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Mastering Conscious Connections — Unleashing the Power of Mindful Dating with Lauren Smith


Lauren Smith is an author, speaker, and host of the Date in Peace podcast. She combines her own personal success story with her professional mindfulness training. Lauren empowers singles to ditch the dating struggle and claim the loving relationship they so deeply deserve. She is also the author of The Mindful Dating Journal: Find a Healthy Love that Lasts, and creator of the Metta Date Journal mobile app. Lauren is a certified mindfulness & meditation teacher with additional certifications in Emotional Intelligence and EFT Tapping.


Listen to the full episode here.


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SHOW RUNDOWN

[01:13] Lauren Smith on what she’s most passionate about

[01:37] Lauren Smith on when she started her passion for dating

[02:15] Lauren Smith on her childhood

[03:04] Lauren Smith on what her pivotal breakup moment

[07:10] Lauren Smith on her breakup story

[11:42] Lauren Smith on her journey to mindfulness dating

[13:10] Lauren Smith on what impacted her dating

[15:06] Lauren Smith on what it means to date mindfully

[18:56] Lauren Smith on how she started her new career

[19:59] Lauren Smith on who is her target audience

[21:03] Lauren Smith on the common issues in dating

[22:43] Lauren Smith on the particular formula of attractiveness

[27:16] Lauren Smith on how to deal with certain people

[29:02] Lauren Smith on navigating the early phases of a relationship

[32:11] Lauren Smith on how to become intentionally aware when dating

[34:29] Lauren Smith on being authentic selves within the LGBTQ+ community

[36:18] Lauren Smith on discussing her podcast Date in Peace

[38:38] Lauren Smith on the process of her mindful dating journal

[40:56] Lauren Smith on telling her good and bad date story

[45:14] Lauren Smith on what to do as an over thinker when dating

[47:42] Lauren Smith on what advice she’d give to her younger self

[50:34] Lauren Smith on her dream for her future self and future women

[53:05] Lauren Smith on what is her life mantra

[53:29] Lauren Smith on what is her definition of success

[54:32] Lauren Smith on what advice she’d give to young woman

TRANSCRIPT

Passionistas: Hi, we're sisters, Amy and Nancy Harrington, the founders of the Passionistas Project Podcast, where we give women a platform to tell their own unfiltered stories. On every episode, we discuss the ways in which each woman is following her passions, talk about how she defines success, and explore her path to breaking down the barriers that women too often face.


Today, we're talking with author, speaker, and host of the Date in Peace podcast, Lauren Smith about the power of mindful dating. Combining her own personal success story with her professional mindfulness training, Lauren empowers singles to ditch the dating struggle and claim the loving relationship they so deeply deserve.


She's also the author of the mindful dating journal, Find a Healthy Love That Lasts, and creator of the Metta Date Journal mobile app. Lauren is a certified mindfulness and meditation teacher with additional certifications in emotional intelligence and EFT tapping. So please welcome Lauren Smith.


Lauren: Hi ladies, thank you so much for having me.


Passionistas: Hi Lauren. We're really excited to have you here today. We look forward to talking about all of this. Um, Lauren, we'd like to start with the same question of all of our passionistas which is, what are you most passionate about?


Lauren: Oh, I'm a dating passionista. Dating has been the way that I have learned my own self growth and self-love so intensely that I see it as a tool that other people can find that healing in as well. And plus, it's just fun. You get to meet some really fascinating people.


Passionistas: So, when did that first become a thing for you? When did you decide to use dating to help other people too?


Lauren: Not too long ago, actually, I'd say maybe three or four years ago after I got dumped really, really bad. I actually grew up with clinical anxiety and depression, so especially social anxiety, so dating was never very fun for me.


It was actually migraine inducing. I would have to like really pump myself up to be able to even go out on a date, and now it's like one of my favorite things.


Passionistas: Wow, that's funny. As, as, uh, introverted people, we can certainly relate to that. Uh, ha, ha, ha, and, uh, so tell us a little bit more about your childhood. Where did you grow up and how did your struggles with anxiety affect you?


Lauren: Sure. I'm from New Jersey. I grew up here. Yeah. And I would say that I had maybe small t trauma, like no one single traumatic event, gratefully, it was just a series of smaller things that kind of started to add up to where I felt unsafe in general with showing who I was.


With feeling like if I did speak authentically, that there was going to be some kind of negative consequence. The one that I feared the most was rejection and abandonment. My mom, of course, did the best that she could, and I don't even think she realized that these ways that she was maybe missing the mark were affecting me in this way.


And it also depends on the way that you're biologically built, right? I, my sisters grew up with the same mom, but they don't have the same social anxiety that I had. So, it's all different factors and none of it is bad or wrong. I'm just who I am. And I'm grateful for all of those hurdles that were put in my path because now that I've learned how to jump over them, being my authentic self and being joyful, uh, in that process, I can now show other people that might have had that similar background, how to jump hurdles in their love lives as well.


Passionistas: That's amazing. So, so talk about that moment, that pivotal moment when you decided that you had this bad breakup, and what happened from there?


Lauren: Sure. Would you believe that this guy broke up with me at Disney World? Who does that?


Passionistas: Happiest place on Earth.


Lauren: I know, right? Well, luckily it wasn't in the park, technically, so I could still preserve that little slice of magic.


Um, but no, so let me give you a little bit of the back story. So, this guy, his name was Marco. I met him when I was doing a trip where I was working remotely from Buenos Aires. Picture this. Tall, dark, handsome, of course. He had light green eyes and the sexiest accent. Here I am thinking, wow, all the other guys I've ever dated just don't compare to this guy, you know?

