RSP 11: Elsie Spittle on In-laws, Healthy Relationships and Falling Back in Love

elsieIn-laws, Healthy Relationships and Falling Back in Love

In Episode 11, I interview Elsie Spittle who has been a pioneer in teaching the principles behind our state of mind for over 40 years. Elsie knew and was friends with Sydney Banks before his enlightenment experience and she went from being a housewife to coaching senior executives, working in disadvantaged communities, teaching in universities and working with individuals and couples.

I met Elsie in 2013 at the Tikun conference in London and attended her 1 hour breakout session. My mind felt like it had stopped when she spoke. It was less about the content of her talk but more to do with the depth of feeling behind the words. Earlier this year I attended a 5 day retreat with Elsie as I wanted to get a deeper understanding of what she teaches and she did not disappoint. I wish we had longer for this interview, but alas we had to stop eventually.

If you want to contact Elsie you can do so via her website or email Elsie at

You can also listen to this podcast and all the episodes in the series via iTunes: iTunes or Stitcher: Stitcher

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Full Transcript (transcribed by Jill Whalen)

In Laws, Healthy Relationships & Falling Back in Love – The Relationship Series Ep11 Elsie Spittle

>> ANKUSH: Welcome to the Relationship Series Podcast. My name is Ankush Jain and each episode I’ll be speaking with a different state of mind expert on the subject of relationships. Enjoy!

Welcome to episode 11 of the Relationship Series. I’m really deeply honored and feel very privileged this week to be interviewing Elsie Spittle. Elsie’s an internationally recognized trainer and consultant for nearly 4 decades and she had her training directly from a gentleman who some of you will know, Sydney Banks, who she knew prior to his enlightenment experience. She traveled with him addressed mental health practitioners, educators, and she’s had a whole host of experience in the corporate world as well as in community relations, juvenile justice, and so on. Elsie seems to have done many, many things.

Welcome, Elsie.

>> ELSIE: Thank you, Ankush. I’m just delighted to be a part of this series, and I thank you for inviting me.

>> ANKUSH: The pleasure is all ours, certainly. I just want to relay a little story. I met Elsie, or I saw Elsie originally, last year at the conference in, in London and there were a number of speakers at this conference, and I hadn’t met you before, I hadn’t heard anything by you. But I remember there’s, there’s a certain way that you speak, and I just listened for an hour and I just felt amazing! And it was then that I thought I really need to spend more time with you and I’d love to learn some more from you and I was very fortunate to spend some days training with you in Colchester early this year. And I have to say you have a very unique way of, of connecting with every single person that was in the room. And I’m, and I’m not sure if you are kind of aware of it, but, but it was it was very noticeable. And noticeable because it stood out in a, in a good way.

>> ELSIE: Hmmm. Well that’s really interesting, Ankush. Because I’ve had a colleague say to me he, he’s called that “unconscious competence.” <laughter> And I’ve never heard that phrase before because to me, given that this theme of this, these interviews, this series, is about relationships, that’s what struck me when you mentioned what you just did now. Is that it’s a natural relationship I feel for whoever I’m in contact with. Whether it’s one individual, whether it’s, you know, in this format by an interview, an audio interview. Whether it’s Skype, whether it’s in person, whether it’s a small group or a large group of 5-600 people, it’s a relationship that comes forth and touches people.
And that was really new for me, Ankush. Because I, I grew up not really having many productive, what I would call productive relationships. I, I was the youngest of a family of 5 siblings and I was on my own a great deal because the rest of the family was working on the farm to support the family. And so I had a great deal of time on my own. So as a child I had a relationship with myself that was comforting, and, and offered solace. But I didn’t really know what that was.

As I matured and got married and so on, and even as a teenager and a child going to school, I didn’t have really positive relationships. They were few and far between. And they weren’t lasting relationships. They’d come and they’d go. So not only were they far and few between, but they came and they went. And so I’d, I’d make new friends after a period of time. But I didn’t know how to sustain relationships or friendships. And, and that came naturally as an adult once I started to gain some insight into who we really are on the inside. In other words, what I would call our true nature. Not the nature of our behavior. Which is what I’d always looked to, and which is what often times would shorten a relationship because, I would judge the behavior of my friends and, and family and so on. And then the relationship would suffer because of my judgement and my thinking about what was going on.

But as I gained insight into the true nature of relationships that changed.

