Katherine Woodward Thomas - On Love, Relationships, Conscious Uncoupling, Calling in The One, Self Awareness, Accountability Circles, Empowerment, and much more

The Longevity & Lifestyle podcast

The Longevity & Lifestyle podcast

The Longevity & Lifestyle podcast

Episode 45

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Performance coach, detail-loving educator, big-thinking entrepreneur, podcaster, mama, passionate adventurer, and health optimization activist here to help people transform their lives, and reach their highest potential! All rolled into one.

“You have to learn how to take these negative emotions and transform them into the fuel that you will need to make positive change.” - Katherine Woodward Thomas

Today’s episode is on love, relationships, Conscious Uncoupling and calling in The One with Katherine Woodward Thomas. Katherine is an award-winning marriage and family psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author of Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After and Calling in “The One”: 7 Weeks to Attracting the Love of Your Life.

Katherine’s concept of Conscious Uncoupling shot to stardom a few years ago when Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced their split. Over the past two decades, Katherine has taught hundreds of thousands of people from all corners of the globe to create conscious, loving relationships and to realize the higher potentials all their connections hold for health and happiness.

In this episode, we dig into:
  • Love, relationships, and the importance of accountability
  • Self-awareness
  • What Katherine calls “Accountability Circles”
  • Why relationships fail
  • Calling in “The One”
  • And much more!

Please enjoy!


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“I'm a believer in long-term love.” - Katherine Woodward Thomas 

“the happily ever after story is only about 400 years old on planet earth, which is really, kind of, a hiccup in the evolutionary trajectory of humanity. And it was created when the lifespan was less than 40 years of age, and where there were no choices, really, in life.” - Katherine Woodward Thomas

“I think it even begins in childhood with the Disney movies, right, happily ever after, that we carry over into these beliefs into adulthood.” - Claudia von Boeselager

“I'm a firm believer in, you know, stepping back from our own assumptions and asking ourselves who standards am I holding myself accountable to? And do I adhere to the same value system? Because part of what's happening is we're holding ourselves to standards which we're not quite actually aligned with.” - Katherine Woodward Thomas

“I'm a firm believer in transitioning to what I call a "happy even after" family.” - Katherine Woodward Thomas

“Nature has really hardwired us to bond.” - Katherine Woodward Thomas

“Conscious uncoupling is about becoming more aware of yourself as the source of the dynamic, even though it occurs like it's the other person's fault” - Katherine Woodward Thomas

“You have to stand for a future that's outside of the old pattern, and then lean into who you will need to be and identify exactly how you will need to grow. “ - Katherine Woodward Thomas

“Begin to try on the possible self of your future wherever you are.” - Katherine Woodward Thomas

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Claudia von Boeselager: Welcome to another episode of the Longevity and Lifestyle Podcast. I'm your host, Claudia von Boeselager. I'm here to uncover the groundbreaking strategies, tools, and practices from the world's pioneering experts to help you live your best and reach your fullest potential. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast to always catch the latest episodes.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note, to avoid any unnecessary headaches, Longevity & Lifestyle LLC owns the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of The Longevity & Lifestyle Podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as the right of publicity. You are welcome to share parts of the transcript (up to 500 words) in other media (such as press articles, blogs, social media accounts, etc.) for non-commercial use which must also include attribution to “The Longevity & Lifestyle Podcast” with a link back to the URL. It is prohibited to use any portion of the podcast content, names or images for any commercial purposes in digital or non-digital outlets to promote you or another’s products or services.


Claudia von Boeselager: Welcome to the Longevity & Lifestyle Podcast, Katherine. It's such a pleasure to have you on today. 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: It's great to be with you, Claudia. Thank you. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Katherine, I'd like to start with an, perhaps, interesting question. Everyone's heard of happily ever after, but you call it a myth. So can you talk about why we're moving away from the more traditional relationship model and maybe some of the models that we're seeing today?

Katherine Woodward Thomas: You know, I just have to start by saying that I'm a believer in long-term love. And just like anybody, I love a happy ending. I love when people find each other and they find a way to work it out. So I'm not casual about breaking up. 
And I know that when people break up that very often, there's a sense of shame and failure with it.

That we've done something bad. And I think that, around the world, we might say that most cultures really value long-term love and assess someone's mental health, their character, their value, according to whether or not they've made love work in their lives. So there's, kind of, a covert social status involved in being with someone.
So we collapse very often into shame. So when I myself went through my own divorce, I noticed that I felt socially embarrassed. And I got curious about that. I mean, I was known for Calling In "The One", which is, you know, how to make magic happen in your love life. And then I was married for 10 years, so I had that complexity there too.

Right? And I knew also there that my own embarrassment or humiliation was not just about my particular circumstances, which we could also talk about, 'cause people are ever curious about that, but I think it's universal that many of us feel like that at the end of love. So I got, kind of, curious and I asked myself the question, Katherine, what standard are you holding yourself accountable to? And I realized, oh, this is the happily ever after. Which kind of implies that, if a relationship ends before one or both people die, it's a failure. And so I got curious about it and I decided to do some research, like, who created that story that I, and millions of us, or billions of us are holding ourselves accountable to?

