News & Media

Interview: RealSimple Magazine

Interview: RealSimple Magazine

How to Find More Time Alone—Without Feeling Lonely

If you’re one of the rare people who like spending time by themselves, enjoy this article as validation of your natural instincts. If, on the other hand, you’re among those who would rather endure physical pain than spend time alone with your thoughts (true story: in a 2014 study published in Science, many of the participants preferred to give themselves electric shocks rather than spend 6 to 15 minutes by themselves with nothing to do), we’d like to change your mind about solitude.

Boss Management 101

Boss Management 101

A positive and mutually respectful relationship with your boss not only makes going to work more pleasant, it can have a significant impact on your job performance and career. But some managers make this very challenging. Many bosses have never learned effective managerial and leadership skills, so average to bad managers are more the norm than the exception.

What Every Woman Should Be Able to Say

What Every Woman Should Be Able to Say

Lauren’s Interview with Real Simple Magazine's Melanie Mannarino

What did you say the last time someone paid you a compliment? If it was anything other than “Thank you,” keep reading. “Many people feel so uncomfortable with compliments that they’ll put themselves down,” says Lauren Mackler, life/relationship/career coach and author of Solemate: Master the Art of Aloneness & Transform Your Life. “They’ll respond with, ‘Oh this old thing,’ or ‘It’s fake!’” Mackler says you can learn to accept the praise—enjoy it even—and respond accordingly. “Pay attention to your reaction when you’re complimented,” she says. “How do you feel physically and emotionally: Does your face burn? Do you feel embarrassed? That’s your cue to change your story.”

Lauren in the News

Lauren in the News

Working for a superstar boss can be a career-making move for loyal lieutenants. But when that boss gets a better job somewhere else, does it pay to follow? Following can be a career boost, but betting on a superstar’s next success also has its risks. In this article in The Wall Street Journalreporter Joann Lublin interviews Lauren Mackler and other experts about the pros and cons of following your boss to a new job. To read the article in The Wall Street Journal, click here

Celebrate Your Self!

Flowers and chocolate are just lovely on Valentine’s Day if you have a Valentine. If you don't, it can be just down right depressing. Lauren Mackler, coach, psychotherapist & best-selling author of "Solemate: Master the Art of Aloneness & Transform Your Life," was recently interviewed on FOX about Valentine's Day as an opportunity to celebrate your relationship with your self.


SOLEMATE WEEKEND WORKSHOP!3/16-18, 2012 at Kripalu Lenox, MA

Are you ready to gain mastery over your own life? Many people spend years waiting for a “soul mate” to make them feel complete. Others settle for difficult or unfulfilling or relationships out of fear of being alone. Instead of depending on someone else to make you whole, this workshop takes you on a life-changing journey to greater self-mastery, empowerment, and well-being—whether you’re living your life on your own or in a relationship. For more info or to register, click here.

Busting the Break-Up Blues

I was recently interviewed by reporter Elizabeth Bernstein for her column in the Wall Street Journal. Below is the full interview.  WSJ: How do you take your mind off of someone and not text them?

LM: People often call, text, or email their ex because they feel lonely, anxious, or in response to replaying happy memories of the relationship over and over in their head. In the aftermath of a break up, people often screen out the bad stuff, and focus on the good parts of the relationship—even if the happy times had disappeared months or years before the break up.

In an unconscious attempt to alleviate loneliness or anxiety, people reach out to their ex to keep the connection alive, since they associate the person or relationship with feeling loved, happy, or safe. Instead of ruminating on the memories that trigger loneliness or anxiety, bring yourself back into the reality of why the relationship didn’t work. Write down what didn’t work or that caused you pain in the relationship. Focus on the reality of today, instead of the story you’re telling yourself about the past.

WSJ: Are there stages of breakup emotions? What are they?

