Author Archive for Bron Williams

Let’s Connect

As a coach, I connect with other survivors through our shared experience of abuse. Our situations are usually quite different, but the impacts and consequences are so similar – the same stories told in different words.

Connect through experience

We connect through shared experiences of pain and heartache, of silence and hiddenness, of shame and guilt. And we also connect through shared determination and persistence, shared courage and compassion.. We also connect through a shared desire to rebuild lives afresh.

Most of us do not play ‘my trauma is worse than your trauma’ drama games. Triggers still occur from relatively small events. However, those triggering times are less intense and less frequent as time goes on.

And most of us seek to use those difficult experiences as sources of wisdom to share with others.

Connect to self again

Australian anti-domestic violence campaigner, Rosie Batty’s, recently decided to close her son Luke’s foundation, disperse its funds to other charities. She wants to focus on her on health and well-being, This decision is an example of the ongoing cost of abuse. Even when the experience of abuse is used for incredibly positive ends the need for self-care is so necessary.

I wish Rosie well in her time of looking after herself. Others will take up the baton because, sadly, domestic violence and domestic abuse isn’t going away. In ten days in Australia in early October, eight women died violently at the hands of someone they knew or had been in an intimate relationship with.

That’s only the tip of the iceberg. So many people suffer in silence behind closed doors, as their partner abuses them financially, emotionally, mentally, sexually or spiritually. Abuse is real – whether there are physical scars to show for it or not.

Connect to wholeness

Healing and wholeness post-abuse is also real too. Abuse shapes you, but it doesn’t define you. In abuse you bury your dreams in order to survive, and you can recover them. Despite its awfulness, abuse births superpowers that can uncovered and unleashed.

Have you been out of an abuse environment for more than two years? Are you sensing that the time is right to make some real steps forward in rebuilding your life? Then accept a complimentary copy of The Six Pillars of Thriving. Just leave your details below and it’s yours.

Be powered by your past!

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You DO deserve the best!

I was part of a Facebook group. You know, the ones that have themes for each day of the week. One day would be posts about gratitude, another about goals. Only one day each week could you promote your business, products or services. The theme I really struggled with was the ‘I deserve’ day. I found it hard to articulate that I deserved anything.

We don’t believe we deserve anything good

Part of this comes from growing up in a generation in which the notion of deserving anything good was quite foreign. If good things came our way it was the result of a lot of hard work. I learnt that I didn’t deserve anything good just for being a human being.

I certainly wanted good things and hoped for good things. However, living in an abusive marriage taught me that I didn’t deserve them. Much of what I received from my partner was couched in terms of subtle mocking or obstruction. Also, the withdrawal of affection and engagement at a personal level communicated that I didn’t even deserve to have the basic aspects of a good relationship. If I deserved them then they would be given to me. If they weren’t given then that must mean that I didn’t deserve them.

Those who’ve experienced abuse of any form in an intimate relationship know that their self-worth is severely undermined. Much time is spent focusing on their partner’s needs, wants and desires in the hope of keeping the marriage together and keeping it peaceful that they lose sight of what we want or desire. They learn fast enough that what they want, desire and need must come second (at best). And they know that those needs and wants may never be considered important enough to be addressed or met – and certainly not by the one who claims to love us but is, in fact, abusing us.

Rewrite the ‘I deserve’ story

So, one day in the Facebook group, I faced this long-entrenched belief that I don’t deserve anything. I wrote “#Ideserve to rewrite this story…watch this space!” Because that’s the choice we get. We all have old stories that play over and again in our minds, that influence our lives and the decisions that we make. Often, we’ve believed these stories for so long that we no longer question whether they are still helpful, or if they may in fact be detrimental to our lives.

And then I developed the Sassy Women’s Project, a coaching program designed specifically for women who have a backstory of abuse. In this program, women go through a number of steps, the first of which is release. There is release from the experiences of the past that have hurt and shaped us, and release from the expectations that allowed the hurtful experiences to be considered ‘normal’ and often kept us in the place of abuse. More than that, women move into being released into the new things that life has to offer, the new ways of looking at life and decision-making, and the new directions we can take.