I felt if there was a guy for me, it would have to be him. This must be the Prince Charming that I've been waiting for. I had to leave, though. I couldn't stay in Buenos Aires forever. We only really got a solid week together before I had to go back to Jersey. But before I left, we made a plan that we were gonna stay in touch, we were gonna meet up again in 30 days in a new country.


Like, this is straight up romance novel stuff that I was living in, right? I was like, how is this happening to me, you know? But so, I get on the plane. And as the plane's landing, I do what we all do, right? I took out my phone to see who texted me. Turns out that Marco sent me an email. It was titled, minus 29. I was like, what?


What is this? And I opened it, and it was the world's most romantic love poem. He was like declaring that he would be with me forever. And I was like the most beautiful creature that God ever created. And I was like, okay, this is it, this is, this is my person. I must have found the one. So, I wrote Marco back a poem as well, equally cheesy by the way.


And we did that for 29 days. We counted it down. T minus 28. T minus 27 until minus one arrived. Here I am showing up in Uruguay and I had the rude awakening that my Prince charming that I had been crafting a fantasy relationship with for the past month was just a normal human being. He had his own issues.


He had quirks that I found annoyed. He had values and goals that weren't aligned with mine. And we had no practice in navigating conflict. So, you would think that somebody that shows up in this situation about to commit to living in an Airbnb, that's like a tiny studio Airbnb would have been like, Lauren, you messed up girl.


Like you got to go home. No, no worries. No shame. Just go do what's best for you. But I couldn't. I was so attached to that fantasy that I wanted, that I thought it was going to be, that I decided I just needed to work hard. I needed to love him harder than I had ever loved anyone. And that set us up for a really toxic relationship where I was doing a lot of unhealthy things to make it work, to keep the peace. And all in all, it took me farther and farther away from myself. And by the time we did break up, which I forgot, I have to tell you that fun story too, and in Disney world, but, um, it was like, I lost touch with who I even was. So, I was left alone on so many levels.


Passionistas: So, are you going to tell us the breakup story?


Lauren: Sure, sure, I just wanted a chance to get a word in edgewise. So, yeah, we're in Uruguay and things were starting to get pretty tense. Before I had met Marco, he was going through, quote, a career transition. Which, you know, to me, I was like, oh, that's really inspiring. Somebody that wants to pursue a career that's aligned with their purpose. I love that. And, again, I was living that fantasy that it's only gonna take him a few weeks, and then he'll get a job and we can just travel the world forever, and, you know, he's gonna be the person I marry. So, it's no big deal if I just pay for him for a little while.


No. Terrible idea. Awful choice. This continued the toxicity because then I started to get really resentful that I was making all these financial sacrifices and he just wanted to play video games. So, by the time we eventually, we did some trips, we ended up going to Miami, and Miami's right by Orlando.


So, I was like, Mom, Sis, come down. We'll do like a family adventure in Disney World. I'll bring Marco. And when they arrived, I was just like, Thank God I have someone else to talk to for a change. I was really at wit's end with Marco. We were to the point where you don't really fight anymore because fighting is so exhausting that you just avoid everything.


That's where we were at. So, when my mom and my sister came, we went to Epcot, by the way, so we were just drinking at every country, and Marco's not a big drinker, so he was not having a good time. Over lunch, I noticed his discontent, uh, and I was like, Marco, if you're not having a good time, why don't you just take the ferry, go back to the hotel, I'll meet you later, no big deal.


Eventually, he did. And me and my mom and my sister continued our journey around the world with our drinks, and we shut down the park. It was an amazing day, all said and done. So, we two get back to the hotel, I go back to mine and Marco's room, and my mom and my sister go back to their room down the hall.


And I'm like, oh great, now I'm gonna have to deal with this, right? We're probably gonna have some argument, whatever. I was prepping for it mentally as I opened the door. But I was surprised to see that when I walked into the room, it was like, spotless. I was like, oh, Marco must've gotten bored and cleaned up.


Wow, finally doing his fair share of work around here. Then I inspected further to see that it wasn't that he had cleaned up. It's that he had packed up all of his things. And was just gone. No note, no text, no sign of him. And immediately, my heart sank to the floor, emotions started running in. It was like, I couldn't physically be in the room anymore.


I practically ran down the hallway to go be with my mom and my sister, and I opened the door, they could see it on my face that something was seriously wrong. They didn't say anything. I spoke first, and I will never forget what I said. What is wrong with me? That these people that I keep trying so hard to support, to love as deeply as I can, I make constant sacrifices, and despite all that, it's never enough.


And they just leave me. Because it wasn't the first time that this type of situation had happened where I felt like, in my mind, I was abandoned. And I was just overwhelmed with shame, thinking that it's something that's wrong with me. But as I was, luckily in that moment, probably because of my buzz from Disney World and because I had the loving support of my mom and my sister, they made me realize that, yeah, maybe it is something that I'm doing, but it doesn't mean that I'm unlovable.


It just means I got to figure out what that thing is that I'm doing and stop doing it. And that felt manageable. And it set me off on a mindfulness journey to develop as deep of an awareness as possible about my choices. about the way that I was showing up in a relationship and to admit that the way that I learned to cope in childhood actually had a little bit of toxicity built into it. And without awareness of that, it's just going to keep coming up again and again.


Passionistas: So, tell us about that journey. What did you do to get past that and to develop this mindfulness state?


Lauren: Sure. Well, I am, as you know, a recovering anxious person, a little bit of a perfectionist and control freak. So, I did what I do best, and I made a spreadsheet.

