How’s it going, love? Thank you so much for joining me on Boldly Courageous, a podcast for you — the ambitious woman who is ready to take action and step fully into the life you’ve always dreamed of!
Relationships are one of the most beautiful things we have in life, but we all know that they can be messy and, at times, hurtful. How do we balance our masculine and feminine energies to create romantic relationships that are healthy, life-giving, and enjoyable?
Today, I have a very special guest on the podcast — Stefanos Sifandos — to help us navigate this tough subject. Stef and I met through an elite-level mastermind, and he’s actually married to one of my very first coaches, Christine Hassler, who has transformed so many aspects of my life! It has been a sheer pleasure getting to know Stef and his work in the world.
In this conversation, Stef and I go deep on all things romance, masculine and feminine energetics, and breaking toxic relationship patterns. You all know that I love talking about energetics, and Stef shares his wisdom about it in a tangible and real way. We talk about how to deal with triggers in relationships and channel our anger in healthy ways. And lastly, we talk about the Mastery program that he and his beautiful wife, Christine, are co-creating together.
A lot is going on in our world right now — COVID-19, political unrest, job insecurity — and many people are facing all sorts of trauma. Unresolved trauma can lead to toxic relationship patterns, including jumping from one relationship to the next or even infidelity. If you’re looking to break toxic relationship patterns and manifest your dream relationship, then keep reading!
Who Is Stefanos Sifandos?
Stefanos Sifandos is a trained educator and relationship expert with a background in behavioral science. He is passionate about leading people closer to their highest potential and helping them to cultivate deep, meaningful relationships with each other. Stefanos’ philosophy merges the best of Eastern and Western methodologies to promote spiritual balance and empower people in life and love. He works with everything from trauma release to navigating the murky waters of modern masculinity to helping women understand the men in their lives.
Through his courses, Stefanos helps people escape negative patterns and cultivate a positive sense of self-worth. Stephanos has worked with thousands of men and women from all walks of life. Special force soldiers, Olympic gold medalists, elite fighters, and everyday people have relied on him to restructure and reframe their relationships with themselves and their loved ones.
How did Stefanos acquire all this relationship expertise? The hard way. By following in the footsteps of men who had walked before him, Stefanos used to be obsessed with receiving external validation. His self-worth came from how others perceived him. But no matter how successful he became, Stefanos was never content.
His relationships with women suffered as a result of his insecurities. He was hiding deep pain from his childhood, including violence, emotional abuse, and segregation. The only way he could feel safe was by quickly switching from each relationship to the next, which ultimately manifested itself in cheating.
After years of pain and self-loathing, Stefanos knew that something needed to change. He decided to work through his traumas, acknowledge his mistakes, and grow into a man he could be proud of. Using his own personal experiences, Stefanos set himself on a quest to free the hearts of men from the societal expectations which create toxic relationships. He offers tons of amazing courses and mentorship opportunities for both men and women, seeking to break toxic patterns and start having healthy relationships and fulfilling lives.
What I love most about Stef is his ability to create a safe space for women and men to talk about these sensitive issues. I am so grateful for my conversation with Stefanos, and I know it will be so inspiring to you all. Without further ado, let’s dive in!
How to Deal with Triggers Within a Relationship
I asked Stef to talk about something boldly courageous that he had done recently, and his answer was incredible:
“Well, I did come face to face with a bear in Montana that was a few feet away from me. I had my queen Christine there with me as well, and I just stepped back and spoke to the bear very, very softly and gently. … He was very calm and friendly as well. And he wasn’t getting that aggressive… and then he just veered off the track and went away.”Stefanos Sifandos
Talk about a metaphor for relationships, right? When Stef saw that bear, he knew that he had to keep calm and speak gently to it — if he had reacted in fear, the bear would have picked up on that and possibly charged him and his wife. If you go into a relationship with lots of unresolved trauma, your partner is going to pick up on that negative energy. That fear and anger will spread and cause issues in the relationship. Stef explained it perfectly:
“We often get so defensive and reactive and triggered in relationships. When we’re presented with something that we perceive is dangerous … we become defensive, or we attack. … You can come back from there, and you can mend that, but if we keep doing that and that becomes our norm, it becomes more and more difficult to come back from.”Stefanos Sifandos
At a basic level, we are all reactive — when something comes into our energy field, we usually have a physical or emotional reaction. So if someone is constantly triggered, they are bringing negative energy into that relationship, which can cause serious problems. The truth is, we all have baggage from our past, and when we’re in relationships, this past is usually triggered. So my question to Stef was, “How do we break out of that trigger cycle and create a new pattern of behavior?”
