ILBS 42 | Relationships And Recovery


Navigating relationships is one thing, but it becomes a whole different ordeal when you’re in recovery. In this episode, Love Coach Annie Lalla joins Tim Westbrook to offer insights on what love should and shouldn’t look like at this stage. The two discuss when relationships are detrimental versus beneficial to both parties. When does a person know they’re in a good place? When should relationships be prioritized? They dive deep to answer these questions and other dilemmas for people trying to balance their love life while battling addiction or other dependencies. Annie also explains why living your best life is the best bird call to find your life mate. Tune in to learn more.

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Relationships And Recovery: When Is It Good And When Is It Not? With Love Coach Annie Lalla

We started this show because there is so much misinformation about addiction, treatment, mental illness and recovery in general. There is so much more to recovery than going to inpatient treatment, seeing a therapist and going to 12-step meetings. All of those things are important and AA saved my life. However, to find long-term recovery and live happy, joyous and free, there is a lot more to it than stopping the drinking, the drugs, the sex addiction or any addictive behavior for that matter.

Sobriety and recovery can and should be fun. That is not to say that the recovery process is going to be easy and there will not be difficult times ahead. However, to live the life that you deserve and for it to be exciting and fun, you will need to change a few things about the way you live your life. When I say a few things, I mean everything.

This includes new healthy lifestyle habits that promote your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. That, my friends, will lead you to live a kick-ass sober life. Visit to learn more about treatment, recovery, coaching sober living and your next step to freedom and happiness.

Our guest holds an Honors Science Degree in Biology and Philosophy with a minor in Buddhism. Her studies include evolutionary psychology, integral theory, spiral dynamic, intergenerational family systems and therapeutic sexuality with professional certifications in Emotions Coaching, NLP and Clinical Hypnosis.

Her tools extend to metaphoric, reframes, role-play and interacting with clients as their highest selves. In her coaching, she helps individuals attract, create and foster extraordinary connections that maximize freedom and minimize shame. In this episode, we are going to talk about relationships and finding love for the person in recovery from alcoholism, drug addiction and any other addiction. Annie Lalla, welcome to the show. I am so glad to have you here.

Thanks. I am excited to be here. I am willing to answer any question you ask.

We will start with how and why did you become a love coach? Where did it start?

Ever since I was in the school ground, 7 to 8 years old all the way up through high school, I was the one everyone came to when they had a drama between girls, guys and boys, everyone. I remember friends calling me from New Zealand and Switzerland in the middle of the night to help them resolve the drama. This is why I was an IT consultant, which is what I did for about fifteen years in Europe. For phone companies, I was an IT consultant and you are like, “What does that have to do with anything?”

I studied Biology and Science so it gave me a systematic mind to think of systems and I was applying it at software. When I worked in IT, I was always mediating between the business development, the marketing people and then the developers, which was mediating between a warring husband and a wife. What I realized is that I am not into IT. I eventually left that.


[bctt tweet=”Anything that pulls you away from recovery work is probably an escape from recovery in disguise, whether it’s a boyfriend, girlfriend, job, new club, or whatever.” username=””]


I moved to New York and started doing what I loved doing, which is helping people believe in love and learn the skills, the maps and the models that allow them to create a relationship that lasts a lifetime. The reason why I did well in IT is that I was relationship coaching. All the people that I was working on projects with would let my projects go through faster.

Isn’t that everything in life and relationships?

It is and that is why I have taken my particular brand of genius and targeted my way of supporting reality and the species is to help people who are in relationships, couples in love and relationships with family and children. They are all the same rules that they are governed by. That is the place where I intervene and bring my particular knowledge to help equip individuals with frames and models that they can have more empowered relationships, relationships where they are transparent about what is going on inside rather than hiding behind all these defenses and protective mechanisms.

You know a lot about that in this work, people are hiding behind a lot of things and learning how to cope with what it feels like when you do not have a crutch and something that you use to escape. Escape what? Escape the feelings. A lot of people in relationships, the reason they have issues and problems is that they do habits and behaviors that their partners and their friends get frustrated with. They are using those habits and behaviors to avoid feeling their feelings. Until you feel your own feelings, you are not fully alive. This is what we are up to.

We are not there yet but we are going to talk about relationships for the person early on in recovery. During that recovery process, for anybody, a way to avoid feelings is to seek love or find another relationship without actually dealing with the issues that they need to deal with. That leads to sex addiction and love addiction. We will get to that but first, let’s talk about how and why you are an expert. What gives you the right to claim you are an expert on relationships and finding love?