And, and the judgement just sort of disappeared. And I began to see beyond behavior. First of all with myself. I began to get more in touch with myself. Develop the relationship with self. And I say self to mean that bigger part of humanity inside of us.

And you know, after that it, it just was like I fell in love with the world. And it didn’t matter where I was within my family, friends, neighbors, community, work situations. I just started to gain more understanding that not only of myself and who I really am on the inside beyond the behavior, but of everybody that I looked at–I saw people with new eyes. With non-judgmental eyes. And with unconditional love.
And so that’s what you would have felt, when, when you heard me talk at that conference, Ankush, and also in Colchester. It’s that, it’s, it’s the embracing of your own true nature that allows you to fall in love with the world. Unconditionally. And that’s what will continue to drive the quality of relationships and enhance any relationship, even in regard to people that I didn’t get along with for years. But I would have some understanding as I matured, and you know, as I said as I gained some insight. I would have some understanding and I took their behavior less personally, and I judged them less. But I still didn’t have a feeling of unconditional love for them.

Until about 3 years ago at a conference in London.

Where again, insight unfolded for me and I felt a deeper regard for humanity as a whole. And out of that came some healing of long term, very contentious relationships that I’d had. Where all of a sudden, I fell in love with them too! And it wasn’t anything that I did deliberately. Like I never ever said to myself, “Okay I’m going to love these people now because I gained insight. I gained understanding.” There was this natural unfolding of love from within, that just transferred to people that I’d had poor relationships with. And after, I don’t know maybe 35 or 38 years of a contentious relationship, all of a sudden there was this new feeling of regard for them. I would never have thought that was possible.

>> ANKUSH: Elsie, I’m I’m I’m listening to you and I’m, I’m really curious about some of the early insights that you had which, which started you off on this path to, to enable you to have such amazing relationships.

>> ELSIE: [Clears Throat] Well. The first insight I had showed me directly that there was something insightful inside of me. Now to some folks, you know the word insight might mean different things. I’d never even had knowledge of what that word meant. You know my life was so narrow. The focus was so narrow. The focus was primarily on what’s wrong with my life. So the word insight was just unfamiliar to me. Until I had the experience of an aha moment.

And…and that’s what showed me that there was something beyond my own behavior. That there was something powerful inside of me that moved me to tears. Because it, it was the feeling of love…for me. For the first time in my life that I felt love for myself. Cause I’d always felt I was unworthy of love.

And so what happened to me again, you know, over the years as that feeling of love for myself as a, as a human being and extrapolated then to those that I came in contact with: my family friends, colleagues, and so on. But the, the line in the sand was with people that I would have had a long term, unhealthy relationship with. It was like, okay I can see that there’s a certain degree where I can find love for people. But after that, these long term, unhealthy relationship–there’s no way they can be mended. And I had come to expect that. That that’s just the way of life, and so be it. I was brought up that way. I saw my own parents and my siblings have long term unhealthy relationships with, you know, their family, neighbors, so on. So that was normal to me. That was normal.

So to consider that a long term, long held belief of what was wrong with someone could be surpassed with love, I didn’t think it was possible. It just didn’t even come into my consciousness. Until it was there.

Now Ankush, I can’t tell you what it was. I can’t tell you what I heard. This, this, this was a situation where I knew that for a period of time over the, the night that I was preparing spiritually and mentally to present at this conference in London, all I knew that I was in a very special, insightful state inside. But I could not pinpoint what the insights were that I w…that I was getting. I just knew it was this beautiful world of peace and knowledge coming to me. And out of that the next morning when I presented at the conference, that love and forgiveness for those that I held in disregard, came to light in acknowledging their work over the years in this understanding, in this community. I didn’t plan it. I didn’t think to myself, “Oh gosh you know, they’ve done some wonderful work you should really acknowledge them and thank them for their efforts over the years and for the wonderful good they’ve done.” It was a spontaneous acknowledgement that came without thought. And it came with the feeling of love. And it brought healing to the relationship. And that relationship has continued to develop and unfold without one going into the past to say, you know, I saw you do this, or I know you didn’t this, and you could blame me for that, or whatever. There was never any discussion of the past other than I will say at one point at one point when we got together in that beautiful harmony of love and regard for each other, we both looked at each other and said, “You know, we’ve been so foolish. We’ve, we’ve missed this incredible friendship that has just come to life now. We’ve missed it all those years.” And that was it. And from that moment on we just, the, the relationship flourished and it continues to flourish to this day. Where we feel we’re family.