“It begins with awareness, and it’s not easy. There are multiple stages to awareness. … So how do we then be different in relationships? Well, we hold space, but how do we hold space? We hold space by … not being triggered, activated, or reactive. When someone is coming to us with their pain, we don’t make it about us. So in other words, we don’t get caught in our own shame cycle. We don’t get caught up in our own past.”Stefanos Sifandos
Awareness is everything — once we are aware of the fact that we have trauma and certain triggers, we can begin working through those and keep them from sabotaging our relationships. If you’re not sure where to get started, Stef shared a lot of different resources, such as working with a psychologist, shaman, or trying trauma release therapy. While we do need to spend time self-reflecting, there is so much value in reaching out to someone to help you walk through it all.
This is something that Stef and his wife Christine have been working through lately, both as a couple and as individuals. Whenever one of them feels triggered by something happening around them, they alchemize that energy into something healthy. Instead of projecting rage, blame, or shame on others, Stefanos encourages us to find other means of releasing this energy in a healing way:
“Write out what you’re angry about — [it’s called] release writing. …. Then rip it up. … Go to a boxing class with the intent to just let that anger out … [go] for a long walk, [get] in nature and your feet into the earth … have a support group that you go to that you can actually share your pain that isn’t directed to your partner … or your immediate family. … We tend to just take it out on our partners, and that’s not healthy because again, that creates a rift in our relationship.”Stefanos Sifandos
Stef isn’t saying that you can’t talk to your partner about negative emotions that you’re experiencing. He’s saying that when something triggers you that is outside of your partner’s control, don’t take it out on them. Take a deep breath, get out your journal, and begin releasing that negative energy in a healthier, less-targeted way.
Masculine and Feminine Energetics Explained
Here’s the bottom line — there is no quick fix when it comes to healing trauma. It is a lifelong commitment to coming back to your truth. But one way that we can keep this from damaging our relationships is by focusing on balancing our divine masculine and feminine energies. Stef is an expert on this subject, so I asked him to explain how these energies work and how we can keep them from becoming toxic.
“Masculinity and femininity exist… and it’s a way to understand the duality of our existence. It’s a way to compartmentalize and help us see who we are as people. And at some level, masculinity and femininity is [part] of a cultural construct, and it doesn’t exist, and at another level, [they] do exist, and there’s a polarity there.”Stefanos Sifandos
Masculine and feminine energies reside in all of us, regardless of our sex. So for example, when I feed into my competitive side, I’m feeding into masculine energy. And when I tap into my compassion, I’m feeding into feminine energy. One is not better than the other, but when there’s an unbalance of the two, one becomes wounded and the other neglected:
“Let me go into unhealthy competition … [it’s] like a win-at-any-cost mentality. It sacrifices one’s own morals and values to that. There’s this hyper selfishness there. … It breeds jealousy, which is an undesirable state and energetic frequency. … It’s generally devoid of empathy and compassion.”Stefanos Sifandos
This is a toxic, wounded masculinity that Stef himself used to suffer from. When our ego becomes that inflated, we can’t care about anyone else but ourselves. We desperately seek external validation because even though our ego is inflated, it can be popped so easily, and we need other people’s approval to keep it intact. Wounded feminine looks like keeping secrets — constantly hiding who you truly are so that you can fit in with everyone else.