I got my 10,000 to 20,000 hours in. I have been literally mapping this with high-profile evolutionary couples and singles. I help singles who are done with dating and ready to find their soulmate and also couples who are in love but have recurrent conflict and they do not know if every fight keeps the same shape and it keeps coming. I help them do a pattern interrupt for those trances they get into. In terms of what equips me, I understand what is going on in the middle of a drama, a breakdown and despair or depression better than a lot of people. That is where I want to help.

Understanding the needs of my client is what equips me. I have a degree in Philosophy, Biology and Buddhism. I could have gone into professional therapy but I wanted to stay free to be able to use my ingenuity intelligence to help people in any way they needed rather than according to prescribed models. I use whatever model is useful and what gets results.

I know you talked about how when you were younger, you were always the person that was mending relationships. What specific incident inspired you to take the leap, leave IT and go into relationship coaching?

I had a mounting sense of shame. Even though I was making good money, living in Amsterdam and London and being a consultant, I had shame. Whenever I would meet an artist or someone who was doing their Dharma, I would feel this twinge of shame like, “I know I am making good money and I look official but I am not enlivened by helping software be built for phone companies.” I want to help humans. I want to help their hearts feel safer and know how to express their needs. That shame kept mounting. I was like, “I am not doing what I was here to do.”

ILBS 42 | Relationships And Recovery

Relationships And Recovery: You’ll get a higher caliber mate the longer you do recovery work and get powerful because then, the partner you’ll meet is powerful and not leaning on some other thing and being driven by their wounds.


I took the Landmark Forum. It was a three-day course that forces you to confront every way you are out of integrity in your life. I was out of integrity with my soul, my Dharma and my gifts. At some point, in three months after I did Landmark Forum, the shame and the inability to squint at, “I am prostituting myself. I am doing this job because I make a lot of money and I get to be glamorous but it is not what I am here to do. It does not light me up.” That shame mounted up to a level where I could not pretend anymore so I quit IT. I moved to New York. I had a bunch of money saved to live off of and I was like, “I am going to go where other people’s dreams come true.” I am going to go to New York and I am going to become a coach. That is what I did.

We have met at the Genius Network event in Scottsdale, Arizona or in Paradise Valley. That was the first time I actually met you but I have heard about you from many other people, including Joe Polish, Cameron Herold and a few others. I know about your work and I am grateful that I get to have you here. I am excited to talk about relationships and love as it relates to people in recovery from addiction because that is my audience. Do you have experience working with addicts?

It is not my specialty. I think what you mean by addicts in a very specific way are people who use some external structure in order to regulate their nervous system. They do not use their own body, breath and technology or they have not learned how to do it yet. They have to reach for a drink or a cigarette or some external way to get soothing rather than learning how to generate safety in their own body. It is all I teach my clients in the relationship.

I do not work with specific addictions but a lot of my clients have those propensities, maybe not at a clinical level. It is the same tools. I am teaching people how to be adults. My definition of an adult is not that you have a car and a house and you pay a mortgage. An adult is when you realize that finally, nobody is coming to rescue you, not mommy, not your husband, not your wife. Nobody is coming to rescue you. If you want to feel safe in your body and have a life that works, you have to take charge of that you have to go learn how to do that.

There are tools, technologies and models. I have studied them and that is what I teach my clients, how to take radical responsibility for their internal emotional state and to become good at creating and crafting designer states for themselves that allows them to fulfill the dreams that they have. What I teach is what I would teach someone who came to me with a propensity to lean on a crutch and something outside themselves in order to soothe, feel safe and cope.

My question was geared more towards people that are early on in recovery and they are, spiritually, emotionally, physically not in the best place they have ever been in. Is it different working with that type of person?

You are more knee-deep in this world. Early recovery means you have come to terms with, “I have a dependency.” You have proclaimed it to yourself and into the world and you are now working to replace that crutch with something more scaffolding inside yourself. Is that correct?

“I am powerless over alcohol. My life has become unmanageable.” The powerlessness is over alcohol and many times, people go to something else whether they stopped drinking alcohol but then they go to sex, prostitutes, drugs, gambling, Facebook, workaholism or find a new boyfriend or girlfriend and it is distracting from them working through their issue.

I would not say 100% it is always the case. I would suggest that most of the time it probably is. The way you know is if this thing you are going to, Facebook, boyfriend, girlfriend, the thing that you are going towards to get comfort, does it help you transcend this habit? Does it help you give power so that you can create your reality? If not, you are transferring whatever you were addicted to you onto something else. It is a roving thing to lean on.


