What I really WANT and TRY to think, when I sometimes reflect on the most senseless, intentional and unjust betrayals of my life is: "Forgive them, for they not know what they do."🙏😇
Though despite my genuine and well intended desire, the sobering REALITY that I KEEP SEEING is: unashamedly calculated and callous behavior by people who honestly don't care. No lessons learned ... and they probably never will be. So clearly, the joke is on me, if I keep thinking that any type of relationship can survive this type of abuse, or that I can keep surviving that type of abuse. 🤔
Why? Because people like that don't want to change, but instead think they can do whatever they want. When they're respectfully reminded of boundaries, they attack. When you distance yourself, you're accused of cutting them off. When you avoid their abusive behavior, they depict you as the reason for the estrangement, to themselves and others. And of course, there are always people who are easily influenced into believing all their lies or even get in on the act with the blame-game themselves. It's easy for people to believe lies when they really want them to be true.
It's quite bewildering, really, some of the desperate and crazy behavior I've personally experienced without just cause throughout the course of my life. All of it has been remarkably undignified but toxic people have no shame. It's quite remarkable the lengths people have gone to, in an attempt to bring me down simply because my genuine, strong, happy and achievement-orientated nature, irritates their demons. When toxic people have dealt you their absolute worst, and you notice or address it - even kindly, tactfully or assertively - they accuse you of seeing "the worst in people". True story. 🤔
The good news is... none of it has worked! Notice how their toxicity and emotional abuse has stopped me dead in my tracks? Notice how I've given up on life and have crawled under a rock? Notice how I hide and don't say anything about it? Notice how I haven't achieved anything worthwhile? OK, OK... I've got to pull it together now, because I'm cracking myself up over here.😆
Though unbelievably, they still don't get it... and due to the backward way they think, they probably never will. They keep hoping deep down that I will one day retract or fail, break, stop achieving, or I have no other choice but to need them in order for them to feel superior and experience a sense of control and power that they so desperately long for given it's void in other areas of their life.
But when their life mission and purpose is simply trying to drag me down in whatever way they can to feel better about themselves... well it's rather sad for them that their life has come to this, and flattering for me that I'm the center of their universe. Given I refuse to be dragged down, toxic people are deeply disturbed by the fact that they've actually aided my growth, strengthened my resolve, and have given me great reasons not to suffer fools, instead of the contrary that they had hoped or expected.😆
For a toxic person, that type of outcome must be their worst nightmare...especially given they've played such a powerful part in my incredibly purposeful and fulfilling journey. Afterall, they're supposed to belittle and destroy, certainly not help or aid!
I choose to look on the bright side and make lemons into lemonade. Despite their low, underhanded attempts, I can't deny they've provided me with an unlimited supply of red hot content to help thousands of others survive and thrive beyond toxic people. Gratitude always.
I am a toxic person's worst nightmare. 🤷♀️😆
We all have experienced those people who spew venom... but it's a whole other level when it's unprovoked. Yep... I've been there and it comes down to their own personal issues and insecurities. We want to avoid people who do this, because it isn't particularly pleasant is it? Maybe they're trying to get power over you... (well that failed). Perhaps they're trying to show they're strong (well that's just downright laughable).
Whatever their motivations are, we have no choice in the matter when it happens. We just happen to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time, somehow stuck in this moment with the wrong person. They like to press your buttons, and poke you until you crack... but what if you don't? What if you spin it around back to where it belongs, with the toxic person themselves? How do we keep them at bay and make it out alive? Grab a mirror and get ready to hold it up to your nemesis because here are 6 dynamite comebacks to their toxic verbal abuse.
1. “Are you talking to me?” Of course they are, but confront them and put them on the spot anyway. I do - I can't help myself.
2. "Well...that was unexpected." Just pointing out the obvious and saying what you're thinking!
3. Ignore them. Silence is golden. Their ego will not know what is going on, and they will likely feel disturbed.
4. “I hope you feel better soon.” It's genuine... you're being empathetic to the next person who crosses their path!
5. “You must be having a bad day.” Here you are being gracious to them, putting yourself in their position but also pointing out the blatantly obvious. They won’t know what to make of it.
6. “I will not stoop to your level.” God no. That would be your worst nightmare. Well, it's mine at least. Let them know you are annoyed, but don’t lose your cool. If you do, they will only try harder to unearth you because they want attention and a reaction.
All the best! XX
It's been five years since the onset of Meningococcal on a flight between Brisbane and Adelaide struck me down and changed the course of my life.
Who can ever say that they've had Meningococcal Disease (rare in itself), beaten it without hospitalisation, antibiotics, or an accurate doctor diagnosis at the time… and are still here (in one piece with everything still accounted for) to tell the story?
I can't think of anyone else I’ve ever known who this has happened to, but it's most certainly happened to me.
In typical ‘me’ style, I chose to completely downplay the illness for many years in my mind and words, to give myself the best chance to fight it, survive it and then recover from it.
For the first year, I didn’t even know that I was dealing with Meningococcal. All I knew, was that it was something horrendously bad and when it first happened, I even said that it felt like something was very, very wrong.
