Free yourself

Free yourself

‘You are not a victim. You may have been victimised, but you are not a victim.’
Mel Robbins

Listening to Mel Robbins explain this to a woman she was coaching made me appreciate her just a little bit more than I did already.

Why? Because she had so clearly and concisely articulated something that had been nagging the living daylights out of me whenever I heard the word ‘victim’ or ‘survivor’. Those words would set my teeth on edge. I felt my hackles rise. But I couldn’t work out why, to begin with.

A few years ago, when I was having a major crisis of confidence, even though I was a sobbing in the loos at work, over-exhausted, sugar-bingeing wreck, I was still railing against the idea of being a victim. I didn’t know why. I just knew, instinctively, that it felt wrong.

But now, as a fully trained RTT Therapist with a shedload of Continuous Professional Development and enough time in practice to have a lovely group of happy clients behind me, I know why.

Because  words like ‘victim’ and ‘survivor’, they put you, me, anyone in a box with a big label on it. And no one needs that.

Once you’re in that mindset – of being defined as a victim of bullying, or a crime, or your own procrastination… whatever the label says you are – you get stuck with that definition. ‘I’m a victim and therefore I am x and y and z.’ Whatever your x, y and z are for you, I’m willing to bet they are judgemental, negative and designed to keep you holed up in the past.

What Mel is saying, and what I am absolutely sure is true, is let someone put you in a box with a label on it and you’ll then have the added problem of breaking out of that and ripping off the label.

Dreadful things may have happened to you, there are some messed up people out there who damage others through their own tortured weakness. All the more reason to wash off their energy and step away from their cruelty. Not lock yourself in a box with it.

And of course there is another saying, one I’m particularly fond of… ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold’.

Nothing cheers me more than looking back at all the bad bosses, the girl who bullied me at school and that very sad boy who sexually assaulted me when I was a teenager and I think ‘ha’. (I might think a few other words, you can use your own imagination there), because their weakness makes me stronger.

Every time I fall over, I learn. Every time I get up, I get up stronger. Every time I look back at them, I see their influence, no matter how painful at the time, pushed me forward into ways of thinking, learning and being that not only benefit me, but also allow me to serve others more powerfully.

And how good is that?

Stepping up to embody our confidence is available to us all of us. If you think I can help you move forward, get in touch.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall…

Mirror, mirror, on the wall…

I have done it again. I have been here many times before / Hurt myself again today / And the worst part is there’s no one else to blame.” Breathe Me. Sia

‘You’re fat. You’re looking old. Oh my God, you’re so looking so old. Look at your lines. Who do you think you are? Seriously? Everyone thinks you’re pathetic.’

In this third in my series of blogs on bullying we say ‘hello’ to an inner bully.

Oh yes. This lovely little madam isn’t at high school, she isn’t an internet troll. She’s not working in an office, fiercely polishing her nails as she plots and seeks to control her own fear by picking on others. She lives inside a woman. And pretty amazing woman at that.

This particular inner bully lives with a highly articulate, career-loving queen of multi-tasking who has achieved in just about everything she touches; from her ‘oh I don’t like to talk about it’ charity work to her beautiful family.

And she’s not alone. I work with women who win multiple awards, have their own successful businesses or jobs, lovely homes… in short, on paper, look like shining beacons of ‘having it all’. But what they also have is an inner bitch.

Why is this woman so hard on herself? Would she think this or say this about anyone else? Not even if that woman were jabber-the-hut proportioned and 2,000 years old. But it’s ok to say this to yourself.

So what’s going on?

If this scenario is familiar to you. Then I expect you’ve been living with an inner critic for years and I bet you bumped along with yours for years before you noticed the condemning look from the mirror. From the reflection in the shop window. In the eyes of the waitress at the restaurant. 

When you hear this bully making her presence known, remember this:

  1. Her presence is not your fault.
  2. She is using everything in the book to keep you small. It’s not true.
  3. You need to hear the very opposite of her crap but you also need to do some homework first
  4. A bit like in a fairy tale, when you understand her and disarm her, her witch power starts to evaporate.

So where did this little madam come from?

A common thread I see amongst the women I work with is they have, at some point, been shamed by a parent. Usually the mother and/or mother-figure in the house is the one whose actions are at the root of this.

Now we all do things wrong as children and we all get punished for our misdeeds, or we annoy the living daylights out of a parent and they use harsh words or actions in the moment. And of course there are the parents who are unfit parents and they will mess up their children deliberately, but by the large, this is not deliberate child sabotage.

They can’t or just forget to tell the child that regardless of their misdeed they love the child unconditionally and completely. Perhaps they don’t value themselves enough to realise how important they are in their child’s growth. Perhaps they do believe love is conditional and can be justifiably withheld. When the parent doesn’t sit down with the child and emphasise how loveable they are, regardless of what has happened, the child starts to focus on being defined by the perceived weakness.

Women constantly look to their mothers for cues on how they should grow and consider themselves. They may admire their mother’s strength and resilience and so they take on board their mother’s criticism and hold it in their hearts where it sits, echoing its mantra of self-criticism year after year after year…

Want to shut her up?

If you’ve woken up to your inner bully then you’ll have probably come across the idea of positive affirmations. You might even have stood in front of the mirror and tried telling yourself the opposite of what you’ve been calling yourself. And then felt a bit ridiculous. Then thought ‘oh it doesn’t work for me because I am fat/old/ugly/different’ (whatever your poison of choice is, insert here).