So I researched it and I found out that, first of all, the happily ever after story is only about 400 years old on planet earth, which is really, kind of, a hiccup in the evolutionary trajectory of humanity. And it was created when the lifespan was less than 40 years of age, and where there were no choices, really, in life. I mean, it was actually created in Venice, Italy, which I think is hysterical because it's still, kind of, the romance capital of the world, right? But it was created at a time where there was really a very rigid class structure. So if you were born into poverty, you were definitely going to die in poverty. There was no way out. 

But at the time it was post-Renaissance days, so everybody was literate. So even though they were really poor, people could read. And there was a new literary form that was created where you had upward mobility - you know, in the happily ever after myth, it always ends with some commoner marrying royalty. And they all lived happily ever after, so everybody gets lifted by that union. 

And you have to understand that when the happily ever after myth was first created, there was actually a law on the books that prevented a commoner from marrying nobility. So this was really escapist fantasy. This was Shonda Rhimes four hundred years ago in Venice, Italy.

It's just, just like, we're all drinking it up. They were drinking it up then too. But, you know, it got refined and it caught on like wildfire around the world. But suddenly now it's the standard of one's value. Of ones, you know, mental health. 

So I think that the reality is, look, I'm all for, as I said, long-term love and working things out, but the reality is, is that if you look at it statistically, most of us are slated to have two to three significant relationships in our lifetime, which I think is probably an underestimate. I certainly know people who've had more than three significant relationships. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Good for them! 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: Yeah. But that implies one to two significant breakups as well.

And inside of our just collapsing into embarrassment and the assumption of failure, I don't think we've ever really learned how to end our relationships well. Plus, our biology has not caught up with our culture. So we still have the biology of someone from a thousand years ago where, if you wandered away from your tribe, you were ostracized or you were cast out. You were proudly going to die. Like, people couldn't actually survive without each other. We still feel the same way when we break up with someone. 

Claudia von Boeselager: It's also so ingrained, right? The habit and things as well. So it's, yeah, the societal thing. And I think it even begins in childhood with the Disney movies, right, happily ever after, that we carry over into these beliefs into adulthood. Yeah.

Katherine Woodward Thomas: Very much so. Very much so. So I'm a firm believer in, you know, stepping back from our own assumptions and asking ourselves who standards am I holding myself accountable to? And do I adhere to the same value system? Because part of what's happening is we're holding ourselves to standards which we're not quite actually aligned with. And that's what happened to me. I mean, I loved my husband. I respected him. I still do. I call him my "wasband".

Claudia von Boeselager: That's a really nice term. 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: He's such a lovely person. But, you know, I made mistakes in that relationship, and I didn't really build the relationship. And one of the mistakes that I made that some people might identify with, because this is the conscious uncoupling process is looking at your side of things and where you needed to grow and what you can do differently next time, but one of the things that I recognized is that I, kind of, just assumed that once you had the right person, that the relationship would almost naturally occur. That once you had a marriage license, that that was the connection, or that was the relationship. It's not, it's just the invitation to form the relationship.

And that relationships take a lot of energy and attention. And part of the discipline of love is to continually bring ourselves back to that person. And choose to love that person. And choose to find where they are. Choose to share yourself in a way that they can find their way into your world.

And I didn't do that well. I wrote my first book Calling In "The One" when we got together, and then I got completely enamored and in love with working with all the people who are coming to me. And I had thousands of students. And we were just having such a great time. But I didn't really scoop Mark into that world. And after years of doing that, you know, you drift apart.

So I learned my lesson from that, and I do my best to make an amends to him and to our daughter by always being very honorable with him. 

He's got a great relationship now, too. And we send each other Christmas gifts. And, all while our daughter was growing up, we shared holidays and all sorts of things. Because I'm a firm believer in transitioning to what I call a "happy even after" family.

Claudia von Boeselager: Especially with children, I think, but I think also because you invest so much in the relationship. Well, it depends, I guess how it ends, but if you're able to find a positive way of ending it, and I'd love to depict a little bit more on this to get the tools and strategies to share. You know, and just from a personal level, I've done conscious uncoupling, your program, as well. But still in the divorce process, there are challenges with it as well. So I'd love to, from a personal perspective, also get more information. But - 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: Yeah - 

Claudia von Boeselager: You talked about - 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: Ask me anything. Everybody would love it if we just did little tips for you because, you know, these things are universal, that we're all going through this. It's very hard to separate. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Yeah. 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: You know, our brains are, kind of, hardwired to bond. So here's an example of that. If somebody is leaving you and they're rejecting you, the logical thing would be that your brain would start to calm down the connection between you. So, in other words, it would start to turn towards other things, or start to fill your life with new curiosities, you know, the energy to form new relationships.

It's not what happens at all. So the brain is so hardwired to stay connected that, what happens is that when someone's rejecting you, the brain starts to up-level all the hormones that you had when you first fell in love so that you love that person even more. Because the brain wants you to run after that person. And get them to change their mind. And get them to stay. Right? So it's like nature has really hardwired us to bond. 