[bctt tweet=”Putting out a profile on at least one dating app is a form of saying to all your parts, all your selves, and the universe, “I’m ready. I’m inviting.”” username=””]


I would definitely advise someone who is in early recovery to be very suspicious of anything that is pulling your attention away from your recovery. Anything that pulls your attention away from your recovery work is an escape from recovery in disguise whether it is a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a job or a new club. If it helps you, if it is a boyfriend or girlfriend that says, “I am going to come to the meetings with you. I am going to help support you,” and you are noticing they are turning you more towards your work in recovery then they are an ally. I do not want to throw out the baby in the bathwater, just in case.

The suggestion for someone new in recovery is to not date or not find a relationship for a year and to focus on recovery. That is what I did and that worked for me. I did not date. I focused on my recovery and then finally, after about a year, I started dating. I was at a certain place emotionally, spiritually and physically that was the type of person that I attracted.

I have noticed in relationships that you always attract someone who is at the level of self-esteem that you are at. You might be the running CEO of a fancy company and be high self-esteem in some areas. Self-esteem is domain-specific. I might have high self-esteem around relationship coaching but low self-esteem around fixing a car which I do.

If someone’s self-esteem around romance and relationships is low and if a woman shows up who is higher, they will not be attracted to her. You always find someone where you are at. A lot of the work I do with clients, especially if they are single is, “Let’s build your self-esteem.” What is self-esteem? The definition of self-esteem has two parts by Nathaniel Branden. First is believing in your ability to cope with what life brings you and to cope in your body. The second is believing that you deserve to be happy. If you have either of those missing, you have low self-esteem in a relationship.

I build my client’s self-esteem in both those domains as they are single so that when they find their partner, it is at the highest level of esteem that they could get to attract a higher caliber mate. You will get a higher caliber mate the longer you do your recovery work and get powerful because then the partner you will meet is powerful, not leaning on some other thing and being driven by their wounds.

Speaking of my own journey, I started dating and finally, when I was at five years in a relationship, I was like, “I am doing pretty good now.” Now I am in the best relationship I have ever been in. As I am continuing my work and my personal development, the quality that I am attracting is much higher. It is across the board in all of the relationships in my life, not just a romantic relationship. When does a person know they are at a good place and they are like, “I am in a good place now. I should start dating because I am going to attract the right woman or the right man.”

When you are sober, there is a certain period of time where you go, “I feel powerful around my sobriety.” Not, “I am terrified. Am I going to be sober tomorrow or not?” There is a place where you are like, “I can trust what I have built now.” Once you feel powerful around your relationship to whatever it is that you are working through then that is a good sign. The second I would be looking for is when you are no longer leaning on that in your mind for support. When you lean on a wall, you can feel that the wall is holding you up. It feels different. Sometimes we do it when we are waiting in line somewhere but it is different when you are standing on your own two feet. It is a different feeling.

You want to notice, are you leaning on anything? What I am always trying to get my single clients to do is teach them how to stand on their own two feet physically but also emotionally, intellectually, financially and spiritually. The more you can stand on your own two feet, the more individuated, autonomous and sovereign you are, the more intimate you can get with someone else. It is counterintuitive that the more “I” separate and differentiated like, “I am a person that can dance with and powerfully move through feelings, thoughts and experiences happening.” Once you feel like you can stand on your own two feet emotionally then you are more available to dance with another human.

I think of it as a twin star system. Two fully form stars that rotate around each other. Unlike most relationships which are like two popsicle sticks leaning on each other, when one falls, the other one falls. That is co-dependence. We are looking for a dancing star that can now co-create a twin star system with another person. You have to feel not 100% whole because we are never there but 75% to 80% autonomous sovereign and not leaning on anything.

ILBS 42 | Relationships And Recovery

Relationships And Recovery: You have to be out there doing and speaking and talking in ways that are aligned with your soul, with your Dharma, with your purpose.


I understand what you are saying. I am thinking about myself. Whenever I hear somebody say, “I want to be in a relationship. I want a man, a woman or a girlfriend. I do not want to sleep alone,” I cringe. To me, that says that you got to figure out how to be happy on your own. You have got to figure out how to embrace. That is what I have learned to do. To embrace being single, I am happy by myself. A relationship is going to make my life better. I am in a relationship right now and it makes my life better but I do not need it. I do not think she needs me either.

