Written communication is seriously tricky. Tone of voice, intention and meaning can easily be misinterpreted and it happens all the time. Take a look around on social media, email and just about any platform that involves written words!

This very situation happened in my case, just the other day in fact, and it got me thinking and inspired me to write this blog.

You see, a very high profile business person who had just connected with me, felt insulted by something I'd said after I responded to him in the written form privately. He'd been following my personal profile for some time, so was a fan of me and my content; but because he doesn’t know me very well on a personal level, he interpreted my words in a private message, differently to what I intended… and was personally hurt by something I said.

He communicated to me that he felt insulted. While first up I thought he was joking, in hindsight, now I can see how he might have felt that way ... not that I was ever intending it. It's only through the benefit of hindsight and witnessing his reaction, that I have been reminded that written communication can be so easily misunderstood.

At the time though, I was surprised. So I re-read my message, given I could sense the hurt in his words. Even more surprising, was that he even cared or took it to heart so easily… especially given he is so well known and needs to communicate and deal with people every day on other important matters. I wouldn't expect him to be emotionally affected by something that I had said… which in one way is flattering, but on the other, it's disappointing, given that I clearly hurt or upset him, and for that, I am sorry.

I know it's killing you to know who it is, but I won't reveal that for a whole bunch of reasons, but mostly moral ones.

Let’s just say that all people can and will get offended at what otherwise might seem like something totally inconsequential. Sure it can vary depending on the person, but such misunderstandings and disproportionately emotional reactions happen more often than you think. Especially when it involves written communication!

Sometimes, people can get hurt or otherwise offended, by something that was said online simply because the intent and tone of voice wasn't understood correctly. Whether you like it or not, when the intent and tone of voice aren't understood correctly by the receiver, it's because of how you've communicated it that the misunderstanding even exists in the first place, which means there's room for improvement there.

So, me being me, I decided to see what I could do better with my communication with people in future, especially given I now find myself associating with some of the most famous and high achieving people in the world. It's a whole new level and there are all sorts of things I have to consider and navigate.

So let’s take a look at what I learned, shall we? This is what you do if you don’t want people to misunderstand your written words, and you seek to lessen the possibility of upsetting or hurting the person on the receiving end of the email or message.

Tip 1. Limit Humour

Okay, so this is one of the ways I stuffed up. Unless you know someone extremely well, you should avoid your use of humour in written communication – especially when it’s early into the relationship or as a first point of communication. Humour tends to be one of those things that is hit or miss, and when you factor in time zones, perspectives, past life experiences, and the fact that some someone else's sense of humour can vary to yours, it is easy to see how something pretty simple can go horribly wrong. Humour doesn't translate terribly well in the written environment unless they truly know who you are. If they don't, then they might view your words as a personal insult rather than as humour.

Despite this person being so high profile, I didn’t have any preconceived ideas about who he is as a person, or felt that I knew him ... so don't get me wrong. No… I just saw him as another person. My down-to-earth, genuine nature can sometimes be misunderstood. So when you’re talking to someone new, you’re best to avoid humour, at least until they get to know you better!

Tip 2. Understand Ego

We all have elements of our ego that get involved in any form of communication, and when someone feels insulted, chances are that there has been what is known as a ‘Crossed Transaction’.

This means that Person 1 says something from one ego state and receives a different response than he or she is expecting, due to the other person thinking and feeling from a different ego state. In this way, things can easily get misunderstood and someone can get emotionally affected.

In this scenario, Person 1 might be conversational or innocently observant, and speak from that adult ego state, hoping they’ll receive an answer from Person 2’s adult ego state. However Person 2 is triggered for reasons you might not know or understand. Their child ego state is activated (I’m not trying to be insulting here, as we all have one, even me), and they feel criticised, hurt or patronised.

Result: usually an awkward or abrupt end to that conversation, with one person feeling hurt, annoyed or disappointed, and the other feeling confused and bewildered.

Knowing all this then, it’s usually a good idea, when communicating via a written medium, to make sure to read and re-read before finalizing the copy/email/text. Once you are done with the proofreading, see if there are other interpretations to the message and whether you would like to eliminate them or not.

Tip 3. Make the Complicated Simple. Make the Simple Simpler.

Always try to simplify your message. Bring down your sentences to the simplest degree to avoid ambiguity in your messages. If the words and sentences are simple the probability of understanding the message is higher. There is no point in highfalutin sentences, if the receiver doesn’t decode the message correctly.

Tip 4. Start as a Good Listener.

Listening is another important aspect of being a good communicator. You cannot deliver a perfect message until you are a good listener. Without listening you will not know what you are being asked for.

Tip 5. No Jargons. They Hinder Understanding.

Make sure you do not include vocabulary that can be difficult for the receiver to understand. Using jargons and technical terms can create misunderstanding if the decoder is not familiar with those words.

Tip 6. Make it Concise and Precise.

Brevity is the soul of wit as well as communication. Whether you are delivering a speech or writing an application or forwarding a formal text, always keep it to-the-point. Avoid unnecessary words, phrases and sentences.

Writing should be assertive and relatively simple. If you follow the principles outlined above, you should be able to communicate clearly with your peers and get your point across, without misunderstanding, which is the purpose of your writing.

I hope my mistakes and never-ceasing hunger to improve, help you in your own life.

It's always good to look at what you can do better... even when you think or feel that another person, may be over-reacting or sensitive.

Even when that's the case, chances are that you've played some part in it, one way or another, even unintentionally or accidentally. And there can be learnings to take and improvements you can make for next time.

As a survivor of multiple smear campaigns, I can honestly say that they aren’t much fun. Rather, they are an intense campaign designed by a person with narcissistic personality disorder, to humiliate an opponent while simultaneously intending to elevate the narcissist. It actually requires audacity, and a lot of skill, manipulation, and persistence to successfully pull one off and for the victim, it can be a shocking and damaging experience.

