In this episode, Scott Caspell discusses relationships and how to show up open and curious for better relationships with ourselves and others. We explore themes of authenticity and doing the work necessary to build the life that you want.
We recorded this episode in May 2023.
Your Challenge Invitation
I think it is important to not negate my personal desires and interests and what helps me on a personal level feel fulfilled, but then also to include some of those other people in the conversation as well.Tweet
Timeline of the Chat
[02:30] The Most Important thing in Relationships
[04:35] The Relationship with Yourself
[06:57] Knowing what you want
[11:15] Mindsets for healthy relationships
[14:48] Observing the thinking mind
[16:20] Different ways of showing up
[20:20] How self-talk affects relationships
[24:19] Invitation from Scott
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One of the things I love about coaching others, just creating space for that exploration that sometimes, if folks are used to deferring to others, to a parent, to a manager, to a dominant whoever in their life, they might not trust their own voice and their own intuition to really guide their own way forward.Tweet
And so the first step is just awareness, however we understand that for ourselves. And then we can make actions or make steps to move forward in a way where we can be happy with how we respond to the situations that arise for usTweet
Transcript of the Episode
Today’s guest is Scott Caspell. Scott is a certified professional coach with 20 years of experience in the personal growth and leadership development fields. Spanning six continents, his experience includes teaching at the secondary university levels, coordinating youth leadership programs in Nunavut and Uganda.
And a decade leading self-development wilderness education programs with young adults. As a coach, Scott helps others connect with what really matters, articulate a vision of the life that they desire, and then support them as they make it their reality. He integrates neuroscience backed methods and mindfulness techniques to help clients develop the clarity, habits and mindset to create a joyful, purposeful, and deeply fulfilling life.
Welcome to Change speaking small Scott,
[01:13] Scott: Thank you. Pleasure to be here.
[01:15] Damianne: For today, we’re going to focus on the topic of relationships. What kind of challenges do your clients come to you with when it comes to relationships?
[01:25] Scott: A whole range of challenges. I think all of us as humans have certain challenges, or can be prone to challenges. So some recent examples would be, as you could imagine, interpersonal challenges with one’s spouse, and then the impact that that has on their wellbeing, on their self-confidence, and on their fulfillment of what they’re experiencing.
Others would be relationships with themselves, actually just being happy with themselves and having the confidence to take bold action, to really, I think, accept themselves in a way that can create space for love and for, I think, a whole range of opportunities. So it’s, yeah, I think relationships even with challenge, you know, did they shrink in the face of challenge or do they find a way through that or around that with relationships around them with their family, with their friends, with their support group.
One of the things I love about my work is that I see patterns within the people I coach, but also it’s a mirror for myself of some of the challenges that I’ve experienced with relationships, with my wife, with the people in my life. And with that awareness can provide opportunities for growth, for change and for moving forward in a way that feels right.
[02:30] The Most Important thing in Relationships
[02:30] Damianne: You talked about noticing patterns. So are there common threads that come up again and again in your coaching when it comes to relationships?
[02:39] Scott: Hmm. I think there are patterns that emerge. I think a big one would be communication, open and honest communication, again with ourselves, about what we’re experiencing and our challenges on a personal level, but then interpersonally communication as far as what we want in a relationship, what we value and respect and wanna celebrate about the other, and what challenges might be coming up. The pattern can be, the less communication, the more challenges there are. And so, opening the doors to some of that communication earlier in the process can be beneficial in my personal experience and through my work as a coach.
[03:15] Damianne: Communication is a big part in that relationship with others, and you also emphasize the importance of that relationship with yourself. How important is a relationship with yourself to be able to have healthy relationships with other people?
[03:30] Scott: Yeah, I think this for me is a really important question. I think it’s essential that we have a healthy relationship with ourselves as a foundation for healthy, positive, constructive, loving relationships with others in all shapes and forms. A lot of my work looks at bringing awareness to the patterns that we have and our mindset within ourselves and how that might limit us from really having loving relationships with ourselves and with those in our life.
