How Jayson Gaddis Lives All of Him: On Relationship As a Vehicle for Self-Knowledge


This is part of the Live All of You Interview Series! For more on what this is all about, head over to the intro post and make sure to sign up to find out who I’ll be interviewing next.

As I mentioned in my last interview with Sara Avant Stover, October is Boulder, Colorado month. The Live All of You interviews featured during this month are all with people who call Boulder home—just like I do.

Jayson Gaddis is a breakthrough marriage and relationship teacher for smart, successful people. He helps get people the relationship results they want—fast—and only works with the most motivated of individuals and couples who really want to change their patterns for good. He is also the host of the Smart Couple Podcast.

Outside on his lovely balcony in Boulder, we talked about the value of moving toward our pain, how relationship can help us understand ourselves, and the real value of our stories.

Let’s hear from him.

Amy Segreti: For those who don’t know you, what’s your informal, meeting-someone-on-a-plane description of what you do in the world?

Jayson Gaddis: I guide people into greater self-knowledge through the vehicle of relationship.

Wow. That is solid.

Thanks! I’m a relationship counselor/coach who helps people get out of relationship pain and into relationship gain. If we’re always looking for our “other half,” then we’ll be suffering, if we only want pleasure, then we’re in a fantasy—pain is just as valid as pleasure. But most people are unhappy because they want one and not the other.

I see. How do you view pain in relationship?

Our relationship issues are giving us physical pain because they’re unresolved traumas, and we need to heal them through relationship.

All pain is a constructive healing opportunity. It’s a beacon to pay more attention. As I was learning myself, I noticed that all my issues kept pointing back to relationship. Looking at my own life helped me learn about my own pain and how it was relationship-oriented. It’s how I found the spiritual path.

How do you help couples?

I’m into helping couples through whatever challenge they’re going through, and teaching them how to navigate the terrain in a new way so they can have a deeper connection. Mainly, people come to me for one-on-one work.

If you were coaching yourself, what would you say to you of 10 years ago?

I would tell him: You must look in the mirror. Work on yourself and stop thinking the other person is going to provide you with happiness or contentment. I wouldn’t have listened… ::laughter::

Paint me a picture of your inner child. What’s he wearing, what’s he doing?

He’s super curious. He wants to learn and grow. He’s outside in nature, he’s communicating with the trees, animals, rocks, birds, and he’s finding trying to find meaning and make sense of things. He doesn’t understand why the big people are so challenging.

Do you feel like you’re still in alignment with your inner child?

Yes, that’s actually a really strong relationship for me, and one I teach people to strengthen in themselves, so he’s fairly front and center. Though I notice him more when I’m on the pain end of the spectrum, unless I’m doing some silly, youthful activity. If something has happened and I’ve been triggered, he’s one of my go-to sources to get back into connection.

What are some of the ways you get back into alignment when you’re feeling off-center?

I listen to Nahko and Medicine for the People and I connect to myself, usually on my meditation cushion. I connect to my inspiration, to the deepest part of my pain, whatever is going to take me further inside myself. If it’s a painful moment, I go into the center of that. Disconnection happens when we’re not wanting to feel what’s going on. So as long as I notice it I can feel it, and go towards the pain.

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What does an ideal morning look like for you?

I have a spot in the house where I sit in front of my altar and I put on music (or not, depending) and I drop into myself and visualize what’s most important to me. I connect to why I’m doing what I’m doing, my deepest inspiration, and my vision for my life. And then I organize my day in practical way, making sure I have priorities to get done today.

That’s a rare day for me though, because I have two kids and most of my mornings are spent with them, and if my wife goes for a run, I’ll watch them.

What’s your ideal workspace?

During the day, I write and do my finances from coffee shops—I like being in an atmosphere where there’s a lot happening. I can’t work in a quiet library. At home the temptation is I hear my kids paying and I want to come out and play. If I’m home, I need to lock myself in a room if I am going to get really focused. My ADD mind wants to shoot all over the place.

When do you find it easiest to sink into flow?

Definitely when I’m working directly with people—in a group or one-on-one. There’s something happening there—I have strong intuition and I see where things are going, and it keeps getting stronger. I can see the matrix of their dynamic.

