This is a slightly edited version from a podcast interview conducted by Dr. Vic, Founder & CEO of TEP.Global, of Ms. Devi Records, a psychotherapist. (Emphases and subheadings added.)
To hear it as a podcast
In this episode, I chat with Devi Records, a teacher, a counselor and psychotherapist who is teaching leaders mindfulness by seeking the conversation under the conversation. Adapting her approach to family counseling, Devi is helping organizations, leaders and teams get their inner game on. We discuss how consciousness and mindfulness can help leaders, why you should listen to your body when you get upset, fearful or anxious – and lastly how counseling companies doesn’t differ much from counseling a marriage.
Sharing her powerful insight, Devi is a call to action that we need to get our inner game on if we want to master our outer game.
And here’s Devi! Welcome to the show, Devi.
Thank you so much, Victor. I’m delighted to be here.
It’s an honor to have you on our show!
Let’s start from the beginning, Devi. I understand you’re a counselor. What prompted you to enter this field?
When I was young, there were only really four tracks for women. You could be a social worker, a teacher, a nurse or a secretary. And those were the only things that you were encouraged to do. For me, I was very lucky in that I was passionate about teaching and school in a lot of ways, just really formed me the whole academics. So of course, I went into teaching and I got my first job and I found that as I was going along, I would stay after school from like three o’clock till six o’clock, correcting papers and doing planning and kids would come in to talk to me once word got out that Devi Records stays after school. This is high school. I started getting kids coming in to talk and if someone in my class wasn’t doing well, I pulled them out. And so the kids started telling me both the ones that started not doing well in my class and also kids that just needed to talk about why they weren’t doing well in school. And it was a lot that the family was in chaos. You know, Dad lost his job, Mom’s drinking again, or Dad’s depressed or we’re all in different rooms watching TV. And nobody talks to each other.
There was so much isolation and loneliness and just unhappiness there that I found that I really wanted to help those kids and I didn’t have any skills. I didn’t know what to do there. So I decided after four years that I wanted to go into counseling. And so I stopped teaching and went back and got another master’s degree in counseling, counseling psychology actually.
I know that today you’re also working with entrepreneurs and with organizations.
My first love was families and that’s what I was originally trained in. And then as my training increased and I, you know, I had a private practice, I noticed that what I was really interested in was what I call the conversation under the conversation. The real inner work, what I ended up doing a lot was, you know, the kids would come in, they would have problems, but I realized they weren’t the ones that had the problems. That was the parents.
I did a lot of marriage counseling and that’s when I really began to see that there’s another conversation under the conversation that the adults actually didn’t know how to get to. They didn’t know what they didn’t know, why they were so upset with each other, or why small things got blown up into huge things, what was really going on. We could all feel that conversation but there wasn’t a lot of training out there, how to access it, how to really make contact. And so give me a problem, I’m gonna head for the articles and the books that have been written. And so I couldn’t really find anything on how to, how to get into that conversation.
And then around in the late seventies, I met a man named Ron Kurtz and Ron was a genius at accessing that conversation. And we created a methodology to get you down into the conversation under the conversation and to see what needs to be healed and to help you heal it. And so that’s how I became just absolutely passionate about this inner game.
I love that and I love the term “inner game”.
I know that today you’re also working with entrepreneurs and with organizations. Do you find this conversation under the conversation also in business and in organizations?
Absolutely. And business people, business women, especially as they started getting into higher and higher levels of management really confused about what was going on culturally,
in the business environment, what different things meant and what was also coming up inside of them.
We were starting to look at what were their inner game beliefs, you know, how much confidence that they really have. And this is where the split happens. Your conscious mind might say I’m absolutely confident that I can do this. Your below conscious mind might have doubts. That’s what we’ve got. 80% of all of your decisions that you think you’re making with your conscious mind. 80% of that is influenced by the below conscious mind. Only 20% of your decisions are conscious mind decisions. I personally observed that quite often in organizations that it is our own beliefs about ourselves. They can keep us back, they can make us small, they can make us stay insignificant.
Absolutely! That there’s “not-enoughness”. Can you talk to that?
Yeah. And you know, men and women get different programming messages about that. That’s just how our culture works. And we’re in such a huge transition. We’ve been in transition since the 60s. If you look at women’s history, it’s been a slow march towards equal status as human beings. And that’s just how society is, you know, I don’t have any judgments about it.