It was a form basically that I made for myself so that I could go out on a date and come home and be like, okay, Lauren, what is it that your body feels like you need to do in order to feel safe? And is that actually going to get you what you want? What red flags might be here that you're, that you would normally ignore?


What is your gut telling you? All these important questions that I knew I needed to make time for so that I could monitor myself because if I didn’t, I would just keep acting on default. And historically that didn't get me what I wanted. So, if I want something different, I got to choose something different. Eventually, I realized after using the spreadsheet like 10 times that it brought my anxiety levels down significantly because it was like I, I knew that I was doing all that I could to catch it and it gave me a sense of control. It helped me feel like I could stay in the moment more because I knew I would be present with myself after the date. And when you're present in the moment, you just get so much more data about that person anyway.


Passionistas: So, what do you think the biggest shift you made personally from that point moving forward that impacted how you were dating?


Lauren: Definitely taking responsibility of my choices and my behavior, that's one. But also, it was understanding why I'm attracted to certain types of people. Because looking back on it, I'm like, why would I ever even go out with Marco? Like, if I was going to write you an ideal partner list of who I would want for myself in five years, it would not resemble Marco at all.


In fact, I learned in that moment of reflection that what I wanted was not a man at all. I had been wanting to date women for many, many years. In fact, I was swiping on dating apps in like on both genders. And I was even talking to some women, but I never had the guts to officially go out with them. Cause I was like, oh my God, what does that mean?


What would I say? You know, all the things that people probably fear. But at that moment I was like, hey, if, if I'm not getting what I'm, what I want from. Um, choices about people pleasing or about trying to take care of someone. Maybe that the choice to even date men at all is a behavior that's keeping me stuck or a choice that's not getting me what I want.


So actually, Marco broke up with me in January, right before COVID hit. So, I was going through COVID breakup, right? This is also why I got so deep into all of this. Cause I have plenty of time, but finally, when the COVID lockdown started to loosen up and we could go out again, I was like, screw it.


I'm going out with a girl. I'm going to see what this is about. And it was so eye-opening. I felt very safe. I felt. Home, it felt like it was so much easier for me to show up authentic. And that just takes the anxiety out of it too.


Passionistas: Uh, so living your authentic self really helped eliminate a lot of your anxiety. It's that's great. So, tell us what exactly it means to date mindfully and how do people start the process?


Lauren: Sure, well, I like to break it down into a simple three step process. So, before I introduce the steps, though, let me just define mindfulness, because I think we use the word mindful a lot in passing conversation, but it goes deeper than how we use it.

You know, sometimes you'll be like, oh, be mindful of watering the plant today, or be mindful of the car that's coming. It, it does mean awareness. It does mean seeing things, but it also means to accept what you're seeing or noticing without judging it. So, imagine applying this to yourself or to other people that you're dating.


You're just noticing what you got going. It's not bad. It's not wrong. You're not trying to change it, force it, or avoid it. You're just allowing it to be whatever it is. So, let's apply this to, uh, maybe let me think of a situation here where we can put this three-step process into action. Okay, let's say you potentially are lactose intolerant, and you're going out on a date with someone, and they're like, oh, do you want to split an appetizer?


And you're like, Oh yeah, sure. You know, this is, this is also coming from my own history as a people pleaser. And they're like, how about mozzarella sticks? And instinctively you want to be like, yeah, great. But you're lactose intolerant. You know, what's going to happen is you're going to have a consequence from eating that, those mozzarella sticks, but you're too afraid to say no, for fear that your date's going to be mad that you don't want to have mozzarella sticks, you know.


This is a moment where you can apply mindfulness. One of many, many opportunities, probably while you're dating. The first step for you to do is pause the moment where you feel like you want either act and reflex and just say yes, which is really hard to do. This is an ongoing practice, right? But, or maybe you feel a little icky.


Maybe you did say yes, and you're sitting there looking over the menu and just something feels unsettling. [Just pause and notice that feeling mindfully. Don't judge it. Don't try to push it away. Just let it come up and let it sit with you because it's trying to tell you something. It's your friend It's not an enemy and the second step is to investigate it as it's coming up What body sensations are present with it?


This is so it's like a habit, too it's not that the body sensations in that moment are gonna help you speak up and in rebellion against the cheese. It's just that it's teaching you to get into the habit of noticing that when you feel some type of way in your body, that's data for you. It's helping you.


Same for any emotions. Do you feel shame? Do you feel embarrassment? Okay, just get into the habit of letting them be with you. You're not going to die from embarrassment. It's terrible, no one loves it, but there can be a duality. You can feel embarrassed, and you can also have the courage to keep talking to your date, to keep staying in the present moment.


So, after you've investigated that, you're really just taking stock of everything that's going on in the present moment. The third thing, the third step, is to make a new choice. I don't care if you already said yes. I don't care if you already made a choice. You can always make a new choice. So, what you could say is, you know what?


Would it be all right if we got the buffalo wings instead? You don't have to say why. You don't have to tell them about your diarrhea that you might get if you eat mozzarella sticks. You just say, Is it okay if... And see what happens. And you know what? If your date gives you a hard time and doesn't let you change your mind about your appetizer, then that's also data. So, you're learning something either way.


Passionistas: So how did you take these personal experiences and, and your fascination with it, um, and turn it into a career? I mean, what were you doing before? And, and what was this, new adventure you were on?


Lauren: Sure. Well, it all started out really as my passion project and the way that I mentally and emotionally got through the quarantine.