I felt that with my mother in law. You know you hear these funny stories about mother in laws or father in laws or whatever. You know, the in laws. And I, I also had a long term unhealthy relationship with my mother in law and she with me. Ahh I, I felt, ah you know duty bound to invite her to our home when we moved back to Salt Spring Island. And to do my duty because she was my husband’s mother. And she has passed away now. But in the 3 years before she passed away, again, something happened and our unhealthy relationship dissolved. And there was a moment in time where, without planning it, I just was moved from a place of judgment to a place of love. And I fell in love with my mother in law and she fell in love with me.

Because as long as I held beliefs in my mind about what she had done and how she hadn’t accepted me, and on and on and on…those rigidly held beliefs covered up the natural love we have inside of us. The natural love that is who we really are, and is our default setting. And is where true relationships are born.

And so as long as I entertained and kept reminding myself of what she’d done to me over the years, and so on and so forth, that was the feeling that was between us. And the same with her. She was using her ability to create her experience in the same way. She was thinking similar thoughts and so her experience of me was based on that unhealthy thinking. And then as I say, one day, out of the blue, I just saw beyond her behavior to the innocence inside of her. I saw that she was doing the best SHE could do given how SHE’d been brought up. In the family of judgment and disregard and so on and so forth. And so when I saw her psychological innocence, all my negative thinking about her just vanished. And I embraced her. And she me. And we became like girl friends.

>> ANKUSH: That’s…I…I’m listening Elsie, and it’s…I’m just reminded about how so many situations that, that we have…I know this is true for me…where I think it’s sooo unique to me…is actually so universal.

>> ELSIE: Ahh…yes.

>> ANKUSH: And I’m, sure many, many of ah…I’m, I’m not married, so I don’t, I don’t have a mother in law, but I’m sure many of our listeners can, can really relate to that. I’m quite curious Elsie, cuz I know you’ve done work with couples and couples come to you and spend some time with you. When couples do…I know you don’t prescribe or teach in a traditional sense, but what do you try and point couples to, to improve their relationship?

>> ELSIE: I point to their own inner wisdom. I point to their true nature. Because, love is an expression of our true nature. You know I, I said just a, a moment ago that, that pure love is our default setting. It’s pure wellbeing. And we cover that, that wellbeing with faulty thinking, erroneous thinking. And, and we create a belief system that then starts to protect that thinking.
But there’s a feeling attached to that kind of unhealthy thinking. And, all it takes is one insight that shows you, and allows you to feel that well-being inside, that default setting of love. And so just like for me as I described as we started our conversation, Ankush, is that it was necessary for me to engage my true self to develop a relationship with myself before I could move forward and enhance the other relationships around me.
I had to love myself, faults and all.

It’s not to say that once I gained insight into my, my true self who I really am beyond the behavior, that all of a sudden every bit of poor behavior vanished. No, it didn’t. That took some time. But a big part of it did. That one insight took me from living in a world of behavior totally, in a world of behavior caught up as a victim, [clears throat] that one insight took me to experiencing what it’s like to live from the inside out.
And once you have one little insight and one little experience of what that’s like, you’ll never forget it. And you’ll never go back. You may visit living in the outside world again and getting caught up by your faulty thinking and, and so on. But you’ll alway have that experience of what it was like to live in your natural, default setting of love. What that felt like.

And so when couples come, I, I go home–what I call home. I go inside as quickly and as best as I can. Because I know it’s there. You know, I’ve had so much experience over the years of seeing the unbelievable Wisdom that comes, and the guidance that comes from living from the inside out, that when I’m called upon to serve, I almost always go back inside–to what I call home. I guess I’ll say. And out of that comes the feeling. A feeling that helps whoever I’m around, relax. And when they relax, they often think they’re relaxing because of me. But in reality they’re relaxing because they started to touch their own wisdom. They started to touch their own default setting.

It’s that easy.

