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#IAmASurvivor- Paula

#IAmASurvivor are stories from women of all walks of life, telling their stories of survival. Everybody is a survivor and all stories deserve to be told. These stories are all in their own words.

In 2006, my 6.5yr relationship had hit rock bottom and my life was at an all-time low. I was juggling a full-time job, studying for my degree part-time and trying to find some kind of work-life balance. I was not in a good space mentally and emotionally.

I had also had a string of failed relationships behind me and had been running from my own personal demons of losing my mother at age 7, sexual abuse and an eating disorder which had severely impacted my self-worth and self-confidence (view my video clip here)

My partner and I at the time were going for therapy to try and save our relationship and this is when our therapist referred us to Imago Relationship Therapy.

I was astounded at how powerful Imago is and the insights I gained into how our upbringing shapes us, the person we become and the relationships we have. Our childhood is where the foundation of our emotional intelligence is formed and is what we carry with us throughout our lifetime. I decided there and then to apply to be trained in Imago Relationship Therapy as I wanted to share the insights I had gained with others. Life is too short to be miserable especially in our relationships which is supposed to be our biggest source of support and nurturing.

Unfortunately I had to turn down the next Imago Training intake as my relationship had ended and I was in the throes of moving house and I did not have the finances available for the training. The following year when the Imago training came around again, I had to once again turn down the training as I had started a new job and did not have any leave days available to me to do the training in my personal capacity. The third time the Imago training came around, I was able to sign up and complete my Imago training and 2009 was the start my Imago journey.

I started practicing Imago in a part-time capacity in the evenings and on the weekends as a way to get practical experience with clients and also started facilitating my first series of workshops.

Over time I had quite a few individuals coming to see me and decided I needed some additional skills to enable me to work with individuals as opposed to couples which Imago mainly focuses on. It was then that I decided to study Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) to further equip myself to help my clients better with insights and tools they could use to help them move forward.

Having been through both the Imago and NLP processes myself, it has changed the way I view the world, people and my relationships. I also have more empathy, compassion and understanding for others by applying these principles daily in all areas of my life and in the work I do.

I had always been of the view that one day I would leave my corporate job to pursue coaching and working with people as my ‘second career’. But when you continually put things out there, the Universe will conspire to make it happen.

In 2014 an opportunity came up to join an existing health practice and expand it into a holistic wellness centre so I decided to take a leap of faith and leave corporate and pursue my newfound passion of working with people.

Unfortunately it didn’t last very long and after 3 months the whole concept fell through and everyone that had joined the initiative at the start had left, leaving me unemployed after 3 months of leaving corporate. This was quite a scary place for me as one of my biggest fears was the risk of financial failure and here I was looking down the barrel of my biggest fear.

At the same time, a friend had recently been retrenched from her job and we agreed to partner on a business idea which gave me some renewed comfort that everything would work out ok. However this too was short lived as a year later the partnership ended and once again I found myself ‘unemployed’.

It was at this stage I decided to back myself and really give myself the opportunity to build and grow my own business and have made this my focus and priority going forward.

Having spent over 16years in the corporate world working in organisations such as Standard Bank, Nedbank and KFC - I learned many lessons on relationships in the workplace, people and team dynamics and leadership traits.

Whether we like it or not we cannot separate work from our personal lives, they are integrated and contribute to our overall health and well-being.

I decided to combine both my personal experience and professional training and created several packages and services for both individuals in their personal capacity and organisations focusing on relationship dynamics i.e. self-awareness, emotional intelligence, conflict management, team dynamics, behavior profiling and more.

Over the years I’ve learned that Entrepreneurship can be a very lonely journey as you often don’t have many people to assist you with decisions you need to make and often you have to take on the role of everything and everyone in the business as you constantly deal with the daily hustle to make things happen.

In the process of establishing my business, I have authored two self-help guides: Embracing Conflict and Embracing No which is filled with practical tools and insights for personal growth. My books have been endorsed by the likes of international EQ author Harvey Deutschendorf, Margaret Hirsch, COE of Hirsch’s Home stores and Colleen Larson, CE of Business Engage and President of 30% Club Southern Africa and East Africa.

As a result of the lessons I’ve learned along the way in my entrepreneur journey, I firmly believe in having mentors and a strong support network to act as a sounding board, guide and collective wisdom to help me keep moving forward. It hasn’t always been easy, there have been days when I have questioned whether I’m cut out for it and on other days when I have achieved some small successes or overcome a challenge I’ve been facing, I am inspired to keep going. I want to encourage you to do the same in your journey no matter what it may be – keep going, you’ve got this.

Follow Paula on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

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