Prestell Askia on Thrive Global: “Adhere to your values in order to learn to love yourself”
I had the pleasure to interview Prestell Askia. Ms. Askia, a San Francisco Bay relationship coach, is a veteran of the corporate world, having counseled various C-Suite teams on an array of human resources issues. She is founder and CEO of The Askia Group, and has more than 25 years in Human Resources, Management and Personnel Security disciplines as an Executive Manager, Instructor, Mentor, and Coach. Author and relationship expert Prestell Askia, who has advised Fortune 500 companies, governmental agencies, and individual couples, takes center stage with two important works: Sex in the Workplace: Was Right, What’s Wrong and What’s Evil, her newest book, and the acclaimed, award-winning The Couple’s Cure: Mastering the Art of Relationships in 7 Easy Steps, which has aided thousands of couples.
Thank you so much for joining us! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.
My career path — to inspire, train and transform committed individuals who appreciate the intricacies and dynamics of human behavior — was a natural calling; as natural and innate as the unadulterated love I have for my grandchildren.
More specifically, my natural calling and real love for human connectivity and behavior started as when I was a pre-teen. Even at that young age, I was intrigued by the “hows and whys” of interpersonal human relationships. I realized that relationships played an integral part in one’s mental stability, health and well being. That realization developed into my personal, self-edification effort to thoroughly understand the essence of healthy, fulfilling relationships.
I also realized a distinct difference in my profession and my passion. In spite of my decades-long professional career in the corporate arena and fortune 500 corporations, my innate passion and natural calling re-directed me to the topic of human relationships. The burning light that brought me to this specific career path was my quest to find the answers and share the wisdom to these three questions about human beings: 1) What are the primary characteristics necessary for healthy relationships; 2) What differentiates people who have and enjoy a fulfilling life from those who either don’t understand and may never achieve a joy-filled life; and 3) What is necessary to achieve both?
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?
Yes, I’m currently working on two projects specifically designed to help people in better understand their own human behavior and how their behavior impacts various aspects of their personal relationships.
The first project is a book. “Sex And The Workplace: The Good, The Bad, The Evil” along with an interactive, companion training program that will address the nuances of sex with coworkers. Sex And The Workplace boldly speaks the candid truth about romantic relationships, intimate flings, sexual exploitation and assault in the workplace. This easy to read publication is the much-needed handbook for what’s right, what’s wrong and what’s evil about sex — solicited or not — between men and women who work together. Consider Sex And The Workplace the ultimate source for culture-changing guidelines in any industry.
This book will benefit employees involved in sexual encounters in the workplace. The guidelines are intended to establish interpersonal boundaries for the would-be aggressor in a power position with designs to intentionally take advantage of subordinate colleagues, wanting to elevate their positions or assume more lucrative roles in their industry. The second set of principles will address the recipient of the power plays and exploitation. The principles are designed to empower those who feel powerless and vulnerable in situations when approached and/or taken advantage of by those considered to have more power in the workplace. And, know that not all workplace romances are bad — the third set of recommendations will talk to those healthy relationships — and provide the simple rules to ensure that their interpersonal partnerships remain healthy in spite of being employed in the same workplace.
However, the primary focus will be on the two former two categories — people in powerful positions who aggressively engage in unwanted sexual encounters and the recipients of those undesirable advances. The content will include a series of self-knowledge, evaluation and self-love questions to help eliminate the insecurities and vulnerabilities associated with the behavior of both the workplace aggressor and the vulnerable recipient. Sex And The Workplace will drill down, highlight and offer recommendations and behavioral guidelines to both. Ultimately, this book will serve as the new standard to facilitate and empower change in the workplace for both vulnerable and aggressor behaviors.
The second project is a series of fun, progressive soft skills training courses that will help people address their unknown cultural biases. The purpose of this training is to assist personnel in any area of public or customer service to become more culturally competent with a focus on intelligent civil engagement when interacting with others.
