How to Create Safety for Yourself and Your Partner in Romantic Relationships

cover art for CBaS episode with Damodar Cordua

Listen to today’s episode with Damodar Cordua to explore the connection between a yoga practice and how to create a secure attachment for yourself and others in relationships.

Damodar is a relationship coach that specializes in relationship life, communication, emotional intelligence and empowerment coaching. He guides individuals to move through patterns that are keeping them stuck, empower their lives, find deeper meaning and purpose, calm and clarify the mind, cultivate purpose, and connect to something greater within themselves. He specializes in relationship life, communication, emotional intelligence, and empowerment coaching.

You can find him by visiting

We recorded this episode on October 7, 2022.

What most partnerships have difficulty in, the underlying root cause of breakups, of negative conflict, of unhappy relationships is that one person in the partnership doesn’t feel secure.

Your Challenge Invitation

  1. Ask yourself what is it like to be with my experience, and when am I hiding from it or distracting myself from it or overriding it? Use a meditation like RAIN or NESTR to explore your feelings.
  2. Hold space for others by just listening to them for the sake of listening once a week. Hear what they are saying and repeat it back to them. Notice how that affects them.
  3. Check in with your various relationships. Check in with yourself to see where you feel safe, seen, soothed, supported, and challenged. These are relationships that nurture you.

Contact and follow Damodar on his website or on Instagram.

You can connect with Damianne on the Changes BIG and small website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube. You’re also invited to join the Changes BIG and small Facebook community.

The cornerstone of security is that we can feel free to be us, but also feel deeply loved and connected with this other person.

Similar Episodes

Timeline of the Chat

 [00:41] A background in healing
[03:03] The similarities between yoga and relationships
[06:15] Noticing the disconnect
[08:57] The ways we opt out or hide
[11:19] Addressing pain in relationships
[20:09] Building security in relationship 
[40:55] Invitation/Challenge 
[43:56] Connect with Damodar 

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How can we allow this to be you do what you want to do, and I do what I want to do with understanding how it impacts each other.

Just changing the scenery and changing your body will give you resources to regulate and be with what’s happening.

Transcript of the Episode

 A background in healing

[00:41] Damianne President: Tell people a bit about yourself. I know that you have a yoga background and you do a lot of work with people around relationships, but how about introducing yourself to listeners from your own perspective? 

[00:54] Damodar Cordua: Yeah. I basically have been in the healing world for many years. I started actually with massage. And then I got into yoga and became a pretty well-known yoga teacher in the area that I was living in, and opened up my own yoga studio and got into all types of healing work from that kind of background, and presenting it and teaching it. 

I actually run a business with my wife. It’s kind of interesting to run a business with your wife or your partner. When I moved into my partnership, I noticed that even with some of the things that I had been learning and teaching in terms of yoga, a lot of them fell flat when I would get into conflict with my partner.

 I felt like I was at a loss. I was like, I don’t have the tools here, or I wasn’t given them or taught them to deal with this stuck area with my partner right now. And that really led me to do a lot of internal work personally. And then it led me to get coaching as a couple. And it just l drove me to get really interested in relationships.

 It kind of opened up a whole world for me, and it brought me to study more and more about relationships and become more aware of how they work and help others do the same, as relationships are the basis of our life. Everything stems from them.

There’s the Harvard study, which many people listening to the podcast might have heard about, but Harvard University did a study over time that shows that the quality of our relationships literally affects the quality of our physical well-being.

So, that’s it in a nutshell. And right now I live in Tucson, Arizona in the United States, and I work primarily as a coach coaching individuals and coaching couples, and dyads on relationships. I also do life coaching and I continue to teach yoga and yoga wisdom. My wife and I own a wellness center and shop and herbal product line here in Tucson. So we do a lot of different things, but that’s a little bit more about me. I love working with people, and I love challenging myself to learn more about this beautiful mystery of relationships.

The similarities between yoga and relationships

[03:03] Damianne President: I’d like to talk a little bit about yoga and relationships. I listen to the spiritual teacher, meditation teacher, Tara Brach a lot she refers to, Thich Nhat Hanh, how do you say the name?