What do you believe you deserve?

Do you believe that you deserve anything good? Are you convinced that any good you have in life must be earned the hard way?

It’s true. You do deserve what is good. You can rewrite your own #Ideserve story.

The first step is to download The Six Pillars of Thriving, the foundation of The Sassy Women’s Project -just use the from below.

The second step is to schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session. You can discover how you can step into all the good things that you deserve.

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It’s not your responsibility!

Jilly glanced at her reflected self.

The mirror took in her corporate “uniform” – navy pencil skirt with matching jacket, crisp white blouse, nude stockings and killer heels. Jilly added a pop of colour on her finger – a discreet ruby nestled in a white gold setting. It was the only allowance she made to the wild underside of her personality.

Buttoned-down girl

“Buttoned-down girl” she called herself. And “buttoned-down girl” had served her well. Got her through the dark days with Carl and the years after she left him. “Buttoned-down girl” had been her survival mode and Jilly still found her useful in her role in corporate business, where she had to mix it with the boys in the sandpit. Mix it in a world where she did not set the rules, where she had slowly learnt what her male counterparts knew without being told. The boys made the rules of the sandpit and she had to learn how to play the game their way.

Playing by the rules

Jilly played well in the corporate sandpit. She knew enough of the rules to have made her way to the top of her corporation. Jilly was respected, even liked by most of her staff and peers. She knew how to pull a team together and get the best out them.

But Jilly was tired of always playing by someone else’s rules. Jilly knew that the rules she played by did not allow her to fully tap into the power and possibility that lurked and bubbled just beneath the surface. She was frustrated that she could not set some new rules, play the corporate game in a slightly different way. Achieve the same ends but get there differently.

Taking responsibility

And she was tired of taking responsibility for everyone else’s stuff. Jilly knew that she took responsibility for things that were way outside her scope. And because Jilly did this, more responsibility was given to her – and she was up to the challenge. But Jilly was tired of it all. She wanted to shift the boundaries a bit. Jilly didn’t want to continue taking responsibility for the things that were really someone else’s – like she had with Carl.

It had been her own fault, partly. As the eldest in her family, responsibility came easily to Jilly. She played her big sister role well. And when she and Carl had married, Jilly had enjoyed taking care of him. That “taking care” morphed bit by bit into taking responsibility for him – responsibility for his happiness, responsibility for his comfort, responsibility for the finances in the home, and eventually responsibility for the children. It wasn’t that Carl didn’t love Jilly or his kids- he did. It was just that Carl was pretty self-focused and loved to get his own way, which he did in a very quiet, very manipulative manner.

Jilly accepted it as part and parcel of their relationship. It took her years of being less-than-happy, of trying a variety of marriage counsellors and self-development books before Jilly realised that she just couldn’t take the putdowns, the subtle barbs and the unexpressed anger any more. And so, she left. It took Jilly quite a few years to understand that what she’d experienced in her relationship with Carl was a form of emotional abuse, and it took her even longer to be able to own that she – an intelligent articulate educated woman – was a victim of domestic abuse.

Personal responsibility

And no-one in her workplace knew. Jilly was successful, powerful even. She was caring and empathetic. But Jilly was tired of still playing out the responsible-for-others role. Jilly knew that she only needed to be responsible for the things, the areas, that were hers directly, but years of taking responsibility for others was a habit that was hard to overcome.

Sound like you? Jilly was me.

And I still struggle from time to time with taking responsibility for things unnecessarily. But I’m learning. And I’m aware of my default position of responsibility and catch myself before I take on what is not mine to carry. I’ve identified the areas that keep me anchored to past ways of behaving and I’m moving ahead with those things that allow me to set sail.

