OYM Tanya | Clearing Energetic Clutter

When everything is chaotic, we find it hard to focus on what matters. This not only applies to our environment but also within us. How then can we clear out all the chaos both inside and out? In this episode, Tanya Cole-Lesnick, a Psychotherapist (Licensed Clinical Social Worker), gives us the answers to help clear the energetic clutter, so we can live in alignment in all areas of our lives. At the heart of it is the power of doing group work, being with other people who are also in the same place as you. Tanya takes us across her journey towards helping people with their personal development through a combination of group work and individual work as well as therapy groups to coaching groups. Don’t miss out on the many nuggets from this conversation. Focus and work on your healing today!

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Clearing Energetic Clutter Through Group Work With Tanya Cole-Lesnick

Tanya Cole-Lesnick has been a Psychotherapist as a licensed clinical social worker and a coach since 1995. After group therapy changed her life, she decided to change her profession and received her Master’s degree in Social Work from New York University. She has extensive experience in outpatient hospital mental health in private practice and wellness center settings.

From those experiences over the years, she has identified her most important focus, helping people to clear energetic clutter so they can focus on what matters most to them. She does this by helping clients access and honor their truth to change habits that don’t serve them and to heal faulty narratives so that they’re living in alignment inside and out. Her work revolves around a combination of intimate therapeutic groups and individual sessions. She finds that, as the sharing of inner worlds and being human together in a safe place, both collectively and individually, this leads to an incredibly powerful combination that leads to lasting transformation.

Thank you so much for joining us. It’s a delight to see you again. I’m hoping you can start us off by letting us know a little bit about how you got into the work you do and what drives your passion for it.

Thank you. It’s very nice to see you as well. I’m looking forward to what unfolds. The work that I do now, I started my career as a graphic designer. During that time when I was in my mid-twenties, I was struggling to have a long-term love relationship. I did not understand what was in the way for me and did not initially think therapy would be an option to explore it.

I felt a lot of stigmas connected to therapy. I felt like maybe my problems weren’t legit enough, but with some time, I opened up to the idea of it and got some names and numbers and connected to this wonderful therapist named Bonnie. In our early work together, she suggested I add group therapy to the max, which scared me.

I was being very vulnerable with her and opening up more than probably I had with anybody else. The thought of doing that with people who at the time were strangers scared me, but I was building some trust in her. She thought it would be helpful, and it was pretty intriguing, so I went with it. It was in that combination of doing some group work and individual work. I went into the group situation.

Although there were times when it was challenging, I also experienced knowing I’m not alone, being able to be on this journey with other people on their journeys towards personal growth, whatever that meant for each of us but feeling very less flawed. I went into that experience, feeling there must be something unlovable about me. That was how I explained struggling with a long-term love relationship but went into that situation, realizing that we’re all human and what some human struggles look like.

During this part of the journey or early in the journey, I did meet who later became my husband. We celebrated our wedding anniversary. The reason why I went in for therapy and then group happened, I met somebody I was able to have a long-term love relationship with. What I didn’t anticipate was connecting to myself, learning how to love myself, learning that I had needs, what needs looked like, and how to navigate the world with that being a goal to connect to myself and make sure my needs were taken care of, realizing I wasn’t flawed and all those things.

That experience was such a pivotal time in my life. I stopped being a graphic designer. I went back to school, got a Master’s degree in Social Work from NYU, became a therapist, and later a coach. I’ve been doing that work now for three decades. I am very passionate about helping people, have transformations of their own, learn who they are, connect to their truest selves, and help them get in alignment with the way that they live with what’s in their hearts. I still find group to be one of the most powerful ways to help people get.

The thought that comes up for me is, how did you overcome the fear or trepidation?

I don’t think I fully overcame it.

You did. I know a lot of people who can’t bring themselves to go to a group.