[03:17] Damodar Cordua: Thich Nhat Hanh

[03:19] Damianne President: Thich Nhat Hanh, talking about the fact that yoga practice is not something that you do in isolation, right? If you spend your whole life sitting in an isolated place on your own meditating, that’s not really the intention of the practice of meditation. It’s really about what happens when you’re around other people and when you’re living life in community or in presence. So as you were talking, that made me think about, oh yeah, the practice of yoga, the practice of relationships, there is some connection between them. How do you think about that?

[03:55] Damodar Cordua: Yeah, a hundred percent. I mean, I have so many thoughts on this subject matter. The term yoga means to yolk or connect. So it literally means that we are connecting ourselves to something. Spiritually speaking, it usually refers to the divine or the universe or soul or spirit.

But also, if that is the case, that also begs of us to understand how we do connect or disconnect from other living beings, other people or animals, or plants. If we really want to zoom out, it asks how are we connecting or not. And I think in the yoga world, sometimes there’s a tendency to think what you first started with, that well, if I do my own thing, if I go off and meditate, that’s going to take care of everything.

There’s a lot of benefits in self-work and meditation on our own individually. But where the rubber meets the road is when we take our yoga practice, if it’s a meditation or physical asana practice, into the relational field, into the world, and allow it to show us more about how we are connecting or if there’s some, as Rumi says, the Sufi poet, if there are some roadblocks that are in the way of us connecting or loving others.

So I think the two are really intimately connected. And as I said in my own story, you know, I think that I needed to see that more. I needed to learn how to bring some of what I was teaching and learning in the yoga world more deeply because I saw in myself some blind spots. 

I had these practices and these ideals, but in some areas of my life, I wasn’t living them out. And a lot of those circumstances were in relationship.

The cool thing about the opposite side is that relationship challenges us to learn about who we are and explore and stand for who we are. Ideally. Sometimes relationship does the opposite. It can impact us in a way that we feel like we have to hide ourselves or not be who we are. 

But ideally, and this is what I try to teach my clients and live out myself, relationship actually helps us understand our true selves.

Noticing the disconnect

[06:15] Damianne President: And how does that show up? So for example, what needs to happen in order for you to be able to make that connection, for you to realize the dissonance between those beliefs and then those practices, or those practices in different areas of life, in the yoga meditation world versus how you connect with your partner, for example.

[06:35] Damodar Cordua: It might sound kind of tough to say this, but I do believe that pain or suffering or difficulty wakes us up. It’s not to say, hey, give me some pain and suffering. I’m not trying to say it like that, but usually in our journeys, the wake up call is like, wait, something’s off here.

The pattern that I’ve been kind of putting forward in relationship and connection with others, there’s some stuckness here that’s not allowing me to really live in my integrity and that’s causing me pain. So that pain then is a way for us to ideally explore, reach out to a coach or a therapist, or read some books, and say, what is happening here? What am I bringing forward? What is this dynamic that keeps unfolding? Now, sometimes it could also be just that, you know, we come across some good teachers, or we know we….

[07:31] Damianne President: …and we’re open and receptive…

[07:32] Damodar Cordua: …and we’re open. Yeah, we’re open and receptive. Someone speaks to us, and we’re like, Oh, that makes sense. It might not always have to come from, you know, desperation or pain. But I notice in coaching, it often does.

And the interesting thing, on that note, is many people come to therapy or coaching because they’re in some pain or they want to move to a better place, you know, to be more successful in something. And it’s the idea that it’s almost like a wound or something physical in the body. It’s a manifestation maybe of something internal. We’re being called to change that internal topography of ourselves so that wound doesn’t continue.

Now, sometimes, people might go to, if you get my analogy, you go to a doctor, and they just treat the topical wound or presenting symptom, but they don’t take the time to go deep and really see what’s happening inside.

It’s the same thing with relationship. When people come in that state of maybe wanting more, it’s important to ride that out. And take the time to really shine the flashlight into the corners of ourselves or the corners of the dynamic that is occurring. 

The ways we opt out or hide

[08:57] Damianne President: How do you notice people hide from this pain? So if the opposite of dealing with it is kind of covering it up or hiding, how does that present?

[09:05] Damodar Cordua: Oh my gosh. In all the many, many colors in the rainbow. 

[09:10] Damianne President: What do you see most often?