What spiritual practices or tools do you have that keep you centered?

Staying connected to my wife and kids. Relationship is my main spiritual practice—it tells me that when my wife and I are in a fight, I am feeling disconnected and I need to check in with myself. I’m not blaming myself, but I am taking responsibility.

What’s the hardest thing you’re working on in your relationship?

Staying connected after kids, which is the most common challenge of married people—staying inspired, loving, sweet, nurturing. There has been such a deficiency in sleep and resources, and so much love goes to the kids, so it’s tricky for couples to stay in the juice and the flow together. When we do, it’s rad, and when we don’t, we struggle.

What have been some of the most influential books/people that have impacted the way you operate in the world?

I love the work of Dr. John Demartini. He’s a modern day Aristotle; he’s using the mind to help heal the body in a scientific way; a lot of New Age people think the body is wise and all knowing and science is bad, but this is backwards. Dr. Demartini is bringing new power to science.

Also I love Dr. Gabor Maté, who works with chronic addiction. He takes people to Mexico and uses ayahuasca to heal people; I am definitely in alignment with his viewpoints.

And, my kids are deeply inspiring to me.

When it comes to your work and creativity, are you a sprinter or a slow-and-steady runner?

I’m historically a sprinter, but I’m learning how to pace myself—more yin and relaxing, less rushing. My pattern is to say, let’s kick some ass and get to the finish line, but that doesn’t always serve me. It only serves me in key moments when I need it to.

What does it mean for you to live all of you?

It means to accept and embrace the opposites, instead of going for a one-sided spiritual aim. For me, it’s going for a balanced, present experience of love and connection. It’s loving what I haven’t yet loved in myself.

It’s accepting all of me moment by moment, instead of focusing on a final destination, and thinking one day I’ll get to this false summit. It’s noticing the moments of grace along the way.

Also, presence. People appreciate that I’m present to what’s going on. Whenever I hide, it feels like shit.

What do you think about the notion of “changing your story”?

Our story is critical to unlocking the mystery of who we are. Our story really matters; it’s not so much changing your story as coming to completion with what happened to us, and writing a new story that is who I am now, what I want, and where I want to go with my life.

I’m sure you’re familiar with spiritual bypassing, and how common it is in New Age culture.

Yes. We pathologize—we’re up here saying we shouldn’t do that down there, but the other person is really identified with it. It doesn’t work, because it sets up this dynamic where you’re looking down at someone and they’re looking up, but they’re both valid. They are polarities that need expressing, not entrance points for getting into “shoulds” and spiritual betterisms.

Do you ever find that you engage in that?

I have, but I don’t hang around people that I’m doing that with (looking down on or helping), because there’s not a shared language there for me. When I’m in my judgmental self, I’m judging them as inferior, but you see—then I’m playing the same game they are, still in the consciousness that one is better.

That’s why I love the Integral Center in Boulder, because it helps me develop my awareness and consciousness in that realm. At the same time, the universe is made of hierarchies, so there’s a place for that: I can drive a car, I’m not going to give it to my six-year-old, so I’m more evolved than him in different areas.

In terms of my work, I want to serve more people who are struggling in their partnerships or business, but if they feel me being arrogant they aren’t going to work with me. I need to keep looking at that so people feel really held by that and my service.

We’re coming up on the holidays now… how do you deal with these notions when you’re around, say, family members?

I know that whenever I get triggered, it’s a place where I’m not loving me. There’s often no conversation I need to have with them.

What is your ultimate mission in the work that you do?

I want to change the way we do relationship on this planet. I want to be a huge force in it, and I’m just chipping away, you know? We’re so stuck as a species, and I think there are chunks of us who are evolving slowly here and there, but if children had relationship skills and knew how to respond when they got their feelings hurt, that would be amazing. I like knowing that my kids feel they have tools to navigate this world.

Our kids are mostly modeling myself and my wife, and I think we model really solid ways of relating. And that shows in how they relate to each other. But they’re also kids, so they still want to punch each other sometimes. :)

Note: This interview was done in late 2014.

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