It was only when I consulted with a professional Brisbane doctor around a year later, that he retrospectively diagnosed me as having had Meningitis based on all the events and symptoms that I described to him.
It gave me an overwhelming sense of relief that finally I knew and understood the ordeal I'd been through and why I was suffering from such extreme fatigue and other issues in its aftermath. Finally, it was the closure I so desperately needed.
Hearing this at last made so much sense to me because I know how invasive, intense and unrelenting that illness was.
The next question that I needed answered was whether it was viral or bacterial. The doctor said it was not medically possible to do blood testing for Meningococcal a year after the event to confirm it was this bacterial version of Meningitis (as opposed to the less severe viral meningitis).
After telling the doctor everything, all the circumstantial evidence pointed directly at Meningococcal… including the fact that I had infected another person through close intimate contact four months after its onset, which doesn't happen with the milder viral version of Meningitis - especially after four months.😳
After getting over the initial shock of my belated diagnosis, and the scary realization of what I had actually been dealing with, I quickly discovered that my ability to survive that catastrophe was nothing short of a miracle thanks to my survival instincts.
Now that my illness had a name, and a bad name at that, it felt quite terrifying. I had been fighting Meningococcal Disease all alone without the hospitalization and antibiotics I so desperately required. 🤯
After also consulting with another doctor about it from the same medical practice, she couldn't stop staring at me with wonder, amazement, awe and curiosity, like I was some type of medical miracle. I mean, who else has managed to survive Meningococcal the way I have?
Even when I knew the truth - that I managed to survive Meningococcal - I kept referring to it as Meningitis to play it down in my mind. Meningococcal is a terrifying disease, and the word itself is associated with immense fear because we all know what it can do. I’m not the only one who has heard about it, countless times on the radio.🤨
No one truly knew what I went through, but I sure did. I remember how rapidly I was breathing, feeling so breathless and weak. My nails had turned completely white due to the ferocity of the infection and my body's overwhelming response to it, which is otherwise known as sepsis - a condition that accompanies Meningococcal Disease but not viral meningitis. More circumstantial evidence.
After the plane landed and I got home, I collapsed onto the couch and couldn’t even move. It was hard to speak or blink. I stayed completely still as the fight of my life was taking place inside my body, unbeknownst to anyone but me. Meningococcal hits you hard and fast. It is ruthless and unforgiving. It's something I'll never forget.
I remember managing to say (barely) to my partner, who was with me at the time, that it feels like I could almost go to hospital. Not realizing what I was dealing with or how dangerous the situation really was, I remember him saying that maybe we should just see how I go and keep an eye on the situation.
We'd taken a flight that day. The last thing any of us wanted to do was go to hospital. To be honest, I don't know how I would have found the energy to go to hospital anyway. All I could do was lie completely still.
By the next morning, I dragged myself across the road for an acupuncture session that lasted nearly two hours. The acupuncturist was shocked at how bad I looked and swung into gear with the treatment. This involved not only the acupuncture, but also moxibustion that involves sending heat to the vital organs to help fight pathogens.
I had turned yellow, indicating severe liver problems. My heart was also racing due to fighting the infection and it felt as though I was struggling to get blood flow to my extremities with tingling and then numbness of hands, arms, and legs. My hands and feet were freezing cold (in the heat of late January), my neck was stiff, and my head was splitting.
I really should have been in hospital, but due to the suddenness of it, and the fact it began on an aeroplane of all places, I was completely blindsided, barely able to communicate or even move. Though somehow, out of sheer survival, I forced myself to do what was in my control, which was walk those few meters to the acupuncture so closely located nearby. It was virtually on my doorstep.
I couldn't wait around for others to act or help me. It felt like it had rapidly progressed overnight and I needed treatment within minutes, not hours, not days, not weeks. I didn't even have the energy to convince my partner who didn't truly realize the emergency of the situation. I strongly believed in the benefits of acupuncture and knew it would help me given that it addresses everything - organs, blood, brain and more. So all I had to do was get there and let it work its magic.
The acupuncture worked, but given the intensity and nature of the infection, it was only temporary. After a few days, the acupuncture relief would wear off and severe numbness, breathlessness and organ problems would rapidly worsen again.
So, I would have another session, which would temporarily improve it again. Even with the treatment, it still felt horrific, and I couldn't do much of anything, but I just kept getting it done because I didn't know what else to do and something seemed to be working to some degree.
Simultaneously I sought western medical help, as I still felt horrendously ill and wanted answers. It was a struggle to drive, or do anything... so I was mostly housebound for a long time. Frustratingly, those doctors had no idea, hypothesizing and testing for Ross River and Glandular Fever. 🙄
They completely disregarded my description of events like the horrific migraine, the exhaustion, the stiff neck. How did these people get to be doctors? They were completely ignorant to the hallmark symptoms of Meningitis.
At least acupuncture seemed to be doing something worthwhile. Now I recognize that it was keeping the sepsis part of the illness at bay until the infection finally cleared around four months later. That's how long it can last if you're not treated by antibiotics. It stays with you (and transmissible) for as long as it takes for your body to build immunity.