Fair enough. What I meant by saying I don’t know that I fully overcame it is that I went into that situation, still feeling some fear. What happened is once I was in the room with other people, there were moments that felt scary where I had my anxiety got kicked up, but I also felt welcomed. I also felt as I started to, even within the very first session, hear other people’s stories, I feel I’m not alone, and that was such a huge feeling for me to settle into and exhale. My trust in my therapist at the time was an important part of it. I knew she would be there. She did both. She ran the group and did the individual.

That was an important piece of it and the fact that she thought it was going to be helpful. There’s a quote. It’s about the pain to stay tight in a bud becoming worse than the fear of blossoming. I’m not saying it, but I think that was true for me. I so longed to figure out what was in the way for me so that I could have the love relationship that I saw for myself, that I was willing to tolerate some of the discomforts of going into a situation that felt scary.

“The pain of staying tight in a bud is worse than the fear of blossoming.” Click To Tweet

Is there a way for you to remember what the specific fears were that were coming up as you were in individual therapy thinking about participating in group?

The biggest fear was that if I were to share these things with other people besides a therapist who felt like she felt safer to me and felt like she signed on to being on my side, is that other people would see, “She is unlovable. She is flawed.” That was my biggest fear. It was to be seen in all the ways my inner critic was saying that I showed up in the world, what were the things that were unlovable about me and would get verified.

Is there also a way for you to talk about what you think is dynamic in the group that was significantly different from what you were getting from the individual work?

Part of what happened to me as I connected more and engaged in the process more is that people would respond to me, finding some of what I offered to be helpful and feeling very connected to me as I was sharing some of my vulnerable things in a way that therapists don’t typically do because they’re not on their own journeys. It’s a professional relationship. Even though my therapist was very warm and felt very connected to her, it felt different to have people who were responding to me very spontaneously and expressing resonance with some of what I was saying and feeling support from me.

All those things that we communicated with each other and getting myself reflected back from other people carried more weight in a way because the therapy, too, was also powerful and important. I continued to do a combination of group work and individual work, but there is something about how many people were in the room at the time and getting something reflected back multiple times.

I was talking through a struggle and having a number of people say, “I don’t find you that way or something.” Let’s say I was sharing something about it insecurity. I perhaps got reflected back to me that people saw me in a much more positive light than I was able to see myself, and several people share their own experiences of me. That was very powerful. Also, hearing other people’s stories and seeing myself in their stories, that too led to a lot of healing.

What was the size of the group that you first went into?

It varied. The cap was at twelve. It was in New York City. It was a tiny little office. I remember she would always put the chairs out. It was a tight squeeze. It’s depending on the week because not everybody was there every week. It was usually probably from somewhere between 6 and 12 would be there.

Is that what you strive for in your groups now?

Twelve is a little bigger. I have a small intimate group. For me, ten is what I feel is a good number. I like a small group. I feel like there are times if not everybody’s there one week and we get a smaller group, which used to trigger some anxiety in me as a facilitator, thinking, “Where is everybody? How I’m going to run a good group with fewer people here?” I always find whatever combination shows up is an amazing combination. If it’s a smaller group, there is a tendency to go a little bit deeper. It feels a little bit safer to go deeper with a smaller group, and I love all those experiences.

OYM Tanya | Clearing Energetic Clutter

Clearing Energetic Clutter: Whatever combination shows up is an amazing combination.

 

The smaller the group, the deeper you go. If you’re one-on-one, you go even deeper. That’s where my mind went. I know that I’ve had the experience where people have the opposite. Unless there’s a bigger number, they don’t feel comfortable sharing. Do you have structure to your groups? Do you have a free form? What do you do?

The way that I run this, my groups run every other week. The week in between all offers a topic to the group. It grows out of the group from the prior week. We’re evolving and growing as a group. The topics are always some human thing we went through. We talked about reviewing the year, what were some of what they hoped to get out of the group, what they felt shifted in their lives, and what they are hoping for or wanting to be intentional about for the year ahead.

That’s what we talked about the last time. We’ll talk about various things. It could be something like energy, what depletes you, what replenishes you, and have a conversation peeling away the layers with that. They know they’re coming into the group with a topic and bringing their current selves into that topic or anything that comes up as they’re exploring the topic. Each person gets a turn to share that. When each person shared, I ask the others to talk about what’s resonating with them as they’re hearing the others share.