LM: Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s 5 stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—apply to all kinds of major loss, including a significant break up. People experience the stages differently, depending on their personality traits and resiliency, past experiences, and overall mental and emotional health. For example, someone who tends to respond to life challenges with anger will have more difficulty feeling the sadness of the depression stage and can remain stuck in the anger stage for months or even years. People more prone to depression may bypass the anger stage and spend more time in the depression stage before moving into acceptance.

If you find yourself stuck in any of the stages, seek professional help. While these stages are normal in a break up, being unable to move through them is a sign that there may be deeper issues at play. Break ups often trigger the pain of childhood trauma and experiences (divorce, death of a parent, abandonment, or physical, verbal, or sexual abuse). Because these wounds are often buried in the subconscious, people think it’s the break up that’s making them feel so bad, when the break up may be the trigger of those feelings, not the root cause.

WSJ: Do men and women handle breakups differently?

LM: Based on my work with clients over the past 20 years, I’d say that the more dependent someone is on a partner for their sense of self-worth, identity, and/or financial security, the more devastated they are by the break up. Although much has changed over the past 40 years—and there are certainly many exceptions—comparatively, more women rely on men for their self-worth, identity, or financial security than the other way around. But there are other forms of dependency, like emotional dependence (needing someone else to make you happy) and domestic dependence (relying on another person for cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, etc.).

Based on what I’ve seen in my practice, I’d say that generally, more men are emotionally and domestically dependent on women than the other way around. But regardless of the form of the dependency, the more one relies on another human being for their emotional, financial, or day-to-day well-being the harder it is when that person goes out of their life. Because men are more conditioned not to express their feelings, women tend to have an easier time talking about the painful feelings of a break up. But men can be just as devastated by a break up as women, even if they have a harder time expressing it.

WSJ: What are bad ways to handle a breakup?

LM: No matter what happened to cause the final break up, every relationship is a co-creation of the couple’s interpersonal dynamics, including those that can lead to an infidelity. While anger is a normal emotion, continuously blaming your partner keeps you stuck in a victim role and unable to move forward. As hard as it can be, exploring your role in the relationship and its demise allows you to move out of the victim role and gain valuable lessons about what to do—or not to do—in a relationship going forward.

Instead of blaming their partner, many people use the break up against themselves—being self-critical, judging what they did or didn’t do, or bombarding themselves with guilt and regret. Understand that you both did the best you could do with the knowledge and skills you had at the time. It’s important to take responsibility for your part in the relationship and break up, but this doesn’t mean berating yourself. Instead, have compassion for yourself because you really did do the best you could at the time.

Another common mistake people make is delving right into another relationship. Recovering from a break up takes time, so getting immediately involved with someone new will only postpone your healing.

WSJ: How can people work through all the feelings of a break-up?

LM: When I’m working with a client, I encourage them to look deeper than the “symptoms” of the situation—who said or did what—to the underlying, repetitive patterns that deteriorated the relationship. Since you can’t change the other person, the work should be focused on you—not on the other person. Explore the patterns and feelings you experienced in the relationship and ask yourself, “Which of these are familiar to me from other times in my life and in other relationships?” These are what I call people’s “core wounds.” Understanding what they are and from where they originate—and then implementing action steps to address and heal them—is a far more effective response to a break up than keeping yourself stuck in blame, anger, or guilt, and repeating the same patterns and outcomes relationship after relationship.

WSJ: How much time does it take to get over someone?

Recovery time varies, depending on the length of the relationship, the availability of a support system, the person’s personality traits and coping skills, the nature of the relationship and break up, whether or not children are involved, and the person’s overall mental and emotional health. The longer and more meaningful the relationship, the greater the loss and the longer it takes to heal. Recovery can take as little as a few months for a shorter-term relationship to several years for a long-term partnership or marriage. However, I’ve known people who never did the work to recover from their break up and spent the rest of their lives angry, bitter, and miserable.

WSJ: How do you help people face their feelings and understand what they did wrong or what to do differently next time to grow and learn from the experience? Can you share an example?