That’s just where we are. But the programming is different and I think you as a European have probably noticed that the programming that men get here, which is, I think unfortunate for them, is a lot of hyper masculinity. Um you know, the superhero, all the guns and the violence and the lack of vulnerability.
So men are really trained in a whole different way and women are trained, you know, to differ oftentimes to, to not have as big a dreams to not have as much confidence in themselves or if they get into business, they’re going to have to learn how to be more masculine because that’s what’s going to work.
So that’s very confusing for women right now. And for men, men would, you know, I know so many conscious CEOs who would really like to empower women more, they genuinely consciously want to. I have no doubt about that, and they genuinely below conscious mind have a different opinion. That’s what I call a cultural derailer for men. And it’s very hard, it comes out and, and when women are present, it comes out with men, challenging them more than they would challenge men. It comes out with men. Interrupting. It comes out with men, um, asking questions to women to justify their position, all of those kinds of things that they don’t actually do with other men.
How can organizations or maybe even our society tackle those cultural derailers and maybe fix them? A lot of it is education. You have to know what you’re needing to change before you can change it. And this is where, you know, when I say below conscious mind, it really is below conscious mind, we’re not aware of it. So when men start becoming aware of the kind of behavior they’re engaging with that are actually disempowering, they can bring it up to a choice point.
That’s the clear thing like in mindfulness, which is the state of consciousness I work in. I have men, you know, when they start going into their cultural derailers actually stop and feel what’s going on in their bodies. What kind of feelings are there? What kind of thoughts are there? What kind of memories are there? What’s actually going for them once they begin to understand like, oh, I get it. I always felt overpowered as a child by my mother. So I’m not going to have that happen again. That’s a classic example. And you know, it’s like retraining and getting that we’re in the present now we’re not in the past. And so in the present with Vicky who’s standing in front of me, I can just calm down a little bit and listen to what Vicky has to say before I jump in and try to instruct her or question her or undermine her.
What’s your experience?
You know what? I’ve actually mentioned that in one of our podcasts before: I have been called overly sensitive by men who had obviously difficulty dealing with the female side that I definitely have in me. This is the person that understands, this is the person that listens, that is the person that cares how other people feel. So that’s the person that is probably more connected to my feelings than my masculine side who wants to be strong and dominant. And I have this constant dialogue in myself and I’ve learned to bring out each part as needed
That is really brilliant. And when I was training in Europe, um I trained a lot in Germany and trained a lot in England and I trained a lot in the United States. And the difference was phenomenal in Germany, especially when I would train when I would teach something, the men and women get into groups and they were very respectful of listening to me and then listening to each other, they really wanted to understand something very thoroughly before they tried it. Okay. The United States is almost exactly the opposite. It’s like 10 minutes. Okay. I got it: Enough talking. Let’s go do it, you know. And so it would actually in some funny kind of way take longer for the Americans to learn the process than the Germans. That is something that I’ve observed myself. People here can really jump into it and say, Okay, I own this. It doesn’t matter if I don’t get it totally right. At least I’m doing it. Whereas in Europe, especially in Germany or the Germanic areas, people put a lot of thoughts and deliberate deliberations into something before they actually launch.
That’s what I found too. And, you know, there’s an upside and a downside, there’s the fake it till you make it Americanism, which can, you know, sometimes really works well. People can fake it till they make it and they end up being very successful, the overinflated ego, the self promoter. How do you deal with these people?
Well, a lot of times one on one because if someone is coming into my office, you know, and I’m doing a derailer session on the phone, a lot of that’s gonna come right down. People of one on a 1-1 basis. It’s harder to inflate. And if they do, I want to study that, you see, that’s what all of this inner game is. It’s like, let’s get fascinated. You learn to inflate up in order to take charge. Let’s see how you do that. So I’m gonna take them into a state of consciousness where they’re neutrally and non judgmentally observing. That’s the key. No judgment. We’re just fascinated. I’m fascinated by how we do things. I’ll have somebody.
If it’s a man, I’ll have him inflate up, you know, think of a memory where he really could tell he was inflated up and I have him inflate up. What happens in your body? How does your body inflate up? It’s gonna be a lot of times in the chest. Okay. What kind of thinking are you doing?