Find your balance

If you’d like to find out more about what’s anchoring you – and what can help you set sail – I have a free PDF of my Anchors and Sails. Just leave your details below and it will wing its way to your inbox (or maybe even spam file, so check there too!).

The past can be a treasure trove to tap into, if you know how. You can be powered by your past!

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Own your fear and build a new life.

Own your fear

You know what it’s like. You’ve finally found a good one, a person you feel you can trust in an intimate relationship. But something’s nagging at you. Part of you is  “waiting for the punchline”. That feeling you get when you’re sure you’re going to end up being the butt of some cosmic joke. That the person you’re now with will turn to you one day and say they’ve changed their mind about being in relationship you. Or that person you thought was so wonderful turns out to be a subtle abuser. You are afraid but you need to own your fear.

Fear can be a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Your underlying emotion is fear. Your head knows that this new relationship, this new partner, is not like the one that had been difficult or abusive. You know, cognitively, that this is different, but you have been so conditioned by previous experiences that you’re just waiting for things to change.

This sort of situation may be a pattern in your relationships. You may self-sabotage the new relationship, accusing your new partner of being just like a past abusive partner. You may subconsciously feel that it’s safer to do that than face the possibility of being hurt again.

And so, your fears become a self-fulfilling prophesy as relationship after relationship fails until you are no longer willing to put yourself out there.  You are convinced that love and relationships are just not your thing.

 

Fear is a very powerful emotion.

Much is written and spoken about facing your fears. Fear has been defined as False Evidence Appearing Real. But I think that such maxims, while given with good intentions, do not accept that feeling fear is as natural as experiencing happiness or sadness.

Fear is a very natural emotion in the face of situations and people that hurt you or have the potential to do so. Like all emotions, fear has no moral value. It is neither good nor bad. It just is.

One way to “face our fears” is to acknowledge that we feel them. It is healthy to own that we feel fearful in a new relationship because we’re afraid of getting hurt. However, any emotion that isn’t acknowledged, that remains unowned, does not go away. It only buries itself deep in our subconscious and surfaces when we least expect it, and then we wonder where it came from.

Unacknowledged fear limits us.

Unacknowledged fear has the ability to stunt our growth as people and impede our forward progress. Owned fear is fear out in the open. We can look at it, even see that it may be nonsensical, but that to us it is real. By validating what we feel in this way, as we need to do with any emotion, we can strip fear of its power to limit us and limit the possibility of being in a healthy and loving relationship

When we own our fear of being hurt or abused we are being honest with ourselves. But we can own the fear and then go on to not allow that fear to dictate our response to a new situation, even though we are tempted to do so. While fear is there to keep us safe and it is important to trust our gut instinct in potentially dangerous situations, fear must not rule us.

Own  your fear and step forward.

Facing our fears is about acknowledging that we feel afraid, acknowledging that we are waiting for the punch line, but still moving into that new relationship anyway.

 

Given the statistics that 20-25% of women find themselves in abusive relationships, that means that 75-80% of women do not. We can only put ourselves into that 75-80% of women by owning our fears, facing them, and moving forward despite them.

I’ve done this journey. I know this fear. I put my hand up and say, “Yes, I’m afraid at times in a new relationship”. Yes, I know what it’s like to wait for the punchline.

But…I choose to own that fear. and acknowledge it. I validate it as a real player in my life. And I choose to move forward despite it.

New foundations for life.

As I’ve done, and continue to do this journey, I use six foundations to build a new life: release, fulfilment, intuitive genius, collaboration, celebration and transformation. I took those Six Pillars of Thriving and incorporated them into my signature coaching program, The Sassy Women’s Project. This coaching program is specifically designed for women, like myself, who have rescued themselves from abusive relationships and are in the process of rebuilding and recreating their lives.

If you are on a similar path and want some guidance and support, I have complementary 30-minute discovery calls available. You will also receive a free copy of The Six Pillars of Thriving. You can use these same foundations to recover your dreams and uncover your superpower.