And if I break it down fundamentally of what I think I want for myself and what I hear in the people that I work with is that what we often really want is loving relationships, the opportunity for aliveness and experience that is fulfilling to us and a sense of purpose that often comes from feeling confident in oneself, but also having purposeful and meaningful relationships with others, family, friends, and the work that we do, a relationship that we’re on purpose there. And yet I believe that often, that starts with really a foundational relationship with ourselves.
[04:35] The Relationship with Yourself
[04:35] Damianne: Yeah, and what I’m wondering now is how do I figure out what that relationship is with myself? Where do I start?
[04:44] Scott: Yeah. We start in this moment. Coaching, In my experience, is often like, what right now is in front of you? What’s alive for you in this moment? What’s drawing you forward, maybe where you are experiencing resistance And the present moment is always the doorway into what’s going on. What opportunities, what dreams, what passions do you wanna pursue, and what’s maybe limiting you, or what are you resisting to be able to welcome that love and fulfillment that I and that many people’s desire.
[05:12] Damianne: Yeah, I’ve been doing a lot of work recently in terms of thinking about what do I want and also talking with people about what do they want, and noticing that that’s a difficult question for a lot of people, that deep self-knowledge. And I think a lot of it comes from people thinking that there is a right answer out there, or the best answer out there as opposed to just something that you choose, which is what I’ve arrived at.
[05:41] Scott: Yeah, I, I agree with that. I think there is maybe an expectation of what, what we should want even from ourselves. Culturally and societally, we take in the messages of what it means to be successful. What does successful look like? And therefore, you know, a quick answer could be, what do you want in life? You could list off a number of things you know, a job that you enjoy and income of a certain level, but if you dive beneath the surface there, what does that provide for you? Then it comes down to those sort of fundamental emotional feelings of how we want to feel when we’re alive, when we’re in relationship with those that we love, you know, our interpersonal or loving relationships and in relation to our work that we’re doing.
And so going a little bit deeper beneath the surface of what we think we want, not everyone is ready for looking at things like that. And I think that’s fine. I think everyone can choose their own path. Yet, if we’re feeling unfulfilled and feeling like there’s more potential, or if we’re really experiencing challenges, that’s where maybe that can be a doorway into looking at what’s getting in the way. And then what are the opportunities for moving forward? And often it’s not the shiny car or the new house or things like that, that I think we know intellectually, but then what is it? What is it we’re craving? What is it we’re looking for? And therefore, what can I do to feel fulfilled in my life?
[06:57] Knowing what you want
[06:57] Damianne: Yeah, I’m thinking about in some relationships or when I’ve talked to some friends about their relationships, their romantic relationships, and asked them what they want, then they might say, well, it depends on what my partner wants. And, I wonder in terms of relationships, how does this knowing work on an individual basis versus the collective basis? How do you think about that?
[07:21] Scott: A few thoughts come to mind. One would be it’s very thoughtful and considered to consider one’s partner. And before giving a complete answer to that for myself, I would be tuning into what my partner wants as well. Sometimes, it’s just a humble response to look to the other. And sometimes it’s a lacking confidence or a lack of believing that one’s desires really are important or worthy, or worthwhile. So depending on the person or the situation, I would dig a little bit deeper or probe a little bit deeper to help clarify things for that person but then also welcome it in. We’re not individuals living in isolation from others.
I have a new baby daughter that maybe we’ll speak about a little bit later. So a lot of what’s important to me right now inherently includes her and my wife because we’re a unit here, we’re a family unit. And then, there’s my extended family that is also important as far as what I want and what I wanna create and where I devote my time and energy at this phase of my life. But I think it is important to not negate my personal desires and interests and what helps me on a personal level feel fulfilled, but then also to include some of those other people in the conversation as well.
[08:29] Damianne: What about for people who like to get a lot of different opinions before they make a decision? I think there’s like a tipping point where it can be too much. You know, we have the saying, too many cooks spoil the broth. And I think that this is for a good reason. I think there is such a thing as, I don’t know if it’s overwhelming but I wonder what role does asking other people’s opinions play in knowing yourself, knowing others, building that strong relationship, and making decisions.