[09:13] Damodar Cordua: I hide from it; I have a tendency to work too much. Working, which is validated by society, at least in America, being a workaholic kind of culture is validated. But it could be so many things. I mean, for some people could actually be self-help because they’re reading about the stuff, and they’re thinking, Oh, I’m getting it, but they’re not, actually. They’re using it as a distraction to actually see themselves. 

For other people, it could be an addiction. It could be getting a payback from the pattern that’s so great that it’s hard to reckon with the difficulty; we don’t want to reckon with it because it might take away this payback we’re getting. I mean, developmentally when we’re young, and there’s scientific research on this with attachment styles, when we’re babies, we figure out a way to survive in a situation that we didn’t ask ourselves to be born into. 

We figure out a way, how do I survive and get some love here? And all of us bring that pattern forward, and it shifts and changes a little bit, and it starts to give us, hopefully, some empowerment and the ability to thrive. But oftentimes, because we had no choice, we live from it unconsciously, and it also doesn’t always give us what we need as we start to get older and more aware.

Sometimes it’s hard because that pattern is something that we identify as who we are. So it’s challenging to say, I’m gonna look at this now. All of a sudden, I’m going to be under threat that who I am isn’t right any longer. So I think with this work, it takes time and spaciousness so that we can maybe dip our toes into, okay, how can I not just throw away all that I was given from this pattern, but maybe start to see some of the blind spots and reintegrate, make some changes where I can actually bring what I’ve learned and what’s enabled me to survive forward in a better way.

Addressing pain

[11:19] Damianne President: I’ve had conversations with people where they may be in pain. It doesn’t always present as this intense pain. It could present as unease, for example,

[11:28] Damodar Cordua: sure. Yeah, 

[11:29] Damianne President: where, you know, something doesn’t feel quite right, but you don’t really know what it is, or something about your relationship feels off. You don’t enjoy spending time with the person and you think that there’s something wrong with you. Those are some of the different ways that it could show up for you. 

So let’s say somebody is feeling this unease or this pain, where do they start? What’s something they could do to gently open up or probe to find some solutions or to find some peace, I don’t know what we wanna call it, but,

[12:04] Damodar Cordua: yeah, yeah. Um, maybe to see if there’s some roadblocks or to improve quality of life, to gain peace, understanding. Well, it’s funny that we talked about yoga, to begin with, is that I would probably first recommend to start with ourselves.

I teach a meditation to my clients that is one that allows us to hold space for our emotional experience, and it’s something I learned from a teacher of mine, and I’m kind of using it in my own way. It’s a top-down and a bottom-up meditation, meaning it allows us to be present with our nervous system and then also with our thoughts so that we can take the time throughout the day. When we’re coming up against this unease, instead of maybe just hiding from it or distracting, or as we talked about all the other ways that we can not deal with it or getting overwhelmed by it, that we can be with it and just breathe into it, hold space for it, see where it is in our body, the qualities of what’s happening inside, and then notice what are some of the thought patterns around it, stories around the emotion we’re experiencing.

And so all those things give us information, right? That’s the first step, that we have more information now. I’ll give an example. You know, I’m feeling, you said like, not connected to my partner or my loved one. I feel like there’s something off here. 

So when we can sit with it, we can start to say, what is the actual feeling? A lot of us, we don’t even know, what am I actually feeling. You know, I give some of my clients the feelings wheel, which is out there. Anybody out there can Google it right now, it’s called the feelings wheel or emotional wheel. It shows key emotions and then all the varieties, like I said, a rainbow, all the rainbow of different experiences we have as human beings. Kind of beautiful to really tune in to what am I feeling, and then where is it coming from in myself? And then this disconnection with my loved one, what are the stories behind it?

The first story could be, I don’t like the way they do this. I’m feeling that when they do that. But then the more we sit with ourselves, we can also gain access to is there a deeper story. Because when they do that, you know, the way they talk to me in this scenario we’ll say, does it bring up something? Does it make me feel like they don’t love me? Does it make me feel that they’re going to abandon me? Does it impact us in such a way that it brings up another story that’s older that I felt when I was a kid, I felt in another relationship? That, to me, would be the first step. And then we have more information to work with, and we can maybe pinpoint where to move next.