LM: “Bridget” attended my Moving Beyond a Break-Up or Divorce workshop and went on to work with me individually in my Illumineering coaching program. Her husband had left her for another woman and she was alone with 2 small children. When I met her, she felt abandoned, scared, and very bad about herself, believing that her husband had left because she wasn’t attractive, interesting, and intelligent enough.

To uncover the roots of her low self-esteem, we examined the family system she grew up in and her childhood experiences. Growing up with an emotionally aloof, critical father and a passive, self-deprecating mother, Bridget recognized that her feelings of not being good enough had plagued her since she was a little girl. She spent her life seeking others’ approval by saying and doing what others wanted—a pattern she continued in her marriage.

Recognizing how she had unconsciously replicated the dynamics played out in her parents’ relationship in her own marriage dramatically shifted her perspective. She realized that her negative beliefs about herself were ones she had adopted growing up, and how she continually reinforced them by making others’ needs more important than her own and allowing others—including her husband—to treat her like a doormat. This realization helped her move out of the role of the helpless victim and take responsibility for her part in the marriage and its demise.

The next part of the work involved developing an action plan to reclaim what I call her “lost parts”—the parts of her that feel empowered, strong, intelligent, and good about herself. Bridget was a chronic “People Pleaser” who always said what she thought others expected, so she had no idea how to express her real thoughts and feelings to others. We spent 2 sessions on effective communication coaching to help her learn how to communicate in ways that would strengthen versus weaken her relationships with others.

Another way her feelings of unworthiness had affected her throughout her life was that she always felt ashamed of her body and physical appearance. She hid beneath baggy clothes, didn’t wear make up, and tried to diminish her height by slouching her shoulders. We focused on helping her celebrate her physical appearance versus trying to hide it. She bought clothes that no longer hid her body, she began to experiment with make up, and she took a six-week belly dancing class to experience having fun in her body and override old feelings of shame.

Another action step we devised to reclaim her self-worth was to ask her boss for a raise. For a long time, she felt undercompensated and undervalued at work but was too afraid to ask for more money. To prepare for her meeting with her boss, I had Bridget make a list of her contributions, including the revenue she had generated over the past year for the company. When she reviewed her list, she realized how much she had accomplished, strengthening her confidence to ask for—and receive—the raise.


Be Healthy Boston Interview

I was interviewed recently by Abigail Hueber on the topic of wellness and the upcoming Be Healthy Boston conference, where I'll be speaking January 28, 2012. AB: How do you define “wellness”?

LM: I define it as living in alignment with your authentic self. Living life based on fear, others’ expectations, or pain produces mental and emotional imbalance. Not only does this deplete our precious life energy, but over time it can lead to physical problems and even life-threatening illness…To read the entire interview, click here.


College Prep 101

Lauren Mackler, coach and bestselling author of “Solemate: Master the Art of Aloneness & Transform Your Life,” has advice for people gearing up for returning to school this fall. “It’s not unusual for people to feel apprehensive, nervous or even fearful about the start of a new school year,” she said. “Returning to school involves meeting new people, gaining new knowledge and skills, and perhaps even a new school and academic environment.” Mackler said students need to exude confidence and feel like they can do it. “If you are walking around fearful, you give off insecure kind of energy that is not compelling to people,” she said...To read the entire article in the Boston Herald, click here.



Get into Your Uncomfy Zone

Facing the great unknown? Here's some help. Many of us never leave our comfort zones unless we're forced to. So when we're confronted with a major change in life, our routine is broken and we're plunged into unknown waters. However, such upheavals can result in unexpected positive outcomes. "By going outside your comfort zone, you're gaining new experiences, meeting new people, gaining new knowledge and skills, and strengthening different parts of yourself," says Lauren Mackler, life coach and author of Solemate (Hay House)... To read the entire article on Body + Soul, click here.