I ended up taking this spreadsheet that I knew was working wonders for me, and I reached out to a therapist that lived all the way across the country in Arizona and we, through a series of Zoom meetings, ended up turning the spreadsheet into a book, which is now the Mindful Dating Journal. And I just like, suffered way too much in my past relationships and now that I knew that there was a really simple tool, all you have to do is just learn your behaviors.


You just have to monitor it. It's so simple. Anyone can do it. I was like, I need to tell the world this. And sadly, I don't make enough money off of my one book to quit my day job, which. It does a great job at meeting all my needs. So, I'm just kind of surfing this path, enjoying spreading the word and loving opportunities like this to get to know myself and others through my story.


Passionistas: So, who's your target audience and what appeals to you about focusing on them?


Lauren: Ooh, good question. I would say millennial women because that's who I am, but I find that no matter how old you are, mindfulness is still going to help you. However, you might not be able to resonate all that like perfectly with some of my stories and some of the messages that I share from my experience.


Some Gen Zs get it, but I don't get Gen Zs, so I do the best I can. Well, frankly, I think women who are people who are older could probably benefit from it even more because We've established these patterns for such a long time that to have somebody help us break them would be really, really helpful.


Yeah, and it's great because you can go at your own pace with mindfulness and journaling. You know, you don't have to have all your trauma come to your face in one day. You can just take it slowly, watch it evolve over a whole year if you want.


Passionistas: What are some of the most common issues that you see consistently with people? When it comes to dating that are kind of their roadblocks.


Lauren: Yeah, I would say the honeymoon phase is very hard for people to manage and for good reason. So, it's bad enough that we're already under the influence of how we connected as children. You know, that's just what we're used to, whether or not it's healthy.

So, when we go to connect with someone new, we are bringing little bits of toxicity with us on both sides. So that's already one strike against us. The second strike is that when you find someone in that honeymoon phase your brain chemistry changes completely. You've got a whole pleasure cocktail that goes off in your brain.


Noradrenaline, serotonin, dopamine, and top it all off, it's just scientifically stressful when you're dating, so cortisol's in there too. If you start to have sex with them, forget it. Like, the oxytocin comes into play. Like, you're literally an emotional and hormonal different person in this time.

It's very difficult to make logical decisions for yourself long term. That's why it's also so important to take that time to journal. Journaling just manually will bring your logical brain into the picture, and it helps you to disconnect from the emotions. And to balance out the emotional, like, craziness, not, not that it's crazy or bad, don't get me wrong, I think the honeymoon phase is amazing.


But you have to go into it with the awareness that those things are happening in your body, and to make intentional space to step outside of it every once in a while, so that you can see the bigger picture for your love life.


Passionistas: Is there a particular formula for why people are attracted to people who trigger them? And how can you use that to your advantage when you're dating?


Lauren: Sure. So, I actually do think I'm onto something here. I've researched a bunch of different things and I've summarized it into this simple formula. To me, attraction is the combination of the love that you feel is familiar plus any unfulfilled needs.


And I'm talking about like a deep level attraction here. I'm not talking about thinking that somebody's hot because they've got a six pack. I'm talking about that unspoken magnetism that you feel towards someone, and you can't even put your finger on what it is. You just are attracted to them. So again, this formula is unmet needs plus familiar love.


So, let's dive into like a little story again to kind of illustrate this. Let's say your dad works a very busy job. He's a really great dad on all levels. It's just that when he gets home from work, he is exhausted. All he wants to do is grab his beer and just like sit on his phone and catch up on the day's news or something.


And you just, all you wanted was some moments of quality time with him. You just wanted to feel that one on one connection. And after a little while, you started to take it personally as a kid. You thought, oh, maybe I did something wrong, maybe he's mad at me. Or maybe you did go up to him and try to connect and he just had a really bad day and he snapped at you.

And you said, oh, I don't bother daddy when he's on his phone after work, you know. So, you learn the hard way that on all levels you knew your dad loved you. But it, it was just how he showed love by not connecting with you and you thought that that was okay. You loved him anyway. You made excuses for him.


So that is the first part of the equation. That's your familiar love. There's probably many different parts of familiar love from your childhood, but now when you go to date someone, maybe you go out on a really amazing date with them, and they gave you lots of attention. But then they don't text you. And when they do text you, they give you like little, tiny, like what we call bread crumbing.


Right? And you start to think like, oh, well, you know, maybe he's not making plans with me because he said he had a work trip. I know his, his moms in town and you make excuses for him again, that person that you're welcoming into your life, in my opinion, should want to be with you, they should be actively reaching out.


You deserve someone that wants to spend time with you, but that love just felt familiar to you. You thought, oh, I can love someone who doesn't give me quality as time. But the sad part is that's not actually what you want. You want someone that's going to fill your needs that brings the second part of the equation in your unmet childhood needs So in a weird sick way, we choose these people because we think that we'll finally get the need met. So, you'll think oh if I can get this busy guy to want to go out on a date with me and make me feel worthy, it must mean that I was worthy of my dad's love all along.


And it's fine. The fact that we do any of this is like totally human. It doesn't mean that any of us are bad or wrong. But when you understand this formula, you can hack it. You don't have to get your needs met by picking people that probably are going to be the last people to meet them. You can just decide, hey, I realized that I need quality time.


That is a core need of mine. How can I meet that own need in myself by either clearly communicating it or by choosing someone intentionally that will be able to meet that need. So that's another thing that was on my spreadsheet is I had learned what are the things that I am used to in my childhood that I don't actually enjoy.


What are my standards? What are the things that I actually need and desire in a partner? And then when I go out on a date, I come home, and I just cross reference. Is this person actually meeting my standards, or do they just feel like an unhealthy love of my past?