Always expect a smear campaign following the grand finale with a Narcissist… not that you necessarily know they’re a narcissist at the time.

A smear campaign is exactly what it sounds like – it’s someone assassinating your name and character among your friends and family. It’s even worse if you’re a politician, a political contender or a public figure, because they also do so in your own community, which makes it even more extreme and damaging for some victims.

There are various motivations for a narcissist to launch a smear campaign. Quite often it’s to appear like a victim rather than the selfish, self-involved and trouble-making person (or people) they are. In this way the smear campaign is a form of damage control. A narcissist uses it once they fear that they could be exposed.

Smear campaigns are frequently used to depict the victim as something they’re not. For example, they might say the victim is a cheater, home-wrecker, or a poor parent.

By fabricating a sequence of falsehoods, exaggerations, half-truths, suspicions, and false charges about the victim’s conduct, the perpetrator works to destroy the victim’s credibility and sanity… and their entire life.

These aren’t always the only reasons they create a smear campaign. In some extraordinary cases, it can also be done with the intention of forcing you to fall back on them given there aren’t any other options.

Think about it. If everyone you know, including family, friends and your community have essentially ‘cut you off’, and the narcissist just happens to be there ready and waiting to replace those damaged relationships as a ‘hero’, then they get what they wanted all along.

The reasons why a smear campaign can be so effective at harming the victim are because the victim loses faith in all friends and their support system, as well as in people in general; for many victims, they might feel alone, scared, and unsure what to do.

My first smear campaign happened at the age of 22 and yes, I felt these feelings. Though these days, not so much. I’ve developed resilience and strength because I know what it’s all about. I’ve already been there… so I approach every new smear campaign (yes, it’s a common event in my life), with knowledge and experience that helps me mentally cope.

Given I’m also a public figure, I can also communicate publicly and accurately to inform or alert others, while correcting misguided judgments and opinions. I’ve even been known to reprimand the perpetrator/s using my own media platform. How handy.

Narcissists never disappear silently or gently into the night. In many cases, they instead leave nothing but the devastation and destruction of the victim’s reputation and relationships behind, and for weaker individuals who lack the experience and knowledge about what to do, and how to approach and or change this, it can be horrendous and alter the course of their life.

There’s often one major thing that gets in the way of you achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself - and that’s a lack of energy and vitality. Having vitality is all about physical and mental strength and your capacity to move forward in life with meaning and purpose. Your vitality is your power to live and grow.

Living without energy and vitality is hard work, but regaining your purpose and power is much easier than you might think. Here are 10 easy ways to regain energy and vitality!

𝟏. 𝐊𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮’𝐫𝐞 𝐠𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠.Your energy soars when you’re clear on your aim and direction.

𝟐. 𝐁𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐤𝐟𝐮𝐥.When you’re thankful for your life, your power picks up. When you’re ungrateful, you shut down.

𝟑. 𝐄𝐚𝐭 𝐦𝐨𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐲. Biological research shows that people live longer if they eat less, and they also have more get-up-and-go.

𝟒. 𝐃𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐤 𝐖𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐫. Those who drink sufficient water (rather than other liquids) increase their vitality, so make sure that you stay fully hydrated every day.

𝟓. 𝐁𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐮𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐝𝐞𝐞𝐩𝐥𝐲. Some of the most magnetic and charismatic people inhale deeply and diaphragmatically. Every time you inhale, you breathe in vitality, so take advantage of this.

𝟔. 𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐜𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮r 𝐯𝐨𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐚𝐯𝐨𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧.Make sure that there’s a link between your work and what sets your mind and heart on fire. If you aren’t doing what you love and loving what you do, you have a brake on all the time - and that’s the fastest way to deplete your energy.

𝟕. 𝐒𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐞. Smiling can change your physiology and make you look up at life, so go outside and stand in the beauty of nature.. Look up into the heavens, smile, and say, “Thank you, universe! I’m grateful for the gifts I’ve been receiving.” Your energy will pick up immediately. Appreciating what’s around you can actually bring a greater sense of happiness and vitality—and there’s numerous scientific studies to back this up.

Need that extra boost to get up in the morning? Taking a moment to recognise and be thankful for even the littlest of things can lead to more zeal and excitement for the day. Having a hard day? A brief pause to dwell on gratitude may give you the extra push you need to deal with what’s going on in your world.Integrating brief pauses of thankfulness into your day may open up extra stores of energy you didn’t know you had. So try these easy changes to experience greater energy and vitality today, minimum effort required. Cheers to making the most out of every day!

Haters, critics and naysayers. Anyone who is doing anything worthwhile in their life has them and must learn to stay motivated for life, despite the criticism, discouragement and negativity. Here I share my secrets for handling haters.

1. Make Criticism your Fuel, Not Your Kryptonite.

It’s all about how you perceive it. If someone says you aren’t smart enough, tell yourself that you’re going to prove them wrong. Or you could go up another level of growth, which is to not care less what they think (truly). I couldn’t give a toss! Remember that negative feedback can either be the anchor you drag through the desert or the wind behind your sail.

They don’t make statues of the critics. They make statues of the good people, the hardworkers, the heroes, the dreamers, the ones who take chances, and the ones who are selfless and help others. Think about it. The revolutionaries who made an impact, changed the rules, ended wars, and fought for freedom were the “crazy ones.” They had to listen to naysayers and absorb the criticism — and they let that be their fuel, not their kryptonite. For you in every day life, remember that in your social networks, your community, your families and your workplaces. It will help you!

2. Take it as a Compliment.

You're going to inspire envy and criticism if you’re good at something, or if you shine brighter or are happier than others. That’s just par for the course. Criticism is the best proof that you're a winner in life. I learned early on that the more people bad mouth you, the more jealous they are - plain and simple. If only they knew that is the message or signal they're sending out when they behave like that. It's an embarrassing look for those who care what others think of them.

