Author Archive for Bron Williams

How do leaders handle difficult emotions?

Have you ever felt rage, or any other difficult emotion, so deeply and intensely that it threatened your ability to operate normally? If this happened in the workplace, how did you manage that?

Rage is a difficult emotion

The rage I felt was cold and deep. It sat on my chest with such weight that I felt that if I didn’t get out of the water I’d forget how to swim. My rage, an emotion I have rarely felt (I’ve been angry, but this was very different) was one of many emotions I experienced in the last month of my mum’s life. It manifested itself after Mum agreed to go in aged care.

I was elated that, after a year of negotiating this next step with my very switched on and independent mother, she had finally agreed that she could no longer look after herself and would make the move to aged care. In that year, Mum had been hospitalised four times, two because of significant breaks from falling over. In that year, my siblings, their partners and myself had tag-teamed being with Mum in her house, because we knew that she was no longer safe to be on her own.

My rage came from feeling that we’d all wasted a year delaying the inevitable. That in that year, Mum would have found a new lease on life, perhaps not fallen as much and we would have been saved months of worry that lay beneath every decision we made.

Now, I know there may be people who will decry my feeling such a thing in the face of Mum’s impending passing. But emotions have no moral value. They are neither good nor bad. They just are.

But what we do with them is key.

How can we handle difficult emotions?

Usually we have three choices with emotions, be they easy to handle or unpleasant.

  1. We can resist them and push them down – only to have them rear up when we least expect them to.
  2. We can give vent to them in an unrestrained and unfiltered way with accompanying consequences (even unrestrained joy can be difficult for those around us to handle).
  3. Or we can acknowledge what we feel and then decide how we want to respond.

With my rage, I got out of the water because I knew I had to focus on what I was feeling. I went and sat in my car and explored not only what I was feeling but dug into the why, and then returned to Mum’s place and chose not to act out of that emotion. I understood why she resisted the move for so long and it was important for me to hold both my own emotions and my understanding of my mother in balance – and then choose how to deal with the situation.

So how do we apply this as women who lead?

What can a leader do with difficult emotions in the workplace?

In any situation where we lead others we will be triggered by their actions, attitudes and emotions. That is unavoidable. And, unfortunately, women and their opinions are unfairly dismissed as being too emotional and thus less valid. But the strength of women is that ability to tap into their emotions. Emotions are indicators of things happening at an unconscious level that, when identified, can bring deeper awareness to a situation.

When a situation arises as a leader that triggers a deep emotional response:

  1. Allow the emotion its space to just be – give time to recognising exactly what you are feeling.
  2. Try to identify what the trigger was and why this event has elicited this particular emotion. However, don’t judge yourself or the emotion.
  3. Decide how to respond both to the emotion and the situation that triggered it. What you do with the emotion is key to your growth and effectiveness as a leader.

Emotions can be wonderful tools for self-awareness and self-leadership. Acknowledge the presence of emotions. Allow them space, let them pass of their own accord and in their own time. Use emotions to lead others, and yourself, well.

How are you handling your difficult emotions?

You can develop skills for handling emotions in the workplace. To find out how, schedule an initial session by filling in the form below.

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We all have life stories, or backstories, that arise from our upbringing and experiences. These stories have the ability to either take energy and capacity from, or add them to, our lives.

Attachments

A negative outcome of the stories we tell ourselves is attachments. Attachments sound as though they should be positives. After all, it’s not a bad thing to be attached to things, is it? Not unless those attachments become essential to our well–being—like a child’s favourite toy that they won’t go anywhere without—which is okay when you’re three, but not at 23 or 33!

Hoarding is a version of attachment, where people are unable to throw out things they don’t need, even things that are broken, because they have come to have emotional significance for the person or they remind them of something that has been important to them in the past.

Attachment to people

Attachments can also be to people. This is healthy if the relationship is sound and mutually supportive, but unhealthy or abusive attachments are not okay, nor are co-dependent relationships that enable abuse through attachments. And attachments can take the shape of seeking approval or affection from particular people – parents, significant siblings, friends and workplace or business colleagues. Such attachments can see us continually striving to impress or to receive a word of praise.

Attachment to identity

One of the strongest attachments we can have is to our identity – how we see ourselves. My identity, for much of my adult life, was modelled on what I saw in my mum – a self-contained independent woman who valued being in control. It took me a long time to recognise that my identity was an assumed one. And I had to learn how to let go of my attachment to this perceived identity as it wasn’t authentic and it was not healthy for me long-term.

Connections

The flip side to attachments is connections – with our true selves and with others.

Connections are influences, networks, links, associations, bonds and ties. They are those people, events and emotions that link us in positive ways to other people and to the future.

Intentional connections

There is a real intentionality about connections. While an attachment can form unconsciously in childhood, as adults we choose to connect. And we can choose who and what we connect with. There are obviously some connections we do not get to choose – like family. However, even within family we can choose how connected we are to different members. We can choose to allow certain people to be influencers in our lives.

Connections allow us to grow, to be associated with people, ideas and experiences that stretch us, challenge us, even confront us. Connections enable us to grow rather than to drag us down or belittle us. As I let go of my attachment to my perceived identity, I found I could connect more readily with my authentic self. I discovered I am more wilder-woman/gypsy goddess than buttoned-down control-freak.

Time to connect the dots

At the start of a new year, reflect on what may our own unhealthy attachment. Also start to foster intentional connections to aid both ourselves and others.

If you would like to work with an experienced potential coach to take you to the next level in leading your life, work or career, book into my next online Connect the Dots Masterclass.

Do you want to connect in person with other women who lead? Then register for my next Connect the Dots Panel Evening – full of fun and wisdom.

You may be looking for a keynote speaker. Then check out my speaker site – I speak on thriving after domestic abuse and unconscious bias.

I’m happy to send you a complimentary copy of The Six Pillars of Thriving, designed for women who are rebuilding life after domestic abuse.

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!