And once they start to get that deeper feeling from the inside out, soon the problems that they came to me with, aren’t problems anymore. You know they don’t look as serious. They’re able to sort of set them aside, even if they think it’s just for a period of time. Okay, like we’re having such a nice feeling together as a couple, and they may say to me, “You know, we haven’t felt this for such a long time. We’ve forgotten what it’s like to be in love again.” And I’ll suggest to them that, you know, out of that feeling will come guidance, on how to have that feeling more of the time, because it’s who we already are. And so they’ll say,”Well, you know, that’s really nice and we like that [clears throat] but, but, but [chuckles] but what about these problems that we have?” And I’ll suggest just set them aside for now. Just tuck ’em over there. You can always pick ’em up later if you’ want. But tuck them over, for now. [Ankush chuckles] And they’re happy to do that because they’re in a different state of mind. And they’re liking that feeling of falling in love with each other again.

And that’s what happened for Ken and me. I…we’ve been married now 51 years. And I, I love that man more every day. The, the love is this deep feeling of respect, companionship…just such a feeling of oneness with him that, you know, there hardly seems a separation between us. We’re so in tune. And often times, without words. That our communication is–without words. Now again, I’ll say that it’s not always like that. There are still moments you know, a little ouch here and there. But it’s so incidental and so unimportant. A little pin prick. That it’s kind of a reminder of oh, gosh, that pin prick used to be an explosion of negativity. That we would, would entertain and get involved in, and use against each other. And so that pin prick is like a healthy reminder of, oh my word, we used to live there all the time! And now it’s almost this invisible pin prick. And it, it allows, you know this feeling of, of love–unconditional love.

Allows newness to come into both of us.

So that he’s not the same man he was a year ago. And he tells me I’m not the same woman I was a year ago–that we’ve continued to evolve and change. And we find that change fascinating, because it, it helps reinforce that this inside out living is infinite. And that’s a ball. You know, we’re having a ball! We’re having the best time in our life! And Ken is 70. I’m 69. We have NEVER enjoyed our life more, than right now.
And that’s saying something.

Because again, I saw my family and parents who didn’t live that way. They lived more together out of duty, and that’s what you did. But there wasn’t, to be perfectly candid, there wasn’t this nurturing feeling of Love, in the way I was brought up. I found that Love in myself. And THEN, I could offer it to my family without talking about what I was learning. Because if I started [chuckles] to try to teach them or share insights with them, or if I saw them getting in trouble with one another or bad mouthing each other. If I tried to offer advice, I’d be shot down. And then I’d get, you know, I’d, I’d have bad feelings about that, and so I started to realize that–just love them! Love them where they are. Love them as best as I could. Over the years, and as my own understanding continued to evolve, Love them as best as I could–unconditionally. And that’s when they started to come into me. You know, what I would call coming into me. Where they started to accept me. And be, want to be around with me. And wouldn’t accuse me [chuckling] of being too big for my britches. [Laughing] Who did I think I was given I was the baby in the family? You know, that kind of thing.
And so that’s what I point couples to. That’s what I point residents in impoverished communities to. Is to find the love within themselves first, that’s already there. A lot of the time traditionally, people think they have to do something to achieve wellbeing. To enhance a relationship. And what I’m saying, and what other practitioners in the Principles Understanding will point to, is this wealth, this resource of natural Love and wellbeing is already within us.

And once again I’ll say, that’s our true nature.

That’s who we really are. And all we need to do is open up to it and there it is. It’s this gift from within.
It’s the same in business, Ankush. I really don’t talk any differently in business. I may talk about love as rapport–unconditional rapport–in regard to developing leadership, in regard to team development, in regard to maybe some contentious relationships between supervisors and employees. I don’t look what, to what’s wrong in the relationship. Which is what they offer to me, you know, sometimes they’re mandated to, to seek counsel…or to seek coaching from me…and so they present what’s wrong with them. And out of respect I will listen for a few minutes. But there’s not a time where as they’ve described what in their view is something wrong with them, or with their colleague or their employee or supervisor, or whoever. I will hear–something positive. I will hear–a nugget of wisdom. And once I hear that nugget of wisdom, I will take that, and I’ll shift gears with their permission. I’ll, I’ll say something like, “You know I’ve, I’ve heard what you see, and I’ve gotten a flavor for, you know, what it seems your world looks like in the moment. Can I share something with you that I see?” And I’ll, they’ll, you know, they’ll say yes, and I’ll say “You know, I heard something really profound as you were identifying what was wrong in your life.” And they’ll say, “Really? That’s impossible.”
Do you want me to give you an example?