To schedule your complimentary discovery call, go to www.calendly.com/bronwilliams and choose a time that suits you. That free PDF will then wing its way to your inbox (or maybe your spam file so check there too!)

Let’s talk soon, so you too can be powered by your past!

It’s Not Your Fault!

How many times have you felt guilty and blamed yourself for the situation you found yourself in?

That’s what it feels like, isn’t it? That you suddenly found yourself in a situation of abuse?

It started off wonderfully…

The relationship began normally, wonderfully. You were both in love. You loved being together, you planned a future together.

Maybe you were a bit naïve and ignored some potential red flags, thinking that they weren’t so bad or that things would change as the relationship deepened. But they didn’t change, and things got worse.

Slowly.

By degrees.

But then you began to disappear…

As time went on, you felt yourself disappearing in the relationship, even though you were strong and intelligent. Even though you had opinions of your own, it felt like what you thought didn’t really matter, because he somehow always got his own way. Did what he wanted to do…or not.

And you felt guilty. It felt like the things that were wrong in the relationship were somehow your fault. And it was your responsibility to fix them.

The responsibility was all yours

You tried. Over and over again, you tried. Couples counselling. Reading books together. Trying to set healthy boundaries. Having the difficult conversations. But nothing changed.

Then you could take no more…and so you left. You walked away from all you’d built, and you felt like you’d failed. Big time. You had been responsible for the health of your relationship and it had failed and so it was your fault.

It takes a long time to realise that the health of a relationship is the responsibility of both people involved.

At first, your head acknowledges this truth, but it takes a significantly longer time for your heart to fully accept that you are not solely responsible for whether the relationship survived or thrived.

You feel guilty and ashamed…

You carry guilt and shame. You feel like a failure. But you can see it another way.

The most helpful thing I did with my own abuse/leaving/divorce story was to own it. I’d spent many years trying to hide from that fact that this was now a big part of my life story. Cognitively, I knew what had happened, but emotionally I was still in denial.

Until I read Brene Brown’s words: “The most courageous thing we can do is own our story and love ourselves through the process.” So, I owned my abuse/leaving/divorce story. I took it to myself. I no longer tried to deny it to myself or wish it hadn’t happened.

It had happened. It had happened to me. It was my story.

Own your story

And as soon as I owned it as mine, all the shame and guilt I’d been carrying disappeared.

I didn’t deserve to be in an abusive relationship. I wasn’t responsible for the way my ex-husband treated me. But I was responsible for the way I now lived my life.

And I’m doing that in freedom and fulfilment. Because this story is my story.

The abuse shaped my life, but it doesn’t define it.

The abuse buried my dreams, but now I’m recovering them.

The abuse birthed in me a superpower, now uncovered, with which I face life and forge my new future.

Is this you?

Is any of this resonating with you?

Are you carrying guilt and shame and a deep sense of responsibility for the abuse you experienced?

There is a way to come to grips with the difficult parts of your life story and then leave the guilt and shame behind. That’s why I developed The Sassy Women’s Project, to assist women on their journey from abuse survivor to thriver.

This 12-month program includes The Six Pillars of Thriving, the foundational steps for rebuilding life –  release, fulfilment, intuitive genius, collaboration, celebration and transformation, as well as monthly coaching calls.

To find out more about this program, and if it is a good fit for you, leave your details below.

I’ll send you a free PDF of The Six Pillars and details about how to schedule a complementary discovery call.

You can be powered by your past.

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There is a gift in the pain

There is a gift in pain.

When we think of gifts, we think of wonderful surprises that bring us joy and happiness. There is the wide-eyed delight on a child’s face as they open the biggest present under the Christmas tree. We think of the love on a parent’s face as they hold their newborn for the first time. There is the look of joy on the faces of two people as they pledge themselves to each other for life.

