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This week on Talk Learn Connect, Writer Yvonne Reddin asks Parent and Relationship Mentor at Insight Matters, Aoife Ryan to share some TLC (Talk Learn Connect)

“My work is an absolute privilege and I continue to be awed daily by my clients and the amazing nature of the Human Spirit.” Tell us about your privileged vocation.

Being invited into an individual’s interior world, in a mentoring session, is an absolute honour.  Holding space for another is sacred.  To bear witness to their pain, suffering, joy, …. All their emotions and experiences and to accompany them on their journey through it all is not only a joy it is privilege.
I am awed daily by the resilience, creativity, and wisdom of the human spirit.  Everyone that comes through my door has lived a life and experienced so many different events.  They are all unique individuals.  When they come to me it is usually because things have become overwhelming or are just not working for them anymore.
They have all found such incredible ways of coping with life, often times with extreme trauma. It is an honour to share that with them and to help them make sense of it all, so that they can move forward and find ways of being in the world that works better for them.
I believe strongly that we all know what we need to do for ourselves and I work with people to help them build their trust in their inner knowing.

"I often use the metaphors of ‘putting on your own oxygen mask first’ or ‘keeping your emotional cup full’

When working with children and parents, the focus commonly is the child/ren. You focus on the parent, sometimes there is not enough emphasis on the parent. What is your view on this?

For me, all parenting starts with self.  You can only give to another (in this case your child/ren) what you have got for yourself.  To help our children manage and regulate their emotions, they need a calm adult to regulate with and work through difficult emotions.  When we parent ourselves and take care of our own needs we are teaching our children that they too need to care for themselves.  When we acknowledge and express emotions it gives our children permission to acknowledge and express their emotions.
I believe that parents self-care is of paramount importance to their child’s emotional/mental wellbeing. As parents, it is important to reflect on our own stories and understand why we behave in a particular way.  We can then begin to understand why we may “react” to our children in particular ways, rather than responding.
When parents champion and take care of themselves, their relationships with their children will automatically improve.  I often use the metaphors of ‘putting on your own oxygen mask first’ or ‘keeping your emotional cup full’.  When you have your mask on and your cup is full you are going to be able to relate to everyone in your life in a more positive and conscious way.

Do you think, as a mother to two children, that your own experience adds that realism to your mentoring? How do you teach parents to love and care for themselves first?

I have lived a life and had many experiences.  I have taken a lot of time and I continue to take time, to reflect on my experiences in life and with my family and with my own mentor.   I feel that this process of continuous personal reflection is of the utmost importance, personally but also professionally.  It enables me to be more conscious and present with my clients.  I have done the work they are doing.  I have gone to the painful and difficult places I am asking them to go to.  I have sat and examined my life and I have learned deeply from that examination.
So yes, I do think that my life experience, including my experience as a Mum, has given me insight and realism and adds to my mentoring.  I am by no means a perfect parent and I am learning all the time.  Some days I don’t get anything right at all!  I feel that being honest and truthful around that is important.  I am doing my best, and I will keep trying to do better, but today, it is enough.   That is a message that I want all parents to hear … you are enough!

How did you find the pandemic affected you and your family, both on a personal level and a professional one?

My children loved the lockdown! They enjoyed being off school and all of us spending time together as a family.  The weather was lovely, so we spent many days in the garden, nurturing our tadpoles and playing with our dog.  We played games, we baked, we crafted, and we talked and danced and sang a lot. As time has progressed, we have found a gentle daily rhythm and it has been lovely.  I took the pressure off with school from the word go … they did what they could do and wanted too, but with no pressure.  Some days/weeks we did nothing at all!
As a family, we have really focused on connecting with each other and communicating about how we are feeling and what we need. I want the children to remember that although there was worry and heightened anxiety around, they felt safe.  The “feeling” in the house is so important and I wanted our environment to be as stress-free as possible.  They have missed their grandad, my dad, and I have too!
My husband has been working from home full- time and I have been working online with clients too.  This has been difficult at times as we are sharing the office, and scheduling times etc. can be tricky.  I miss working face to face with clients, but the new online experience has been interesting and in the most part has worked well.
I found that lockdown gave me time to work on different things and develop business ideas that perhaps I would not have without lock down! There is an opportunity in everything! I am doing an MSc. so, I was busy working away on assignments and study for that.
A colleague and I ran a free parental support service to help struggling parents during the lockdown and that was extremely rewarding.
There are many parents that have been finding things exceedingly difficult so being able to ‘give back’ and offer them a space to express themselves and find support has been wonderful.    I have enjoyed the “space” that lockdown created in all our lives.
I have missed friends and family but overall, I feel we have been lucky and it has been good for us as a family.
Aoife Ryan - Insight Matters

“I found that lockdown gave me time to work on different things and develop business ideas that perhaps I would not have without lock down. There is opportunity in everything”


Can you share any words of wisdom that helped you in your successful career?

“Trust your instinct” and
“Whatever you are feeling is important and valid”
I feel that both these words of wisdom go hand in hand.  So often we feel something, but we discount it and talk ourselves off in another direction.  But I have learned that my “gut instinct” or as I now call it, “my heart voice” is never wrong.  What I am feeling is always right for me and I need to honour that and work with it.
That change to trusting myself, my inner feelings and not being swayed by the “outside” voices has been a huge learning point for me.  It has been a positive point because now I am in the driving seat for me always.
Finding my voice in life took a long time, now that I have it, I want to use it to help myself and also to help and inspire others.

For more information on the services, Aoife has to offer, Visit her website or  

Aoife Ryan - Insight Matters