 [15:41] Damianne President: What I’m hearing is about finding a way to make space for yourself. And the first way you can do that is by recognizing what you’re feeling. Actually, I have an episode on RAIN, which is the acronym that Tara Brach uses: Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and I can never remember what the N is.

Nurture. Nurture.

[16:09] Damodar Cordua: I love that. That’s a great acronym.

[16:11] Damianne President: Yeah. And it’s so funny because I think it says a lot about me that for the N I always wanna say neutralize. Which is not at all the same thing as nurturing, where nurturing is much softer and more open. 

[16:26] Damodar Cordua: Interesting. Yeah. I love that you were not remembering, cuz I was also trying to fill in the blank. I was thinking, negotiate, although I’m not familiar with the meditation, so you know more about it. But yeah, that’s a cool one. That sounds great. 

[16:40] Damianne President: I think it’s really that recognition piece of even just knowing how you’re feeling and the kind of interrogating, where is that coming from? Why am I feeling this way? What stories is it connecting to? And that’s something that a lot of us don’t take the time to do. So I think that’s a great invitation for people.

[16:58] Damodar Cordua: Yeah, and it’s funny that you mentioned Nurture. The acronym that my teacher uses is NESTR for this, which is meant to allow us to feel like we’re in a nest, like we can feel held and nurtured in ourself. And N is number. E is our emotion that we’re experiencing. S is our sensation. T are thoughts. What are the thoughts that are happening, the stories. And R is resource. What resources do I have to be present with myself in this scenario?

It goes back to yoga because yoga, if we’re practicing it in the physical sense, if anybody out there is a yoga practitioner, it gives us some of that spaciousness, because it has to happen on the bodily level as well, has to happen in our nervous system. We can really be with ourselves. And so that’s confronting, right? That’s another place where, for some of us, we don’t want to go there; it’s hard to go there. We haven’t been used to nurturing ourselves. Maybe we’ve been used to neutralizing ourselves or…

 So that’s what I love about all this work is that it should be confronting. Now, it doesn’t have to be dramatically confronting for all of us. Could be unease.

Self-growth. You know, if we’re looking at a plant, watching a plant grow, like on a time-lapse, you know, it’s kind of intense. It’s like, you know like there’s a lot of like beautiful struggles. So self growth is asking some of that. But the payoff for that process is, I believe, we get a higher quality of life because we really get to learn more about who we are and have more choice and freedom in our reactions to others. And then to bring it to relationships, we have more possibility to build relationships that can be life-giving, and relationships, as we talked about pre the official introduction, I’m talking with my hands right now, so if you’re just listening, you might not see this, but I’m putting my fingers together, and then I’m opening them up like on my five fingers because our relationships span out, and they affect so many people around us, right? If we have children, they affect our children, they affect our family members.

[19:14] Damianne President: What’s coming up for me is just the idea of facing yourself. That the invitation and the work here is to really face yourself. I’m thinking about how important is that before you face somebody else. 

Some of what I’ve talked about in previous episodes is around showing up for people, showing up for your family, showing up for your loved ones, and also showing up for yourself.

And I’m thinking about how does showing up and creating that space for yourself and others relate to facing yourself and knowing how you’re feeling. Maybe I’ll just invite listeners to think about that. I can go on those rabbit holes sometimes, so we don’t necessarily need to uncover all of it, but if it’s interesting to you, then as a listener, that could be something to think about.

[20:08] Damodar Cordua: It’s a beautiful invitation.

Building security in a relationship 

[20:09] Damianne President: The other thing I wanted to talk about is around security. We brought it up briefly earlier in the conversation, and I think everybody wants that sense of safety, of security in relationships. Tied to attachment theory, a lot of us grew up in environments that were not secure, and we didn’t develop those blueprints or those skills to build secure attachment.

But now that we have a bit more ownership of our lives, what can we do? How do we show up in a way that is secure and help other people that we’re in relationships with be secure as well? 

[20:50] Damodar Cordua: I love how you put that. I really appreciate how you worded that Damianne because yeah, we’re not given the guide or at least many of us aren’t. Maybe that will change, maybe some of these ideas and some of the science will be talked about in school.