Passionistas: I feel like a lot of times we're taught, and I don't know if this is a woman thing or not, everybody's taught this, but like, you're being too picky, you know? You're, you're, well, yeah, maybe they're not giving you everything you need, but you, you're expecting too much. So how do you respond to people who kind of throw that back at you?


Lauren: When I go out to like, eat food with a friend or even somebody that's like a date and they're like, can I have the salad? But can you put the walnuts on the side?

And like, I don't want this thing on it. Some people would be like, wow, this person's like really high maintenance and they really want it so special. To me, I'm like, you go girl or boy, you're allowed to get what you want. If you know what you want, why not ask for it? But I think a lot of times we have these insecurities that maybe if you don't know what you want, you're afraid that you're pushing away opportunities that might've been for you.


But if you're clear on what you want, it's not a, it's not a missed opportunity. It's not what you want. I do agree though, that there is a level of compromise. But you have to make sure that all of your most important needs are met before you start compromising because then you could lead to stepping over some of your personal boundaries, lowering, lowering your standards and ultimately, you're probably just going to get resentful and it's going to end in not a fun way. So no, I do not think there's a problem with being picky as long as you spend time to figure out what it is you want.


Passionistas: We're Amy and Nancy Harrington, and you're listening to the Passionistas Project Podcast and our interview with Lauren Smith. To learn more about Lauren, get a copy of her Mindful Dating Journal and tune in to the Date in Peace podcast. Visit MettaDateStudio.com. Now here's more of our interview with Lauren.


Okay. So, someone has found a person. They think that's their ideal person. Um, how do you navigate the early phases of a relationship without losing yourself?


Lauren: So, it comes back to this honeymoon phase thing. So, remember during these first, you know, I guess the honeymoon phase we'll say in dating, maybe it's like. We'll say six months. It varies. It could be a month. It could be a year. It depends on who you're dating and how often you see them.


But let's just say for a six-month period, you know that once you start to get to that point where you're craving them, and you just want to get your next hit of those feel-good chemicals, that you have to intentionally pace yourself.


You probably want to hang out every night. You might want to rush into intimacy, you might want to say, I love you within six months. I am guilty of that. I just feel so deeply that when I find someone that I care about, I'm like, oh my God, I love this person, but I have to remember, is it, is it that I really love who they are or am I just loving the person that I'm with right now while I feel so great with these honeymoon phase chemicals.


So, there's some other things that you could do to keep two feet on the ground while you're in that honeymoon phase. One, definitely space out your dates. Two, journal. We've already talked about these. The third thing is, is to maintain or schedule intentionally dates with family and friends.


Sometimes it's easy for us to get so wrapped up in the daydreaming about the person that we really lose touch with our other goals. We lose touch with the things that were important before that person came into our lives. So, when you hang out with friends, when you can reconnect with your family, it almost brings you back to the person that they know.


It's like in a weird way, your identity is a lot of times influenced by how people are treating you or perceiving you. So, stepping out of the identity that's created when you're with that person in the honeymoon phase and going back into the identity that is more you normally, you know, the solid, the more normal.


I don't know how else to say it, uh, that allows you to reconnect and to come back into your, um, your, your normal routine, I would say. Another thing that you can do is to carve out time in your schedule to work on passion projects. Because a lot of times we lose touch with our hobbies and we really, it's, it's just so tempting to make them our number one priority.


So, if you know that you love reading on the weekends, you know, maybe you're like me and before you go to bed, you like to read your book as you wind down, but you've been going out with them on the weekends. And by the time you get home, it's like two o'clock and you're like, I don't want to read. And then before you know it, you haven't touched your book in a month.

So, carve that time out and say, yes, I would love to have dinner with you, but I'm going to go home at 7:30 so that I can do my 37-year-old reading date.


Passionistas: And then when it does hit the stage where you are choosing to get more intimate with somebody, how can you bring this kind of intentional awareness?


Lauren: Well, I guess this is really, um, to each their own. I am actually a really pleasure positive person, but I also don't feel comfortable being intimate with someone that I don't feel safe with. So, for me, if I feel safe with someone, I might want to start things up maybe sooner than most people. I think that that's another opportunity for you to build intimacy.

For you to get to understand if you're able to meet each other's needs on that level. That's another piece of data. If you're entertaining bringing someone into your lifelong term. But I would say the baseline for any of this is to just be very clear on what it is you are expecting or needing throughout all of it.


And communicating that if those needs aren't met, or if someone's doing something to you or moving at a certain pace that's too fast for you, is to speak up whenever you feel like those boundaries have crossed. This is, again, why building your mindfulness skills is so important. Because the Lauren of like five years ago, I didn't even know what boundaries were.

If someone, quote, crossed my boundaries, I didn't know. I probably would have just been like, oh, sure, let me people please for you. Like, love me again, and I would get resentful and probably explode. And I had no other emotions other than just feeling overwhelmed and anxious, obviously. So now that I have mindfulness, it's so much easier to feel an emotion when it comes up.


And that's like, um, a light bulb that goes off in my brain. That's the thing that tells me, hey, it's time for step one. It's time to pause here. Am I really wanting to have sex with this person now? Or should I say, is it okay if we wait? I'm, I'm not ready. And that's fine too, giving yourself that space to choose a new choice.


Passionistas: And again, it's like the appetizers. If they're not there with you and compatible with you on something like that, then you're not losing anything.


Lauren: Oh yeah, if they don't let you say no or they don't listen to your boundaries, yeah, get out of there as fast as you can.