There is a pre and a trans version of need. If there is a relationship, if you want someone to sleep with or there is someone that you want to be able to with on the weekends or go on vacation, notice your desire. It is okay to have a desire. What you want to look for is a desire that has a death grip on it. Any kind of clenching, “I need. I want.” It is like if someone wants a cigarette. There is a different quality to, “I need a cigarette or a cup of coffee,” to, “I can have a cup of coffee if there is a cappuccino or not.” When there is a neutral, non-clenchy energy, you can still have a desire. As soon as you clench or a death grip or secretly, “I need to have that.” That is unsober behavior.

If I understand you correctly, it is, “I could be in a relationship or not. I could eat that chocolate bar or not. I could play a video game or not. I could watch that movie or not.” It is take it or leave it.

It is take it or leave it but humans tend to never be completely neutral about anything. We all glance towards one side or the other. It is okay to have a slant. I do not drink. Alcohol never worked for me but if someone said, “I made this amazing cocktail with strawberries and a little bit of vodka. My mom made this special recipe.” Maybe I would try it. I could have a desire to try it or not try it but I do not have a clench. It is the clench. It is tracking, “Am I holding something loosely?”

How would you hold a baby bird with a broken wing if you found it on the street? The way you would hold a baby bird with a broken wing is that gentle, “I am holding it but I am not clenching it.” That is the way you have to hold a desire. Anytime you have this, “He must text me. She must call me back. I have to find a cigarette.” You are not holding the baby bird. You are squishing the baby bird.

When you are staring at your phone, hoping that they would text or call is not a good place to be in.

You are clenched around an outcome and the other person can feel it energetically. They will want to squeeze out of that death grip.

Should people be searching for a relationship or should they be living their life and doing the things they love to do? A relationship may show up or does not show up.

I am a big believer in the best bird call to find your mate and relationship is to be doing your best life. It is to be behaving, acting, talking and doing activities that are aligned with your purpose, with your Dharma and with what lights you up. When you are standing in the world doing the thing that you love, the activities, the places, the experiences and the adventures, what you exude is a radiant possibility. You are lit up from the inside. That is the best bird call.


[bctt tweet=”Nobody wants to board a train that’s been sitting at the station for a week with cobwebs growing. They want the train that’s going with the party on it. You have to create your life into the experience you love being in. ” username=””]


Do not be doing it in your mom’s basement because no one can see. You have to be in a public space. If you are in public spaces talking, thinking, speaking, sharing or doing what you do best, that is your bird call. The right person will go, “There she is. There he is.” That is how I met my husband. He was doing a talk at Burning Man about what he teaches. I was like, “That is the bird call.” I recognized it. You have to be out there doing, speaking, talking and acting in ways that are aligned with your soul, with your Dharma and with your purpose.

A lot of the work I do with clients is helping them get into the Dharmic purpose of their soul’s call so that they can get the bird call. Going on Tinder or Bumble and with a good bio, I help people do that too, for sure. I am very good at writing bios but no bio is going to help you attract your soulmate if what you are exuding is not your essence. How else can your soulmate recognize you? If you are still in early recovery, you are trying to survive. You have not even gotten to, “My essence. Let me channel my purpose, my wheelhouse and my superpowers.”

You want to get to the place where you are healed enough and you are not in survival but you are now like, “I have handled my lower Maslow sense of faith, safety and belonging. Now, what am I going to do with this one precious life, with my creativity and my imagination?” There is something that you are better equipped to do than anyone else. Finding that is what is going to light you up and that is what is going to call on the right partner.

Speaking to online dating, Tinder, Hinge, Bumble and those dating apps, I know that you have helped people write bios. I have not been on a dating app for years. I would rather live my life, do the things I love to do, live my purpose and I am going to meet the people that I want to meet because a profile on Hinge or Bumble is not going paint the picture of who you are. I know a lot of people that have met their match on online dating.

I was single before I went to Burning Man, the year I met my husband. It was back in those days. My friend came over and he was like, “You are writing a bio now. I am not leaving.” We sat there, we wrote it out, I put it up and I have never looked at it again. I went to Burning Man the next week. The next week, I met my partner. It took several months before he even recognized me but putting out a profile on at least one dating app is a form of saying to all your parts, all yourselves and the universe, “I am ready. I am inviting.” Even if you never look at it. I did not even look at bio but that action of crystallizing, “What do I want to say here? What do I want to attract?”

The whole process of saying, “Yes, I am available for a date. I am available for a relationship,” in an action, not just in your mind, does something to reorganize your nervous system and call it in at a magical level. I met him in the real world, not on Match but I do not think I would have met him if I had not done the energetic shift.