[09:01] Scott: I think the influence of others can be important in a mentorship sense and in a communal sense of looking to those who have wisdom, whether they’re our elders or our experienced family members about all range of things. What’s important to them, what’s important for the community, what possible steps, you know, what was their path?
And I think there’s also, as I think you’re alluding to, an opportunity to, to lean too heavily on the opinions of others when it comes to our personal wellbeing, in our personal fulfillment. And one of the things I love about coaching as a modality is that inherently it is inclusive of what people want for themselves because, as a coach, I don’t guide or instruct or mentor them necessarily but help them really find the answers from within that the wisdom is within them. And so that’s one of the things I love about coaching others, just creating space for that exploration that sometimes, if folks are used to deferring to others, to a parent, to a manager, to a dominant whoever in their life, they might not trust their own voice and their own intuition to really guide their own way forward.
So, whether it’s officially a coaching relationship or just a coaching style of approach that allows someone to really find their own way, to trust their intuition, sometimes to take some steps forward, and even if that involves perceived failure or stumbling, but to learn from that and to keep going I think is really important today, more than ever before, while still recognizing that there is value in the wisdom of our elders and the community as well. So, to find a balance that we feel comfortable navigating our own path, but that we do have supports around us, whether it’s a coach or whether it’s a family member or an elder to help provide some guidance along the way, that’s what I would share on that.
[10:46] Damianne: And I think also for myself, it’s realizing what abilities I have as well. I guess acknowledging, like you said, there is wisdom that a coach can help you recognize. And I think part of that is also acknowledging, yeah, I do have answers within me. And being able to build that trust, to build that mindset really of looking inward and not only outward.
[11:15] Mindsets for healthy relationships
[11:15] Damianne: We’ve kind of alluded to mindsets a few times now. What are some of the mindsets that help with those healthy relationships, either with oneself, or with others?
[11:26] Scott: Mm-hmm. Yeah. There’s different sorts of authors or schools of thought that I tend to draw on in my work. But at its core, there’s a theme in a number of different authors and programs and things like that, and that is a mindset of feeling open and curious to life or to an experience or a challenge or a relationship, or are we feeling closed off and judgmental and something like that?
And so, really tuning into am I opening myself, open-minded, open-hearted to this relationship, this experience? Or am I closed off and therefore reactive and I’m gonna avoid things? Tuning into that has been one of the most important learnings for myself, cuz I have my own patterns of when I close off and when I become reactive.
And the more I can remain open to it, I can navigate any challenge if I can remain open. So learning the tools and habits and mindsets to help step back into that is my default way or to return to that state of openness more readily has been really important for my personal journey and something I continue to work on day after day.
And then some form of that in those that I coach as well. The more we can remain open and curious to what we can learn and if we can approach with curiosity and, and humor, it really shifts our response to that. And if we can bounce back and learn from it and, you know, move around a challenge versus getting locked into place and really becoming hardened in a state of reactivity and negativity and things like that. So that’s another pattern that I personally experience, and many of those that I work with also have their own pattern or version of that.
And so the first step is just awareness, however we understand that for ourselves. And then we can make actions or make steps to move forward in a way where we can be happy with how we respond to the situations that arise for us.
[13:23] Damianne: Maybe you’ve had a lot of practice in being open in different scenarios in relationships with other people. But let’s say somebody’s listening and they haven’t had a lot of practice with this, they find themselves being reactive in many situations and it’s affecting their relationships. What’s something that they could do to develop that skill of openness?
[13:44] Scott: One would be, and listeners could do this while we’re on the call, is tuning in to, are you feeling open and curious in any given situation or are you feeling more closed off and judgemental? That simple. Are we feeling open? Are we feeling closed, would be one situation. If you are in a conversation with a partner, whether it’s a spouse or a business partner or something like that, then noticing your tendency to be open or to be closed.
So awareness is key for that. And then, there’s a series of questions that we can answer, ask ourselves to help us sort of guide us through that situation. There’s different meditation practices of course that can help us calm the mind and tune in more readily to that.