A lot of us weren’t given the coordinates. We might have been given something that works, but it could be, uh, something that also breaks down a lot, you know, like a car. We got a car so we can drive, but I don’t know. It keeps breaking down. I don’t know how to change this and the motor. So the beautiful thing, as you said, that’s why I loved how you said it, for many of us, and probably some of us listening to this podcast, when we get to a certain age, we are no longer children. I mean, we probably are in some ways. I know I am definitely a child in many ways, but that’s a different subject. 

But we do now have some choice and we can start to see, and it goes back to dealing with ourselves, you know, reckoning with ourselves, as you said, facing ourselves, looking into ourselves. We can start to see, oh, this is sort of what I think I might have been given, this blueprint. And now I’m seeing that maybe it’s not what I want to completely bring forward. And so you might ask, well, what do I bring forward then? And the cool thing is, is that there is this research that says that a secure attachment or secure relationship with a loved one can promote so many wonderful things in our life. And it can affect, uh, our children, if we have children. It can affect other loved ones that are connected to us.

Many of us grew up in a somewhat insecure space in terms of attachment style. And we need to bid for love in a way that’s based upon that insecure space generally put.

If anybody on the podcast wants to go deeper, there’s lots of stuff, you might have podcasts that you’ve done Damianne about attachment styles. There are four different types, but generally three different types. And one is secure and the other three are insecure. 

But a secure relationship, we can start to engender or nurture that, regardless of what we’re bringing forward in partnership, which is cool because we can actually start to build it into this new system that we’ve been put into instead of just repeating the pattern that we were given, the blueprint we were given when we were young. 

And some ways that we can build security is we learn to do conflict well. We learn, we study how conflict in relationship can actually bring us closer together if done in a way that’s positive and growth-oriented. 

We learn as individuals our emotional history, like our relational blueprint. What was it like? Did I need to avoid to survive when I was young? Did I need to bid for attention over and over again to survive? What was it like for me growing up so that we know what this loved one, maybe where some of that is coming forward in the moment?

And then, we work to build a culture of relationship that allows for safety. Do I feel safe right now? Because what most partnerships have difficulty in, the underlying root cause of breakups, of negative conflict, of unhappy relationships is that one person in the partnership doesn’t feel secure. Feels like this relationship could end. Now, they’re not gonna say that maybe in the moment, but underneath that fight about who’s gonna go get milk or go to the grocery store is an underlying feeling, I don’t know if this person’s gonna stay here. So just cultivating in both people a sense of safety in the relationship is powerful. 

And then from safety, we move into feeling seen, that this person sees me truly, and I see them. I feel like I’m being seen here. 

And then we move into, we feel supported. We feel like this other person is here to support me and, I would add, to challenge me as well. 

And one more S word we could add is soothed. We are learning in partnership or in whatever relationship we’re in that’s really intimate and close to actually soothe each other, to like study our loved one and know, oh wow, they have some of this stuff because I know of their history and I know that that pattern of avoidance or of spinning out, I know where it comes from a little bit, and I’ve learned how to be there for it a little bit. I’ve learned how to soothe some of that in my loved one.

So those are some simple key ones. I’ll say it again. I talked about doing conflict productively, and then I talked about being safe, seen, soothed and supported, and challenged by our partner. And the beautiful thing, as we mentioned earlier, is that that dynamic starts to repair when we didn’t feel safe, seen, soothed, or supported by our primary caregivers or those who raised us. 

And so when we start to bring that into a partnership, wow. If we have children or if there are other people in our lives, just by modeling that behavior, those four Ss, and then doing conflict well, not hiding from conflict, and not doing conflict in such a way that it overwhelms us, we start to train the nervous system of that child that they can feel supported, seen, soothed, safe. And they can also feel like I can be me. And that’s the cornerstone of security is that we can feel free to be us, but also feel deeply loved and connected with this other person.

[27:10] Damianne President: I wanna dig into this a bit more. Let’s focus on the dyad, for example, in a relationship. Then there is what your partner can do to help you with those four Ses, what you can do to help as well,

[27:24] Damodar Cordua: … and then what you do for your partner. 

[27:26] Damianne President: Yeah, absolutely. Let’s look at the safety piece. I don’t trust that my partner is not going to leave me. Let’s take that example. Let’s play it out. Maybe I don’t say this, but I have this sense of agitation or this sense of it’s the end of the world every time we have disagreements. What do I do?