It is going through that process, putting it all on paper, figuring out what you are looking for and figuring out who you are. I have got nothing against dating apps. For me, they did not work. I was able to figure things out without the dating apps. In your opinion, where should finding a relationship be on the priority list? Is the priority list different for a man or a woman? Is it different for the masculine and the feminine? What is your opinion on that?

Even the phrase “find a relationship” does not resonate for me. What I was doing and what I encouraged my clients to do is to proactively create a life that they love being in. What activity, what people, what circumstances, what events and what experiences? Create a life that you love so that when you meet someone, they want to join it. If you are in a life that does not look that fun for you, nobody is going to want to join it.

Create a life that you love being in because there are two wins from that. First of all, you are having a ball while you are single then when a partner meets you, you already love your life. You are not trying to escape it, “Please save me from my miserable life.” Who wants to do that? That is the first benefit. You actually start loving your life. Why is that not worth it on its own? Secondly, when a partner finds you, it has to look like you are a train that is leaving the station. You are busy walking to your Pilates class. You are going to your hip-hop dance. You are going on a trip to Costa Rica. You are doing things.

ILBS 42 | Relationships And Recovery

Relationships And Recovery: The person we end up with or fall in love with is the portal with which we move to actualize to our highest potential.


They go, “That is very attractive.” Nobody wants to board a train that has been sitting at the station for a week with cobwebs growing. Nobody wants to get on that train. They want the train that is going with the party on it. You got to create your life into the experience that you love being in because then when you see someone who could be a partner, you do not latch onto them with that death grip that spooks them. You are not trying to escape anything. Your life is not frustrating, miserable and a prison. Your life is amazing. How to make a life that is amazing is a very fine art and science that I try to teach.

It is becoming a researcher and investigator about what things daily light you up, expand you and what contracts you. Everything from what tea you choose, what food, how much you sleep, what people, what books and what is parties you say yes to. If you start noticing what expands you and what contracts you at a body level and only choose the things that expand you, your life gets better and better. We tend not to use our bodies. We tend to go into habits and do what our parents or our friends did.

We do not ask our body, “Does my body expand when I eat this lunch? Does it contract?” That is an important tool to start using your intuitive body wisdom as an indicator of what is aligned with your aliveliness and what is not. Everything you do is either helping you feel more alive or deadening you. You have got to track that.

That is in line with what Derek Sivers says, “Hell yes or no.” If it is a hell yes then let’s keep it going. If it is not a hell yes then there is no reason to continue.

There is and this is why people do it. If you come from a family who are not feeling like they deserve or they are worthy of hell yeses or what a hell yes gives you then you learn to say, “That is enough. I will tolerate that. This is good enough for me because it was good enough for my family and their family.” Sometimes we do things out of habit so that we can stay connected to and feeling belonging with our family of origin. We never want to lose connection with our original tribe, which is our family of origin. If our parents never had a fun, amazing life, maybe some of them got into you saying, “Why should you have a fun, amazing life? You should be happy with enough.”

You tolerate, “Okay. Yes,” that are not fuck yeses. This is why we have these habits because we have historic programming that is not native to the moment to us that is micromanaging and controlling our behaviors in a way that is not born of the moment and it is not native to you. Learning to let go of that programming, if you ask any kid, “Do you want to go on the swing or not? Do you want to eat this or not?” They are very clear. They do not go, “Do I deserve it? Am I worthy?” They are worthy of everything. At some point, we forget that we are the most magnificent thing we have ever known and we stop acting like we deserve joy and happiness.

Not just in the moment because that can sometimes get us into trouble which is why we got into the addiction, to begin with. I want to distinguish between authentic, true, congruent pleasure and counterfeit pleasure. Counterfeit pleasure like, “It feels great to take a line of cocaine. It feels great to down a thing of ice cream in the moment.” If you think of yourself on a timeline, here is Tim now in the present moment. There is Tim an hour from now in the timeline. Tim a day from now, a week from now, a month from now, a year, 5 years or 10 years. See timeline into the future with all these Tims.

When you are about to eat the ice cream or take the line of cocaine or whatever the pattern is, what you want to do is ask all those future Tims on the timeline, “What do you think of this?” Imagine them turning over their shoulder and either thumbs upping like, “We love that you are doing this,” or thumbs down. With counterfeit pleasure, you might get five minutes from now Tim saying, “It is going to be great.”

For someone like me and for most people reading this, the first line is the problem.