[14:24] Damianne: Myself, I notice it’s in the way that I’m thinking. If I step back, sometimes it’ll be like, oh, there they go again. And I think that’s rather a closed approach to a conversation, right? As opposed to, oh, they love that story so much, maybe there’s gonna be a new detail. Let’s see what else they have to share this time compared to the previous time they told this.
[14:47] Scott: Yeah.
[14:48] Observing the thinking mind
[14:48] Damianne: what you’re thinking helps you realize if you are showing up in a way that is open or closed in a conversation in a relationship.
[14:57] Scott: Yes, yes. Observing the thinking mind, as we make comments to ourselves, taking a step back and just being the observer of the mind, I’m not the first person to come up with this. Many, many authors and spiritual guides have talked about this. Observing the thinking mind is another way just to step back and helps put perspective on the situation.
And then we can choose to navigate our way forward with a little bit more intention. And it doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong to have thoughts like this. We all have judgements and judgements can be really beneficial in our life as well, you know, whether to do this or that, turn left or right, et cetera. But to the extent that it impacts our life or our relationships in a positive or a negative way, or guiding us in the direction that feels limiting or feels expansive and opening to us would be the measure of if it’s really being beneficial to us or not.
[15:48] Damianne: The other thing is that I don’t think we’re open people or closed people. I think that it really depends on the circumstance, like it depends on our relationship with a specific person, the rapport that we have, how we are feeling that day in terms of sensations in our body. There are many different factors that could affect whether or not you’re showing up in an open or a closed way, and just being aware of that, as you mentioned.
[16:14] Scott: Yeah.
[16:16] Damianne: So how old is your daughter?
[16:19] Scott: Seven months old.
[16:20] Different ways of showing up
[16:20] Damianne: Oh baby. And what do you notice so far about your relationship with her? How you show up as a dad versus how you show up as a husband or elsewhere in your life?
[16:36] Scott: Yeah. This has been a really powerful learning for me over these past seven months that I feel so predominantly open-hearted with my little daughter, so loving and accepting and inviting and opening when I see her. There’s challenges with parenthood, of course, but as far as how I show up to my relationship with her, it’s been really opening how much love can flow through me when I am open, when I’m open-hearted and open-minded.
And that has been a beautiful thing, but also in contrast to some of how I show up in some other areas of my life, how I’m not that open with this other situation, or when I heard a certain story on the news or when someone comes to me with some sort of challenge or story. It’s been interesting to experience that, like, being in relation with someone where it’s predominantly open and loving. It illuminated how I’m closed off in some other areas of my life. And then that insight has been able to help me actually make some moves in my other relationships to help strengthen them, which has been a challenging process seeing how I’m not always the man I wanna be in every situation yet I wanna make steps in becoming more of that person, more regularly, if that makes sense.
[17:56] Damianne: Yeah. And what do you think it is about fatherhood that allows you to show up in this way that is more open-hearted and also lets you see maybe opportunities in other relationships as well?
[18:13] Scott: I’m not sure exactly what it is about fatherhood, but in my experience, this is our first child so I have limited experience in fatherhood, but it’s being in relation with this little being who is just the most honest and authentic being that I know. Her resting state is one of happiness and calmness, you know, then she gets hungry and things change or then she gets tired and that changes, but she just shows up as she is. I strive for that level of authenticity in my own life, in my own relationships, To be honest, to be transparent, to be open-hearted and it’s beautiful to witness that. But then also just to see what that opens up for myself when I’m in relationship with this little baby who is just, just pure, I don’t know if innocence is the right word. Authenticity might be the best word. She’s just completely herself all the time. She has no desire to please or to do anything else yet. She’s just as she is. For me, that’s been beautiful to witness.
And I guess for myself, it illuminates how maybe when I am in my full authenticity and maybe when I’ve got something to look at or consider. I don’t think that means that everyone should be authentic and just saying whatever’s on their mind at every moment in time. Yet, I think when we are not truthful or authentic with ourselves, then that limits how we show up with others, and that limits potentially our fulfillment or the depth or quality of our relationships.