We get this overlap of, “I hear that resonates for me, and this is why.” We get into more details about how we overlap and probably things that people were not necessarily thinking about. That’s one of the reasons why I like groups so much. If somebody brings in a topic or their own experience and they’re sharing about it, and somebody’s like, “Me too,” sometimes, they weren’t even connecting to whatever it was that touched on, but it’s that resonance that helps them realize, “That’s in there too. That’s another layer of me as I’m learning more about myself,” and that can be so powerful.

I have had people at times that are very hesitant to go into groups because they’re aversive. Do you have conflicts in your group? If that happens, how do you handle it? What do you say to reassure people that might be conflict aversive?

I have sometimes had conflicts. Typically, that’s not something that comes up. We do our best to pause, take a breath, and check in with what’s happening. I’m trying to even remember what some of the issues might have been that came up for people, but typically not. Often, when I’m running groups, I pride myself on creating a space in which people feel some safety.

People often know me first. They have at least had an individual session with me to talk through. They have a sense of who I am and how I show up. There is some trust in that, and I get it. If it’s only one session, there’s a limit to how much they know me or can trust me, but I don’t typically have that. I have a lot of fear, for sure. Especially if I’m working with some individual clients and I’m suggesting group to them, they often don’t, at first, say yes to that because they are interested in having my sole focus on them, being able to work through what they want to work through with my attention alone.

There is fear maybe not necessarily conflict, although that’s in there, but similar to what I expressed about sharing things with people they don’t know. I have had the experience when somebody resists and they finally get into group, and they’re like, “Now I get it.” I help people foster some relationships of, “You’re not alone. This is what we do.” They’ve already done some of that sharing with me. There’s some normalizing of that vulnerability that we do in groups together.

There's some normalizing of that vulnerability in doing group work together. Click To Tweet

If you do remote groups video like this, what’s the percentage of that versus in-person?

I only do remote groups now. Other than retreats, I do small in-person retreats, which are obviously a group, but it’s different. There are similarities. It is group work, but all my therapeutic groups are virtual now.

Was it since the Coronavirus restrictions or was that before that?

All of them since the coronavirus started, but I had done some virtual groups prior. It was a mix before, and now it’s all.

Would your assessment be about the differences between how things went when you did more in person and now that you’re doing them all remotely?

Equally as powerful work can be done. It’s a little trickier in terms of logistically who’s going to start, that thing. It seems that it’s a little harder to gauge that organically in Zoom than in person, but I don’t think that’s a big issue. There are some people who much prefer in-person and don’t necessarily want to even do Zoom. There are other people who like it fine. It’s interesting because when you’re doing Zoom, often people are doing it from their homes.

Occasionally, they’re doing it from their cars or somewhere else. It depends on the time of day because they could do it from their offices or wherever the place of work is if it’s during the day. You get to see somebody in their environment, which is another bit of information that you don’t get when you’re in person. In-person, you get a little bit more body language but in the virtual, it’s usually our faces on the screen. You can get some even subtleties of facial expressions that maybe you don’t see as readily in a group where you have a little bit more distance from somebody. There are pros and cons, but they’re both powerful.

Is there a theme that you start out with groups? Do you have groups for one set of issues or another, then you plug people into them, or do you have the general therapy group for anybody that might be benefiting?

I have done themes before, but I don’t anymore. My coaching group is called Activate. The goal is to help people use this process to make some decisions, get some support that they need, and have some accountability so that they can move forward on their journeys. My goal is to help people access the clarity that they need so that they can continue forward. I’m starting a new group. I have done a women’s group lately, but the new group that I’m starting is men and women.

OYM Tanya | Clearing Energetic Clutter

Clearing Energetic Clutter: My goal is to help people access the clarity that they need so that they can continue forward.

 

It’s a group without a theme. It’s not like for depression or for people who’ve lost a loved one or it’s just a therapy group.