[bctt tweet=”Everything you do is either helping you feel more alive or deadening you. You’ve got to track that.” username=””]


What I am trying to distinguish is real pleasure versus counterfeit pleasure. The difference is counterfeit pleasure always has shame. If someone is holding a kale shake that is all yummy and made for them, there is no future version of them on the timeline going, “Do not drink it.” There are no future parts saying, “Do not go to the gym. Do not go to yoga.” They are always saying, “We would love it.” You got to check in with your future selves to see if they are thumbs up or they are thumbs down. When it is a genuine pleasure and healthy pleasure, congruent, all your future selves are in line. When it is not, there are some of them going no.

I have never heard it that way before and I love it. It is the same as playing the tape forward. It is a better description. Look at yourself. Tim in 5 minutes, an hour, 2 days, 5 days or 6 months is Tim still saying, “Hell yeah,” or is Tim saying, “Do not do it.”

You crowdsource what is right for you by tuning into all your future successful selves. You are asking and you are communing with your future successful selves going, “Is this aligned with our success or not?” They are going to tell you.

You were talking about your family of origin and how you were raised. We are all programmed to live life a certain way and the path of least resistance is to go back to what we are comfortable with and to go back with what we know. Ninety-five percent of our thoughts are subconscious. Our subconscious mind is constantly running the show. It is hard to change our behavior and to get into new healthy relationships if we are not used to healthy relationships and if we did not grow up around healthy relationships.

The subconscious mind is the one driving the steering wheel of our life. It is hard to change your subconscious consciously because most of you are subconscious. The trick is to continuously emancipate what is subconscious into the conscious mind. If someone is a gambler then telling them, “You should stop gambling,” when they are already got money from the ATM and they have driven to the gambling house and they are at the table, that is not the moment to go, “Stop.” It is when they are getting the keys to go out to the car to get to the ATM. It is way further upstream when you still have a choice.

It is bringing consciousness to the causal chain of events before that alcohol or cigarettes in your hand or you are at the gambling table. It is chasing it upstream to the point where you still have a choice and that requires you to bring more and more consciousness, “I am getting the keys to go to the car to go to the ATM so I can go to the gambling house.” We do not tell ourselves that. We go, “I am going to go get a Coca Cola from the store down the street.” We fool ourselves. You have to learn how to get more conscious of your own delusions so that you can have more choice upstream and do what is commensurate with all your future successful selves.

I was thinking of something as you were talking. We are talking about playing the tape forward. In many times, if you are thinking about the past then you are in regret. If you think about the future, you are full of fear but then in a situation where you are potentially going to take a drink, do a drug or go to the ATM and pull out a bunch of money, we are in the present. We are thinking about right now. We are not thinking about the future, which, in that case, you do want to think about the future.

I do not believe in time anyway. The past, the future and the present are all one big thing. China exists right now. We are not in China right now but it is there. I believe it is there even though I am not in it. I see the future similarly. It is here right now, coiled up in the present moment and it unfurled. In some way, when I say crowdsource your decisions across all your future successful and your past successful selves, I am trying to pull you out of time to encompass a wider parameter. If you include, “What would my future self think of this?” Let’s even go further, “If I could interview myself on my death bed about what I should do right now as I pick up the ATM card, what would it tell me?”

It is a very useful tool to interview your “on the moment of death” self and say, “What would you tell me to do right now?” We are always optimizing for that moment of death, “Do we have lament and regret or we are triumphant in our life? Did we live according our values? Did we betray ourselves?” That governs how triumphant we are when we die. I would like to use my last moment of life to run as a heuristic to check current behaviors to see if they are right for me.

ILBS 42 | Relationships And Recovery

Relationships And Recovery: How you start dating is by literally creating opportunities where you get to be yourself and get to learn about someone else’s self.


Question for people that are newly dating and they are in relationships, what should the first couple of dates look like? What does the beginning of a relationship look like? Should the masculine be pursuing? Should the feminine be pursuing? Who should be calling who? Who should be setting up the dates? What should the first couple of dates look like?

That question occurs to me as someone who has mapped this terrain so microscopically. It occurs to me like someone asking an artist, “How do I paint a painting? Do I pick up a brush and poke it in paint? Do I use a marker or should I do a sculpture?” It is so vast. Reducing the complexity of doing the mating dance to a set of rules is naive. It is like someone saying, “How do I have a conversation?” That is complex as there are two different people having different ways of relating. What I would say instead is there are two kinds of dating. There is short-term dating and long-term dating. There are two genres.