Most people don’t realize they have personal biases. Our personal biases likes and dislikes impact our values and ultimately our behavior. As human beings, we all have personal biases. Because we are emotional beings we have preferences and partialities. Why? Our biases are innate; we can’t avoid them. Our personal biases are in our DNA — part of our basic human nature.
However, with the proper training and coaching, you can become culturally competent and become more culturally aware to respecting the complexities of cultures, ethnic values, behavior, communication (verbal and non-verbal, male & female protocol, elder behavior, hierarchal family interactions, physical attributes, etc.
The training will incorporate theory and conceptual ideas, interactive group discussions, case studies and video — all designed to awaken and enlighten attendees to function at a higher level of cultural competency.
Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self-acceptance?
I call the tipping point that triggered the change regarding my feelings, struggles, and successes of self-acceptance as my period of rebirth and transformation. You see, it wasn’t a simple point in time. My transition and transformation to a healthy state of self-acceptance was indeed a process. (Be mindful of the fact that I’ve never experienced an unhealthy state of self-acceptance, I simply didn’t realize what self-acceptance was; nor was I aware of the impact self-acceptance had on my life in general.) Hence, I refer to that process in my life as my journey to and through my self-enlightenment period.
We are all products of and influenced by our environment. I was then and I am now a product of and influenced by baby-boomer generational beliefs and behaviors. One primary characteristic used to describe baby boomers is their strong work ethic. A strong work ethic is what describes me and my thought processes about work, professional careers, and achievement.
The net result of a strong work ethic was the baby-boomer’s connection to professional status and careers. We were our jobs. Whenever we were asked to describe “who” we were… the immediate explanation was about “what” we did and where we worked. For the majority of baby-boomers, there was no delineation between who were were as individuals and what we did as professionals in the workplace. I was no different.
The unthinkable happened. I was laid off. After more than 20 years in industry, I was without a job. Even more devastating, it was extremely difficult to describe who I was. I understood that I had multiple roles — I was a daughter, wife, mother, sister, etc. — however, I had many difficulties describing who I was as an individual vs. what I did.
That was the early 2000’s. That time frame was the launch of my journey to and through my self-enlightenment period. During that period I devoured self-help books, studied, took classes and seminars to learn all about myself and who I was, my values, desires, etc. That is when I transitioned into the person I am now.
The journey and lesson brought me through a much needed transitional period of self-awareness, knowledge, acceptance and self-love.
According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?
Each and every human being is an individual. This is life. Everyone was born with unique gifts and talents. Just different — not good or bad — different. Our physical appearance is but one aspect of our whole package of unique gifts and talents.
The three-quarters of men and women in the U.S. who are dissatisfied with their facial looks, height, weight, hair color and texture, skin, nose, eyes, feet, hands, hips, butts, stomachs, etc. … express inadequacies about something not being good enough, according to their assessment and comparisons.
The cause? The constant assessment and comparing yourself to others…
The consequences? Dissatisfaction with your appearance leads to self-loathing, dislike, disgust, hatred and self-destruction.
The cure(s)? There are several options; any and all can are effective when a conscientious commitment is made:
1. Stop the comparison! There will always be someone who is more … fill in the blank … than you!
2. Acceptance. Accept who you are and love the unique gifts of your whole package. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and real beauty comes from within.
3. Change it. One of the best ways to deal with your personal appearance and to cure your dissatisfaction is to get serious and change whatever you are not pleased with.
As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?
When you truly understand, embrace and practice the art and science of love yourself, and along with living your values, you’re almost guaranteed that an internal spiritual shift and transformation will occur. The final step in the transformation is magical exultation which lifts you to a position of mastery of the self-love relationship process and knowledge that all relationships — especially the one with yourself — will unfold and present themselves with little or no effort and change your life forever. All healthy relationships begin with self-love.
Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?