Demystifying Sex Addiction

It’s disheartening to me that so many people fail to view sex addiction as a SYMPTOM of much deeper issues. All addictions are misguided attempts to manage “pain” (self-loathing, anxiety, anger, etc.). Unless you address the roots of people’s pain, treatment won’t be effective. To read my interview with CNN about Anthony Weiner and sex addiction, click here.

The Art of Ex-Etiquette

Lauren's Interview with Psychologies Magazine PM: When is the right time or when are you in the right place to resume a relationship with your ex?

LM: If you are parents, it’s in your children’s best interest to co-parent in a civil and mutually-respectful manner. Divorce is always painful. When one parent demeans the other in front of the children it creates life-long, emotional and psychological wounds. If need be, seek out a therapist, mediator, or coach to help you devise a co-parenting plan and develop effective communication and conflict management skills. Ask yourself, “What’s more important—my anger and resentment or the health and well-being of my children?”

When one person still has romantic feelings or the desire to get back together as a couple and their ex doesn’t feel the same, friendship doesn’t work. The one longing to be a couple continuously feels rejected, which invokes feelings of guilt, frustration, and/or resentment in the other.

By the end of a relationship, many couples have become ‘intimate enemies’ and don’t even like the other person, let alone love them. There has to be a foundation of mutual respect, shared values, and appreciation of the other person. These are important in any friendship, but especially so when transitioning from a partnership to a friendship.

PM: Is it important to examine your motives for wanting to stay friends; for example, guilt, wanting to get back together, trying to make someone jealous, or the inability to let go? What sort of good motives are there for wanting to stay friends? Is it important that your motives and expectations are the same?

LM: Hidden agendas such as financial or material gain, fear of being alone, appearing desirable to others, or relieving guilt ultimately contaminate the friendship. When someone uses another person for their own gain, sooner or later the person being used becomes resentful and the relationship implodes. There has to be shared mutual benefit. These can include enjoying a close and supportive friendship with someone you care about and who cares about you, maintaining a shared social circle, or for ex’s who work together, being able to have a positive relationship at work.

PM: What should you do if when you’re together, your old feelings are reignited and you begin to want more than friendship? Should you back off and re-evaluate? Does this mean you may not be ready for friendship?

LM: Take the time to examine your feelings and what’s driving them. Are you missing the person or just your life as a couple? If it’s the latter, it’s time to learn how to live life on your own. If you find that you still have romantic feelings or you want to get back together, express how you feel to your ex to see how he or she is feeling. If they don’t feel the same and your feelings are creating more pain than joy in the relationship, let your ex know you need some distance and do the inner work to help you move on.

PM: What about sex? It’s not really an uncommon scenario! One of you is feeling raw, the other one comforts you, and you end up in bed. Is this something to be avoided at all costs in relationships which really are over, where at least from one side, there is no chance of reconciliation? Should there be other rules like no flirting, hand-holding, or spontaneous returns to intimate behavior? Or is it okay to do all this and throw out the rule book?

LM: It depends on the boundaries to which you’ve both agreed. There’s no right or wrong here, it’s what works for both people. The key is to keep the communication alive and keep checking in with your own feelings and to those of your ex. It’s important, however, to understand that once you’re back in bed together, the relationship is again a romantic, sexual relationship and not a platonic friendship. So how you both want to go forward needs to be discussed and negotiated once again.

PM: What about emotional boundaries? How close is too close? Is it important to keep the relationship free from emotional entanglement? Is it advisable not to lean on each other for emotional support, and spare each other the details of new relationships? Should you build another support network rather than with your ex—even if he or she was once the first person you’d turn to when you were down?

LM: In or out of a relationship, it’s important to develop your own self-sufficiency and independence, including having your own friends and support system. Your ex can be part of your support system, but being emotionally dependent on someone else is always a recipe for disaster.