One is, “I am in Costa Rica for a week and there is a cute guy on the beach. I would like to be with them.” The short-term is, “I want to connect, have companionship and have a sexual connection but I am not trying to build a long-term sustained relationship.” Nothing is wrong with that. Sometimes we are in the middle of Times Square and we needed food and we grabbed the pizza on the corner. It is not culture vegan food that you might get in Brooklyn at an artisan restaurant. Those are two different clienteles. The pizza place in Times Square is used to tourists with one-hit wonders. They have a particular quality that they will use versus the nice artisan pizzeria in Brooklyn that has long-term patrons that they want to serve.

There are two ways to approach it and neither is one is bad or good but know what you are getting into. If you are in the short-term dating game, you can play these rules that are in the game. You can play those but they do not produce nourishing, fulfilling, long-term, exciting relationships. They are for a game to get laid. I do not have that. I do not help people do that. You come to me when you are ready to find your soulmate or you are with your partner and you want to make it extraordinary. I only work in long-term dating. If you are talking about that then what I would say to someone is, “How you start dating is you create opportunities where you get to be yourself and you get to learn about someone else’s self.”

Most of my early dates would be, “I do not care about the context. I do not care if we are on a park bench or in a fancy restaurant. All of that is a backdrop. I want to be in a situation where I can understand who you are and how you think. What are your values? What is important to you? What makes you cry? What lights you up? What are your dreams like?” I want to understand what the orienting principle that your life is dedicated to and I want to express that because then I can figure out quickly, are we going to be friends? Are we going to be collaborators for work? Are we going to be romantic partners?

I always assume that something good can come of it but I do not know what category it is going in. I am always trying to fall in love with the person that I am dating, not forever but in the moment. I want to see what is magical about them. I go, “What is magical about this person?” I might not even want to go on another date but I want to make sure when I leave that date, that person feels better about themselves rather than worse. I left them better than I found them so that they had a great experience and they learned something.

People do not fall in love with another person. They fall in love with how they feel about themselves when they are around that person. I want to make sure when I am on a date that the other person is having an experience of loving who they are and their own life. I am a reflection for that. That lights me up and they will automatically like you if you help be that mirror. To me, the great first date is asking exploratory questions that help the other person feel more at home that allows you to display the things about yourself that you are delighted about or proud of. You have to have a commercial of who you are to yourself and your own mind.

If you want to fall in love with the most extraordinary person you have ever made met, which is what you are supposed to do. Never settle and never marry anyone that is not the most extraordinary person you have ever met. Hands down is the first rule. If you want to have that person fall in love with you, you have to feel like you are extraordinary. You have to start the work of building yourself into a version that you are proud of. That is what I do with my single clients is help them fall in love with themselves so that they are proud to offer this when they find someone amazing.

I do not know if I am answering your question but I do not think there is one person to pursue. My husband was one of the world’s most famous dating coaches. David de Angelo, Double Your Dating, opened the genre and you would think he would be the one that pursued me with all this technology. No, I had to dog his ass. I was fine with that. I have never had to pursue a man in my whole life. I remember one of my Landmark teachers actually telling me, “Annie, if you ever see a man that you want and you think he is right for you, you go after him.”


[bctt tweet=”People don’t fall in love with another person. They fall in love with how they feel about themselves when they’re around that person.” username=””]


I kept that in the back of my mind for years. I never used it and then when I met my husband, I was like, “There he is.” He did not recognize me. It took him four months to even realize that was the one. I was like, “You are it.” I systematically, lovingly did not go after him. I gave him the experience around me that allowed him to feel like his life was going to get to the next level. I knew how to help his life get to the next level.

You did answer my question. What I took from your answer was to create opportunities for me to be the best version of myself for us to have fun. The other thing I have heard you say this before is, “I am not going to fall in love with the other person. I am going to fall in love with who I get to be when I am around that person.”

Instead of showing off on a date, “Here are my credentials. Look how smart and rich I am.” You want to help the other person feel smart, rich and amazing. You want to help them feel that they love being around you. I do not want you to fake it. You have to be authentic about it but if you are not doing that then why should that person hang around with you? The person we end up with or fall in love with is the portal with which we move to actualize to our highest potential.

You fall in love with the portal to your greatness. If you are not a portal to someone else’s greatness, why would they pick you? Just because they are shiny and pretty, it is not enough to build a life with. Love itself is a crucible for personal development and self-actualization. If you are not a trampoline for the other person’s dreams and a sanctuary for their heart, you are not the right person for them.