[27:52] Damodar Cordua: This is why this work, as I said earlier, is a little bit confronting. It might be confronting to actually realize, I feel that, right? And this is where we go back to the self-work and the emotional intelligence work will help us see that, right? It’s not just that this person annoys me when they do this thing and I feel really down. But actually, underneath that, I might be abandoned or this person’s not going to stay here. So that’s step one, I guess, obviously, but just wanted to point that out.

Then step two, I mean, I of course would recommend possibly working with someone, but if you’re not, and you’re just kind of moving through this, you’re listening to this podcast, and you’re like, okay, I’m feeling this, is to understand or explore how to bring this up, how to talk about this with your partner in a way that takes personal responsibility for your experience.

And this is like key to communication, especially with partners. Instead of pointing the finger and saying, you do this, and you make me feel this way, and you’re, is to create a culture of conversation and communication where you own your experience.

Hey, for some reason when this happens, I feel this way. It’s bringing up something in me, and I’ve noticed that it might be something from when I was younger. Or I’m feeling this and I don’t even think you mean it necessarily, but I can feel this. Is there a way that we can change this dynamic?

Now, that’s a big ask because then you’re basically putting the ball in your partner’s court and they’re seeing if they’re gonna meet you there because they could become defensive. They could say, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m not gonna deal with that. Just deal with it. Maybe they’ll say that. What’s wrong with that? I just like to do this every day. I just like to, you know, go away on vacation without you for a while. What’s the big deal? Like, I just like to be on my own, which is actually fine.

[29:54] Damianne President: Yeah, don’t take it personally.

[29:55] Damodar Cordua: Yeah, that, and this is where the partnership thing gets very tricky because then we start getting defensive like one person’s right or wrong. But that is not the issue. 

The issue is just understanding the impact of behavior and coming together to collaborate with that understanding. How can we allow this to be you do what you want to do, and I do what I want to do with understanding how it impacts each other?

And so maybe if it’s one partner going away for a while on their own, which actually I think is healthy in relationship to be on your own and then come back. But if the other person has an anxious attachment style, they’re going to feel abandoned, probably. But, they might not feel abandoned if when the partner goes away, they say, I love you so much, I can’t wait to come back to you. I’m just going to go away because it’s so important for me. And then checks in every day. I miss you. I’m thinking of you. Just that could change the impact on this other person’s feeling of possible abandonment. 

So that’s one thing that I try to teach clients is that a lot of it is about conscious communication, is like how can we communicate with each other that allows us to see one another without becoming defensive? And then ninja move, tweak little ways of how we say things or how we react because it impacts someone’s nervous system so much more differently.

[31:27] Damianne President: Yeah. And how does emotional regulation fit in here, like our own emotional regulation? I’m wondering when we’re triggered when we are experiencing this onslaught of feeling that is tied to our past experiences where we did not feel valued or supported or loved, what can we do individually? What’s the work that an individual can do in addition to the support of their partner?

[31:56] Damodar Cordua: I love that you ask a question. That’s where, you know, ideally in partnership, both partners take responsibility for their own individual emotional regulation and both learn to co-regulate, meaning they learn each other’s nervous system. We study, as Stan Tatkin says, Stan Tatkin’s got lots of great books about partnership and also works around neurobiology and attachment science.

So we want to study our partner and really see like where what’s happening inside of them. But yeah, to your point, we also need a practice of our own emotional regulation. And the exercise that I mentioned earlier, the NESTR meditation, and the one that you mentioned from Tara Brach, the RAIN meditation, are ways to become more able to emotionally regulate.

It’s sort of like if you’re playing a sport, you know, you practice, right? You go to practices before the game and you’re training your body to react in different ways, right? If it’s like football or something and someone’s running at you, American football, you move a certain way; you’re training your body to react.

Same thing with our emotional awareness exercise. We’re doing it throughout the day so that when we come up to areas that really trigger us, we’ve created more space and possibility in how to hold space or react to what’s coming at us. We have more information. Oh, that’s the trigger. Not I’m triggered and I react, but that’s the trigger. Ah, I know me and I know that is connected to a part of me that feels this way, but I know that my partner is not necessarily doing that to elicit that. So let me just take a moment and then meet it in a more regulated state. 