Passionistas: Absolutely. So, part of your target audience is the LGBTQ plus community. So how can people in that community use nonjudgmental acceptance to reconnect with their most authentic selves?


Lauren: Sure. I mean, anybody that tells me they're in the queer community, I love them instantly because I recognize that those people have gotten to the place where loving themselves was more important than pleasing anybody else.


And that takes so much courage. And I just, it really opens my heart up anytime I see someone with a pride pin, because you never know what kind of journey, they took on a personal level to be even able to put that pin on. So, I think mindfulness is just a, a natural progression for somebody that's already stepped into their authenticity, and it helps them to be more empowered and to feel more self, um, what's the word I'm looking for where autonomy, I guess, where you can learn to say, uh, while other gay people might be doing a busy pride parade.


Maybe I'm the introvert that just wants to stay home and watch something on TV, and that's okay. You know, it's about bringing your life back into your own heart and reminding yourself that every single choice is yours. Just because you grew up believing that you had to play by certain rules, or if, even if all of your queer friends do something one way, or they have a shared belief, it doesn't mean that you can't create your own beliefs and make your own rules.

And that's so important when it comes to finding love, because only you know the person that is actually going to make you happy. And if you don't listen to yourself, then, you know, you might miss, miss that person when they come along.


Passionistas: So, tell us about the Date in Peace podcast and what it is and why you started it?


Lauren: Yeah, I started that podcast I guess about a year ago and it was a natural response to my urge to tell everybody the simple secret. I started my first season welcoming on guests from any sexual identity and we talk about reducing anxiety on dating we talk about our bad dating stories and I especially love woo woo things.


So, we talk a lot about angels or crystals or any other things that we can use to find peace and happiness. In season two, I've been focusing specifically on queer guests, so I bring on people that tell their stories. But the podcast itself isn't just for people that have openly identified as LGBTQ I like to say it's for anyone that isn't 100% sure if they're straight.


So, if they're questioning at all, I just want it to be a safe space for people to come and to feel okay to explore their curiosities, because I was 33 by the time, I officially decided that I wanted to explore women, because I was scared. I was afraid of how things would affect my relationships. Um, of course I was scared by women too.


That's intimidating. You know, at 33, you're going to have to learn a whole new way of, of sexually relating to someone or going. It felt like I was 15 again, trying to like go out on a date with these women. So, I just wanted to give back and say, this is something that I'm doing for all the other women or men out there that just want to feel okay.


To hear other people's stories and how they went through it. It's been a real pleasure. It takes a lot of time. I honor you guys for the amount of work that you put into podcasting.


Passionistas: It is a lot of work, but it's fun. And every time I think, oh, I'm not in the mood to do an interview today. We get on with somebody who is wonderful like you and it's just, it just fills me up. I love doing it.


Um, so I love the fact I just keep picturing your Excel chart and, um and turning that into a book. So, tell us a little bit more about that process and about the mindful dating journal, what people can expect when they read it.


Lauren Smith: Sure. Well, the first half of the book is actually a book.

Like it is, it tells you all these things, my three-step process, more about mindfulness. It also explains. Each question and like how you're supposed to answer it. Because I think a lot of times, you know, you might say, oh, well what are you feeling? If you don't really understand why, you should be asking that, or what emotions can bring to your dating decisions, then you might not get the most out of the journaling process.


So, one of the questions that's on there, for example, we can dive into this a little deeper, is, what did you love about yourself on the date? And I feel like this is so important. It's one of the first questions that I asked myself, and one of the first ones in the book, because a lot of times when you go out on a date, the first thing you think about afterwards is, oh my gosh, did they like me?


What did they think about me? And you start to feel like they're. Decision of whether to accept or reject you is like going to determine your fate and you have no say in the matter. You just have to wait around for them to call you, but asking yourself, what did I love about myself on this date is the fastest way to reconnect with your personal power to say, oh yeah, I'm worthy of being loved.


So, I'm going to do that right now, but there's weird, you know, there's a way that you could answer this question and maybe not get the best return on your investment. So, you might be like, Oh. I loved my high heel shoes. They were sexy. Okay, that's not really something that you loved about yourself, you know?


But, um, what maybe you could say is that I love the fact that before this date... I went into the depths of my closet and pulled out a dress from seven years ago that I've been too afraid to wear because I was afraid that it wouldn't fit, but I love myself for pulling that out and for actually wearing it on the date, even though, you know, a little bit of my roles were showing.

But it still made me feel sexy and I felt confident because I was able to step into my sexy power by wearing this dress. That's what I love about myself. See how different that is? It's, it gives you this confidence and almost permission to choose you.


Passionistas: That's awesome. Alright, so I want to hear a really bad date story and a really good date story from you.


Lauren: Oh boy, a really bad date story. Okay. I can tell you this one. So, I was traveling a lot. I, I used to be a digital nomad. I have a job where I can work anywhere. It's amazing. One of the places that I was visiting was Columbia, Medellin. While I was there, this is after I had already come out. And when I first came out, I thought I was just bi, so I was dating both men and women.


So, I had met this guy at like a digital nomad mixer. There was a bunch of different groups. We all met at the bar and he and I had shared values. Obviously, we both love traveling. We had a really easy time chatting and we ended up agreeing to go out on a date like the next night or something.


So, I walk into our designated meeting place, and I misread his signals. He was like pulling his hand out of his pocket or something and I thought that he was holding his hand out to grab mine. So, I instinctively grabbed his hand. So, this is me walking in, we really haven't even said hi and I hold this guy's hand.