But, you know, so it's, again, it's the evolutionary trajectory where our biology just hasn't quite caught up to our culture and where we are right now. 
We're not only living longer, but then, back in the sixties and seventies, we invented these hormonal treatments, right? So now you have longevity of lovemaking, you know? You're making love in your nineties. And we have that expectation now. You know, I work with people in their seventies, their eighties they say, oh, I want a lover. And I want to - 

Claudia von Boeselager: Good for them! 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: Have this great sensual experience, right?

Claudia von Boeselager: Why not, I mean, look, I'm all for these things,, if they - I have a biological age of 28, I'm trying to get it down to 20s, so here's to longevity of everything, which I think is great. And I think maybe even just to take a step back and look at, you know, why do so many relationships and, for lack of better word, you know, fail or come apart. You know, what are some of the key drivers that you see?

You know, does it start from childhood belief systems that aren't repaired. Previous, let's call it, baggage from other relationships that aren't cleared. What are some of the main culprits, if you will, that you typically see so that people could potentially address it in their current relationship, if they're in one, that might be struggling?

Katherine Woodward Thomas: Yeah. The first three steps of conscious uncoupling, and there's five total, are all internal work. And I do think that relationships are where all of the unhealed parts of ourselves will come up. And they don't necessarily occur as unhealed parts of us, they occur more like projections. Like we know what the other person's thinking. Or it looks like blame. You're doing this to me again. 

You know, it's very common to say, oh, I married my father. Right? I married my father. Or I married my mother. I married my narcissistic mother. So you have to understand that it's not so much the other person, but it's the relationship you created with yourself in response to having a narcissistic mother, or maybe you dismiss your own perspectives, your own feelings, you skip over yourself and start to, kind of, be more aware of what other people are feeling or needing than you are of yourself. So you're disappearing yourself to yourself. That's the internal relationship you have with you, you know, inside of the way it got set up in your childhood. 

But then you go into a relationship and you start to do what you've always done, which is put your first attention on the other person.

So I don't know if that's because the other person was narcissistic right from the get-go, and you just barely noticed because that was so normal for you is to put your full attention on the other person and not have any needs yourself in the relationship. Or if you just, kind of, they were on the fence and you, kind of, trained them to be narcissistic.

But the patient on the operating table is me in that situation. Because if I make it about the other person, I'm just going to go and do it again. So I have to actually graduate from the dynamic. 

So conscious uncoupling is about becoming more aware of yourself as the source of the dynamic, even though it occurs like it's the other person's fault. And oh, by the way, the other person might've done horrible things. I say, even if it's 97% the other person, you want to be responsible for your 3%. Because that's where your transformation will happen. 

We take the energy off the other person and we help you to look at yourself in a way that's going to graduate you from that dynamic. So that you can trust yourself, moving forward, that you're never going to repeat those patterns again.

Claudia von Boeselager: Would you also recommend for people, let's say, struggling in a relationship, but not at a stage of thinking about uncoupling as such, is this also a process that they could look at? Because I think that in inner work, that self-assessment, is such a critical standpoint for any relationship, right? But would you encourage the process also for those, you know, not at the uncoupling stage, but just in a difficult relationship?

Katherine Woodward Thomas: I really appreciate that question because conscious uncoupling, first of all, I think when Gwyneth and Chris popped it into the lexicon everybody thought this is something two people do together. It's not, I mean, sometimes people do it together, and that's great when they do. Very often, they do it at different paces and in different ways. And they're not actually together together when they're doing it. But usually the person going through is the person who's interested in making sure this never happens again, or the person who cares about the kids and wants to do this well. Or just somebody who's oriented towards growth and development and is aware that this has something to do with me. And I need to look at this. And/or the person who's just, kind of ,crushed and needing to get out of a lot of heart pain because they can't stop obsessing or whatever. 

So conscious uncoupling is really for the individual. A lot of people have re-coupled because they do the conscious uncoupling process. Right? Because of what you're talking about. And a lot of people have said to me, oh my gosh, I wish I had done this when I was still in the relationship. It would have saved the relationship. So yes, the answer is yes. 

And a lot of people do do it. I mean, you have to translate it because the book is written for people who have made the decision for the most part. So you have to recognize that, you know, I'm going to be wording things for that person. But the actual process, particularly those first three steps where you're doing that internal process of becoming more conscious of your part of things, it still it looks like life is just happening to us if we're a little blind about how it's happening through us. But once you see that clearly and you shift it, things can change quite rapidly, and quite dramatically, in a relationship.

Claudia von Boeselager: Maybe just for those listening, you can just talk about the exact five steps, what they are. So the first three you said that are done individually, but what do they exactly entail? Is it just really diving deep into that 3% as equals. Could you just walk through for my audience, please? 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: Yes. Thank you. Well, the first step, find emotional freedom, has to do with that place in a breakup where we are anything, but free. Where our heart is just, you know, in our stomach. Where we feel devastated. Or where we feel enraged. Or where we feel collapsed into depression and can barely eat or asleep. Truthfully, breakups can be one of the most devastating things that any of us will ever have to go through. It's quite devastating for many.

And it's actually the reason that I was motivated to write the book and create this whole process. So the first step is find emotional freedom, which has to do with really being able to hold and contain your own inner experience from a deeper center, from a part of yourself that knows that no matter what you're going through, you will be okay. That you will get through this time.