3. Understand There are REASONS People are Negative & Toxic that Don't Involve you.

Just like the famous Olympic Bronze Medallist, Julie McDonald OAM stated in our recent chat: what someone says reflects how they feel and when it's hateful, rude or dishonest, is their own toxic “stuff going on, not yours”. If someone offends you (which might be hard for you), your first response should be to ask yourself “What’s this person going through? Why do they need to say something like that to feel better?” Remember, winners don’t go around telling people they’re losers. Winners don’t go around pulling people down or inflicting negativity on you. Only losers do that. Realise it and get over it. The second you take negative comments personally, you’re losing.

4. Remember that Winners Don’t NEED to Put Others Down.

Happy, successful people don’t waste time saying negative things about others. Why would they?

I sympathise whenever I see negative comments about me on social media, because I know those people are suffering and in pain. It's also because they haven't much to do in their own lives, which is also sad. You might try forgiving them or feeling some sympathy. Give them a smile as they probably need it. In time, this breaks down many barriers. Even if it doesn’t, the effect on you will be resounding and shows the extent of your power, while highlighting the lack of power they have over you.

5. Kill Them with Kindness.

Worrying or retaliating against your haters makes you bitter. It’s easy to be resentful and feel justified — but why let these negative emotions play with your emotional and physical health? Are those people really worth it? Of course not. Haters aren't scary. They're actually the most fearful people around. They 'hate' because they’re not happy with their own choices, their own journeys, their own lives. At any point they can take steps to change their life for the better, but they never do for many reasons. It could be fear, concern, reluctance for any change (even if it's positive change) or the belief that they can’t change that keeps them hamstrung. So instead of making any improvements in their own world, they take aim at those who do, projecting their simmering frustration, pain and discontent on you instead. How can you feel resentful of people like that? I don't. I feel sorry for them (momentarily) but steer clear all the same. I'm not interested in another person's self induced drama buffet!

While some people become jealous of your happiness or winning outlook on life, and wish you ill will, others will look to you as an inspiration. It’s even been my experience that people have crossed over from the self-destructive state of jealousy, to the more healthy realm of allowing themselves to be inspired to do better. Life is always moving and changing, so it’s always your responsibility to stay strong. Never let haters bring you down but rather be a shining light and live large so others can see it’s possible. Show the haters that they don’t have to stay stuck in their own misery and be a pain to those around them. Show them they can be and do more. And then... it's up to them which side of life they want to live in. 

6. Don’t React. Be Grateful.

Know that what you feed grows, and what you starve dies. Respond intelligently to your haters to shut them down, though don’t ‘react’ to them with emotional immaturity and reduce yourself to their level because that only feeds them and drags you down into their toxic playground every time.  Realise their words are more about something unresolved within them than you. Oh how's this for a flip: “Look, I have to break this to you gently, but it’s you, not me.”

Third, be grateful. Hate, love, critique and praise are all acknowledgment. You're not being ignored or unseen. If you are getting hate even though you’re doing something good, then good job! You've made it to the next level. 

7. Don’t be a People Pleaser.

Some people are imprisoned by their natural desire to please everyone with their personal and professional choices.

I have to tell you something really important here: no matter what you do, people will always criticise your actions just because you’re living and breathing. The quicker you can ‘get that’, the better you’ll be. If everyone is happy with what you do, it probably means they’ve got a good hold on you one way or another, as you are fitting in with their expectations on where they want you to be in relation to the 'pecking order' that they use to pigeon-hole those close to them.

Embrace and enjoy the criticism. Yes! ENJOY it. Uncomfortable moments are usually a sign that you’re on a good path so be thankful for the compliment! If someone criticises your choices but you know you’re being true to your personal mission and values, then what’s there to be offended about? Do you really care what someone else says, or do you care about what you know about yourself as a person? Smile because you’re doing the right thing.

8. Ask Yourself Whether You Can Learn Something.

“Haters” often communicate as a cry for help. Damaged people try to damage people. When they try to tear others down, they reveal more about their true character than their victim’s character. An attack on others only exposes their thought process, insecurities, suppressed emotions, and how they judge people. Even though you’re not the person at fault, but are on the receiving end of hate, there is always something you can learn when it comes to dealing with haters. I am strong and dismissive when it comes to haters, because I don’t care about what they do or think. I’m immune to them. If I take extra lengths to shut them down or condemn their behaviour, there's usually other more important reasons why I do so, which don't have anything to do with me or how I feel. When I see people throwing grenades back at haters by way of emotional immaturity and abuse, I cringe because all they’re succeeding at, is lowering themselves to the haters’ standards. Who’d ever want to be like them?! Remember that!

9. Stick to Your Convictions.

History is filled with examples of spirited people who were once met with resistance. Think of Nelson Mandela, who fought the good fight but was imprisoned, then decades later became President of South Africa! When I think of my beloved Port Adelaide Football Club – the most successful football club in Australia, which I'm an ambassador for - I remember how it was met with so much hate and contempt for being progressive and making a bid to join the Australian Football League (national competition) in 1990. Even though this was incredibly positive for the state, its economy, and South Australian football, the rest of South Australia was up in arms. Headlines read “Crisis as Port Makes AFL Bid”. When you begin to make change or ‘disturb’ anything, even when it is positive and well intended, dissenters will gather. This club stayed strong and stuck by its task of making the AFL bid, despite the furore, hate and senseless resistance and is now one of the best in the national league. People are naturally sceptical of change and hate accepting things they don’t understand. Don’t let that sway you!

XX

I can proudly say that my maternal family roots lie in the heart of Port Adelaide. I come from a big extended family of Port supporters and members going back four generations.

My intense determination, work ethic, resilience and courage are as hard as they come, because it's in my blood - it's the Port Adelaide Football Club culture and ethos in me, which is the most defining part of my character. These traits have always been very visible in my level of effort, actions and decisions throughout life. They have also been crucial to my survival and achievements. 