Like with sex, emotional boundaries need to be communicated. Discuss how much contact and support you both want with and from each other. If there’s a disparity, work to find middle ground that will work for both of you. Talk about how you want to handle new people in your life. Some people are comfortable knowing all about their ex’s latest date, while others may not be ready to hear it.

PM: What about new partners? How much should they be expected to take? What if your new partner and ex don’t get along? What if your new partner tells you in plainest terms that he doesn’t like you seeing your ex? Do you think we are sometimes prone to a little game playing with our ex’s, using them to make new partners jealous, or using new partners to make our ex’s jealous?

LM: Introducing a new person into the equation can work if the two ex’s have established and maintained a healthy, platonic friendship over an extended period of time following their romantic break-up. In other words, they are truly just friends, and have had a friends-only relationship for a consistent length of time. If you broke up with your ex a month ago, it’s probably not going to work to bring him into your new relationship because you haven’t had time to solidify a new friendship-only relationship.

If you’ve actively shared a healthy, platonic friendship with your ex for a year or more since the break-up, give the new person in your life the opportunity to meet your ex, so she can be reassured that you’re truly just friends. If you’ve included your new lover in your friendship with your ex and they don’t click, respect their feelings and participate in the friendship with your ex on your own. In this situation, if your lover demands that you cut your ex out of your life, pay attention to this red flag. You may be dealing with someone who is insecure or emotionally immature.

PM: What do you think a healthy relationship with an ex would be?

LM: A mutually respectful and supportive relationship in which both parties genuinely enjoy each other’s company, but have a shared desire to be nothing more than friends.

WANT TO USE THIS INTERVIEW IN YOUR E-ZINE, BLOG, OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete statement at the end of the article:

Lauren Mackler is a world-renowned coach, host of the LIFE KEYS radio show, and author of the international bestseller, Solemate: Master the Art of Aloneness & Transform Your Life.

The Psychology of Success

Lauren Mackler's Interview with Doug Tribou for NPR NPR: How do you define success and what do you tell clients trying to define success in their own lives?

LM: Success is subjective so it’s defined and experienced by people in different ways. It might be a certain amount of money or prestige, a large circle of friends, or a fulfilling personal life or career. I define success as being able to activate your strengths to produce the results you want to achieve.

NPR: What kind of advice would you give to someone near the top of his or her profession, but who can’t quite achieve that ultimate goal?

LM: Over the 20 some years I’ve spent coaching many types of clients, I've found that the two biggest barriers that hold people back are what I call their core limiting beliefs and habitual behaviors. When we’re born, we’re whole, integrated human beings with tremendous potential. In response to our life conditioning, we adopt thought and behavior patterns that often diminish our strengths and potential as adults.

For example, someone may be a gifted athlete, but a life-long, ingrained belief that he’s never quite good enough can keep him from reaching the top of his game. He’ll be distracted by a fear of failing, which then creates stress and makes it difficult to stay focused on his goals. To override those barriers, you have to become aware of how you think and behave on autopilot, and start aligning your thoughts and behaviors with the results you’re trying to achieve.        

NPR: How do repeated “close-calls” with success impact the people falling short time and again?

LM: It depends on the type of person. The people who ultimately reach their goals are those who don’t give up. Instead of wallowing in self-pity or frustration—or throwing in the towel altogether—they explore what didn’t work and course-correct. It is human nature to feel upset or frustrated when we fall short, but the path to success more often than not involves making mistakes along the way and learning from them. If someone feels like they’ve failed, I encourage them to reframe the situation as an opportunity to learn about what doesn’t produce the outcome they want. Instead of giving up, brainstorm what might be a more effective approach and then implement the new strategy. To view Lauren's "Critical Factors of Success" video, click here.

WANT TO USE THIS INTERVIEW IN YOUR E-ZINE, BLOG, OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete statement at the end of the article:

Lauren Mackler is a world-renowned coach, host of the LIFE KEYS radio show, and author of the international bestseller, Solemate: Master the Art of Aloneness & Transform Your Life.