And then, that can actually take what you're experiencing. All these negative emotions that are, kind of, larger than life. Even overwhelm. I'm going to name that people are very overwhelmed by all of the many things that suddenly are collapsing and needing tending to. And needing to be recreated and or negotiated at a time when you're completely ill-equipped to do any of that.

This is why I tell people don't run out, the first thing you do, get lawyers. You've got to deal with the overwhelm and the inner experience that you're having, because otherwise what happens is those raw, big, overwhelming emotions get, kind of, embedded into the legal process. And this is where people go through their kid's college fund. This is where they, you know, lose everything fighting with lawyers. And people do crazy things. Like, they spend $50,000 on an expert to save an asset that's worth $20,000. 

These things happen because we get crazy at the end of a relationship and we get - 
Claudia von Boeselager: I'm sure, yeah. 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: We want our revenge, like, all that stuff. So you have to learn how to take these negative emotions and transform them into the fuel that you will need to make positive change.

So an example of that is, if you are feeling rage, The good thing about that is it something's waking up in you. What's waking up, my right to have relationships where I am respected. Where someone tells the truth all the time. I can trust that someone is always going to tell me the truth. That is my right. Or my right to have feelings in this relationship too.

So that's a good thing. And that you want to actually vow to yourself that, from this moment forward, this is how all relationships are going to be. Now you're taking the energy and you're pointing it in the right direction. That's step one. 

Step two, that's where we get the 97/3 percent. Because step two is about reclaiming your power, which is really all about taking responsibility for your part.
And the thing about trauma, like, most breakups are quite traumatic. Even breakups where you're just stating for six weeks can be quite traumatic for some people. Depending upon the depth or the meaning that you made of that relationship. 

So the natural thing, when you're going through a trauma is the psyche is telling the story over and over and over, and trying to fill in all the blanks. And, and that's really, kind of, the psyche's way of trying to wrap around this so I'm not so overwhelmed. Or so I can protect myself from this happening again in the future. But the problem is, is that we're telling the story from a victimized perspective. And whenever we're victimized, we have no access to power.

So yes, somebody might've done something bad. Stole money from you. They cheated on you. They lied to you. They didn't keep their word. There's always things that we can point to on the other side. But the most value is for you to look at yourself. How did I send this person up to behave this way? How did I give my power away? What was motivating me to do that? These are the kinds of self-reflective questions you must ask yourself. Which really gets down to owning your own choices, and really seeing specifically the actions you took, the actions you did not take. I didn't stand up for myself. I turned away from the red flags. 

Because when you see those things clearly, then you make a vow to yourself to, from this moment forward, my new practice is, I always ask the right questions. I always trust my deeper knowing. I always do my homework. I wait until I see someone's character before jumping into bed with them. Like, whatever that correction is, you have to do that because that's where you are going to trust yourself moving forward. To be close to someone again in the future. 

Step three goes into what I call your "source fracture story". That's the original break in your heart. If you notice, there are themes that we all, kind of, swim around. The I'm alone again, theme. Or the I'm not good enough theme. Or the I'm invisible theme, right?

So these are what we call your core beliefs. I'm invisible. Nobody really cares about my feelings and needs. It's dangerous to be seen. That would be that whole matrix. Or I'm not safe. And other people have ill intent. And love is dangerous, right? So there's, there's these themes. And when we have a breakup, particularly if the other person left, very often we collapse into the old meaning. 

And what we do with that is I say, where is that in your body? Where is that cluster of emotions sitting in your body. For most people, it's going to be right in your solar plexus, but, a lot of people, it's a deep heaviness in your heart, or it might feel like a stabbing in your back. Like you've been stabbed in the back over and over. 

And then you want to say, sweetheart, how old are you? You want to hold that part of your body? How old are you, sweetheart? And then you're going to get a younger age. It's not logical. It doesn't have to be exact. It's more of a felt feeling. And then you want to send that part of you love. And you want to learn how to wake yourself up from that story. Sweetheart, you made it mean, when your mother couldn't love you, that you weren't good enough, but you're just a treasure. You're a treasure to all of life. And you need do nothing to prove your value. You are more than worthy of being loved and respected just as you are. Right? So we learn how to wake ourselves up from the trance and we do it internally. And then we have to claim that as the reality, the real truth. 

The final piece of that, I teach people how to do a soul to soul meditation with their former partner. And if the former partner was, kind of, scary, a scary figure, you've to make them very small, when you bring them into your meditation. So that you're, kind of, towering over them. So you don't feel threatened. 

But you speak to them and you say, I know I underpresented. I know I acted as though I was not good enough. It was an old wound. It was not who I am. Let me introduce myself to you. Let me tell you who I actually am. And I would really love it if you and I would relate to each other from this new center now. 

Because part of the breakup pain is that it's such an insult to identity. It does collapse us back into being overly identified with that old story. And we will see it as evidence of that old story. We'll put it into that evidence box. So we have to wake ourselves up and be conscious of that. 