I almost died of embarrassment I just wanted to turn around and walk out of there with my head down. But luckily the mindful acceptance in me was able to say Lauren, its okay dates are awkward. This is, you're not gonna, like, this isn't the end of the world. If he walks out on you, then screw that guy. So, I just made a joke about it, and he, I don't, I think he was trying to soothe me, but he actually made it worse, because then he just kept holding my hand for like 20 minutes while we walked around the city trying to find a place to eat.


So, if that wasn't bad enough, we ended up, towards the end of the night, we had a really great night, but towards the end of the night, he went to go kiss me. And I was like, okay, sure, you know, I, I kissed him back. But in that moment, this was the first time that I had kissed a guy since Marco had abandoned me so devilishly at Disney world, that I finally had new skills where I was able to notice body sensations and emotions coming up during that kiss.


And I was shocked to notice there was disgust present. When he was kissing me and I was like, wow, that's interesting because this feeling is very familiar. And I wonder if I've always felt disgust kissing men on some level, but I just pushed it away because I thought, oh, I guess that's just what a kiss is supposed to feel like. So, thank you to that guy for trying your best. Didn't work out.


Uh, what is my best date? Oh man, I don't know what my best date would be. I can't think of one right on the spot, but if I had to idealize it into what a best date would look like, it would be one where time flies by, where you just feel like you're catching up with an old friend, you laugh, you feel engaged and curious, and you're having fun.


And then when you go home, you're feeling safe about the connection. So, you trust that you had such a good enough time that you know that they had a good time too. And you trust that it'll happen. It'll come together on its own. There's no need to force it. Or rush to get them to respond. You know, I'm an anxious person.


I did a lot of a tank anxious attachment things where if they didn't text me back right away, I'd be like, Oh my gosh, what's wrong? I must've said something wrong. I better reach out and see where they, where they're at. For me, it's like, I know it's a good date and a good match when I can go home, and I'm not triggered into that spiral.


And I'm like, oh yeah, it went well. I'm feeling good about it. And I'm just going to let it grow

naturally. It's hard to do.


Passionistas: I have a, I have another question if you don't mind, Nan. Um, I'm a very in my head person, right? So, I'm constantly analyzing things as I'm going along, and I think part of dating is an intimacy for sure is like letting go in the moment a little bit and letting things unfold and letting things happen. So how do you reconcile that for people that are, you want them to be aware and reflecting on what's happening, but you don't want them to spend the whole time just ripping everything apart.


Lauren: Mm hmm, mm hmm. Okay, I have two things. Firstly, the words letting go are so confusing to me. Because I used to hear that a lot as an anxious person, like, oh, just let go of the thought. Stop thinking about it. It's like, I can't stop thinking about it. It makes me think about it more, you know? So, what happens is with mindfulness, that was the solution.

That was my new letting go was with mindfulness. You just see it. You let it be with you. And it's like, almost like before mindfulness, the anxiety was me, it was bouncing around inside of me like a ball at an arcade. But when I was able to bring mindfulness, it was almost like I could take that anxiety outside of me and look at it.


And just see it. And it, in that sense, it wasn't affecting me as much. You get a certain level of detachment. So that's one is to not try to push it away. If you're having those thoughts almost, uh, have you, you guys, I'm sure have done some type of meditation in your life. There's a style of meditation where when the thought comes up.


You say, Oh, that's a thought. And then you just come back to your breath. So, I use that strategy, but while dating, it's like, oh, there's an anxious thought, you know, oops, I held his hand, you know, like whatever it is that comes up in the moment. And then for me, instead of anchoring to the breath, I just anchor in the connection. And that's a hard skill too.


So maybe you do need a more specific anchor, like with breathing or another trick is if you have a glass of cold water on the table, if you're at a restaurant, just hold the cold glass, that cold temperature will kind of give your nervous system a little bit of a reset and bring you back.

But the basic gist of it is that when you notice those things, don't push them away. Just get into the habit of being like, oh, let them come in because that's data. Let them be with me. I know that I'm gonna dig into this later when I go home. So, it's okay if I don't give it my full attention right now.


Right now, I'm gonna come back to this person, seated across the table from me. Let me re engage with them via eye contact. Let me try to empathetically connect with whatever they're feeling right now. Just come back to the date. And I know that's hard. It's going to take practice. So good luck, everyone.


Passionistas: So now that you've gone through all of this and experienced all this, what advice would you give to your younger self?


Lauren: I would say it's okay to be you. It's okay to make mistakes or it's okay to be anxious. I was working so hard to be this perfect version of myself for so long that I would get really frustrated when people wouldn't like me back because I'm like, how, how can you not like me?


I'm being perfect. You know, but what I learned is that people don't want perfect. People want authenticity. People want to trust who you are. And if you're showing up as someone else, they can't trust you. And you're just creating a foundation for a relationship that's built basically on lies. It's going to be very hard to maintain perfection.


It will be so much more peaceful and more a deeper and more rewarding connection when you can both feel safe to be your authentic self. The best way to feel safe is to cultivate that safety within you by allowing the feelings to be with you. I mean, that's ultimately what we're all afraid of. We're not afraid of the rejection.


We're afraid of feeling shame from the rejection. And another thing is that anxiety is basically you repeatedly avoiding something over and over again to the point where that little something becomes a massive feeling like a life-threatening thing, you know? So, when you've been avoiding shame your whole life, when shame does come knocking at your door, it does kind of feel like life or death.


You could do anything to avoid feeling this unworthiness that you've been pushing down your whole life. But what would happen if just like an exposure therapy, like to, to some people use to overcome anxiety. What, what would happen if you slowly let in little bits of shame and you started to say, oh, shame is just a normal human emotion.