When my maternal grandmother chose me as the person she wanted to personally bequeath her "personal footprint" to, which represents her identity, strength, passion, purpose and her desire to win in life all intricately interwoven with her Port Adelaide Football Club memorabilia, family artefacts, historic PAFC newspaper clippings and family literature about this mighty club, she intuitively knew that one day I would come to a crossroad and wonder where my POWER came from: my spirit, courage, fight, grit and unrelenting determination and resilience as a person to survive and thrive beyond just about anything.

I was only 11 at the time, and it was a day I remember vividly. She said to me clearly and calmly, "If anything happens to me, I want you to have all this." She opened a drawer and took out a small chest that had belonged to her father, which contained historic newspaper clippings of the Port Adelaide Football Club's success: premierships, players, wins at the club, family poems and stories about this mighty club. She also took out a small tray containing all her membership badges over the years, and a large black and white book marking the 100th anniversary of the Port Adelaide Football Club - 1870 - 1970 for me to have. She then showed me her collection of Shell Winter Mix cards, containing all the 1950s players with their names on the back that she and her parents used to collect. 

Initially, my eyes lit up at the sight of all this 'treasure' and I felt a rush of excitement and importance at the thought she she was giving all this to me... but then I felt an unexpected wave of dread and confusion creep over me upon her suggestion that 'something might happen to her'. 'What's that supposed to mean, anyway?'  was the thought that sprung to my mind in that conflicted moment as my eleven-year-old self. It was one of those best day-worst day moments in my life that I've never forgotten.

Given that moment remains so crystal clear in my memory, I can observe and understand her body language in that moment: her facial expression, words, and the strength and grace she demonstrated despite knowing that she wasn't going to live for much longer and carrying that knowledge solely on her shoulders at that moment in time, given no one else knew it yet... except deep down, maybe me. 

She was very sure and determined that these meaningful and sentimental items would be mine. She made extra effort to show and reinforce to me exactly how and where to find these items in her chest of drawers as though she wouldn't be there to get them for me, and reiterated that they are mine to have and that I am to take them. It was an instruction - not a suggestion.

I now understand after all these years that it was her way of telling me before my time and before I was ready, and before any of us knew that she was dying, that she knew who I was and who I'd grow to be. 

She didn't want to leave us, or give up those meaningful items that reflected her life, strength, passion, purpose and family, because those things were her and she wasn't going give up without a fight. She fought hard with all her might till the end. 

In her mind, her Port Adelaide collection would remain with her until she was gone, and then I would become the rightful custodian because she saw herself in me. I believe she took comfort and hope in the idea that she would survive as part of me, in a modern and advanced world where far more rights, opportunities and freedoms existed for women that weren't available for her in her era; the fact of which was the very source of her challenges and struggle. 

She knew without a doubt, given my courage, determination and fight, that she too possessed, that I would take full advantage of those freedoms and would overcome anything that came my way. Seeing those traits, and seeing more equality for women rapidly evolving, she knew there were no limits to what I could become and what I could do and I'm positive that she wanted to be right there with me and part of that, experiencing it too - and in the time leading up to her death, feeling some hope and comfort that her life wasn't ending; it was only beginning.

Being the strong, wise and intuitive woman she was, of course she knew that one day I would understand why she bequeathed to me her personal "footprint" on this world that day but that I would have to go on the journey to find out for myself. It's taken some time for me to realise and connect the dots, even though it's been right under my nose the whole time. 

Extreme challenges including widespread, unjust and misguided resistance and hateful treatment in different settings by large numbers of people which included being ostracised and scapegoated, once had me questioning myself and all the positive qualities and traits that I was once celebrated for: the very traits that my grandmother and father, the latter being a well known and respected business owner, property developer, company CEO and passionate Port supporter, were immensely proud of and possessed themselves. 

Despite this senseless and unjust treatment and the hurt and confusion I experienced as a result, together with the identity crisis this presented, my response and actions to these situations, which was sourced from very deeply rooted and unwavering belief in myself at my core, even in the most impossible circumstances, inevitably proved that I was my grandmother's grand daughter and that not only would I survive it, but I would thrive far beyond it and become so strong and resilient that I'd be untouchable.

Despite it all, I never gave up believing in myself, because deep down (and believe me, I had to really dig deep), I knew that my Dad and my Grandmother, who both wholeheartedly embraced the winning Port Adelaide Way in their hearts and souls, had enormous belief in me, even though they both left this world early. I figured that if they believed in me that much, I did too. I wasn't going to let them - or myself - down. They were and continue to be with me all the way; wholeheartedly in spirit, cheering me on from the sidelines, while so many others have done the contrary.

Despite it all, I also knew that I couldn't let others down, no matter how lost and misguided they were. I had to survive. I had to rise. I had to lead. That was my job. That was my predetermined destiny.

Despite how difficult that's been, doing so has introduced me to a unique type of freedom. I live life on my own terms and don't care what others think. How many people can truly ever feel that way? My strength has also meant that I have been able to help those who now regret that they were the reason for my own heartache, by masterminding massive wins for them that have changed the course of their lives, and led to collective strength and unity, which is something that both my grandmother and father always believed in, and as leaders, fostered when they were alive.

I've learned from every experience - good or bad - and use those learnings to WIN and help others WIN. I'm courageous, strong, driven and resilient, just like my grandmother. I'm ambitious, hardworking, compassionate and uncomplicated, just like my father. And I look exactly like my mother (there's no mistaking that) who also passed on to me - just like my dad did - her love for life and desire and spirit for fun, travel and happiness. Before it even enters your head, no... I'm not "up myself". It's just the facts. Take it or leave it, it's who I am and I'm not going to change. I might not have mentioned it, but I'm also stubbornly defiant.

Just like it was for my grandmother, my father and the Port Adelaide Football Club, mediocrity and I can't co-exist. We can either die or FLY but we ALWAYS choose the latter because we always choose to WIN. No matter what happens in life, no matter how severe, extreme or unrelenting, I always prevail, just like my grandmother and just like the club that she and her parents and grandparents supported and celebrated as their source of strength, purpose, inspiration and family.