Now we're in our power and now we can do steps four and five. And that's with the other person You see how much is internal. 
Now you can go and deal with attorneys. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Yeah. It's so powerful, Katherine, these steps in this process. I'd love to just dig into, you know, how did you come up with it? How did you have such a shift in the way of thinking and come up with this incredible conscious uncoupling process in general?

Katherine Woodward Thomas: Well, I think that, you know, like many of us, I look at the state of the world right now and I think what's my part and what's my contribution? To the overall good of the whole. To, kind of, turning the Titanic around here. And I think, for me, that the breakdowns in the world are the absence of love and I don't just mean the feeling of love, I mean, the ethic of love. The ethic of love. The sense of self-responsibility. The sense of showing up with dignity and respecting, you know, other life on this planet. 

So, you know, that's very personal to me and I have a big commitment to growing my capacity to love and be loved. And I recognized early on that when mark and I were going through this, that, you know, as I said, I had thousands of students following me for Calling in "The One" and I felt a moral responsibility to show up in a loving way in how I was going to separate from Mark. 

And I also had my, you know, I was, kind of, the product of a horrible divorce. As was Mark, so both of us shared that. We both had parental alienation in our childhoods. I lost connection with my dad, and he lost connection with his mother when his parents divorced. 

So we were able to come together, and this is a step four intervention here, we were able to come together and, very early on, decide that we were going to do this in a way that allowed our daughter to have a happy childhood. That was our shared intention. 

Claudia von Boeselager: So beautiful and look at what you're doing to transform the world, and giving people the platform and the opportunity and the strategies to do the conscious uncoupling. And how many lives and children that you've impacted so positively as well because of it, Katherine. So thank you for the amazing work there.

I'd love to switch over to Calling in "The One". We've just had Valentine's Day yesterday. Love is obviously such an important and fundamental concept. 

Even just to start with, how do you define love? 'Cause it sounds like you have a bit of a different approach, and you said that you're working on expanding your capacity of love. How does that look like? What do you do? 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: Well, one of the things that's interesting, you know, the first line of the book Calling in "The One", which is really, I wrote it in 2002, it was published in 2004, and I think it's defined my career for the last 20 years. And I say that one reason that many of us do not have the love that we long for is because we've not yet become the people we would need to be in order to manifest and sustain those relationships. 

And I think it's very important to recognize that we live at a time where the ideals of relationship are really a union of mutuality and equality, where we have very high expectations that our beloved be our best friend, be our spiritual partner, be our equal intellectually, financially. You know, we have a lot of criteria; and you have to look that, and remember that, our grandmothers, you know, they had a very different criteria. He needed to not drink too much, have a job, and smell good. That was her idea for a husband.

Claudia von Boeselager: I love that analogy! Keep it simple, right?.

Katherine Woodward Thomas: So it requires growth of us, right? So I do see love as very tied into capacity. And I like to say, you know, love, if you're looking at love as a feeling, or love as a spiritual path, you know, that's one thing. You can sit on your meditation cushion and, you know, open your heart to love and love God and - but relationships, they're not unconditional. We have that love is unconditional, but relationships are not unconditional because relationships require trust. And trust, the building of trust, or the repairing of trust when it's broken, requires capacity. So we actually have some growth to do. 

So I'm a psychotherapist who's very focused on the future and the possible self of the future, which is where Calling in "The One" starts. You know, it's for people with crazy toxic patterns. You know, love avoidant, love anxious. Push pull, in out, lots of trauma, getting involved with inappropriate, unavailable people. You know, not being chosen, being alone for years. Like, all of those patterns. 'Cause that's my history. That's where I came from. And just declaring really just from the strength of your soul, that you're going to have happy, healthy love.

That's who you are, is that future. And you start leaning into and trying on, with your imagination, who would I be in that future fulfilled? What does it feel like? Sound like? Taste like? Smell like? Who am I, how am I relating to myself inside of that experience? And how am I relating to others? How am I relating to life? You know? 

And, for example, I'm not settling for less. Right? I'm holding out, I'm holding the high watch. I have high expectations. I know that good things are coming to me so I don't get entangled with dramas that I know are going to be dramas going in. So I'm making different choices based on the future that I'm standing for.

And so if I'm measuring myself against that future, as opposed to defining myself from the past, right? If I define myself from the past, I say, oh, I never had boundaries, or I don't like myself because my parents, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

You start to lean into who am I in the future and you start defining yourself according to that future. You go, oh, well, I'm a person who has good boundaries in that future. I've got to learn how to have boundaries. Or I'm a person who, you know, is able to negotiate for my needs. Oh gosh, I better even, I don't even know what I need. I don't know the difference between healthy needs and unhealthy needs. I've got to figure that one out.

So it begins to initiate this process of development. And, in particular, if you set an intention like I did at the beginning of Calling in "The One", I said I'm going to be engaged by my 42nd birthday, which was eight months out and I had no prospects for a husband. But I had the good fortune of having a friend, I shared that with her, and she said to me something wonderful. It really changed my whole trajectory. She said, Katherine, I'm going to hold that intention within for you if you give me permission to hold you accountable for being the woman you would need to be in order for that to happen. Right? So she - 

Claudia von Boeselager: Wow. 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: Started this whole thing, actually. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Powerful.

