It was December last year when I received an email inviting me to speak on one of the most prestigious stages I have ever spoken on.
To say I was jumping all over the place with the unbridled enthusiasm of a ninja in a leotard high on red cordial, would be a massive understatement.
What followed was meeting with my assigned coach where we outlined the concept for the talk and set some agreed upon timelines for crafting my little piece of magic.
Going into the meeting I felt that a talk sharing my journey out of depression, backed by scientific research would make for an inspiring piece.
I had created a 10-session program where I could get someone depression and pill free, despite worldwide belief that depression was a chemical imbalance that could only be managed with pills.
Yet as I shared my ideas, my coach encouraged me to instead focus on my philosophy of ‘dating’ oneself.
Dating oneself was something I’d come up with that had not only helped my depression clients overcome their issues, but helped many people get a much deeper understanding of themselves so they could create more happiness, more abundance and more ease in their life.
Dating yourself creates the space to enjoy deep self-love, which is an essential part of staying not only happy, but healthy too.
As I share in the courses I run, modern science now shows that love can instantly heal life-threatening illnesses.
Self-love really is the most potent healer on Earth – so I could see great value in structuring a talk around ‘dating myself’, due to the myriad of mental and physical benefits.
One week prior to the timeline my coach and I had agreed upon for me to send him my first rough draft, he sent me an aggressive email accusing me of things that were not true.
I was shocked, having no idea where this email had come from given we were right on track with the timelines we’d originally set.
When we spoke on the phone the next day I was met with an apology straight up which I was appreciative of, until he followed it with a ‘but’ which essentially erases anything that comes before it.
Despite me setting some clear boundaries on how I wished to be treated, I was told ‘I don’t care about you. All I care about is getting a talk to my boss.’
I was speechless.
I had believed that this organisation cared about people – wasn’t that the purpose of sharing these inspirational talks with the world?
It would appear that this coach didn’t care for me one bit.
The role of a coach is to support, encourage and inspire their client, not instill them with fear.
Fear and pressure only cause people pain.
It was during this conversation, after I expressed that I did not appreciate him automatically assuming the worst of me, that he replied: ‘Isn’t it natural human behavior to assume the worst of people?’
Again, stunned by his response, I was rendered speechless for a moment as I realised that I was dealing with someone who had a very negative view of life.
I had learnt through my work as a therapist that what we believe about the world around us is always true.
If we see the best in people and expect positive outcomes then that is what we attract.
Yet if we expect the worst and worry about worst-case scenarios, that is what we create.
After some other comments that displayed that he had no respect for me as a person,
I realised that we were not a good fit for each other.
Our life views were like vegemite and strawberry ice cream; things that simply don’t go well together.
After the phone call I sent an email to the person in charge asking about the possibility of switching coaches.
But after not hearing back (due this person’s email address being changed) I soldiered on with my coach.
After all, I didn’t want to create a fuss and ruin my chances of doing this ‘prestigeous’ talk!
My coach did seem to be better to work with after that conversation, but the underlying pressure and what I viewed as subtle digs, slowly crept back in.
Being someone whose writing always flows with ease and always receiving tremendous feedback after the talks I give, for the first time ever I found myself struggling with my talk.
For me, pressure and fear are my biggest two disablers.
When I am supported and feel cared about, I am inspired and words just fall out of me naturally.
My coach was telling me to put things in my talk that I did not feel comfortable about and kept contradicting what he thought should be in the talk.
Confusion set in, and despite my writer’s block, my tears, my frustrations, my stress-filled face and desire to give up, I kept coming up with the goods.
Draft after draft I did as I was directed by my coach, but I was no longer enjoying the process.
Any joy I felt about writing and crafting talks, was gone.
I could feel my body aching from the stress, I wasn’t sleeping properly and my whole life had been put on hold as I tried to create this talk.
I’d stopped dating myself, when it was dating myself that allowed my writing to flow.
Here I was writing about dating myself and I was no longer walking my talk.
I knew I could not deliver my best work being in such a negative partnership.
I could feel this deep ache inside that was saying ‘No – this can’t go on!’
It was after coming home from the Seven Sisters festival – where I had presented two talks that had packed out, with participants telling me it was their favourite talk of the festival – that I knew what I needed to do.
I had to pull out!
I could no longer compromise my health or the message I wanted to share.
I had wanted to do a talk on this stage for so long – but like my mother had said to me that weekend: ‘Nothing is worth that much stress’.