I think it can open the door to more fulfillment, to more loving relationships, or it could close us off, I think, just to that love and aliveness and, and acceptance that we, maybe I could speak for myself, that I yearn for in my relationship. So, a bit of a rambling answer, but I guess it’s learning from this baby has been a powerful experience for me.
[19:58] Damianne: One of the key points you just brought up was about authenticity, which goes back to knowing yourself and that concept of acceptance that you also mentioned, because how can you be authentic if you don’t know who you are? How can you be authentic if you don’t accept yourself? You’re always gonna be trying to change or show up in a different way. And so I think all of the pieces are coming together from what we’ve been talking about.
[20:18] Scott: Mm-hmm.
[20:20] How self-talk affects relationships
[20:20] Damianne: One of the things that you mentioned in your pre-interview form was about self-talk and you mentioned how the way we talk to ourselves can impact our relationship with ourselves and also our relationship with other people.
Are there particular practices that you advocate when it comes to catching yourself with self-talk?
[20:43] Scott: None that I would say here; this is for everyone right now. Yet, depending on what I’m working with people as a coach on, we can co-design some practices that look at when self-talk comes up, tuning into that and then maybe doing something with that. Maybe we notice what sensations we’re experiencing in our body cause maybe that’s the start of a pattern that goes a little bit downhill as far as, oh, then that happens, my breath shortens, I clench my fist, like I get a little bit of strain in my neck or whatever the experience or the sensations might be, tuning into what’s going on, and then observing, maybe taking a pause before reacting.
If, say it’s in a conversation or an argument or something like that, maybe it involves taking a few deep breaths and then moving forward. In general, whenever it’s a challenge or the self-talk is coming up, it would be tuning into what’s going on, taking a pause, maybe that’s a deep breath, and then moving forward after. So cutting the cycle of reactivity and doing more of observation and then moving forward with intention would be one of the patterns that can look different ways for different people. That would be one thing I believe can be beneficial.
I’m just gonna pause and look at that for a sec.
I think being aware of the language we use when we’re talking to ourselves, if we’re degrading ourselves or demeaning ourselves to be aware of that and maybe capture some of that language down. And then looking at that and possibly my work tends to be present moment, future focused. I don’t necessarily go digging around in our childhoods or things like that, but being aware of where that might have originated from and there is some shadow work type stuff to do as far as looking at what are our strengths or limitations that we’re not really looking at that are kept in our shadows that once illuminated can actually free up some energy to be able to focus on more positive and constructive actions or results or endeavors? Awareness, becoming more centered and then moving forward with intention would be a general sort of phase or pattern that I find beneficial and it tends to be helpful for most people, I find.
[22:48] Damianne: I went through some cognitive behavioral therapy. I think that’s what it’s called, and I felt a bit like I was taking a class on some level, but the one very good thing that I remember from that experience was catching the way that I talked to myself and the way that I said this never, or this always, or like this is the end of the world, and those types of things where we go to the extremes in the way that we think, or the way that we speak and the impact that has on ourselves as well as other people. And that was a new idea to me that has kind of stayed with me.
[23:29] Scott: I haven’t done too much thinking about it recently, but that reminded me of some of the importance of like the principles of nonviolent communication I think are what you’re speaking about as well. Speaking in specific terms and using I statements and not generalizing when we’re in conversation with others, but I think some of those same principles can apply when we’re talking to ourselves.
I’ve found some of the nonviolent communication principles being really beneficial when I was, you know, learning from them for the first time around and an absence of those principles can really help fuel arguments between people. I just wanted to mention that.
[24:04] Damianne: Where can people go, Scott, to learn more about you and about your work?
[24:09] Scott: My website, scott castell.com is a good place to go. I welcome people to connect with me on LinkedIn and I have a Scott Castell coaching Facebook page, that’s another way to connect with me.
[24:19] Invitation from Scott
[24:19] Damianne: In this podcast Changes, Big, and Small, I like to leave listeners with an action that they can take. Do you have an invitation for listeners of something that they could do for a stronger relationship, a healthier relationship, with themselves or with someone else.
