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Lessons From La Piranha Bonita

by Lumiere (writer), NYC, October 05, 2008

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Learning a Communication Tool that Improves and Empowers Personal Relationships

Her silver Mercedes SUV was always immaculate, without one physical blemish, much like herself. Layla was the kind of woman who turned heads, she was quite striking in appearence, she had the face of a angel, light green eyes, an athletic body, legs for days and creamy olive skin that shimmered beneath her silk business suit. Edges of an aqua blue lace top peaked from underneath her jacket, along with her love of diamond jewelry and Prada shoes. Naturally, she emanated the energy of someone very confident in their personal power.   The crew at the Center nicnamed her the "la piranha bonita." And they were absolutely thrilled to discover that I had been 'volunteered' by the Center Director, to explore the murky waters of being personally coached by her in a course called Living, Loving Relationships.

Layla's reputation proceeded her, even my close friend, a Center Director training in LA forewarned me about how tough and tempermental she could be, but I did not care what anyone said because I only wanted to be coached by the best. I am not really the type to give a damn what people think. Gossip is alot like second hand smoke, it is something I do not quite care for honestly. Rather than listen to second hand news, I prefer to find out the truth for myself from direct experience. When you are strong willed, then you need someone strong enough to match you and I knew I could hold my own with her. I decided instead, to listen to my grandmothers pearls of wisdom, " You never grow if you do not surround yourself with people who push you to develop yourself. Never be afraid to run into the fire.... " So while everyone else cringed at the thought of Layla 'eating me alive' like a piranha so to speak, I welcomed the challenge of inviting another powerful woman into my life.

When Layla and I met for our very first one-on-one coaching session, I found myself excited about exploring her style of coaching. Upon arriving to her office, my first impression was that she reminded me of a beautiful orchid, she was exotic in appearence, delicate and petite, much more fragile looking than everyone had described her to be but strong at the same time. Although I knew better than to underestimate her, because dynamite does come in small packages. One of the things I find most interesting about beauty is sometimes people can be fooled into believing there is nothing more or less to a person than their image. When nothing could be further from the truth. Sometimes people cannot get beyond the 'beauty of a woman' to find out how intelligent she really is, they often get stuck on the physical aspect. If a person can intentionally look beyond image, there can be so much more depth beneath the surface. The complete opposite can be true as well, beauty can also cleverly disguise shallowness and a mean spirit, making a physically beautiful person unattractive over time. Since I spent most of my time photographing models and creating portfolios, beauty did not phase me as much as substance. Substance, found in the soul, in a person's character and between the ears,  is what makes them unique and causes them to stand out from the crowd. Layla was one of the rare flowers in the world, which posessed both beauty and substance.

As Layla stood up from her desk like a judge rising from her bench, instead of reaching out to shake my hand, she walked over and hugged me.

Then she said, " I have wanted to meet you for some time now. The Center Director says you are quite intuitive, or shall I say, you are blessed with a heightened sixth sense."

" Yes, the women in my family have certain gifts like all women inherently possess, but it really depends..."

" It depends on what?," she asked.

" The individual person and being complete within my own personal relationships. You learn to cut it on or off like a switch. Which is why I wanted to be coached by you. When the pipes are clogged with emotional garbage, or being incomplete in a relationship, so is the intuition. The opposite is true, when it flows. So get me complete a.s.a.p."

Layla smiled as she handed me a piece of paper on a clip board with a pen, " Most people run from me and you just made a request. I like the fact you are committed, so here is a contract of completion for me to hold you accountable to your word. I need you to write down on the left column, a list of every person you are incomplete with; breakdowns, witholds, silent treatment, arguments, break ups, parents etc."

I scribbled name after name, a total of 22 people in all. " Ok. I'm done."

Layla handed me another sheet of paper, a copy of a Communication Tool developed by Dr. Barbara De Angelis, from her out of print book How to Make Love All the Time. She explained  to me, " This is a very powerful tool, capable of empowering and improving not only your communication skills but your relationship. Your life will never be the same once you learn to use it and commit it to memory. The process takes you through all six levels of emotion without getting trapped in anger. It will not only help you manage your emotions constructively but you will be complete in every conversation, in every relationship in your life. If used properly and consistently, I have witnessed this tool changes peoples lives and can heal many broken hearts, there is nothing quite like it. I refer to it as, "The Format."

" And your expectations of me in regards to this communication tool, " I asked.

"Once you sign your contract, you will have 30 days from today's date to get complete with every person you wrote on your list. You must write everyone on the list a letter using The Format and return the letters to me in an envelope, addressed and stamped or completed according to the directions. "

"Wow," I thought, as I  bravely signed on the dotted line of the contract.

Within 30 days,  I completed all 22 letters and returned them to Layla according to my word. And she was right, my life and my relationships completely changed.


Now I will share The Format with you and challenge you to change the way you communicate and get complete within your relationships in the next 30 days....