Life’s too short to hold grudges.

I guess I’ve just become cold to bad things that happen in life – largely immune in fact. But I’ve also always kept it REAL. Sure I dislike it when it happens, but I get over it. Despite some horrendous treatment by others during the course of my life, I’ve always chosen to retain my compassion and understanding for people, even when it seemed virtually impossible for me to do so. I’m a determined person, so there have been defining moments in my life when I have FORCED myself with all my will, to retain these qualities and forgive because it’s who I am and who I was raised to be. Without these, you’re not really human.

I know for many people it can be hard to forgive others for their wrongdoings, when they have inflicted pain or suffering upon you. Sometimes there are people who intend to harm you and I won’t make excuses for them – these people really don’t care, and are fully aware of the harm they try to cause, to ultimately achieve their own selfish objectives. These people might be toxic (or supremely selfish – maybe both), and their behaviour rarely changes, so you might want some distance.

Yet in many instances, it also occurs (sometimes simultaneously) out of ignorance or unawareness by others, who are otherwise good people, but who are quick to judge based on hearsay rather than fact. Some of these people might also get caught up in the short term thrill of the event, or the power they feel, only to inevitably realise and feel bad about their own wrongdoings later. I’ve been on the receiving end of both situations, simultaneously several times in my life, so I guess that makes me experienced in this!

Life’s pretty simple at the end of the day. If people internally recognise their mistakes, it provides a genuine opportunity to recover and heal for all involved, and ultimately, life goes on and time and perspective improves things for everyone. You don’t need verbal apologies because if people realise their mistakes, you’ll notice. If they don’t, then they’ll keep doing what they’re doing and the cycle continues, collective healing doesn’t occur and it’s only a matter of time before someone else gets hurt.

For the person on the receiving end of it all, no matter how poorly you’ve been treated, I encourage you to dig deep for the strength and courage to BREAK the cycle rather than becoming a damaged person who goes around damaging people. Don’t seek revenge or take it out on the next person who comes along. Your future life can be so much better than that.💛

Perfection is overrated. It’s also BORING.😇

Come on, let’s be real … none of us are perfect; not even the moral enforcement police who like to think they are, when they shoot their disapproving glances your way without knowing anything about you. 😆

I’ll be the first to say that I come from a family line of imperfect people. On that subject, who doesn’t? They were good, kind hearted people who raised me well. I had a really positive upbringing and so much love and happiness, but I won’t pretend that they were perfect or angelic. I know their imperfections and they did too, but those imperfections are what made them human, so all I can say is, thank goodness for that! I’m so glad I had REAL role models, rather than fakes pretending to be perfect. Everyone has good and bad aspects, but one thing I know is that you can choose which ones you’re going to let dominate throughout the journey that is life.

When I get things wrong – even going back as far as childhood – I have instinctively known it afterwards, even though I didn’t always understand why. I can be hard on myself when I make a mistake, but it doesn’t mean I’ve never made them. I’ve always been my harshest critic and there has never been a time in my life when I haven’t disciplined myself and LEARNED from my mistake.

Thankfully this has always balanced out the fearless and impulsive aspects of me. It doesn’t make me perfect by any stretch of the imagination, because I’m not; nor do I pretend to be (you might have noticed). I just choose to always improve because I hate it when I let myself and others down. That’s accountability, and the ongoing process of personal excellence that I’ve mastered, and it’s a consistent life choice.

Here’s my reasons WHY perfection is overrated:

Striving for Perfection Means You’ll Only Do 10% of the Things You Want to Do. 
When you focus on finishing one thing before you can start another, you’re limiting your creativity and productivity.  If you spend too much time “perfecting” something, you’re likely doing it at the expense of moving on to the next thing. Perfectionists have higher blood pressure, anxiety, and mental health problems.  This almost goes without saying and has been backed up in numerous studies, but if you expect perfection, you’re going to have higher stress levels which will affect your overall mental and physical health. This is because perfection is impossible to achieve! You’re always chasing the elusive result! Relaxation, meditation, and “slow days” are hard to come by for people who are always pushing to make everything perfect. It’s better to accept your inevitable fate that you will NEVER be perfect, as it is the quickest route to the outcomes you seek.

No Time is EVER the RIGHT TIME.
The act of simply DOING SOMETHING over nothing puts you in an elite group of people.  In so many cases, whether it’s right or wrong, taking any type of action means that you’re alive and learning something new, rather than sitting on the sidelines watching your life pass you by. Signing up for a class even if it’s not the perfect time, turning in an assignment even though you know you could have done more, etc.  There are hundreds of examples where the majority of people will agonize until things are perfect and in this pursuit, some never end up doing anything at all, thinking it’s not good enough! Doing nothing is the ultimate life failure. Getting something “good enough” out for the world to see and which you can improve upon over time, is a far better outcome. People who focus on perfection, also don’t like to make any decisions, fearing the worst repercussions. Yet DOING something, even if it is a mistake, means that you are learning and growing as a person, rather than avoiding the realities of life.

Failing Fast Can Shorten Your Learning Cycle. 
Seeking perfection doesn’t bring the biggest life learnings. Failing FAST does. “Fail fast” is a famous maxim when it comes to personal development and life mastery, because if you’re going to fail, it’s best to do it early at a time when you have the time and resources to turn it around.  If you’re striving to be perfect and thereby don’t learn much, you could fail when it’s too late or at a time when it’s difficult to do anything about it.

Focusing On Perfectionism Takes Your Focus Away From the Things that Really Matter. 
If you’re doing anything you can to attain perfection, you are spending way too long on only one thing! The irony in it all, is that nothing even close to perfection can be achieved, without making the mistakes first and learning from these to find the right path.