Yes, a coaching group. I’m moving more toward coaching because of the reach of it. It’s helpful to be able to connect with people from wherever. I’m opening up to that process, which is an adjustment. I’m enjoying it.

You’re opening up to what process, the idea of moving from therapy groups to coaching groups?

Yes.

How do you see the most poignant differences between the two?

The biggest difference is the action focus versus the healing focus, although, both are in there, but it’s in the therapy group that there might be a stronger focus on the healing piece. In the coaching group, it’s more moving. What’s coming to my mind is the idea of personal training versus maybe physical therapy. Physical therapy is the idea your body needs some healing, and you’re focusing on the exercises for those healing purposes.

If you’re moving towards personal training for exercise and that thing, your goals are more healed. You’re coming from a place focusing on that strength and capacity. For me, with the groups, it is moving from the healing part. It’s for people who either have already worked through a lot of their healing, but they have some hopes and dreams that perhaps some limiting beliefs are in the way or they are stuck on some narratives or some patterns and want to shift those things so they can move forward differently. That’s the focus of my groups to help people move forward.

Are you doing exclusively coaching groups now, or do you still do some therapy groups?

The groups are coaching groups, but I do individual therapy. If somebody’s not ready for a group, then they might do some work with me first to get to a place where some of that healing has been done and they feel ready to take on the group. We then shift over to the more coaching focus. It’s a little bit fluid, but one flows into the other. If somebody needs an extra bit of support as stuff comes up, then I’m available for that.

This is part of what the value for me to be able to offer therapy but also coaching from that place of somebody who has the experience that I’ve had of all the years of the work that I’ve done to be able to help people in both areas if they needed a little extra healing, what does that look like, and help them move forward when they are steady and stable.

What’s the best way for people to contact you?

The best way is to go to my website. My name is a little tricky, so I make it easier for people, so ClearEnergeticClutter.com is a way they can get to my website.

I asked you a few questions about this or that in the beginning. What’s an area and aspect of the work you do, either that you find personally rewarding or personally challenging that we haven’t even talked about that you want to throw in here?

It’s interesting because on the website ClearEnergeticClutter, I’ve been working on distilling my own work down into what is it that I do that I help people with. It’s to help them identify what is energetic clutter for each of us. It’s what are the things that are pulling at us for our attention and our energy that are not necessarily the things that we want to be focusing on.

OYM Tanya | Clearing Energetic Clutter

Clearing Energetic Clutter: Energetic clutter are the things pulling us for our attention and energy that are not necessarily the things we want to be focusing on.

 

There’s a certain amount of we all can have these automatic thoughts or negative inner critics or ways of focusing on things that take up a lot of space and can be depleting for us. It’s to help people identify for them where is their energy going that supports who they are and supports their journeys and where is it keeping them treading water and stuck in without getting any traction.

In thinking about clearing energetic clutter, do you have tools, techniques, or skills that you teach people in these groups or are they assignments to take action and then watch what comes up that might block them from that?

It’s more that. It’s choosing a few action steps, not too many at once, seeing what comes up, and learning from that. Ultimately, to start pinpointing what does matter to you, what doesn’t matter to you, and if that is working for you to put your energy there. There’s acceptance in there too. It’s not like we can only focus on the best stuff and none of the hard stuff. There are things that are a good use of our energy, even if it’s uncomfortable or it’s not fun for us, so getting discerning about that.

Now, it’s more organic, and we use this process as a way too. In this process, I’m still talking about the groups but using that as a way to get some clarity, plan some steps, have some accountability, and learn from other people what comes up for us. As we get that clarity, we can choose much more in alignment with whatever it is that we are learning about ourselves along the way.

I’m clearing energetic clutter and I’m getting clearer about what gives me energy and what drains energy from me. If I’m going to be working with you, do we spend a significant amount of time on life purpose and overall goals?