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The Directions to The Format are as Follows:

1) You will need several sheets of paper or a notepad and a pen. Freehand only, no computers.

2) A quiet place to sit, where you will not be interupted for at least 1-2 hours. Each letter must be written in ONE sitting; no interuptions, no phone calls- shut off your cell phone, no starting / stopping, it must be written as one continual letter start to finish.

3) Begin by Making a List of Incompletions; Incompletions are People whom you have had significant breakdowns with that you need to clean up; arguments, a fight, break up, anyone who has hurt you, withholds-when you fail to tell someone how you feel, communication breakdowns, misunderstandings etc. This can include and is not limited to; friends, family members, yourself, boyfriends / girlfriends, ex-lovers etc.  Your list can have as many as few as two people or up to fifty, it really depends on the relationships in your life.

4) Once you make your list, prioritize it beginning with 1-10.  One being the Most Important Relationship you need to clean up....until your list is fully numbered. Start with number 1.  The Goal is to Write Everyone on your list- in seperate settings of course but you want to create a timeline for yourself to get it done. For example; I committed to finishing my list in 30 days. Maintain integrity with yourself and your word. Get an
accountability partner if necessary.

5) When writing using The Format, you cannot hold anything back- no withholds;  whether you feel what you have to say is relevant or irrelevant, validated, right or wrong, silly, or petty, it doesn't matter, you must write everything you feel for the Format to work correctly.

6) The Format, once complete, must be taken care of in one of three ways:

  • You can Mail the letter to the Recipient, but in doing so you MUST sent them a copy of the outline of the format and the directions on how to use it so that they have a chance to complete with you and write you back.
  • If you do not want to mail it to the Recipient and instead are writing the letter for your own healing. You can fold it up into an envelope, write the recipients name on the envelope, go outside with a box of matches and then burn the letter. While it is burning, proclaim (yes you actually have to say this out loud) that " I release xyz to their highest good (or some dirivitive of that)" and emotionally let go. An outdoor barbecue pit works wonders for this as far as fire safety is concerned.
  • You can also use The Format in one-on-one, private conversation. This is recommended for people who have practiced writing several letters using The Format because you have to commit The Format to memory. Once you commit The Format to memory, you can use it in almost any situation that requires effective communication. If you have a partner, you can use it and practice together- especially during breakdowns. My partner and I use it on Sundays as a weekly communication touch base. Keep in mind that in the beginning speaking The Format is the hardest, since the entire conversation must happen in one sitting, without interuptions, and you must finish before they can respond to anything you are saying. When partnering with another, take turns speaking, there should be no interuptions while someone is speaking The Format, just listen. Then it is your turn to respond using The Format. In a more professional setting, people do not necesarily have to know what you are doing, but it is helpful. Using the The Format will smooth out your communication style and prevent you from getting hung up on anger. 

Below is The Format to eventually be committed to memory, so that it becomes a communication tool during conversation. It is best to begin using it in writing first, but the guidelines listed are not limited to additions and are suggested to open the lines of effective communication.  Although it is required for you to follow the six levels of emotion:

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The Format

  • Anger / Resentment: (Expression of anger -no holds barred- but limit your use of profanity)

I am angry because...
I am upset because...
I resent you because...
You acted like a jerk when xyz...

  • Fear / Insecurity: (What you are afraid of...)

I am afraid because...
This makes me feel insecure because...
When you did xyz made me afraid of...
Instabilty makes me afraid of xyz...

  • Sadness / Hurt: (You feel hurt and sad because...)

I feel hurt because...
I am sad because of xyz...
I feel disappointed because...
I expected you to be xyz but it hurt me when I discovered...
It makes me sad to know...

  • Understanding / Remorse: (Walking a mile in the other persons shoes / Sincerely understanding their point of view...)

I understand your past influences have created xyz pattern in your life...
I feel empathy for you because...
I understand why you did xyz...

  • Responsibility / Accountability: (Where YOU are RESPONSIBLE for creating and contributing to the situation or problem...)

I am responsible for...
Where I created this situation is...
My accountability is my action or lack thereof, created the result of xyz...

  • Wishes / Intentions: (What you wish to create or complete in Love...)

I wish for a healing in the xyz are of our relationship...
I wish you the best in life even if we are not going to be together...
My intention is for us to move on with our lives without expectation of xyz...
My intention is for us to move forward, treat each other with respect and be committed to raising our children together in love and xyz...



About the Writer

Native Texan full of Southern Charm, ;) Art Director and Fashion Photographer with a background in Luxury Apparel. Producer of a Television show called " Art4Charity " that spotlights Philanthropists, non-profits, volunteers, and companies doing positive deeds around the world. Volunteer Art Therapy teacher to homeless children and activist.
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1 comments on Lessons From La Piranha Bonita

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By Danielle.mycareer on October 10, 2008 at 03:08 pm

That is an AMAZING tool! Thank you for sharing!

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