Katherine Woodward Thomas: And so I started leaning in. That became what I was up to. It wasn't so much about running to find love, running out there to make something happen. It was really about getting very, very honest with myself, and the ways that I was actually covertly working against myself, the parts of me that were very ambivalent about love. I did not trust myself because I would give power away to other people. So all of those things, and you have to see that clearly. 

And then, rather than go back into the, why am I this way? Which is very, you know, interesting question. It doesn't really change much. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Disempowering, though. 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: Right? So you have to say to yourself, okay, so what's missing in my own development that I could really now take on right now in order to become who I would need to be for that to go well.

And that's really what Calling in "The One" is, I mean, it's a 49 day journey of profound development and profound, kind of, learning how to partner with the energies of life to manifest a miracle. And to create something outside of the old pattern. 

Claudia von Boeselager: And can people do that individually with the book or is it a course, or is there certain materials that people can go through this process? Because it's very profound and very deep. 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: You know, I have a starter kit right on my website,, that people can go to and download the beginning of the book. We have, I think, the first few lessons there for people to start to get a flavor of what it's like to do it. But it is a 49 day program that is in the book. 

And we just launched, this week actually, a Mindvalley quest for those who want to do it in that format, which I'm very excited about. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Congratulations. 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: Thank you. And then in my own community, if you just sign up for the Calling in "The One" starter kit, you'll start to get information about when I do things because I do things also live with people. 

I really love this conversation. I've been teaching it for over 20 years now and it's a joy to be with people. And be able to see, kind of, lifelong patterns that have created such deep resignation. in this area. Just left in a conversation, and people being liberated. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Can you give some examples of some of the success stories and the people who, 'cause I think for a lot of people, and I hear when I have conversations about love - I love this topic as well - they say, okay, one thing is, you know, getting there, but then it's maintaining and having a sustained, loving, deep, evolving relationship. What are the different strategies that need to be used there? 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: Yeah, that's great. I mean, one of my favorite testimonial stories is - we all have reasons why we're the exception to the rule.

Yeah, but, you know, I have a kid who's autistic, or yes, but I have this debt, or yes, but I have this physical difference, I've this physical difference. Yes, but I have, you know, memory problems, or, you know, yes, I'm in my sixties. I just called in my beloved three years ago. My next, calling in the next one, was after being separated from Mark, I decided I wanted to re-partner.

And of course, you know, all of us are kind of vulnerable. Like, wow, could I really? I'm in my sixties now, could I really? And Calling in "The One" kind of defies logic in a lot of ways. It really goes into that magic miracle zone place about the power that we have to cause things that are unpredictable and even unreasonable.

So I always encourage people to take an unreasonable stand. You know, it's unreasonable when an athlete says I'm going to win a gold medal at the Olympics. You know, it's that, but that begins to quicken something in us. And if you can learn how to just start to, you know, follow the gum drops to that future. 

And start to live into that future, and so it's real. And of course, is it real? Does the athlete know whether she's going to win that gold medal? No, but she gives it everything she has, right? That's what we're looking at. 

So I manifest in other miracle when I was in my sixties. And, of course, you know, I love telling people that because I get questions all the time, I'm in my sixties, I'm in my seventies, is it possible? But one of my favorite stories is a woman, Shelly, who was, physically, she had some limitations. She was born with very, very severe arthritis. And her arthritis prevented her from being able to lift her arms. She couldn't lift her arms. Her legs were different sizes. She walked with a limp. Her body was different. She was very, very petite. And she had the courage to set an unreasonable tension for love. And she just started living into that future. And really within a year or two, she met her man and married him. 

And her big thing was that she could live independently and she had a wonderful career as a social worker, but she lived independently. But her Mom would have to come over and brush her hair every day, 'cause she couldn't lift her arms to brush her hair. I suppose I could have made, you know, some kind of thing. Anyway, that's how they did it. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Yeah. 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: You know, if you really think about inventing something. But her Mom came over every morning and brushed her hair. And she used to say, she loves it when her husband brushes her hair in the morning. Because we all have our reasons why it's not for us. 

What does love take to sustain for the long haul? It is definitely a journey. And I've been doing a lot of work in the community in this last year, actually leaning into the habits of healthy love. And in particular, a lot of us are very savvy with attachment wounds, we understand attachment wounds. And we have the explanation of, again, why I am the way that I am. But we don't really have access to creating something else outside of it.

I think that's another myth. If I understand my wounds enough then somehow they'll go away and I won't be limited by them anymore. It doesn't really work that way. I like to say healing is the domain of the past, but transformation is the domain of the future. We've got to- 

Claudia von Boeselager: I like that.

Katherine Woodward Thomas: Yeah. So you have to stand for a future that's outside of the old pattern, and then lean into who you will need to be and identify exactly how you will need to grow. And what you will need to let go of. And what your next steps are, because it's a co-creative process. You know, we relate to God like God is a parent in the sky. Please give me this. You want to start to see God as your partner. God is your co-creative partner. That means you need to show up. The difference between wanting something and setting an intention is that the moment you say "my intention is" you become accountable for generating that possible future. And stepping into that possible self of your future.