People stay in mediocre relationships for a variety of reasons, including:
Fear of loss. There are many people who fear the loss of their partner or mate. Many are terrified to be alone. They often stay in unfulfilling relationships to justify having a partner — even a bad partner — in their mind is better than no partner at all.
1. Low Self Esteem. There is a segment of the population that lacks the self-confidence to initiate action to terminate a mediocre relationship. The majority of individuals in this category may feel that the inferior quality of their relationship is somehow their fault. Unfortunately, they stay, with the hope to make it better.
2. Embarrassment. This reason for staying in a mediocre relationship comes from those persons who have had numerous and typically very short term relationships. The embarrassment of yet another perceived failed marriage or relationship causes them to stay and attempt to convince themselves to make the relationship work.
3. Money — More likely than not, females who are homemakers, unemployed or underemployed that are afraid to leave because they have, or their mates have, made it certain that if they leave, they would be unable to make it on their own.
My advice is to anyone in a mediocre relationship is to ask yourself two questions:
What am I tolerating?
Why do I continue to tolerate this mediocre situation?
After you’ve searched the depths of your soul, the answer will be vividly clear. You’ll immediately know what must be done to change the situation to ensure you have the kind of relationship and life you deserve.
When I talk about self-love and understanding I don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but for our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?
There are several self-reflective steps I’ve personally used and also challenged my clients to ponder. These questions cut through the safe space of comfort and really challenge you to dive deeply into the depths of your inner being to gain greater self-knowledge and understanding. Your responses to these inquiries along with your changed behavior will elevate your wisdom and inspire you to embrace self-love:
1. Get to know yourself… Ask yourself and answer these questions:
1. Who am I?
2. What are my values?
3. What is important to me?
4. Do I expect or depend on other people to make me happy?
5. How do I define and achieve joy and fulfillment in my life?
2. Live Your Values
1. Your values dictate who you are, what’s important to you and how you behave (this includes your relationship with yourself and everyone else).
2. When you live your values, you become powerful, exude self-confidence and self-esteem (not to be confused with conceit or arrogance).
3. On the contrary — when you fail to live your values, you become frustrated, wallow in self-doubt, low self-esteem, begin to loathe yourself and loose/lack confidence.
3. Adhere To Your Values, Deal Breakers & Tolerance Thresholds (Know When to Say No)
1. Don’t compromise your values. You become far more powerful and stronger when you stand fast to your values and beliefs you hold in high regard. In doing so, you develop a strong sense of worthiness and what’s important to you.
2. Let “No” become your best friend. The power of no (when your values are in jeopardy of compromise) is intoxicating and most powerful.
3. Never acquiesce in those situations that attempt to cross your value tolerance threshold; follow your gut! (As in the case of physical or psychological abuse). You innately know what your tolerance level is; yet, there are times when you second.
4. Know your deal-breakers and don’t waiver nor settle for less than you deserve.
So many don’t really know how to be alone, or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?
Oddly enough, many people are afraid to be alone. They’re even more afraid to be alone with their thoughts. Some even refuse to be in a space that is void of noise, music, radio, TV, etc. They admit that background noise makes then comfortable.
Truth be told, they miss the spiritual and health benefits of quiet time, self-reflection and opportunities for enlightenment. Studies indicate that when you take advantage of noise-free alone time, meditation, reflection, chanting, etc. that time allows you to rejuvenate, enhance/improve emotional, spiritual and mental stability and balance; along with internal tranquility and body, mind and health benefits.
How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?
Most people fail to appreciate that the key component to joy and a love-filled life begins with the self-love relationship process and learning how to love yourself. What pray-tell is the self-love relationship process, why is it important and how does it work? The self-love relationship process is the action you take and behavior you demonstrate to get to know and love yourself. The self-love relationship process — first and foremost inspires you to become proficient in your relationship with yourself. This easy, step-by-step process helps you 1) clarify your values, 2) grow and elevate your level of self-confidence to live an authentic life, and 3) trains and inspires you to say “no” to avoid compromise of your beliefs and/or to avoid settling for less than you deserve — in any relational situation.
