the, all the basic emotions, and then talk about how the basic emotions combined create the complex emotions, and the purpose that they have in our lives. So it isn’t, you know, we’re also like, addicted to happy, you know, there’s happy joy, you know, and then I actually talked about the movie Inside Out. You know, where and I think is such a brilliant movie. Where Joy realizes it needs sadness, in order to get to where it it needs to, which is


that yes, it was such a great message. It really was, yes.


Genius. I mean, seriously, genius for adults to go, Oh, my God, yes. And for children to go, Oh, okay. That’s what I mean, about, like, changing children’s perspectives in that way and acknowledging it, because they’re surely feeling it. You know, like, if a child cries, you know, for it’s like, Oh, it’s okay. You know, and instead of minimizing, like, really acknowledging the pain, so, you know, and they talked about, like, anytime an emotion arrives, see what it’s, therefore, spend time with it. Take care of what you need to, you know, and if you’re done with it, you know, show them show it the door, or have it sit in the back of the bus, just don’t let it drive. That is it. So, so, truthfully, when we are talking about following our hearts, it’s really following our souls. An example that I give, and the difference between it is that when I was writing the book, my kids were in my ex’s School District, which is, they still are, and there’s reasons we decided that but their middle school in particular was 40 minutes away. So for her, it was half the time for us, it was double the time and it was worth it. But I’d have to wake up the kids at like, I think it was 530 or 545. And we would drive, you know, and it would be and it’s the commitment I made. If it was up to my heart. It would want to sleep in it would want somebody to make it like a big breakfast, you know, brew some coffee take care of me. So like if I listen to my heart, there’s no way I would just keep pushing the buzzer, you know, the sleep button. But it’s my soul that has a commitment to those kids that goes beyond anything I feel or think or whatever. It’s that kind of wisdom. So it isn’t a matter of recommitting yourself to something because you like it or you don’t like it. The soul just is is the main driver. So when the you know, and it could be that I’m upset with the kids about something. I still drive them. I could it could be that, you know, I’m totally stressed out about something else happening. I still drive them. Why? Because I have a soul commitment to them. That’s the difference there.


Oh, I love that distinction I really do. When I think about so many people in really terrible relationships. The heart wants, what the heart wants, and not kind of thinking about who they are and the price that they’re paying. And I love the distinction between the heart and the soul. I’ve always used the definition I forgot where it came from. I think Bill Moyers that soul is a reverence for what’s authentic. And I think part of what’s authentic is the price that you pay to be in a bad relationship and being able to evaluate what that means for you in your life. And and thinking about it in a serious way. So I really like that that’s that’s a terrific distinction. This question is based on knowing that many people begin inner Fulfillment By exploring their passions, but many people who have anxiety or per factionism find it very difficult to determine what their passions are. What advice do you have for these folks?


By no means? Would I say that I am a mental health professional? You know, so and I think that anxiety and depression have so many nuances, and so many reasons that really need to be explored and unpacked.


Fears squelch so many possibilities, and that I actually, I That’s why I said anxiety and perfectionism, because it’s that fear of not doing it perfectly. It’s that fear of doing something unfamiliar. And I think for inner fulfillment, exploring possibilities, whether you’re successful or not, is important. Would you agree? Well,


so I absolutely, I think that if you remove if you remove expectation, and I know that this is a difficult one, but truthfully, when you’re talking about inner fulfillment, you are, it is such a courageous act of self care, that truly should not be about anyone else, except yourself. So when it is imagine yourself in a private room, where no one is looking, and all you are doing is taking care of yourself. Hopefully, at that point, you feel the safety so that the anxiety relaxes, and you’ve let go of the perfectionism because no one’s watching. It’s purely you, at you and your self care. So, and I think there’s actually something also to the letting go of what we believe the process or the outcome should be, you know, so many times, I think that when, at least the way that it’s presented, is that you’re going to go on this spiritual journey, or you’re going to go on this soul journey. And somehow you’re, it’s a matter of like, retreats and spas and ashrams and sitting in Lotus positions and rainbows and butterflies, but it’s not.

At least my process wasn’t that way. In the early days, it was dark and fearful and confusing. And at, I mean, if there was, there was no, it wasn’t pretty. And I think that if we can let go of our expectations of what that journey will look like, then we have the freedom to just explore as, as it comes. And for every one, it is different. You know, and I wrote the book, acknowledging the fact that it’s different, like, if you are this personality type, you do this, if you you know, if you know, if if, you know, meditation brings up, and I try specifically not to concentrate too much on meditation, because that’s seems like it’s everybody’s go to, but not everybody is a meditator. But I do say things like, you know, if you feel that, you know, if you when you are meditating, negative thoughts, start cutting, like dangerous negative thoughts, then definitely stop, you know. So I think it’s really important to meet yourself where you are, in this process, and, and with that, there is a tremendous amount of acceptance that needs to happen. And then and let go of expectations while you’re doing this process, the process is purely for you. And there is no right and wrong. There just isn’t.