We all go through this. It really doesn't kill me. It hurts. It might even be physically painful in some cases, depending on where you've been really holding on to that shame. But once you open that in, you can feel less bombarded the next time rejection comes up. And you can learn to manage the shame. And again, it's the duality.


You'll learn that, yeah, I can feel shame and I can still move in the direction of my dreams. What kind of life are you living if you're constantly making choices to avoid shame? I bet that life is going to be in the direction of, of fear. But if you learn to let shame, be with you and leave space for you to still move in the direction of whatever it is your heart wants, that's a life filled with hope and love. I'd much rather choose that, even if it feels crappy, to feel, to feel that shame at first. It'll get easier though.


Passionistas: So, you mentioned dreams, so what's your dream for yourself for the future and what's your dream for women?


Lauren: Oh, I love this question. My dream, uh, well on a more personal level is that I am looking for a girlfriend that is really a great communicator that makes me feel safe, that encourages me, and that allows me to be that person for her as well. I'm looking to build a community where other women or men or they's can come and feel safe to explore their authenticity and learn that they are so worthy of getting anything that they want.


I would love to write more books. I would love to be a public speaker while I'm actively a public speaker, but I would love to get more gigs to help more people learn these lessons and to recognize that it's not that there's anything wrong with us. We just didn't learn the skills to overcome built in toxicity.


That's stopping us from finding the love that we want. It all comes down to really simple habits like journaling and by checking in with yourself regularly to make sure that what you're choosing is aligned with what you actually want and need.


Passionistas: Excellent. And what about your dream for women in general?


Lauren: Hmm. I wish that all women would be able to feel so good, feel so sexy in their own skin that they would feel confident and empowered to get what they want and not have to feel bad about it. But I also would want us to still maintain our softness. We are allowed to feel like we need to be taken care of sometimes.


We're allowed to feel like, um, we don't have to do it all, that we can have needs, that we can be selfish. It's okay for us to put our needs first. That's, it's almost like you grow up in a society where it's like, if you're a woman, that if you, if you're a good woman, it means that you sacrifice for other people.


That's built in toxicity right there. That's a belief that we all need to undo. Because if you really want to help people, if you really want to love people, you have to be able to do so in a way that you're not draining your own energy or your own, um, boundaries because it's not going to be a pure love.


It's not going to be a safe connection for them or you. And I guess, to be like really cheesy and very altruistic, I'd say that I would want each woman to do whatever they need to do to come back into their authenticity, because that is the fastest way that we can heal the world.


Passionistas: Beautiful. Um, do you have a mantra that you live by?


Lauren: Well, I feel like I have so many mantras that I choose on a weekly basis. The one that I wrote down in my journal today, I will read it to you is make this the best day yet of many, many more. And thanks to you, ladies, I'm feeling like I'm doing a pretty good job with that today.


Passionistas: Definitely. Excellent. What's your definition of success?


Lauren: I would say peace. I lived a long time trying to keep everybody else peaceful and trying to quote, keep the peace that I was living internally in chaos. So if I can go through my day doing what I choose to and feel joy, joyful and feel calm and peaceful inside, to me, that's a success because that's the place where if I am creating something, whether it's a podcast, writing a book or giving back to friends and family, if it's coming from that secure, safe place, that is the most valuable thing that I can give to them and to the world.

And that's the most successful thing. It's how can we really express our hearts so purely and so authentically from a place of joy that we naturally will light up the world. Guys, you're like bringing out my most authentic Buddha self-tonight. Thank you. I love it. I love it.


Passionistas: Perfect. So, what advice would you give to a young woman who wants to follow her passions?


Lauren: I would say take some time to write down what it is you actually see for yourself. What are those passions? Get very clear on it. And then I would say figure out what are the problems that you see quote problems. That are stopping you from getting that desire, that fulfilling that passion.


And then on the flip side of the page, imagine what your life would be like if those problems were already solved. Use the present tense. And then once you're done, look over it and look at some of the language. And see, how many times did you say, I can't because, or I should blah, blah, and maybe then notice that there might be some secrets or some tips waiting for you in the future side where you, where you saw your future, all figured out.


And it was something like, you know, let's, let's put something concrete on this. Like for me, let's say I want to be a successful keynote speaker. Okay, well, oh, I don't have time and it's so hard. My speech isn't good enough. Like these are all the problems, right? The solutions is I enjoy the time that I create every day to practice my speech.


I love that these communities are welcoming me into their space. Like these are, they're almost like, um, like when you get a treasure map and there's like a dotted line with little dots, like little X's along the way, marking your trail. The way that you speak about your solved future is your treasure map.


So, for me, it's like, oh, okay, I need to carve time out of my day to practice my speech. Oh, I need to reach out to some local organizations and see if they'd be interested in mindful dating. Like it's, it's all there. It's all in your head. You know how to do it. The only thing stopping you again is fear of feeling the shame, fear of failure.


And the world needs whatever your passion is. So please get over your fear, not only for you, but for all of us so that we can experience what it is your heart's here to say.


Passionistas: Thanks for listening to The Passionistas Project Podcast and our interview with Lauren Smith. To learn more about Lauren, get a copy of her Mindful Dating Journal and tune in to the Date in Peace podcast. Visit mettadatestudio.com and be sure to visit thepassionistasproject.com to sign up for our mailing list.


Find all the ways you can follow us on social media and join our worldwide community of women working together to level the playing field for us all.


We'll be back next week with another Passionista who's defining success on her own terms and breaking down the barriers for herself and women everywhere.


Until then, stay well and stay passionate.

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