Doing SOMETHING – ANYTHING – will Start to Expose Shallow Fears. 
Similar to failing fast, you may not know what you fear until you give something a shot.  You thought you were afraid to fail, but maybe you’re really afraid to succeed.  The sooner you can identify your fears, the sooner you can put measures in place to work through them.

Collaboration and Perfection Don’t Mix. 
As people, we collaborate in all facets of our life including work, friendships, and romantic and family relationships. Collaboration requires iteration and being open to feedback in both directions – if you believe you are perfect, you’re not going to play well with others.

It Isn’t What You Do ALL or SOME of the Time; it’s What You Do MOST of the Time. 
It’s something I live by.  There’s never a “perfect time”, and you can never get everything right in your life, as much as you might like that. However, if you’re able to perform well most of the time, it can make up for the times when you have made mistakes; those times when you’re very, very far below “perfect”.  Perfection isn’t ever possible, but spending more of your life doing something well is. That’s why I focus on personal excellence; I strive to do and be better all the time. That’s where all of my focus and energy goes.

Perfection is Impossible
Every physical thing is in a constant state of change, so even if you think something’s perfect, it won’t be perfect for long.  Give it up. It’ll take a load off.

Quite often, when it comes to unrequited love, we hear all about the person who is the would-be lover, and their tortuous turmoil and pain in loving and pursuing someone, who isn’t returning that love and attention. I understand how this might be painful to the person experiencing it, I really do, however has anyone stopped to consider the feelings of the person being pursued – the person on the other end of that unrequited love?

We rarely hear about the agony or adverse consequences of unrequited love for those being PURSUED. Literature and film almost always tell the story from the viewpoint of the rejected lover. Does “The Holiday”, “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and “There’s Something About Mary” ring any bells? Well, aside from the obvious Cameron Diaz theme happening here 😆, there is almost always a focus on the unrequited lover, and rarely the person BEING pursued!

Despite the eventual heartbreak that is the destiny of the unrequited lover, there is actually MORE unhappiness felt by the person being pursued than by the pursuer. The former is the real victim because they have no personal control over the feelings of another person, nor do they have control over that person’s behaviour during their self-involved and emotion-fuelled pursuit. Even more powerlessly, they have no control over the pursuer’s (often unpleasant or even defamatory) reactions and actions, when their feelings are denied. It’s true… the victims of the pursuit have absolutely no control, and YET they are somehow embroiled in the dilemma and must deal with the consequences of it. 🤦

The experience of unrequited love – not just a minor crush, but an intense, passionate yearning – is virtually universal at some point in life and for some, irrespective of whether they are the pursuer or the pursued, it might even happen repeatedly.

The unrequited lover can experience their own self-induced feelings of hope and passion before the final disillusionment. While those on the receiving end of those feelings might experience an initial flattery, it quickly gives way to bewilderment, unwarranted guilt and anger at an intrusive, relentless pursuer and sometimes stalker, who can’t seem to break their intense desire and attachment. 😳

Unpleasant emotions like frustration, anger, and anxiety can burden the victim of this relentless pursuit. For the pursuers, despite their rejection, they can continue to chase, or stay near, out of hope that this will change to their advantage. No matter what happens, they continue to hold feelings for the person who has spurned their love. 🤔

For a good person, it can feel inappropriate to tell the pursuer that there is no hope. In many cases, there can even be a sense of confusion, misunderstanding or bewilderment felt by the person being pursued, which might make them question their interpretation of what’s happening and make them reluctant to respond foolishly and unnecessarily. For some people, they might also be reluctant to hurt the pursuer so the most common tactic is to lie low, continue to be polite and hope the infatuation will fade. It’s like a conspiracy of silence, where one person doesn’t want to openly speak rejecting words and the other doesn’t want to hear it. Not awkward at all. 😬

The only problem is that this lack of communication feeds the fantasies of romance of the wishful lover, and so inadvertently encourages pursuit. Even when you demonstrate a lack of interest through body language, the pursuers often sugar-coat their own rejection with conciliatory words! They never give up. 😳

It’s not uncommon for a pursuer’s lack of success to trigger a more intense and enduring pursuit that lasts for months or even years, causing the victim to avoid the places, events or activities they once enjoyed and frequented, where they know their pursuer will be. While theoretically this avoidance is a good move in an attempt to break this attachment, it can also have the reverse impact and make the pursuer even more frustrated and determined, resulting in more extreme pursuits including online or physical stalking. Somehow, the pursuer finds a positive side of the ‘cold shoulder’ message and remains hopeful. How that can be, I really don’t know. 🙄

Things are not so clear for those who are trying to put off unwanted advances. While the pursuer has all these tactics to try, the people who are being pursued quite frankly don’t know what to say! Why should they be the ones to have to address it, given that ultimately, they aren’t the ones engaging in the behaviour? Since when are they answerable to someone they barely know?!

When it gets to this point, one has to wonder how unrequited love occurs in the first place. Well, one frequent path is through what starts as a platonic relationship. One of the most common stories told by people is that it starts as a friendship with an undercurrent of attraction on one side.

Another typical route to unrequited love is perhaps the most predictable: falling for someone who is much more desirable, whether because of physical beauty or attributes like age, charm, intelligence, wit or status. This kind of mismatch is described as “punching above one’s weight”. In this type of dynamic, it’s actually possible for the person being pursued to have no prior relationship with the person. They mightn’t even know their name! 😳

The truth is that men are more likely than women to fall in love with someone who does not return their feelings. Studies have proven this to be true by a ratio of about three to two. The romantic lure of great female beauty, or the exciting chase to win the seemingly unattainable, seems to account for a great part of men’s added susceptibility to finding their love unreturned.

While it is tempting and no doubt commonplace to indulge in the sad portrayal of those who experience unrequited love, it’s time we spared a thought for all those unacknowledged victims on the other side of it and the fallout it can cause in their own lives. Sadly for these people, they have no control over how another person feels, yet are often the innocent and misconstrued victims forced to deal with consequences of these circumstances; even having to adapt their own lives to escape it. 😔

Every year at this time, I always think of my Dad. It's been many years since he tragically died in February 2005.