So there are things that we need to learn. And a lot of the foundation, there's two areas of skill building that we focus on, even in the Calling in "The One" process, to prepare you for that. Which is the internal relationship you have with yourself, and we call those interpersonal skills. Self-soothing. Encouraging self-talk. Knowing what you need. Knowing what you feel. Knowing what you desire. Knowing where you're centered in consciousness, and generating your life from. So, for example, if you go into an "I'm alone" story, the impulse is to isolate, which then you're the creator of aloneness. So you want to start to know yourself at that level. Those are all of the internal skills that we're going to need to develop.

And interpersonal. And that's the setting of boundaries. Or the negotiating for your needs. Part of the intrapersonal development that's really key when it comes to intimate relationships is to understand your projections onto others. You know, all of us are constantly inside of our own bubble. My friend, Polly Young-Eisendrath, calls it "you're own snow globe". So, you know, we have our own reality. And, you know, we're projecting how other people feel. We're projecting what their motives are. And it feels so real to us like we know. So we have to really know that and learn how to ask questions. To check it out with someone. To begin to have the relationship, not in a reactive way from that place, but in a more generative way. 

So there's skills to learn how to love someone over time and how to maintain respect for each other. That's really the thing that we need to protect in a long-term relationship. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Yeah, I think it's so beautiful and so rightly said about, you know, starting with yourself ,right? And that conscious awareness of how you are showing up in the world. And then I also like the conscious decision of actually, where do you want to be? Who is that person that I want to be, and working towards that as well. 

I mean, your friend sounds incredible that she offered to hold you accountable like that. I think for people, it's obviously very personal and you have to be open to getting, you know, constructive criticism potentially, but is that something you recommend, for people to be more communicative and ask for feedback more often as to how they're showing up? 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: Oh, I love that. That's a great question. 
You know, I did a little research on this. I'm a big fan of intention circles and being in community when you're up to really creating big change in your own. There was a study done at Princeton. They were called the Paris studies. Princeton is in the United States, it's one of the top universities. And it's controversial because they were studying metaphysical principle. And this is back in, I think, the eighties. 

But what they found was, they were doing something with a random numbers machine. And they were having one person come in and set an intention for a particular number. You know, there's just going to focus on that number. And they also then had bonded groups of people also coming in and holding one number, setting that intention, thinking of that, and then waiting to see which number popped up.
And the bonded groups of people were six times more likely to manifest that intention. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Just for my understanding, a group of people all thought, okay, the number 8. And then the machine produced the number 8. 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: Yes. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Or a person said the number 8. 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: Yeah. Or the person did. And when you had the group doing it, it was six times more likely to happen. So when we hold intentions with, and for each other, I mean our friend Lynne McTaggart, you probably know Lynne. You're in London right now, she's in London. So she wrote a wonderful book, The Intention Experiment, and really does the science behind this really, kind of, plays that out.
But we've been working with this for years too. And we put people into groups and have people holding intentions with and for each other. And I like being in community as much as possible. 

Claudia von Boeselager: I think it's a concept that's not widely enough done. And I think it's something, even to introduce into to schools with children and supporting each other, cause it's a very positive, how do you help your friends, your family, et cetera? Instead of just pointing out what they're doing wrong, to actually help with growth and becoming a better person as well.

So wonderful. Katherine, before we finish up, I would love to just hear your view. What excites you most about what you're working on and, sort of, the future of health, wellbeing, love, relationships? 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: Wonderful. I'm actually doing a lot. This is a very fruitful year. 
So I've been really leaning in, and as I said, I am a psychotherapist by trade, I'm a marriage and family therapist, licensed in the state of California, and I think we're making some mistakes in how we're doing our personal development work. 

And so, I'm really working on fleshing those out to make that very transparent for people. The first mistake that I think we're making is that we really are trying to evolve only by looking at the past. That's our reference point. But here's the thing. You know, those of us who've been studying metaphysics also know that what we focus on grows. And if you're only looking at the wounds of your past, you're also, in some ways, in danger of solidifying the self that you formed in response to those wounds. And becoming even more embedded in that sense of self.

So the first mistake is that we're not yet really talking about and fleshing into and beginning to identify with the possible self of the future. And there are a lot of psychologists, psychiatrists, who are leaning into, doing research on, the possible self that the future. And I'm pretty fascinated by it because our culture of psychotherapy haven't quite caught up to that research yet.

The second mistake we're making is that we really are too top heavy in blaming people from our past. You know, kind of, your mother was a narcissist. Your father was a drunk. Whatever we're doing. Now, is that true? Is it not true? It's probably accurate. However, then I'm, kind of, victimized now in how I'm showing up or what I'm creating or the patterns I seem to be stuck with because of what happened to me. And I think that we, as therapists, have been too top heavy in colluding with that, out of a sense of compassion out of a sense of empathy. But I have come to see in the privileged position of working now with tens of thousands of people over the last 20 years, that the people who really make progress are the people who are willing to say, yes, I'm not responsible for what happened to me in my childhood, but I am responsible for the way that I repeated, I repeated, the pattern 30 minutes ago. What happened 30 years ago is not on me, but 30 minutes ago, 30 days ago, I made the choice. 