Yes to all of that. I often start my groups at the very beginning when it’s a brand-new group. Once the groups are going, people join an existing group, and it grows from that place. It’s still an initial question that I ask, which is, “What are you longing for?” I like the word longing because it has this emotional weight to it. What’s in your heart? What is something that you know that you pull towards but that maybe isn’t there for you? I know that not everybody knows the answer to that question, so I’m helping people even start to take some guesses, what comes up for them, and start to develop a better understanding of the answer to that question of what it is that somebody is longing for.

It’s a toughie for some of us. It’s not an easy thing to come up with, a life purpose, mission statement, or bigger life goals. I know the value of having support in refining and clarifying that set of targets.

I also think that so many people live in a way of getting constantly depleted that they don’t create space for themselves to even check in about some of that. They have a sense. They want something more, something different than how they’re living in that moment, then helping them realize what’s depleting them can be the place to start so they can even start to get to a place where they can access that sense of longing.

So many people live in a way of getting constantly depleted that they don't create space for themselves to even check in. Click To Tweet

If you don’t have that energy, then you can’t even clarify the question. If you don’t clarify those questions about what are you longing for, what is your life purpose, and where would you like to go with life, then by default, you tend to live into somebody else’s expectations for you, whether it was family, friends, or the general thing you pick up from the culture about what somebody your gender and age ought to be doing at this time in your life.

It’s exactly that.

Thank you so much for sharing with us. I know personally that groups can be this catalyst for change that sometimes the one-on-one therapy isn’t for people. I’m grateful for you to take the time to share with our audience your benefit from it and how you got started on it through personal experience. It made a dramatic change in your life. It’s a wonderful role model that you bring to say, “This changed me. I’m attuned to it. I’m going to redo my career and do that for life.”

To mention, on my website, I have a ten-minute documentary of that story.

I loved it. It was great.

Thank you. I’m very proud of it. Part of the inspiration for me to even build or create that documentary is because it’s so scary for so many of us and to be able to say, “This is something that can help you access your own truth.” That’s my biggest passion. It’s to help people access their truth, whatever that means for each person. Many times, people are drowning in some of this stuff that gets so depleting and to help them create some space in their lives for finding their truth.

If we don’t have somebody helping us figure it out, “Is this energizing me or depleting me?” some people don’t even know how to answer that question. Thank you so much for all of this time you’ve given us. I look forward to getting any feedback if you hear from our people as this will get published. Again, give us the website you want them to tap into.

ClearEnergeticClutter.com. Thank you, Tim. I appreciate you having me on your show.

It’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much.

Thank you.

Tanya Cole-Lesnick has been a Psychotherapist as a licensed clinical social worker and a coach since 1995. After group therapy changed her life, she decided to change her profession and received her Master’s degree in Social Work from New York University. She has extensive experience in outpatient hospital mental health in private practice and wellness center settings.

From those experiences over the years, she has identified her most important focus, helping people to clear energetic clutter so they can focus on what matters most to them. She does this by helping clients access and honor their truth to change habits that don’t serve them and to heal faulty narratives so that they’re living in alignment inside and out. Her work revolves around a combination of intimate therapeutic groups and individual sessions. She finds that, as the sharing of inner worlds and being human together in a safe place, both collectively and individually, this leads to an incredibly powerful combination that leads to lasting transformation.

 

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About Tanya Cole-Lesnick

OYM Tanya | Clearing Energetic ClutterTanya Cole-Lesnick has been a psychotherapist (licensed clinical social worker) and coach since 1995.
She received her master’s degree in social work from New York University after group therapy changed her life.
She has extensive experience in outpatient hospital mental health, private practice, and wellness center settings. From those experiences over the years she has identified her most important focus—helping people to clear energetic clutter so they can focus on what matters most to them.
She does this by helping clients to access and honor their truth, to change habits that don’t serve them, and to heal faulty narratives so that they are living in alignment inside and out.
Her work revolves around a combination of intimate therapeutic groups and individual sessions, as the sharing of inner worlds and being human together in a safe space—collectively and individually—is an incredibly powerful combination that leads to lasting transformation.

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