In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?
In my experience, one of the most difficult challenges faced by individuals is to understand who they are and accept themselves without judgment and negative self-talk. Self-love is the key to undertaking this dynamic, multifaceted self-knowledge process.
Likewise, Society (and other people) should also refrain from judgment and critical assessment of those individuals who pursue self-understanding and self-acceptance. Unfortunately, Society has stigmatized self-acceptance as narcissistic and egotistical.
The more enlightened society becomes in understanding the holistic benefits of self-acceptance, the more collective benefits will be reaped by humankind.
What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?
Following are five basic strategies I share with my coaching clients that are used to develop and maintain love for yourself:
1. Adopt the right Mindset. In the words of Zig Ziglar, “It’s your attitude, not your aptitude, that determines your altitude.” With a positive mindset, anything is possible and can be achieved by almost anyone.
2. Accept Who You Are, just as you are! Discontinue self-critical mind talk and internal negative banter. Happiness is an inside job. No one can make you unhappy without your permission. When you change the way you see things, things you see begin to change.
3. Take Responsibility. Stop the blame game. Accept the fact that you are right where you are supposed to be in life — everything is based on your prior decisions and actions (or inactions). You can’t change your past, however, you can make a personal commitment to take full charge of your personal feelings and your future.
4. Embrace Change — If you are not pleased with where you are in life, embrace change, take the necessary measures to alter your circumstances. everything is constantly changing. When you embrace change ‘Look forward to positive change in your life.
5. Take Action Now! Don’t wait until the next day, next week, next month or year. Do it now! Procrastination and fear are said to be high on the list of one’s inability to achieve goals in life.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?
Without hesitation, my favorite book on self-psychology, intimacy, and relationships is my own publication, “The Couples Cure Book, Mastering the Art of Relationships 7 Easy Steps.” This book is easy to read, fun guide, filled with fun stress-free relationship solutions.
Endorsed by Dr. John Gray, New Your Time best selling author of “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus”; he proclaims that … “The Couples Cure Book is a journey to mastering your relationship puzzle. It is full of wisdom, personal experiences, and practical exercises that will bring out incredible insights. This book makes you think, laugh, reflect, be aware and desire to transfer any relationship in your life…”
The Couples Cure Book addresses key aspects of life and relationships — including self-knowledge/self-love, couples issues such as communications, sex, and finances. This book is for people who want healthy, committed relationships and those who want to enhance or rejuvenate their personal life and/or their partnership.
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? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…
If I could inspire a movement that would bring the most good to the most people, I would launch a movement to inspire, train and help people recognize and mitigate their personal fears. Why a movement to eradicate personal fears? Because your fears are the greatest inhibitors that prevent you from developing and enjoying a life filled with joy and peace.
This one word — FEAR (AKA: False Expectations Appearing Real), is the single most emotionally stifling behavior that prevents people from achieving their greatness. FEAR is mostly psychological accompanied by the behavioral reaction, and often without validation. Yet it’s a reality for so many people. As emotional human beings, we are afraid to fail, afraid to lose, afraid to be embarrassed, to speak to do so many things in life — so much so that many people do not achieve their full life potential and are ultimately unable to share their natural talents and gifts with the world.
If I could inspire a movement that would bring out the most amount of good to the most amount of people, I would become a catalyst of inspiration, change, and transformation to help people become childlike overcome their fears.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?
One of my favorite quotes is the short version of the Serenity Prayer:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” This quote/prayer was written by Reinhold Niebuhr. I often refer to this quote in my daily life and with my clients when they happen to be stuck in a place of despair, sorrow or another form of distress.
This simple quote requests a state of peacefulness and calmness while realizing that there are circumstances that we cannot change in life and that those situations are best left alone. Even more profoundly, Niebuhr seeks the wisdom to be able to distinguish the difference between those things we cannot change and those that we can change. These uncomplicated quotes are words of wisdom to live by.