Another way to practice this is real simple and that’s exercising time out for yourself and for your relationship, meaning if both people are working, or at least one person in the relationship, we only have to say both. One person’s working to become more emotionally intelligent and they can regulate their emotions is to see, Oh, I’m getting triggered. I mean, me, this is probably why I study this. Half the time I feel like I don’t even know that I’m worked up. You know what I mean? My wife’s like, you’re getting worked up. I’m like, I’m not worked up. I don’t know what you’re talking about because I don’t even know because I’ve been defaulting to this for so long. So even the ability to say, Ah, okay, that’s happening. I’m going to at the very least go away physiologically, move to a different place, move my body, go outside.

Just changing the scenery and changing your body will give you resources to regulate and be with what’s happening. Super important when conflict comes up between two people, if one person can have the ability to do that, but then that gets complicated because, you know, if one person removes themselves and the other person feels like they’re being abandoned in that moment, you know. This is why it’s interesting.

 There’s some variables that happen, but for the listeners out there, I, that’s what I would say, simple move is to even just notice when am I connected. When am I disconnected? When am I present, and when am I getting triggered? Just to notice that and then really say, Oh, I’m noticing it. Pavlovian. I’m moving my body somewhere else. I’m going to go outside and just see how that changes things and gives me perspective. 

[35:28] Damianne President: The third element that you mentioned before was also being there for your partner. And you just talked about, for example, your wife might say, Oh, you’re getting heated. And you think, no, no I’m not. This is just how I always behave. I’m passionate about this topic, for example. And so I think the third piece is being attuned enough to their emotional landscape for you to be able to mirror what you’re seeing and help them be in the moment.

[35:56] Damodar Cordua: You can’t do that if you can’t be with your experience of how they’re being. It’s like if you’re a parent and your child just keeps triggering you, and you can’t be with their discomfort if your child is yelling. It’s the same thing with a partner. Like if our partner is going through something, and we can’t be with it, and that happens a lot with partnerships, It happens in my partnership.

Some of the stuff I do, my wife has a hard time being with, and it’s vice versa. So we’re being called to practice the emotional regulation practice that NESTR meditation, the RAIN meditation, the removing, all the stuff we talked about so that we can actually be present and then, as you said, attune to what that person needs, holds space for where they’re at and maybe, yeah, mirror a way of regulation for them in that moment. If they can feel like, Oh, you’re not reacting to me. If they can feel like, Oh, you’re here, then that other person who’s reacting, right away it starts to diffuse that escalation. 

[36:57] Damianne President: One of the things that Tara Brach mentioned that I like the idea of is in terms of that practice or, you know, building that muscle, you start with something small. You don’t start with the thing that’s most triggering to you. Maybe you start practicing emotional regulation with something that you can put your arms around and get more difficult, uh, situations or emotions, the ones that you find more challenging over time.

[37:26] Damodar Cordua: Yeah. I love that. I think that’s a great recommendation. In fact, you can practice that type of regulation just if you’re like in a car in traffic. You practice it there, you practice it with little things not so personal to you.

With partners and family members, there can be a lot there, a lot more baggage, a lot more complication. And that’s why it’s cool to think of it in like a sport, like building a muscle. You don’t go and run a marathon in one day, right? You build up over time.

You live a lifestyle that allows you to. This can also be challenging. I keep using this word confronting or challenging, is that when we start to move into this work, we could also start to see, oh, wait, for me to actually give myself this space to be with my emotions, to regulate them, to not be overtaken by them or betray them, I might have to change my lifestyle a little bit. I might have to like balance my life, eat better, you know, exercise more, work less, not drink so much coffee. I mean,

[38:27] Damianne President: It has carry on effects.

[38:28] Damodar Cordua: Yeah, it’s all interconnected too, which is cool. And we might again, go back to what I said before, we might have ways of being that have paid off and we don’t wanna let go, or we have, not even addictions, but habits, or there could be addictions too.

[38:46] Damianne President: Yeah. And I think where this shows up a lot is in relationships where people have been together for a long time. And so the habits are entrenched and all of a sudden somebody confronts the fact that this is a habit that they just do not want to live with anymore. And that can be on either side, but I think it’s more confronting when your partner holds up a mirror for you of something that they do not enjoy, and you may not realize that there is a problem there.

