Learn to let go of grudges. Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting it to kill someone else. Nothing harms one’s soul nearly as devastatingly as bitterness.
As a part of my series about how to live with Joie De Vivre, I had the pleasure of interviewing Liza Shaw.
Liza Shaw is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and has been practicing since 1999. Clients of Liza’s are encouraged to move their lives and relationships beyond the limitations from the past, to breakthrough levels.
Her style is respectful, directive, compassionate, and challenging. She takes a stand that all people deserve extraordinary lives, and she understands what it takes to help them achieve this. Liza specializes in Marital and Couples Therapy, as well as family and individual therapy. She possesses many years of training, has demonstrated a high level of competence with Marriage and Couples Therapy, values the institutions of marriage and life-long commitment, and is dedicated to helping marriages succeed, if at all possible.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
As with many therapists, I was originally interested in becoming a “helper” out of a desire to make a difference with others. My focus began as external — assuming I would be helping people in my community. Little did I know my career choice would allow me to not only achieve this, but also heal my own past and move forward to create powerful, thriving relationships in my own life.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I have learned that marital therapists are just as susceptible to relationship breakdown as everyone else. About five years into my career as a Marriage and Family Therapist, I found myself struggling hard to make my own marriage work. With very young children, my husband and I had built up so many resentments that we could see no other recourse besides separation. And so, we separated. The idea of divorce was very disturbing for me — someone who had grown up in a divorced home and had made a promise to myself never to put my children through the kind of pain I had lived. And yet our problems seemed insurmountable, so I resigned myself to the fact that I, a professional therapist whose main job was to help others heal their relationships, was not going to be able to heal hers.
Even with this belief, we still sought the help of a very talented Marriage and Family Therapist — I knew I had to at least do what I asked of my clients: set aside the outcome and work hard on repairing the damage that the marriage had sustained. Therapy helped us with resolving many of our issues; however, we were still on a clear trajectory towards divorce when my brother reminded me about the Landmark Forum, a 3-day Personal Growth workshop he had attended years before. He confronted me, suggesting that I would not be able to tell my children I had “done everything I could to save the marriage” without at least giving it a try. Well, I accepted that challenge! I mean, I had been working on my relationship for months! Honestly, I didn’t believe any three-day seminar could make the kind of difference my brother was promising. But I like a challenge! And besides, the program seemed intriguing. I felt intuitively that even if reconciliation wasn’t going to happen, the course would show me a way to move forward powerfully. My husband and I registered and participated together.
This course turned out to be the single most powerful experience I had ever had. Not only did it provide tools to heal my marriage that I had never gotten in therapy or graduate school, but the course also allowed me to completely resolve lifelong anxieties, insecurities, and resentments that I’d been dragging around in just about every area of my life. My business significantly increased as a surprising result, I was finally able to put the past truly behind me, and most importantly, my husband and I began to see that we could clean the slate and begin anew together!
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
I guess the joke was that the therapist that tries to help themselves has a fool for a client! It took five years and almost losing my marriage for me to finally stop thinking I “know it all already” and reach out for help from qualified experts. The process has humbled me in a way that nothing else likely could. I now specialize in helping couples return from the brink of divorce. My experience with my own “almost-divorce” has really helped me understand the path my clients must walk.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am deeply grateful to my loving husband, who chose to stick with me and create our marriage into the thriving relationship that it is today! It isn’t perfect, but it is a deeper love than either of us knew was possible!
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?
I believe that Americans are resigned to a pessimistic view of their lives. Most of us were brought up believing in the Disney version of happiness — that it should be “ever after” — and many don’t realize the work that it takes to achieve true happiness! But more importantly, they don’t realize that the work of being happy is actually quite simple (not easy — these two ideas are distinct, but that is another article altogether). Being happy requires us to take ownership of everything that occurs in our lives and see it all as part of something greater than ourselves. When we view life like a classroom, and the difficulties and losses as “lessons,” we can allow life to unfold with ease and even grace. We can refuse to be a victim to what happens to us, and instead see that with every hardship, we grow.
Can you share with our readers your 5 strategies to live with more Joie De Vivre? Can you please give a story or example for each?
1.) Learn to let go of grudges. Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting it to kill someone else. Nothing harms one’s soul nearly as devastatingly as bitterness.
2.) Choose to love. This is important. There is a lot of negativity floating around social media and the internet in general these days. This undoubtedly impacts the way we experience our lives. Find ways to be loving, and express it as often as you can. We need love today perhaps more than we ever have! The great thing about love is that when we are giving it away to others, we can’t help but get it all over ourselves!
3.) Give up always having to be “right.” This one little tip can profoundly improve your relationships. Try this little game: challenge yourself to make others around you as “right” as you possibly can! Notice how brilliant they are, and acknowledge them for it! Give your loved ones around you the positive attention they need and deserve, and let go of the bad habit of constantly having to prove them wrong.
4.) Stop taking this life so dang seriously. Be silly and laugh as much as possible. This includes laughing at yourself, mmmkay? Laughter releases endorphins, the body’s natural “feel-good” hormones. There really is healing power in it, so do it often, especially as we are living with the enormous stress of the pandemic and all of the changes that came along with it.
5.) Ask for help when you are struggling. We really are not supposed to be trudging through this life all alone! Here’s a challenge: the next time you are faced with a problem, tell yourself it is the opportunity to allow someone to help you! This may feel hard at first, but some of the most beautiful miracles can come from giving someone the gift of making a difference in your life!
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?
Right now I am reading “The Brain That Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge, MD. The topic of neuroplasticity is absolutely fascinating to me! And before that, I was reading “Unfu*k Yourself” by Gary John Bishop. This book provides a reality check for those who want to break through their mundaneness and move their lives from ordinary to extraordinary. With spending so much time on the computer (doing teletherapy) all day, I am really enjoying holding a paper book in my hand and reading the “old fashioned” way, so I’m not really reading any blogs these days.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing” by Helen Keller. This is my clarion call — it’s my own personal tag line. I live by this as much as I can, and have learned how not to give in to my fears. We must do what scares us! This world needs courageous people who are willing to take a bold stand for GREATNESS. People can be great if we require them to be! This means we must be great first, and live life as authentically as we can!
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My commitment is to help couples heal their relationships and move forward together with a love that they never knew was possible!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I have been working on expanding the concepts from my TedX Talk in a book with the working title: Marriage 2.0: A System Update for Lifelong, Committed Relationships. I am excited to bring my “New Model” of love to couples everywhere!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I just want to help people uncover their innate ability to love themselves and one another. This is my purpose for being on this planet, and I am honored to have the opportunity to make this difference while I’m here!
Thank you for these excellent insights!