She was right.
I called the organiser and said: ‘I cannot work with my coach any longer. If another coach is not available, while I would love to present a talk, I am pulling out.’
The next morning I received an email saying I had been taken off the speakers list.
Reading that email I felt relief set in.
I felt free!
I had my life back.
I could now get back to sharing my message with people who appreciated me, and valued what I had to offer.
People who respected me.
Despite phone calls and emails with the organizer, this person didn’t see the treatment I received from my coach as a concern.
I was genuinely surprised that what I felt to be bullying behavior was being dismissed by such a reputable organisation.
The organiser went on to say that ‘Self-Love just isn’t hard-hitting enough for the our stage’.
There you had it.
The core of who we are – the one thing that has the ability to create world peace – and it simply isn’t hard-hitting enough for their stage!
When I asked to speak to someone higher, I was met with an email trying to instill fear in me in a bid to stop me speaking up.
I no longer cared about the talk, but I did feel that this kind of behavior should be addressed, so I organised to meet with the person who overseas the talks in Australia, only for him to do a no-show, later sending me an email saying that something had come up.
Was this yet another example of a lack of respect?
My ego wanted these people held accountable.
Every attempt I’d made to talk through this situation had been shut down.
Was this kind of behavior not of concern to these people?
The journalist in me wanted to splash headlines around the Internet like ’Self-Love not fit for the stage,’ or ‘Internal bullying at play,’ but my heart knew this was simply the voice of my ego, and was not addressing the deeper issue.
Who was I to decide how someone else should learn their life lessons?
That wasn’t up to me.
The only lessons I had to be looking out for, were my own.
For that is the only place that lies any power.
Every person we come into contact with has valuable lessons for us.
We can deny those lessons and instead make them wrong about their actions, pointing our finger in blame, or we can choose how we react, and learn and grow from the situation.
I chose to grow.
I recognised that I didn’t need to make anyone wrong about what happened.
Because there is no right or wrong.
There just is.
Whether the treatment I received from my coach was in fact what the Human Rights Association of Australia would deem as bullying, is irrelevant.
I felt the behavior I received was inappropriate.
That is what mattered.
If you find someone else’s behavior disrespectful and aggressive, then that is the truth for YOU.
It doesn’t make it good or bad, right or wrong.
Everything that happens in an opportunity to learn and grow.
My beef wasn’t with this organisation so much as it was with ME for not pulling the pin sooner.
For respecting myself sooner.
Sure, I stood up for myself early on, but I continued to work with this person, knowing full well we weren’t a good fit.
Because I wanted that talk.
I was attached to doing that talk.
It can be really easy to get caught up in the excitement of living the dream we thought we wanted.
But when we get there, sometimes it’s not as we imagined.
And to allow ourselves to be treated in ways that we find disrespectful, simply isn’t worth it.
I, like many people, don’t like giving up.
We like to soldier through.
But sometimes that soldiering through is to our own detriment.
Besides, there was a part of me that was scared of being seen as a failure.
Yet the truth is: We never fail.
Failure in this instance would have been to push through, disrespecting myself in the process, and deliver a talk that my heart simply wasn’t in.
Failure would have been staying in an environment with people who did not respect me.
We only fail ourself when we refuse to follow our truth.
My truth was to respect myself enough to walk away.
To pull out of something that, once upon a time, had meant so much to me.
Besides now I have the time and space to share my message of Self-Love in a way that aligns with my values and my purpose.
Plus I’m going to be recording the talk I wrote and sharing it with YOU in next week’s blog.
So stay tuned for that!
But just in case you missed the main message of this week’s blog, it is this…
No matter what you want in life, nothing is worth letting someone else treat you with disrespect.
I did this for a whole month and it was horrid.
I dealt with it well given the circumstances, but even I get tested sometimes.
We all do.
And despite our best intentions to always come from a loving space, sometimes we get knocked off our perch in order to learn another lesson.
To strengthen our relationship with self.
Life is a learning experience and the sh*t that blows up in our faces is just part of the journey.
A journey into self-love and self-acceptance, and of course, self-respect!
If you feel you are being mistreated, and that is true for you, then please learn from my experience and leave the situation.
You don’t have to put up with anything that you find disrespectful, whether that is in the workplace, in a personal relationship or with another business.
No sale, relationship, job or seemingly prestigous talk is worth sacrificing yourself over.
Everyone deserves respect.
And the one place where that that respect starts, is by you respecting yourself.