The other thing I heard you say and I have heard this before too is, “Every single interaction is my opportunity to make a contribution.” I also heard you say that every single relationship is either the one or practice for the one, which is the same thing. Every single interaction is the one or practice for the one.

I tell my single clients, “If you are dating even if you are not into the person across from you at the table, imagine that this man was sent backwards in time from your future soulmate to check in on you and see how you are progressing.” Make sure how you treat everyone on a date was as if they were going to go home and write a note to your future soulmate and report on how you are doing. You always bring your best game because anyone you are dating is either the one or practice for the one. You want to bring your A-game. Olympic medalists do not wait until the day of the Olympics to bring their A-game.

Every day, they get up at the gym and bring their A-game. They practice so that when they get to the Olympics, their A-game is built into their muscle memory. You want to bring you’re a-game no matter who you are dating. You do not have to stay dating but leave them better than you found them and make sure that the email that they send at home to your future soulmate is reporting on you at your best.

Is there a question that you wanted me to ask you? If so, what is it?

We did not touch on which is a parallel that I saw is my work is mostly teaching my clients tools, technologies, mindsets and frameworks that allow them to breathe into and feel the feelings that they are having in their body, especially the difficult or painful ones so that they do not try to squint and avoid feeling them because one way of looking at addiction is leaning on something outside of yourself in order to avoid feeling the feeling that is in your body. You can escape into something else, lean on a crutch and not have to cope. The opposite of addiction, neuroses or OCD is coping.

Learning how to cope, what does that mean? Cope with these intense sensations of scary, sad, angry and overwhelmed. If you knew how to cope with that, you would not need the liquor, the cocaine and all these things. That is what I teach my clients. They are not necessarily in a sober program. They are in relationships. I am seeing that there is a parallel. When you are learning to become sober, one of the things is to rely on your internal technology and your supports whether they are your sponsor, structures, beliefs or practices of taking care of yourself and using meditation and breath and different technology to be with your sensations so that you are not always trying to run from them.

Addiction is where you run to, to self-sooth because you do not know how to feel them. I see a parallel there. I want everyone to get that whatever work you do in staying sober, that muscle that you are building is going to be right there on the forefront when you are ready to be in a relationship. That is the muscle we are going to have to teach you so you will be ready to go because you will have conquered a habit with self-reliance. That is what it takes to be in an adult healthy, romantic relationship. It is to become self-reliant emotionally.

Nobody is coming to do something or rescue or make you feel better. In romance, we think we are looking for a partner to rescue us and make us feel happy all the time. They may do that for a few months but when they show up as a fallible human, you realize, “I still have all these feelings.” If you do not learn how to cope with them, you are going to be in conflict or you will run from this relationship to the next and you will never be safe.

Being in a good place emotionally, spiritually and physically is super important. It is personal development and in recovery from addiction, mental illness or whatever it is, you are developing yourself personally, which is making you better for the next relationship. Is there anything else that you wanted to share?

Anyone who is in early recovery, I want to say that I admire you. I acknowledge the courage it takes. You are the unsung heroes. People climb Everest, they get an award and they get a paper but transcending a habit that you have had for months or years that it is ingrained or something that you have been leaning on. To pull off of leaning on it, to lean on yourself and to learn how to cope is just as magnificent if not more heroic than climbing Everest. When I hear of someone who used to be reliant on something and is no longer, I have a deep bow of appreciation and reverence for the courage, audacity, internal resolve and self-love that it takes to do that. I acknowledge you. I see it and keep going.

How can people find you or learn more about you and the services that you provide?

You can follow me on Instagram. It is @LallaBird. I do free videos every week and quotes. I have a website that you can check out. There are lots of free resources there, Reach out. I would love to hear from you. I am doing programs and offering different things. Stay in touch and join my tribe.

Thanks so much. Thanks for reading. Have a great rest of your day.


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About Annie Lalla

ILBS 42 | Relationships And Recovery“If you don’t believe in True Love, how can you ever have it?”

With an Honors Science Degree in Biology & Philosophy (minor in Buddhism), my studies include evolutionary psychology, integral theory, spiral dynamics, inter-generational family systems and therapeutic sexuality. With professional certifications in Coaching, NLP and Clinical Hypnosis, my tools extend to metaphoric narrative, role-play and interacting with clients as their highest selves.

In my coaching, I help individuals attract, create and foster extraordinary connections that maximize freedom and minimize shame.

I work with two types of people:

  • Singles who are done with dating & ready to find their partner
  • Couples wanting to resolve conflicts that erode their connection