I was taking a walk with somebody who had just retired and was finding it really difficult. And I talked about the value of wandering, and that, you know, we’re kind of a culture that’s addicted to the straight line, I call it the American straight line of progress. And I and I said that Asians really value wandering and not having answers and not going right after something directly. And that wandering really has a value to it. And she found that really interesting and, you know, it was kind of nice to just plant a little seed but I think that’s part of what you’re talking about is being able to wander and not necessarily know.


Well, there’s so much to that. I mean, if you talk about other cultures, there’s also tremendous value placed on the elderly. Yes, you know, the older you become, the Wiser you become so there is, you know, where as in, you know, our culture is so youth oriented, that, you know, especially like, I mean, by the time women hit menopause, it’s like, oh, whatever they call it, the latter stage, the decline and all of that, which is completely false. So, I think it’s people retiring, I mean, in many ways is, is stepping out of that cycle, or, as you call it, that’s that straight line. So much value is put on one’s career, which I, you know, also have talked a great deal about, you know, I actually wrote an articles either for Rolling Stone or Forbes, about that, how people often confuse their self identity with their career. So then their career goes aside. And, you know, they’re in this like, vacuum, much like, you know, many parents who define themselves only by parenthood, and then they find themselves as empty nesters, and they, you know, are left wondering, you know, what’s next and what to do. So I think that if we shift our perspective on who we are, and not limit ourselves to, you know, I am a parent, or I am a banker, or I am a teacher, and and see life for the greater magical journey that it is, then you’re just stepping into a different realm of being and there is much to explore.

I qualify, maybe more like, transformational speaker but, but more, so I haven’t turned, you know, I’m like, I’m evolving. I’m, it doesn’t mean that what I did before, doesn’t count. And it doesn’t mean that I’m not moving it forward. It just, it looks different, you know, so if you are a banker, you know, maybe some of those expertise or experiences that you’ve gained will lead you to other things that have nothing to do with work, but still fulfill you. But I think that more than anything, it’s the decoupling ourselves from what it is that we do as our identity, then it becomes a matter of exploring life and that exploration is endless and truly magical.


Yes, I would agree. What are some common barriers or obstacles that prevent people from experiencing in our film fulfillment, and how can people overcome these challenges?


Yet another great question. So I think that we all have barriers. To You know, I’m thinking of that Rumi quote that says, Your, your purpose isn’t to find love, but to remove all the obstacles to love. I would say the same thing to about fulfillment. It isn’t. The goal isn’t finding fulfillment. It’s just lifting all the barriers to it. Because it’s, it’s all there. And we have I mean, there there’s a lot of talk about disassociation. And now they are more research is coming out and I love the fact that you mix, research and, and self growth. Because I do too, and the book, just because I, it’s really important for me to take the work out of the realm of the woowoo. You know, I want to make it very, very practical. So spiritual wellness isn’t a matter of, you know, like, magical thinking it’s very taking very, very practical steps toward it. So, going back to this association, there’s more studies coming out that we all have some form of some form of disassociation or detachment at a very young age, usually between zero and five, zero and seven, where as babies and toddlers, we are googoo.

That’s why we love children, because they are so like, full of the life that you know, we have less and less. And, and then something happens, you know, and that’s something could be really big or quite small, it could be that you’re in a unhealthy environment or a toxic situation. And, and that creates damage to the child. But it could also be, you know, the toddler who was in, in its crib, and you know, the parents didn’t come soon enough to pick it up. So, it at some point, we learn to stop taking our cues from our true essence and start listening to the outside world. And that’s really, when those layers that I’ve been talking about comes in because we learn the do’s and the don’ts and the rules and the regulations and get the grades to get the awards to get the positions to get the you know, whatever that the that line is that you you’ve talked about. So it’s it again, it’s it’s truly in the undoing this, in the book I talk about just for a visual that I think is so gorgeous.

I talk about the movie The Black Stallion, did you ever see I haven’t I it’s just it’s such a amazing, amazing film. So it’s worth watching Francis Ford Coppola made I’ve gotten I don’t know, it’s been 30 years now. But it’s very, very quickly. It’s about a boy and a Black Stallion that get there in a shipwreck together, and they end up on an island together, and it’s just the two of them. And first, they’re afraid of each other. And then they slowly become friends. And the Black Stallion allows the little boy to ride them bareback. And there’s all these gorgeous scenes of them running, you know, through sunset and having a great time. And then they’re discovered. And they’re taken back home. And then they tried to separate the boy from the horse and neither one of them will have it they just have to be together. So the boys is taught to be a jockey. They’re like, Okay, if you’re gonna be with a horse, you need to be a jockey. So he learns all the rules and the regulations and all the do’s and he’s all geared up and all of that, and then he’s at this big race and, and out of the gate, he and the horse stumble there, all the other horses take off. And so he you know, they they get settled again, and start running. And as they’re galloping, you watch the boy like there’s this close up and I get chills talking about it every time. You just you can see the boy processing and as he’s doing it, he starts taking off everything that they have put on him, the helmet, the goggles, the whips the shirt, like all of it, and he starts riding the horse the way he did on the island. And that that is my entire book. 

If you want to hear the episode use the player above. If you want to learn more about Shirin Etessam please check out her website: https://www.shirinetessam.com

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