I have to be the best I can. You know, it’s almost a battle sometimes. And what kind of emotions are there? Okay. What’s it feel like to you to be in that space? Exaggerated up now? Feel it. What, what happens? Well, I feel, I feel disconnected from my ground. I feel disconnected from you right now. I feel in myself, but I feel isolated. That’s just one man that I worked with.
All right, come down a little bit so you can find the place where you and I start connecting, bring your body down. Alright. What kind of thinking has to shift. What do you have to do differently? And then I might say a sentence, I might say a sentence to see what actually occurs because in mindfulness, we throw a positive statement in there to elicit more response. So I might say to this man, you’re perfectly safe right now. What a relief. Yes. What a relief.
Now, let’s talk about the opposite. How do you encourage those who are really good,
who have a lot of talent but they don’t dare to contribute or to step forward or to be seen?
Yeah, that’s also something. What all we’re going to do is study that and so I’ll start with,
Alright. You have this fabulous idea. I want you to imagine right now going into the room with your team or your boss present whatever it is. Now, I want you just to imagine that and now study what you’re actually experiencing, what happens to your body. My body begins to tighten up, my stomach begins to tighten up what happens emotionally. What edges of feelings are there? Okay? I’m getting really scared. Okay. What is what you’re thinking? I’m gonna be called stupid. They’re gonna ignore me. They’re not gonna respect me. I’m gonna be shut down, I’m gonna be humiliated. Okay. Great. Take a breath. Now let’s just take that apart.
I want you to imagine one person that you don’t think is gonna humiliate you. Who’s that person, Jenny? Okay. Focus on Jenny. All right. Now, I want you to imagine that you’re just in a room with Jenny and you’re going to tell her your idea what happens to your body begins to, to relax and begin to get calmer. I’ll take him through that. Then I’ll go through the same thing. Okay.
Who’s the person you’re most afraid of is gonna humiliate you, Kevin the President. Okay. And we just kind of take it apart and then we’re going to do strategies so that he can practice keeping his body in an expanded place. What does he have to say to himself? And what does Kevin represent to him in his inner consciousness?
Does that include some physical action or maybe certain postures that you encourage people to take? So they feel in charge or in power it can, you know, we’ll work with what your expanded state. What’s your contracted state? Alright. What’s the middle? What state can you move in and out of?
And sometimes I’ll teach people little trauma releases like there’s little things you can do with your feet and your hand and breathing, especially there’s the, you know, the classic 478 breath which is four breaths in, hold seven, exhale eight, you can do that surreptitiously that switches your body from sympathetic to parasympathetic.
So you begin to, you know, once what you’re trying to do is manage your anxiety and not be hijacked by the past, by your past traumas, your past failures, you’re trying to stay in the present. So oftentimes I‘ll have people hold a posture that they’re comfortable in and then just go a tiny bit more. Okay. If they go too far, it ends up having a kickback effect. They don’t feel real.
You already mentioned teamwork and teams before. It’s so important nowadays for organizations. But often teams tend to grind to a halt because of different viewpoints, different belief systems. Can you speak to that?
Yeah, I can speak to that, in the terms of, you know, what will happen as a team works. First of all, there’s people, people tend to not understand that you need a variety of viewpoints on the team for it to really knock it out of the park. I think you really do. If you’ve got all the people that we, what we call future, all future oriented people and not enough people who can say, let’s take that idea, take it apart and figure out how to do it in the present, you know, and future people tend to be bored with that. Yes.
And then you have people who are more past focused, like what’s your evidence and like, how do we know how that’s gonna work? And so if they get too stuck in their own particular strength and those strengths aren’t valued than the team kind of grinds to a halt or they don’t have good communication skills, they don’t know how to talk through.
Something like when I’m working with a married couple, I have tons of experience with that. If you don’t know how to work through a process in your marriage, that particular topic goes off the table and pretty soon you’re talking about the weather. All the passion in your marriage just dies and the divorce rate goes up.
Well, the same thing happens in companies. It’s like, instead of a company team rocking it the way they could, It’s like, you know, are you talking about the future again? And we haven’t figured this out or, It’s like, oh, you know, I’m tired of the way that you interrupt constantly and you don’t, you know, there’s people great on it and they don’t know how to listen, respect and work through the issues now. You must face this all the time.
