Ep10: Empathi with Figs: A Conversation with Fiachra O'Sullivan

Fiachra “Figs” O’Sullivan, an Irish born San Francisco-based dad, husband, and couples therapist, gets real with us about the fears of showing up, being vulnerable, talking politics, and having fun - even when you have no idea how people will receive you.

“Being real” with clients in a healing environment is one thing, but what does it mean to bring  who you really are to the greater, public online space? Figs helps us understand that this isn’t a modern, online phenomenon: we all take these risks in our relationships when we ask others to really see who we are.

Couples therapy helps individuals see and understand that they both play a role in the relationship story. Together, they can begin to create a new narrative of love and belonging.

All relationships are on a continuum and we move between moments of connection and disconnection and we spend much of our time in the messy middle. Through experiences of disconnecting and reconnecting, you start to see that you fight because you mean so much to each other. The magic is in the repair, not in making sure you never fight.

This is especially important for parents… What would it mean for your children to see you go from fighting to being sad to comforting each other to reconnecting each other? What an amazing way to prepare your children to have a healthy emotional life.

Figs shares insights he’s gained through marriage and parenting, through poetry (you must hear him recite David Whyte’s poem “Self Portrait”), and by tuning into what really ticks him off… like people who chose “neutrality” over authenticity. We need stillness, not silence. We need people to trust to hold their stories. We build that trust when we’re able to honestly reveal what we stand for.

Much of the conversation is focused on the marriage and the family, but then we look to the wider stage… How are the disconnects at the larger political level starting to influence couples? How can the work we do on our own relationships affect the wider world?

We explore three main archetypes that are emerging in response to the current political climate: 

  • Bridge builders who help people with different perspectives connect so they understand that both perspectives make sense

  • Fierce warriors ready to name injustice from whatever their perspective on what they think is right

  • Helpers are those who will be there to care for those who are suffering

Learn more about Figs' counseling and coaching practice at www.therapywithfigs.com and read his personal writing at https://medium.com/@figlet

Figs is creating a new resource called Empathi.com - an online process that introduces individuals and couples to the wisdom of attachment. It’s possible to change the world by helping individuals have empathy for themselves, the people they love, and everyone they meet.