When I grow up…

When we were children, we thought that everything would be great ‘when we grow up’. We could get to be whatever we wanted to be…when I grow up I’m going to be a pilot/ a model/ a nurse, a fireman. Children believe that, as adults, they will be able to make all the decisions, and do whatever they want to do. That no-one would tell them what to do. And that life would be wonderful.

But then, children grow up and discover that it aint so!

We found out that life could deal us blows that we never dreamed of. People discover that life can rob them of the things most precious to them. We realise that even with our best efforts, life does not necessarily turn out the way we planned, or the way we’d like it to. Sadly, for some people, that realisation comes early, in childhood, at the hands of people they trusted.

And nobody, nobody, ever told us that life would bring pain.

Burying pain

Whether it’s physical pain, mental pain or emotional pain, the dominant message we receive via culture and advertising is to anesthetise.

Dull the pain.

Take the edge off.

Bury the pain.

Ignore it.

Work through it.

Push through the pain.

Pain is seen as a barrier in life, a barrier to living the wonderful ‘when I grow up’ fantasy life that we continue to believe is reality. Pain is seen as a negative, as something intrinsically bad or wrong, something that gets in the way of living the fulfilled wonderful life of our childhood dreams.

Pain is normal

But what if we choose to see pain as a normal part of life? Because it is!

Pain comes to us all.

What if we accepted that as a reality and then when pain comes, when the difficulties of life arise, we are much less surprised and much more able to see the pain for what it is – a normal part of life and a bringer of unique gifts.

Could pain be a gift?

We usually don’t see the pain, that accompanies difficult life events, as a gift because we are addicted to life being wonderful. We don’t see abuse, or miscarriage, or death, or divorce or poverty, as gifts. And in themselves they are not things that we attract or welcome into our lives. They are painful parts of the human experience. Common parts of the human experience. But could they be gifts to us? Could the difficult, terrible, awful things that happen to every human being also be gifts?

Could there be a gift in the pain we experience? My answer is, of course, yes!

What is the gift in pain?

The people who have faced pain and difficulty, huge difficulty, and come out the other side will tell you that they wouldn’t change a thing. They will tell you that the divorce, the loss of legs, or any one of many versions of life’s difficulties, was the one thing that changed them and shaped them and made them who they are today. And they wouldn’t change their life experience. Some even say that the difficulty is the best thing that has happened to them. (Joel Scott’s story is just one of many.)

How can that possibly be?

They have found the gift that pain brings.

They have discovered the resilience, strength, compassion, self-awareness, character, values, love, courage…any one of numerous qualities that are both birthed and developed in the difficulties of life.

They have found the gift in the pain.

The gift does not negate the pain

I want to be clear. Finding the gift in the pain is not another form of anesthetising yourself to the pain. I am in no way discounting the depth or intensity of pain that people feel in life’s difficulties, nor am I approving of the pain that human beings willingly inflict on each other.

The pain is real, and it often lasts for years.

But, if we could accept that pain is a part of life – necessary for our development as human beings – when pain comes to us perhaps we could view it differently.

There is a gift in the pain

When pain comes, as it inevitably does – more than once in any lifetime – we could allow ourselves to really feel it. We could allow ourselves to sit with the grief that accompanies loss. We could allow ourselves to be angry and frustrated with how things have changed. We could honour all that we feel in the face of life’s hard times.

And by doing this, we allow ourselves – and others – to be fully human. Flawed hurting human beings. People who love and lose. We accept pain and difficulty as normal. We even embrace the difficult times knowing that in them we discover something very precious. We discover a depth to ourselves that we never knew existed. We discover that we are more flawed than we like to think – and that’s okay. We discover that we really are wonderful in our brokenness in a way we ever dreamed possible.

We discover that there is a gift in the pain.

Has this been your experience? Do you know how to find the gift in the pain that you’ve experienced?

My Six Pillars of Thriving is one way to start looking at what you can do with the pain of your life. If you’d like a free PDF copy, just fill in your details below and it’ll wing its way to your inbox.

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