Absolutely! It’s the perfect introduction to my next question, which is how can somebody like me cope with and handle aggression in the workplace?
Yeah, aggression has to be handled delicately first. Stop the meeting. So let’s stop a moment.
Can we stop them on it? Kevin? I notice your breathing quickly and I noticed things are really passionate for you right now. Can we just look at what’s going on when that happens, Jenny? What happens when Kevin gets into that space? I start closing down. You have to train them how to do that.
But once they start actually talking about the conversation under the conversation, Kevin, when you do that, I notice my breathing stops. I back up and I’m and I go silent, I can’t talk at that point, you know, and Kevin goes, well, I feel like if I don’t do that, nobody listens to me. Alright, then we’re starting to get under the conversation and okay, well, how do we know, how do you know you’re being listened to? And a lot of people mix that up too. I’m being listened to when you do what I tell you to do, that’s different from I’m being listened to when you look at me, when you put your Iphone down, when you’re nodding, when I get feedback.
So I want to find out what the dynamics are. Can we get underneath the conversation to find out what’s really going on? And then what do we need to change to begin to change those dynamics in a way that works for all of us? Is that making sense to you? What I’m hearing is, it’s a lot of one on one work, and reflecting back to the person almost holding up a mirror. How do you feel right now what’s going on within you?
Um and then find ways how to adjust it, how to bring the person out of the past into the present. Because when people escalate into a stress response which is fight flight or freeze, he’s in a stress response. He’s in his fight response. So he’s in an accelerated activated body, body sensations and Nicholas hijacked his thinking processes and his feeling processes. So he’s not in the present anymore. You have to bring him back. Let’s stop him and let’s all take a breath. Okay. What just happened?
What about people who feel completely stuck in their employment or in their life?
That’s a hard one, isn’t it? So the first thing I want to know is, is this a pattern? Does this person feel that stuff? This is something they always get to. If it’s familiar and repetitive, then we’re talking about an unconscious process. Okay? If it’s no, this is the first time I’ve experienced it,
but I’m feeling like this is also the first time I’ve been really secure in my job and I’m scared. Okay. That’s another process you can work with or if it’s a woman who, you know, I have one woman I’ve worked for for a long time. She cannot break the glass ceiling in her company.
They have never promoted a woman above her, you know, into those positions above her and she is frustrated and she feels trapped because in this particular industry, women do not get promoted through, into the highest levels of power. They just don’t, that hasn’t happened yet. So I’m working with her on, okay, recognize that you’re dealing with a bigger issue than just you. And so you don’t personalize it.
And then, you’ve got to look at how long you’re willing to wait, how long you’re willing to stay in this position, who you can get as allies, who you need to confront, confront in a way that is not going to get you labeled. And when is it time for you to leave? When have you done enough and said, okay, that’s enough for me.
We live in a society that glorifies strong people where men especially have to be not vulnerable. Given that glorification of the strong, what’s your take on weak leaders who evade confrontation? Who do not provide direction, who are afraid of making decisions or maybe who constantly second guess everything.
When you’ve got a leader, who is that conflicted, then that’s going to reflect all the way down. The company is always going to reflect the leader when you have a leader at the top, who can’t model something different? Who models insecurity, who models, um let’s put everything under the table, who models I can’t confront anything you’re going to have that acted out in your business. It’s, it’s just what’s gonna happen unless you have enough managers who are different. And if you have a leader who’s hiring, he’s going to tend to hire other weak managers, you know, and so that’s gonna permeate the whole thing.
So what you’re looking for is how to coach the leader of the company into, into stronger ways of doing things and more enlightened. Like, what’s his personality, if he’s afraid of confrontation, if he’s afraid of aggression? How do you train him in what I call a key doing the energy into a different method of leadership, Patrick, he’s an organizational development guy and his work is fabulous because he’s really training men to trust and to work much more from their female than their male. Yes. And that’s what’s got to happen. And we need people like you, we need people like Patrick, my husband works in business to go in and really help men to find a different way of leading that comes from a more emotionally intelligent side is how I like to language it.
Thank you. I like that.
Let’s take it one level higher. Can you talk to the insecurity of the c-level?
