Archive for story

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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Do you hear what I hear?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve blogged about the stories I’ve heard surrounding Australia’s history, and how hearing other stories than the ones I grew up listening to has changed my perspective.

In this blog, I want to step in more closely and explore some of the intricacies of hearing and listening at a personal level.

I’m a wordsmith, a person of words – I love to read, write and talk.

If you want to inspire me – talk to me. If you want to build me up and encourage me – tell me I’m doing a great job. I tell the people I care about that I love them and I love to hear someone tell me that they love me too.

However, not everyone is as adapt or comfortable with words as I am. Not everyone communicates their love and affection through words.

My mum shows her love by the things she does – usually something she makes. Mum is of a generation when verbally expressing feelings was not expected, and my siblings and I waited until adulthood to hear Mum actually say ‘I love you’.

But I knew Mum loved me when she came and did the ironing for me after the birth of my third child (ironing is Mum’s least-favourite task) and, years later, when she embroidered a picture of dragonflies (my favourite) for me.

More recently, someone close to me said that sharing the music on their playlist was their way of expressing their feelings. I’m glad they told me that because I didn’t instinctively know this as I communicate differently.

One of the challenges of intimate relationships, parents and children, friendships or work-place relationships is the often unacknowledged expectations around communication.

I am learning that, although I am a person for whom words of affirmation are important, I need to listen to what others are ‘saying’ to me in ways other than words. I am learning to hear what others are ‘saying’ when they don’t or can’t use words.

I am learning to ‘listen’ carefully for the things those I care about ‘say’ to me through their actions and the things they share in ways other than words.

If I assume that the only way to declare love or concern is through words, then it’s easy to assume that another does not feel those things just because they are not expressed in the ways I want to ‘hear’.

I am learning to ‘listen’ with my eyes, to notice what others do. I am learning to ‘listen’ for the things others don’t say. I am learning to ‘read between the lines’ of what others say and do.

When I do that, I ‘hear’ much more than is immediately obvious and I don’t miss the things that are actually being said in less obvious ways. Most importantly, I don’t discount what others feel or intend because they express it differently to the way I do.

Guiding Stories

There comes a moment when the old stories start to lose their power.

This happens when an event, or series of them, disrupts the narrative that is our life by inserting an alternate story into that narrative.

That happened for me as I worked in off-shore processing in Nauru. With a front-row seat to changes in government policy, and the impact of those policies on people without power, I began to question the ‘white Australian story’ that I’d grown up with.

As I began to step away from that story, I began to really listen to the stories of indigenous Australians, which made me reassess my place in Australia and its history. As my perspective changed, those who were close to me did one of two things: they allowed this alternate story to change their own outlook or they held more tightly to the old story.

Those around me who held on to the narratives of white privilege felt threatened by the growth in influence of narratives other than their own. This sense of threat sprang from an unacknowledged fear that their comfortable way of looking at life and living in this society was in losing its power.

This ‘white Australian story’ that I’d grown up with, having been raised in a white, middle-class, conservative, Bible-belt area of Sydney, had been a comforting narrative for much of my then 50+ years. It was comforting for those who were ‘in’ because it upheld the status quo of white privilege.

However, this narrative is no longer my ‘guiding story’, nor is it the guiding story for life in 21st century Australia. I am thankful to my good friend Bruce Adams for this insight.

Although white privilege is alive and well in Australia, although indigenous Australians are still disadvantaged and suffer systemic discrimination, although racism remains an ugly issue, it is becoming clear that these ways of looking at life are much less tolerated.

There is a new guiding story being written for Australia and many authors can, and are, contributing.

Its chief authors must be indigenous Australians, whose story has for too long been shunned, ignored and silenced. Other authors are those who have made Australia home, having arrived as international students, migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

White Australians are authors too – this is our home – but we must be more aware of how dominant and destructive our version of the story has been and be prepared to listen to and embrace other versions of the story.

As we build this new narrative, perhaps Australia could return to its indigenous roots and become what it once was, tens of thousands of years ago – a true home to many nations.

The stories we tell and the stories we hear

Much has been said about Fremantle Council’s recent decision to cancel the fireworks at Australia Day celebrations out of respect for indigenous Australians.

An editorial in a well-known paper, after outlining the writer’s stance on Australia Day as a day to both celebrate and think, then referred to ‘the isolated moments of darkness in our dealings with Aboriginal Australians’. The writer then described January 26, 1788 as a ‘nasty surprise’ for ‘our indigenous mates’.

This writer was telling the story of the landing of British troops and convicts in Australia and the ongoing implications and consequences.

However, the story I heard was one of white entitlement to a land that was already occupied.

What I heard was an attempt to reduce the impact of white settlement to a ‘nasty surprise’ – in much the same way as a spider in your shoe is a nasty surprise. What I heard was a white Australian conflating 200+ years of discrimination, forced removal of children, rape, murder and disenfranchising to ‘isolated moments’.

However, I’m also sure that other readers heard a corroboration of their stance that Australia Day should be left alone and that indigenous Australians need to just stop whingeing and let bye-gones be bye-gones – after all, we’ve said ‘sorry’.

Now I get this. I’m a white Australian who loves this country dearly.

For years, I couldn’t understand why indigenous Australians banged on so much about their connection to the land; I didn’t understand why Mabo was so important; I didn’t understand why we couldn’t all just be Aussies together.

But what I really didn’t understand was that indigenous Australians were only considered Australian citizens during my lifetime. I didn’t understand that indigenous Australians had been classified as flora and fauna.

I didn’t understand that what I’d been taught in school about European settlement of Australia had a very different perspective if you were indigenous. I didn’t understand that the stories we tell can be heard very differently depending on who you are and what your background is.

It took an experience working in off-shore processing with asylum seekers to open my eyes to a new perspective.

White settlement or white invasion is the backstory of my nation. The intentional attempt to decimate a whole people or the intentional attempt to build a new country is the backstory of my nation.

How this story is heard depends on where you stand.