The last time I ever saw him, was on his birthday. We went out for lunch to a restaurant on Unley Road, Adelaide, with my partner and family including Mum, Dad, Gran, my younger sister and baby niece (pictured above). I gave Dad a cool card with his present, which had a picture of a Rolls-Royce, saying "let the good times roll".

I was so happy to be celebrating with him, as he was so important in my life. He was the nicest man; so very hardworking and successful; extremely kind, popular and well-liked due to his social, uncomplicated and generous nature. He had such a love for life!

I used to work with him in the finance company he had built and trained me in. I really loved working with him, and met so many interesting and inspiring people. We used to go to business functions together, and I’d drive all over Adelaide to sign up clients - often solo, but at other times we did so as a dynamic duo, or I went with a young (and admittedly handsome) colleague called Ben. I visited lenders, conveyancers and then returned with the documentation to discuss it.

The best part of the job was getting to see Dad every day and work alongside a man I thought the world of, and who was an incredible communicator, influencer and business guru. I learned so much from him. I remember sitting down on numerous occasions to watch him in-action on the phone in his office; his eyes semi shut, as he concentrated and used his innate influence and down-to-earth nature to reason, relate with, convince and assist clients and lenders alike. He was so well liked because he helped so many people. It's amazing the things he achieved.

I started there with my work experience unit in high school, which then turned into employment during my university studies. My Dad believed in me so much that he thought (and secretly hoped) I would run his successful company one day, if it’s what I wanted. Even though I really enjoyed working with him, financing wasn't my ultimate passion. I felt terrible when I broke the news to him that it wasn’t my chosen path, but being the uncomplicated, supportive man he was, his obvious disappointment was quickly replaced with a kind smile, as what he wanted most, was for me to be happy.

On that last day I ever saw him - his birthday - I bid him farewell until next time, with a big hug, smile and a wave as he went to drive Gran home. Little did I, or any of us, know that it was the last time I would ever see him alive. Only a couple of days later, he was dead. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the feeling, of my home telephone ringing loudly and jolting me from my sleep in the dark and otherwise silent, early hours of the morning, and then hearing the tragic details of his passing.

I won’t forget struggling to absorb the shock of it all in my dimly lit bedroom, at a time when I was already dealing with other problems taking place in my life.

I remember fumbling to put on my watch and other jewellery. I kept walking in and out of my wardrobe without concentration, unsure what to do and unable to properly digest what was happening. I remember not being able to think straight, causing me to put on a mismatched outfit and feel like a mess. Then in that condition, I bravely prepared to venture to the scene, console my mother and then break the news to my younger sister who was living alone at the time.

It felt like a horrible dream that I really wanted to wake up from, but instead I was in the car in silence, on my way, feeling frozen in utter disbelief that this was actually happening. I didn't want to talk to anyone. Not even my loving partner who was driving me.

As soon as I arrived, I remember the emergency services lights flashing brightly in the dark of night, and police officers standing there looking at me helplessly and sympathetically, as I locked eyes on my dead father. Compounding the shock further, I realised that my watch had stopped dead on the time of his death, something else I will never forget as a solemn and confronting reminder of the nightmare that had taken place. It couldn’t have been any sadder, shocking or surreal.

Until the funeral, I felt like I was in a numb haze. I rang my work boss at that time, and she said I should take some time off - as much as I needed. Basically, my job at that time involved travelling all over South Australia and writing about my experiences for the Secrets of South Australia Tourism Magazines, a blue-chip magazine that showcased SA domestically and internationally - and project-managing award winning state and national tourism awards submissions for our tourism assets.

It was the world's best job when I started as an enthusiastic 22 year old, but after that traumatic experience, I didn't feel like doing it. It was as though my life had taken a dark detour and suddenly I was living in an alternative universe, where I was trying to untangle my thoughts and feelings, supporting my upset family members, and having to plan Dad's funeral, all while still coming to the realisation that Dad was gone and was never coming back.

It was as though my life was upended in an instant. There was no way I was in a creative flow for my work at that time. I didn't even have the focus or concentration for it. Even though I was still getting paid, I actually forgot to return to work for over a month. Eventually I got a call from my boss, kindly and gently asking how I was doing and when I might be returning. She said that they really missed me being there, and missed my incredible work ethic, and they thought it would be great for both them and I, if I could return. She sounded so hopeful because things weren't running well without me. It was the push I needed to kickstart myself back to life; to reconnect with the world and begin the healing process.

This time of year is always conflicted for me. On the one hand, I reflect on that time with fondness and warmth and remember my Dad on his birthday: the last time we were all together as a family. I have often thought about the incredible relationship and work era we had, which have had a huge influence on the person I have become. On the other hand, I have felt a great deal of unwanted sadness at different times, which I have learned to defiantly shut out when it strikes.

I have physically, mentally and emotionally rewired myself around this event in my life, which now dictates how I function. The nature of this life event, has certainly changed me as a person. Other difficult experiences in my life have too.

There have been times I have wished I could go back and warn him. It could have been avoided. Though welcome to reality: you can't go back in time. Dad loved life and wanted to be here for longer. We all wanted that, but life doesn't always go to plan.

It's only now that I have truly confronted that tragedy, and with that I can powerfully move forward and continue to heal and help others do the same. Life is so short. Don't waste it. X

Being stalked and slandered by a narcissist is one of the most horrible things to experience.

It isn’t a pleasant feeling when the person you’re trying to avoid, turns up out the front of your house, follows you (including interstate), repeatedly rings from a silent number and hangs up when you answer; sends you hate mail, has their friends contact your own family… and then ultimately, when their narcissism and stalking are blocked and they fail, they smear your name.

No, it's not pleasant. Incredibly, to friends, their smoke screen is effective and they are viewed as victims to be pitied because increasingly, you want less and less to do with them as this bizarre and concerning behaviour escalates.