On the other hand, healthy masculine would come from a secure place of confidence and service, and healthy feminine would look like speaking your truth in love. When these two energies combine together in harmony, we see a beautiful expression of energy that is healing both to oneself and others:
“We can use different explanations for the energetic itself, which is just complementary opposites — two wings of the same bird. That’s essentially what masculine/feminine energy is. It’s a way to be in the world. And when we balance that within ourselves, we tend to have a more fulfilled life.”Stefanos Sifandos
Stefanos’ wife, Christine Hassler, once explained it to me this way: The feminine is the place I create from, and the masculine is the place I execute from. It’s all about “flow” versus “go” and “action” versus “rest.” Again, one is not better than the other — it’s all about striking a healthy balance.
First Steps to Begin Your Shadow Work
To find this balance and enter into a healthy relationship, we often have to do some deep inner work and become acquainted with our shadows. Thankfully, Stefanos gave some practical steps we can take to start this process!
#1. If you’ve just come out of a relationship, do NOT rush back in.
After a relationship ends, chances are that you may feel emotionally sensitive and unstable. You may feel tempted to distract yourself from this pain by rushing into another relationship, but Stef explained why that’s the last thing you should do:
“Love is complex, and love is complicated. … If you’re observing a pattern of being a serial partner or being in serial relationships back to back … it’s probably an indication … of maybe your codependent nature, maybe your self-worth, or maybe your addiction or attachment to needing someone in your life. … [So] it’s important to take some time and space [to reflect] how that relationship [ended].”Stefanos Sifandos
If you rush back into another relationship, you don’t have the alone time to do your shadow work, which is essential for you to break from toxic relationship patterns. Stef recommends that you take some time to be single and confront the pain head-on. There is power in the pause, and you’ll have the time and space you need to begin your shadow work.
#2. Intentionally create lightness and fun in your world.
In addition to self-reflection, don’t forget to do new things! Do something that excites you (and maybe even scares you a little!). Maybe for you, that looks like skydiving, taking a kickboxing class, or investing in a mastermind! Stepping out of your comfort zone is one of the best ways to do shadow work — you learn so much about yourself when you try new things, challenge yourself, and focus on personal growth!
#3. Reach out to a qualified individual to help walk you through your shadow journey.
“So do that shadow work — whatever that looks like for you. There [are] different ways to do that … whether it’s gestalt therapy, whether it’s archetypical work, whatever it may be, do your shadow work. It’s not just all theory-based. It’s really in the body. It’s moving stuff. You know — breathwork [and] trauma release therapy.”Stefanos Sifandos
Maybe you’re thinking, my trauma isn’t “big” enough to warrant therapy, but let me stop you right there — trauma is trauma, and if it doesn’t get healed, we live in the past. You are worthy of healing, babe! Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone — a therapist, a mentor, a coach, a shaman — and share your story with them!
Be Boldly Courageous with Stefanos Sifandos
In 2016, I was faced with a choice. I could either continue on the path I’d been on in my relationships and business, which had given me pain, or I could choose something different and step into the unknown. I worked with Stef’s beautiful wife Christine within her coaching program Mastery, and it was one of the greatest decisions I made.
If you’re looking to do some intense shadow work and heal your wounds, then Mastery may be right for you:
“It’s really for anyone that is willing to do that deeper work, to explore the shadows, [and] to actually have access to tangible tools that they can use on an ongoing basis to self-regulate themselves to not be in that panicked, anxious state … to not have that low self-worth and feel that they’re not enough. … [In] mid-October we’re launching a six-week teaching around Mastery, so you get access to the full course, plus all the bonus modules.”Stefanos Sifandos
This program is so powerful and includes breathwork training, trauma release therapy, and invaluable teaching sessions. It changed my life, and I know it can change yours too!
Babe, I hope this interview inspired you to start doing the necessary shadow work to balance out your masculine and feminine energies so that you can call in a relationship that’s aligned with you! If you enjoyed the interview, tag Stef, @stefanossifandos, and me, @themelissamartin, with a screenshot of the episode and your greatest takeaways! We would love to support you on your journey to healing and abundance!
I love you so much, and I’m so grateful for you. Babe, be boldly courageous in your pursuit of healing, and start calling in relationships that align with you!