[24:35] Scott: Yeah. Based on the themes that we’ve been speaking about, I think I would just go back to what we talked about at the beginning, which is tuning into if we’re feeling open and curious in a relationship or conversation or whenever we’re experiencing anything throughout our lives day to day. If we’re feeling open and curious and committed to learning or if we’re feeling closed off and judgmental and more restricted in what that relationship might have to offer. That would be my invitation to folks.
Tuning in to whether they’re feeling open or closed can provide them with the opportunity to choose and decide their path forward with more intention. And there’s lots of people who’ve written about this. I’m not coming up with this myself personally, but I’ve benefited from it. And some of the resources on my website help people tune into when they’re being centered and when they’re not being centered and, and practices that could help them become more grounded, center open, curious. And that’s one of the things that’s been most important for me personally
[25:38] Damianne: I definitely want people to take action, but I also want people to have an idea of what is possible for them. I don’t think that possibility needs to constrain people. Otherwise we would never have innovation. I think imagination is also great, but sometimes just having some examples can be helpful for people.
So do you have any examples of how people have improved their relationships with others by improving their relationships with themselves.
[26:04] Scott: Mm-hmm. Absolutely. Due to confidentiality with my clients, I won’t mention specific people, but those general trends of for example, a number of clients for themselves decide to use a meditation practice as part of their strategy. And the more tuned in they are and the more calm they are and the more open-minded they are with themselves, then they can show up in their relationships with their coworkers, with their intimate partner or spouse. It’s a pattern that I’ve seen before too. And it takes work, it takes some commitment to actually make a shift in how we show up, an intention to do so for cultivating awareness with oneself and then to be able to show up as the best version of ourselves.
I think deep down, we’re all loving, authentic, beautiful, accepting people. And, I think, some of our patterns and habits of reactivity, where we close off and become more difficult to be with, more judgmental, more negative. So stripping some of that away to who we are at our core, with some different practices, both daily habits of our being energized and having the energy and the focus, but also the attention and the awareness of when we’re showing up as we choose to be or as we would like to be and when we’re being a more closed more limited version of ourselves.
[27:21] Damianne: You have a program just for men. Can you tell us a bit about that program and why you chose to focus on men? I mean, you’re a man, but I don’t wanna make that the obvious reason.
[27:32] Scott: Yeah. Well, I’ll maybe mention a little bit of my path and then I’ll mention the program at the end. But it wasn’t my intention to work with men. Actually. I really quite enjoy coaching and working with men and women. I’ve done lots of work with youth in the past as well, in an educational context. But in moving to Ottawa where I live now and looking to form a community, I ended up in a men’s group where we get together with a group of men and we do sharing, we do supportive work, and we do some personal deeper work, shadow work, and some personal development work.
It was the entry into men’s work that really showed me the power of having really positive, strong connective relationships with other men as I get later in life, uh, was really quite powerful for me. And that sort of opened the door to coaching with men. And a number of the clients I was attracting were men. So I ended up creating a program based on the patterns that I was seeing in the clients that I was working with that addressed the mindset, the habits, our relationships, our emotional literacy and emotional capacity to show up in our relationships. And ended up forming a seven week online program that I ran last year called The Authentic Man, and ended up further revising that this year as a life compass coaching program for young men, which integrates some self-study, some personal development modules and one-on-one coaching with myself. So it takes some of the themes of the work that I’ve been doing over the last number of years and has some exercises and practices to help show up as our best version of ourselves, and then some of the guidance and one-on-one support that can really help men move through some of the challenges that they might be experiencing.
[29:12] Damianne: Is this a program that you’re currently offering?
[29:14] Scott: That’s right. I just started offering the Life Compass coaching program for young men. There’s information on my website, scott castell.com. That’s a program particularly tailored for young men, which I define broadly. I also offer one-on-one coaching services for men of all ages.
[29:30] Damianne: Great. Is there anything else that I haven’t asked you that I should have?
[29:34] Scott: No, I think we’ve had a great conversation. I appreciate the opportunity to share my perspectives. We’ve explored themes that are really quite important to me, authenticity, fatherhood, coaching, personal development. So I really appreciate the opportunity to speak with you.
[29:49] Damianne: Likewise.