WHY does this behaviour occur? It stems from an intense desire for control over you and your life. There’s a delusional sense of entitlement, self-importance and even jealousy that exists at the root of it, which is why the behaviour becomes so irrational and bizarre. They portray a grandiose facade, believing they are extremely important; yet have nothing to really show for this self-perceived image and are in reality, very insecure.

They don’t respect boundaries. Everything is always about them. In fact, whatever you do or whatever happens in your life, is always viewed with a filter of how it affects them negatively – even when it comes to normal or celebrated life events! It’s irrational and not characteristic of typical people.

My experience of narcissists is that they are selfish. When you respectfully highlight the boundaries and the fact they’re being crossed, that fires them up to engage in more extreme and irrational behaviour to get their way. It’s important to point out the boundaries assertively, because it shows self-respect… but my experience is that when you do, they invade your boundaries even more because they think it’s their God-given right. Who does she think she is?! I’ll show her!

If you dare to say “no” (even politely) and set boundaries of any type, it’s like setting off an atomic bomb in the narcissist’s eyes. They fly into a disturbing rage as they realise they can't control you and that you are actively resisting their "hoovering" attempts. Even if you are not verbally expressing anything, you are essentially saying “no” firmly through your actions, your silence and by refusing to get ensnared once more into the traumatic vortex of the relationship.

The more you step away, the more they hate it and refuse to accept it, so instead, they keep coming at you. They become more determined, more spiteful, more frustrated that their behaviour isn’t working, and they engage in more extreme actions! Progressively, their harassment and other unpleasant behaviour make you want to escape them for good.

I’ve been on the receiving end of narcissism and it lasted for many years despite my best efforts to have zero contact. In the end, I even relocated interstate - twice. I didn’t care for any “drama” but when it comes to a narcissist, they just keep bringing it your way.

At the time, I knew the behaviour was extreme. I knew that the stalking was unpleasant and concerning. But because there was a prior personal relationship that seemingly started out fine, I didn’t consciously know it was narcissism. At that age, in my early 20s when it all began, I don't even think I knew about 'narcissism'.

I didn’t like the extremely toxic actions that were directed at me, but when the person is known to you, you can easily rationalise and try to play down the behaviour in your own mind. Rightly so, because people often make mistakes, and everyone is capable of doing the wrong thing at times. There IS such a thing as compassion, and empathy, after all.

For too long, though, I was too compassionate and it was just an opportunity for more toxic and destructive behaviour waged against me that never ended. It was irrational, extreme and ongoing. Most concerning was the INTENT: to selfishly and unreasonably control, and when that repeatedly failed, the intent was to damage, destroy, and win at all costs (again, that failed spectacularly).

As the narcissist becomes more desperate, they try to get ammunition and support from peers, as they paint a completely different picture; one of victimhood, and having been hard done by, due to you wanting nothing to do with them.

In my case, they even went one step further than that, and deliberately pedaled LIES about me. I maintained a dignified silence, while they controlled the dialogue and ensured there was no available avenue to defend myself. I was depicted as "manipulative" and "controlling" because I was gradually cutting them out of my life as a result of this intense and alarming behaviour. They went even harder core than that, and completely slandered my name and character in multiple other ways.

In reality, cutting ties was the only choice available to me, if I wanted to put an end to the never ending toxicity and torment. All those people who heard my name being slandered didn’t know it was slander (or perhaps they preferred not to know). They also didn’t know about the stalking, hate mail, or repeated hang-up calls I endured before the ties were completely cut. By depicting me as the villain, the narcissist aimed to make their lies the 'perceived reality' to achieve their toxic goals, and had hoped to damage or destroy my life in the process.

Nothing I did or said, changed it. No level of reasonableness or decency from me mattered. It just got worse. Their toxicity spread, and I had to cut ties with other people connected with the narcissist because they were brainwashed, which made those relationships strained or toxic too. People have a tendency to "gang up" and attack in numbers, thinking there is a good reason to do so (let's be clear... there is never a good reason to do that).

While the act of cutting off the narcissist was tough and my name was slandered for having the courage to do so, this action was the best thing I could have ever done for myself and my future. It meant that I could enjoy my life. It meant that I could function like everyone else. It meant that I could be free of bullying and toxicity by the narcissist and their 'gang', while they concurrently portrayed me as the perpetrator.

I'm human, and at that time I was also still young. It was an extremely difficult thing for a young person to deal with, and I had to dig deep and stay true to myself. Around that time, my father also tragically died, at which time the narcissist intensified their stalking behaviour. It was a lot to deal with emotionally but I got through it. I'm strong. I'm a fighter.

Being human, though, I'm certainly not perfect, and there was one time that I slipped up, after completely cutting ties. I chose to communicate again (crazy I know). I even tried to find it in myself to forgive. Still being my younger self and having not yet understood that I had been subjected to extreme and ongoing narcissism, this decision resulted in me being exposed to the exact same behaviour that I had escaped from in the first place. I had somehow hoped that the narcissist would have learned some lessons, and I'd hoped that their behaviour would have changed for the better. Personally, I wanted to seek some peaceful closure to that chapter of my life, even though I didn't really want to have much to do with them.

Little did I realise that you can never get closure with a narcissist. They just carry more resentment toward you. Despite their toxic implosion due to their failed campaign, there were no learnings they took from the experience other than doing more to cover up their behaviour so others wouldn't notice. Consequently, I cut off contact again and kept it that way. On the one hand it was a big mistake to resume contact. Yet on the other hand, it also showed me that they are incapable of change and I guess that's my closure.

I always try with people... but ultimately, I'm too self-respecting, secure and confident in myself to suffer fools. Life's too short! If you’re ever on the receiving end of this type of ongoing behaviour, that’s called narcissism. Get out while you can (and STAY OUT!).

© 2021 Alana Huxtable.