Swamp her with understanding

Understanding where this inner bully comes from is a huge step in dealing with her poison. If you can understand where this all began (and working with an RTT Therapist can be hugely effective in achieving this because your subconscious is completely immersed in the process with you) then you can know on a deep level that this hate mantra she spouts isn’t true. 

I’ve seen sea-change behaviour shifts in clients. In a matter of weeks they’ve moved from ‘I can’t go to a yoga class because everyone will think I’m fat’ to ‘oh I love it, I could go on my own. Actually, I’ve noticed I’m more flexible than other women in the class. And not everyone’s thin either.’ Change is possible.

The ‘you’re fat’ mantra comes up a lot. It’s not actually true though, is it. No one is literally fat. You are a mass of cells arranged in the shape of a human being. You are not literally ‘fat’. You may have fat cells, but you have many other types of cell too. Disarming the words’ power as playground name-calling is a start. Showing kindness to the inner bully, acknowledging she’s got it wrong and that you do have the power to change anything, including your own body, if you want to, quietens her. Because that is the truth. You have the power.

Listen for the quieter voice that speaks up when you’ve done well. Turn up her volume. Hear her admiration for your achievements. Your cleverness. Your capacity for nurturing and loving. For others and for you.

Becoming a loving parent to yourself

There are theories in psychology that we have within us our child self, our parent self and our adults self. Sometimes, in order to live fully as adults we need to practice parenting ourselves. Daily. Connecting to the child we were and making space to hear the words we longed to hear, from us. Who better to do the job now? 

I keep a photograph of myself as a two year old out in my bedroom. I pass it everyday. My grandad’s arms are around me. He’s looking down at me. I can see he’s smiling. I’m looking up. I know, in that moment, I am so loved. If you believe that love is an energy and that energy never dies then surely that love lives on in me. I keep it alive. So when I pass that photo and think ‘I love you’, yes I am talking to my grandad, but I am also talking to myself.




A letter to my school bully

A letter to my school bully

‘All cruelty springs from weakness.’
Seneca, 4BC-AD65

Dear Bully

For every time you walked behind me, calling me names, I want to thank you.

For every time you deliberately stood on the back of my heels, I want to thank you.

For every time you made me question my worth, I want to thank you.

For every tear, for every ache in my chest, for every stifled sob, I want to thank you.

For every time I pretended everything was fine while your words and meanness tore into me, I want to thank you.

This is why I thank you.

The moment I turned round and faced you, the moment I let go of my fear, the moment I pushed back, the moment I saw the shock in your eyes…

… and seeing you come late and tearfully into the French class, and realising as the days went by that you would leave me be now, that was life-changing for me.

You see, school for me was a sanctuary and I used it to feel safe and secure. Without that, I was struggling. I doubt that you saw that, you just instinctively recognised someone vulnerable. I’m sure you had your own problems, otherwise why would you need to feel powerful by hurting someone else? Perhaps you were being bullied at home, I don’t know.

But what you taught me was bullying won’t go away unless you take control. You taught me to stand up for myself and let go of fear. And although I sometimes I forget to live by this, by the large, when I remember, it serves me very well.

So with love, light and my very best wishes,

Deana xox


I write the above for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I’ve been doing a lot of letting go of fear recently, and that includes the fear of being vulnerable. So, trust me, from that place, the above serves me very well.

Secondly, if my story helps anyone stand up to a bully, whether they be in the workplace or in the classroom or even in their own home, then I  have spent an hour doing something worthwhile.

I am not for one moment suggesting you take the approach I did, which was to punch this girl on the nose. I’m not proud of what I did, but for a super-geek kid whose whole self-worth revolved around being thought well of at school, it was a massive demonstration of ‘enough’. I really didn’t care if I was expelled at that point. I don’t think I hit her that hard, although she did fall over, but it was her recognition that I wouldn’t stand for any more that saw her off. As it was, nothing happened. She barely spoke to me again at school.

So if you’re being bullied at work, see HR, demand a meeting and look your bully in the eye. Mediation is really only going to work if both parties are willing to enter into the process. Bullies aren’t invested in changing behaviours that feed a deep, dark need so, call me cynical, but I doubt you’ll get much from the bully. But the point is you are taking back your power and this means communicating you’re not standing for any more. If the bully is not for changing and you can’t get yourself moved from their influence then my advice would be focus on getting another job. It’s just a job, it does not define you. If you’re being bullied at home, get professional help. Talk to someone you know you can trust. If you’re being bullied at school, talk to a teacher you trust.

And that’s not easy, I know. Fear will kick in. The mind spends all its time trying to move us away from pain. If it perceives us hesitating then 101 reasons not to do anything will spring up. Just lean in to the uncomfortable feelings. Don’t spring back. Hear the excuses your mind comes up with, listen and smile and then take a step further towards freeing yourself.

If you’re wondering what happened to my bully, I can tell you.

Remember Friends Reunited? Back then she got in touch and told me how she’d had problems in her own life but she was happy to see how I seemed to be enjoying mine. I thanked her and told her I was.

Living life knowing I have the strength to stand up for myself has saved me from a lot of pain on numerous occasions.

It felt like the end of the world at the time. But it wasn’t. Everything is temporary. Everything changes.