>> ANKUSH: Yes, please, do.

>> ELSIE: Well I had one manager that was referred to me because he had cursed his boss. He was just in a terrible mood. Everything had gone wrong at work and he went in, demanding support that he felt was missing for his team. And in the course of this escalating conversation with his boss he just cursed him out. Slammed out of the office. Slammed out of the plant and drove home at a high speed. Thankfully, he didn’t injure himself, wasn’t in an accident. He roared into the house and his wife asked him what was wrong, and he said, “Nothing, I don’t want to talk about it, now I’m just going to bed.” And so he’s saying all these things. And so I’m listening, and I’m listening, and I hear 2 healthy things in that conversation of what he did wrong. I’ll bet you hear them too, Ankush.

>> ANKUSH: Ah, well I hear one. [Laughter]

>> ELSIE: Tell me one.

>> ANKUSH: Well what I, what I heard is that he had the, the good sense to not talk about it and, and go to bed. Because he knew talking about it more wasn’t going to be very helpful.

>> ELSIE: That’s right. So that to me was 2 things. He knew not to talk about it. And he knew to go to bed because he was just so tired and exhausted. So that to me was 2 positive things. Actually, the third thing was that he called me. That his wisdom moved him to call me. Yes, he was mandated, but he still had to pick up the phone. He could have rebelled, he could have said I don’t want to talk to that lady. I’ll go somewhere else I don’t want to talk to that lady. But for whatever reason, he felt drawn to talking to me. So there were three positive things in that conversation of what was wrong with him.
When I highlighted those 3 things because he couldn’t have, he couldn’t pick them out like you just could, Ankush. He couldn’t see it. He was so bent out of shape. He was so focused mentally on what he did wrong that he couldn’t see anything good. The moment I highlighted those nuggets of wisdom–coming from HIM–it settled him right down, and it quieted his thinking. And he became thoughtful and reflective. And THEN we had a conversation. There was a feeling of rapport. This unconditional Love from me to him, that also helped him.
But there was also listening.

This would be the 2nd thing that I would point out is essential in, in helping relationships. Is this deep listening beyond behaviour, beyond what’s wrong, to hearing this kernel of truth–nugget of wisdom. And it does magic because it promotes this feeling of wellbeing. Not only in me as a practitioner, but in the client who’s being listened to. The feeling actually starts to bring about a change in his level of understanding. Or whoever. You know, whoever the, the client, or participant is. And so that listening moved him into seeing his own health. And so he was able to go back in –once he had settled down–and apologize to his boss. But he apologized with a genuine feeling of regard and thankfulness that the boss didn’t fire him on the spot.

Cuz he had shifted gears mentally.

And he had felt, for a brief moment of time, that was the start of his journey to seeing that he had wisdom inside himself. And he started to focus from that day on, more on what was RIGHT in his world, and what was RIGHT in relationships with his team and his boss and his family. Rather than what was wrong. There was a shift in his orientation. There was a shift in his perception. And that began to enhance and enrich all of his relationships.
I STILL have contact with that man to this day. This is going back like 12-13 years in that period of time. And every now and then he still calls me. He’s still working at the same plant. He’s now been promoted to you know, the head of, of Division. And I heard from him the other day where his son was in deep problems with drugs and so on, and he gave him one of Syd’s books. And the young man ended up reading that book throughout the night. And he and his father had a most enlightening conversation the next day about this inside-out learning. And what’s, what’s really going on. And how we create relationships.

>> ANKUSH: Well, well, thanks Elsie. I think that’s a really nice place to close and we had a feeling we’d run, run over time on this. And I’m sure I could listen to you for another hour or 2, but we do have to close it there. I really enjoyed it today. So thank you so much once again for being on the call. And for anyone who wants to learn more about you or, and you know, getting in contact with you, what’s the best way to do that?

>> ELSIE: They can go to my website which is or they could email me at
And thank you again, Ankush. I, I’m always amazed at how quickly the time flies. And truly I’m very grateful for the opportunity to talk with you and, and um, thank you.

>> ANKUSH: No, no problem. People can get hold of me as usual from Facebook which is They can get me on Twitter @AnkushKJain and my website at Thank you again, once, once again Elsie. It’s been an absolute pleasure. And, and to everyone else, I’ll speak to you next time.

>> ELSIE: Bye.

>> ANKUSH: Bye.


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