Yes. One of the things I’ve noticed in having a lot of CEOs come in is the loneliness of that position. It’s a hard time to be a CEO your influx and it depends on the culture you’ve inherited and it depends on how, if you’re a CEO with a board, it depends on how much the board is gonna pressure you to conform to a particular style of management.
And if you’re a strong enough personality to confront the board and how to negotiate with the board to allow you to, for example, I want CEO and he’s brilliant at giving, at confronting the board and getting them on his side to promote more women into positions of executive power.
And he puts people on their edge. He confronts both the women and the men. And most importantly, he confronts himself when he and I talk, it’s about things that he cannot, he has no one else to talk to about. You know, that’s the loneliness, you know, and the strength he has to do where he’s vulnerable, what he wants to talk about that he can’t talk to anyone else in the company. I don’t know how many people are addressing that, but I think it’s a big issue and how to deal with the different things that come up dynamically with his team with someone who’s trained to help him translate that into behaviors that he can go back then and work with. It’s like this kind of what I call eq emotional intelligence and I think masculine and feminine just brings up people’s kind of defensiveness.
But if we change too, you know, you have an emotional intelligence as well and that is huge and it’s, it’s just as much as skill, being really skillful in our emotional intelligence, takes as much time as being really skilled in our executive functioning. Let’s talk about those derailer and about that in our game.
What is the one piece of advice that would have changed your life early on and maybe even saved you from some hardship.
I think it was what really helped me was men. I had a lot of men who believed in me all the way from the get go. I, you know, I think because as a student, I was so enthusiastic. So I would have, when I first went to college, for example, my first class in my major, I was really so happy to be there. And I was, you know, I was just talking and engaging and he called me and then after class, Dr Joseph, and he said, who’s your advisor? And I told him and he said, switch to me, I will guide your career and he did, you know, and so I had a lot and so it’s not so much. What happened for me is I had men who believed in me and told me that and said, keep going. And that’s what I would say to women is also find male mentors, find female mentors, which is more important right now, who tell you to keep going, that you’ve got something to offer and believe in yourself.
Let’s think a little bit into the future 20 years from now when people mention your name,
what do you want to be known for?
What I’d like to be remembered for is really helping people access the inner game, and and to be a more complete person, it’s like the congruence. See between the inner game and the outer game. The confluence, see between the below conscious mind and the conscious mind.
When we have that congruence, see when we have emotional intelligence, as well as executive functioning intelligence, we are going to be able to move things consciously in a much more healthy direction.
If we keep derailing ourselves, because we split between what it is we want, and what we don’t think we can have, or what we’ve been told we can have or not, what the unconscious is afraid of. If we’re too derailed, then just everything slows down and things take so much longer and consciousness does not evolve in a direction we wanted to evolve in very quickly. And we’re kind of running as a species. I think you’re right on top of that with me, we’re running out of time a little bit here. I think it needs a generational shift.
I think it’s not that fast. It’s probably our Children who need to grow up in a different mindset in a different environment that allows them to implement the things that we are already thinking about.
Thinking about the next generation, millennials and beyond. What would be your advice for them?
I love the millennials. I think they are, they are such a product of all that we have achieved so far. The millennials, I know they are a fabulous generation and I think what they’re gonna do,
what I would ask them to do is question, question, you know, don’t necessarily accept things as how they have to be, question and check into what, you know, is your truth and what you’re passionate about.
There’s so much, they have access to so much more information than certainly I did growing up. The internet is a fabulous tool and anything they want to learn is on Youtube right now. So they have so many resources, you know, look at, make use of the resources, make use of each other.
And the women and the men of the millennial generation are much more equally minded. They have a lot of friendships together, use those friendships and they together, they’re going to create the next generation of leadership that I think is gonna be so much more successful than we have had so far.
Wonderful Devi. Thank you so much for that fascinating voyage to counseling psychology and the conversation under the conversation. I like that one. How can people find you if they’re interested in your work?
So great to have you on our show. Thank you very much.
Thank you. Thank you for listening.
If you’re interested in learning more about The Energy Paradigm (TEP), please visit our website, TEP.Global. Like us on Facebook, connect with us on Linkedin. Watch us on Youtube.
It’s time to change the paradigm. You can do your share by spreading the word and by shining your light have an energized day.
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