Welcome to our next ‘campfire’ story.
The Campfire for the Heart project is a collection of true, international stories of human resilience.
Although every story is unique, they all highlight our ability to adapt positively to bad experiences and showcase our indomitable human spirit.
If you have an inspiring resilience story to share, or know someone who does,
please contact Natalie through www.stockdalewellbeing.com.
“The gifts of adversity
give you a lens of resilience that carries you through life
and expands your soul.”
I grew up in a migrant family in a low socio-economic part of Melbourne. We had a good family unit and from a young age, I was drawn to martial arts and nature. Self-discipline and fast, unconventional learning were innate. Although my high school was tough and riddled with bullying, I managed that with relative ease. In fact, the hostile culture taught me some valuable life navigation skills!
I faced my hardest challenge when I was nine. There were a lot of kids in the area and we’d often play together on the streets. There was an older boy who sexually abused a number of children in our street and my sister and I were among his victims. Being young, I didn’t understand what was going on. I was confused and fearful not only for myself, but for my sister who I wanted to protect.
I didn’t speak up because of the shame and disempowerment I felt, followed closely by guilt for not speaking up! My fear, shame, disempowerment and guilt about the abuse was soon intensified by another layer of distress. My mother innocently made a comment that many gay people were contracting AIDs and dying. In my nine-year old mind, I was therefore going to die! For a long time after the event, I lived with that belief and prayed for my life.
The belief eventually dissolved, but that experience reframed my world. I looked at the world with a sense of mortality, through the lens of a dying young boy. Everything that’s important in life became crystal clear. The gift of this experience was a deep appreciation of the present, of where I am now, as opposed to reliving the abuse.
Often people play DVDs of their past traumas in their mind. I chose not to. I unconsciously cultivated a deep sense of gratitude for the experience as it allowed me to discover the power of purpose, presence and mindset, which has served me well throughout my life. Gratitude, I learned, turns whatever you have into enough and allows your character to shine with its strengths.
The abuse empowered me to handle other challenges. Every other challenge I faced since then has been through the lens of resilience. The experience made me determined to never be disempowered again. I developed strength in spirit, mind and body through diving deeply into meditation, education in engineering and martial arts. My practice means I have strength in all aspects of life, which over time allowed for mastery in strategy, leadership, culture, innovation, entrepreneurship and continuous improvement.
Another challenge for me was mild visual dyslexia. Reading was always difficult, but I can see an extraordinary world of patterns which gave me advantages in mathematics and business. My dyslexia taught me the value of embracing our differences. The greatest innovations and advancements in humanity come from people who don’t fit the norms. Tesla and Einstein, for example. I call them outliers. They don’t have disabilities. They have special abilities. We can harness our differences, our uniqueness to create meaningful impact and evolution.
I also had Crohn’s disease, a chronic digestive tract disorder which doctors say, is incurable. I took symptom relief medication which led to depression, so I decided to cure it myself. I sat with why I had the disease. My father also had it and I realised that I wished it upon myself to relieve my father of it. I had an epiphany. I created it- emotionally, spiritually and energetically, so I can clear it the same way. Through the practice of various self-healing modalities, including Brian Weiss’s early and past life regression therapy, I was able to free myself completely from what is listed as an incurable disease.
I carefully documented and shared my protocol with my doctor thinking that he might want to document the case. Unfortunately, he only had the capacity to appreciate the physical and suggested the effects must have been dietary!
Through self-evolution and self-development, assisted with psychologists, I was able to make sense of and see clarity about my life. I realised that connecting to your purpose is key to a successful life. Early on, before I started my business, I had a vision of succeeding and pledged that once I reached the milestone of one million dollars, I’d commit those funds to making a meaningful impact on humanity. My personal purpose is to create a fairer world where every person has the opportunity to realise their full potential. To that end, I created a charity organisation called ShareTree.
ShareTree educates, engages and empowers altruistic individuals and businesses, while fostering a high-performance culture centred on gratitude. The enterprise was born out of the obvious lack of income equity globally. Almost 44% of the world’s wealth and income is held by less than 1% of the population. At the root of all limitation to people’s opportunities to meet to their fullest potential is a lack of enough.
My dream is for every person to have a sense of enough, so they can live with purpose and give their unique gifts to the world for the betterment of our planet and its dwellers. Imagine if everyone had the freedom to live with purpose. Once one has enough, their focus shifts from survival to fulfilment and purpose rises to the forefront of life’s focus.
My advice to people who are facing adversity is to face it head on- with your purpose and character. Summon your courage to confront the issue and grow your character. Grow your soul. Be clear on your purpose, centred in your being and focussed on where you are heading. When your purposeful, centred and focussed, the negative, critical people fall aside and, in that space, you attract people who are on similar journeys, who will inspire and uplift you.
Reflect upon what gifts come from your adversities. There are always gifts if you look for them. The gifts of adversity give you a lens of resilience that carries you through life and expands your soul. Growth can only come from strain, so do not flea or fear it. Be present where you are now and do not turn back to your traumas, rather see them as gifts to your growth.
Lead your life with integrity and passion. Love what you do so at the end of your days, when you reflect on life, you will look not at how much you made, but how much you’ve made a difference.