I had one woman stand up once at a conference I was leading and she said, look, I just can't stand up for myself. You know, my father used to hit us when we spoke up for ourselves. And I can't do that now. And I said to her, try on the word "won't". Instead of "can't" just try on "won't". I won't stand up for myself now because I lack the courage to risk someone being angry with me when I do.

Claudia von Boeselager: It's a really - 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: And she had to just name it. With such, like, I am responsible for the choices I am making. And that was a very liberating moment for her. So to really help us step out of non-victimization like that. You know, we're all very steeped in meditation as a spiritual practice. I think non-victimization is as important as meditation.

The third thing is, is that we're doing our personal development work too much inside of the context of my own personal happiness, right? The context of me being happy. Me being free to be able to create the life that I want. And it's not a big enough playing field to actually get you there. We really have to begin to expand who we are into a sense of who we came here to be for others. Because that's where the real juice is. 

Claudia von Boeselager: I like this.

Katherine Woodward Thomas: And all of us are really coded to make a contribution. So we have to begin to repurpose our pain, to recognize it as wisdom and compassion that we now have to offer others. 
You know, we're all inside of this, Abraham Maslow had that hierarchy of needs. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Yeah. 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: And self-actualization is the highest level. So you have, like, security and social, and you, kind of, go up, and self-actualization.
Do you know that, before he died, he added another tier? 

Claudia von Boeselager: Yes. I heard about this recently from Dr. Mark Atkinson. I don't know if you know him. Yeah.

Katherine Woodward Thomas: I don't, but I'd like to - 

Claudia von Boeselager: Please share with my audience. Yeah, this, which I think is brilliant. Yeah. 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: Self-transcendence. That's where we really discover freedom. When we step into who we came here to be for others. 

And it's going to look different for each and every one of us 'cause we all have different gifts to give. We all have different passions. Different sensibilities. Different ways of seeing the world. I'm not about, you know, somebody who talks to a hundred thousand people is somehow more gifted than someone who talks to ten people. I don't think it's about that. I think it's about just finding who we are and what gifts we came here to give and contribute. 
So that's what I'm really up to you. And I have a - 

Claudia von Boeselager: Wow! 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: New program that I created that we're just launching now called Leaders of Love, which is living from the possible self of that future fulfilled. Who are you for the world? And what are you committed to creating for yourself and for the planet? And that's what we're taking on as a community. 
And we've got intention circles in that. We've got, you know, people really lifting each other up and growing and developing in that way. 

Claudia von Boeselager: That's so beautiful, ,Katherine. I really, really adore that. 
And I think that, with mindset and that victim mentality, and you, you mentioned Mindvalley. So one thing that Vishen also said as well, and I think for people to realize that, you know, forgiveness is such a powerful tool because you're freeing up, not just your forgiving the person, but that negative charge that you hold within you. And a) it's a generous act, right? To forgive somebody else. But b) the benefit is really within you as well, and to refocus and repurpose.

And then, you know, you were talking about understanding that what has happened, you can use as your message for the world, right? So it's Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey, I'm sure you're very familiar with as well. And, you know, how do you give back. And I really like that concept of thinking more than just about yourself, right? How can you do something for the greater good? And then I think you get to a completely different level of purpose and motivation and you stop focusing on the little details. Poor me, and I didn't do this, but actually, how can I serve, you know, for the greater good? 

So really incredible work you're doing, Katherine, and it's such an honor and pleasure to have you on today. 
For people interested, where can they follow you? You, you mentioned a few sites. Maybe you can just summarize for the people listening. 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: All of it is accessible through And you could sign up for the Love Out Loud messages that we send each week, which are, kind of, golden nuggets of wisdom as it relates to, you know, creating greater love in our lives.
But you can find a link to the Conscious Uncoupling site and to the Calling In The One site there as well. So that would be a good place to start. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Wonderful. Katherine, as a last question, do you have any parting thoughts or message for my audience today? 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: Well, you know, your audience is an audience that's all about health. And healing. And living into that bright future. 

So I just invite all of you to really begin to try on the possible self of your future wherever you are. If you were drawn to this podcast because you are needing to heal something. Or you're recovering from something. Just start to try on the self of your future. As someone who is healed. As someone who is already giving your gifts to the world. Who's already repurposed your pain, and made it into a planetary offering. And start to feel into what that feels like to be living that future.

You know, it's not, when we vision, we don't vision, like we're looking at something outside of it. You're on the inside of it. What does it smell like? What does it taste like? What does it feel like? Who am I here? What will I need to give up in order to become this version of myself? What will I need to begin to grow and develop? And what's my next step? 

Claudia von Boeselager: Such wise words. Amazing, Katherine, thank you so much for your time today. And huge congratulations on this incredible work you're doing to transform the world and make it a much happier and loving place. So thank you so much. 

Katherine Woodward Thomas: Thank you so much. Lot's of love.

I’m Claudia von Boeselager

Longevity Coach, detail-loving educator, big-thinking entrepreneur, podcaster, mama, passionate adventurer, and health optimization activist here to help people transform their lives, and reach their highest potential! All rolled into one.

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