[39:17] Damodar Cordua: Yeah, yeah. I love what you’re saying here. And this is why conflict is so important, because doing conflict well, so to speak, or practicing it, allows us to reckon with the stuff that we don’t like. As opposed to if we hide from the conflict to stay connected and don’t speak up for what’s hurting or annoying us, it’s going to come out sideways. Or if we do conflict in an unhealthy way, that actually makes us double down on our bitter feelings or difficulty or, you know, makes us feel like the security we’ve created is compromised. When we do conflict well, we can see we’re different people. That’s important to understand in a relationship and hold space for that. How can we recognize that, and how can I actually see, without taking it personally, that okay, this is impacting you, and it’s compromising our relationship? 

And then I’ll teach like a listening exercise, like an active reflective listening that can nurture that in a couple where it’s not an argument, meaning I’m right, you’re wrong. It’s a space of exploration and really seeing the other person. And it’s hard when that culture is not brought into a relationship early on. And to your point, like if it’s been a long-term relationship and it comes up outta nowhere, you know, it’s gonna take that couple some work to gain those tools to kind of reshape some of that pattern, especially if it’s been a long time resentment.


[40:55] Damianne President: As our time is winding down do you have an invitation or a challenge for listeners either around this listening exercise you just talked about, or security or anything that is on your heart?

[41:09] Damodar Cordua: Yeah. There’s so much I could, I could talk about. So I, I, I’ll, I’ll maybe just give a couple of things.

I would really call forward the listeners if they haven’t already, they might have a practice, to ask the question to themselves, what is it like to be with my experience and when am I hiding from it or distracting myself from it or overriding it? When is that happening? We’re in a culture of mass distraction and so many ways to do that, so just holding space for that. And if it’s the meditation that Damianne mentioned from Tara Brach, or one that I talked about, maybe start going deeper into a meditation that gives you more ability. 

And because you brought up listening, real simple exercise that you can start practicing to hold space for others in a way that’s not defensive, that’s exploratory, and that leads to better understanding is if you have a loved one in your life, if it’s a partner or someone else, a friend, a family member, take the time once a week, or you can do it just throughout the week, you know, you can make it unofficial, to listen to them, just to listen to them. Not to respond, but just to hear what they’re saying and repeat back what you hear.

Real simple. Listen. All you’re there to do. I’m like putting my ears wide here. You can’t see me. Listen, it’s all you are meant to do. Like you just wanna hear every little tidbit, like it’s the tastiest stew. And just repeat back what you hear and see how it affects them. See how it affects the dynamic when they’re, and this is actually goes back to security, when they’re really feeling safe in your presence, totally seen and supported by you just listening. 

 I could list so much more but those are some great things to start. Actually, I’ll say one more thing just to recap. Check in with your relationships, any of them, friendships, family members, workplace environments, those are probably the most challenging because we have sometimes little control over them or least amount of control. Check in to see, do I feel safe here. Just be curious. Do I feel seen in this relationship? Do I feel soothed? Do I feel supported? And do I feel challenged?

[43:37] Damianne President: Before I end, I am gonna ask you if you have a favorite Stan Tatkin book.

[43:42] Damodar Cordua: Yeah, Stan Tatkin, love his stuff. Wired for Love is a great book.

[43:48] Damianne President: Okay,

[43:49] Damodar Cordua: I would start with that.

[43:50] Damianne President: Wonderful. Is there anything else you wanna say before we end our conversation today?

[43:56] Damodar Cordua: Well, if you’re interested, just to talk just a moment about what I do, If you’re ever interested in, building more emotional awareness, learning better communication, listening skills, learning to create better relationships with your own self, where it all starts, and with your loved ones in partnership or other relationships in your life, I work with people one on one and in couples and dyads. And I also have an upcoming workshop in November on relationship tools, so tools to build a better relationship. So you can learn more about what I’m talking about here and there’ll be group coaching practices, homework, interactive stuff, accountability over time. It’ll be really great and really life-giving and really inspiring. So that’s about it. 

Conflict is so important, because doing conflict well, so to speak, or practicing it, allows us to reckon with the stuff that we don’t like.


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