The sepsis is what leads to the loss of limbs, due to blood clotting caused by the body's overwhelming response to the severe infection you have. So, acupuncture was probably a good treatment for avoiding that end-scenario. Not that I had a clue at the time.
Now that I’ve worked really hard to recover from that illness with a disciplined lifestyle, exercise and near perfect diet over the last five years, I now have the energy to run 8km per day, which is remarkable.
It's also great that I can now function without so many of the long-lasting aftereffects I experienced including organ dysfunction, tinnitus, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that later turned into Fibromyalgia. Due to my determined actions to get well, many of these have either been improved, forced into remission or eliminated altogether.
So now, with an epic, hard fought recovery, I feel like I can confront it and tell it as it is:
I survived Meningococcal Disease.
There, I said it.
So... I hear you asking, what is Meningococcal Disease?
Well, Meningococcal Disease is caused by strains of the bacterium called Neisseria meningitidis. It can be transmitted through close and prolonged intimate contact with an infected person. I don’t know how I got it, but what I do know is that I was on a trip, staying in a nice, high end hotel. I used their pool and a spa… then in the day or so following that lovely hotel stay … BOOM, life threatening mystery illness that is later identified as Meningitis.
I haven't stayed in a hotel since then. As you can understand, I felt like a long hiatus.
The main types of Meningococcal seen in Australia are Meningococcus B, W and Y.
Meningococcal disease is a rare, but serious and life-threatening, infection. Symptoms appear suddenly and people can die very quickly without medical help. Unless you’re me, and you do something completely ‘out there’ and very, very risky, which was acting on gut intuition by getting immediate acupuncture and moxibustion, then you’ll inevitably find yourself in the hospital whether doctors have figured it out or not.
I know that rapid treatment with antibiotics would have been the best thing I could have had… but that is only going to happen if you’re lucky enough to have a doctor or medical team that actually considers the possibility that you might have Meningitis to begin with so they can then perform a lumbar puncture immediately to confirm it is Meningococcal and administer antibiotics with rapid speed.
Based on my experience with some very incompetent doctors, my guess is that even if I was hospitalized, there’s a good chance they wouldn’t have figured it out and instead sent me home. This has happened repeatedly to other Meningococcal sufferers, which inevitably caused their deaths. In my case, if they sent me home, who knows what would have happened because speed, accurate diagnosis and antibiotic treatment are everything.
To help you understand Meningococcal, in case you or someone you know ever does experience it, it has a range of symptoms depending on its severity. If you have any of the following symptoms, you should seek urgent medical treatment:
How it Spreads
Meningococcal disease spreads when people are in very close contact with each other for a long time – for example, kissing intimately and living in the same household. While I don't understand how I managed to get it, I know for a fact that I passed it on to one other person, through intimate contact four months after its onset, leading to another life threatening, traumatic event.
In this spin off, my partner suddenly collapsed, vomited violently and lost consciousness, all at home while I was at an acupuncture appointment. After discovering this shocking situation on my return, I called for an ambulance and he was rushed to hospital.
In any other circumstances, Meningococcal Disease is quite difficult to catch. Given I was still infectious with it due to not having been treated with antibiotics, he caught it too... though luckily, he fared better than me in the end, managing to avoid the sepsis that took hold of me with such intensity.
The bacteria can only live outside of the body for a few seconds, so you can’t catch Meningococcal Disease from casual contacts or from the environment. The bacteria do not spread easily by sharing food or drinks.
Between 10% and 20% of people carry the bacteria in their nose or throat without showing any signs of illness but are not a risk.
Long Term Effects
Some of the long-term effects of the disease include:
This is why I have long avoided referring to it as “Meningococcal Disease” … it’s not particularly nice, is it?
The last five years have been hugely difficult. No one could possibly understand what I’ve been through, and I’ve kept much of it hidden and down-played it to help me survive and thrive beyond it.
It’s one of the biggest achievements of my life, being able to survive this horrendous illness with no western medical help whatsoever, but probably the most integral one given my life depended on it. I guess it just highlights my strong will to survive and thrive, which is my most defining characteristic.
This inherent trait has enabled me to survive and thrive beyond some truly horrendous adversities while retaining my personality and sense of humor.
I'm proud and relieved that I survived and I no longer take good health for granted.
Don't ever be afraid to TAKE ACTION and do what it takes to survive, thrive and be happy. Be your own best friend.
One of the joys of being human is that we don’t have to be perfect to be one of the good ones. At some point we’ll all make stupid decisions, hurt the people we love, say things that are hard to take back, and push too hard to get our way. None of that makes us toxic. Actually, it makes us human. We make mistakes, we grow and we learn. Toxic people are different. They never learn. They never self-reflect and they don’t care who they hurt along the way.
Toxic behaviour is a habitual way of responding to the world and the people in it. Toxic people are smart but they are emotionally immature. It’s no accident that they choose to project their toxicity on those who are open-hearted, generous and willing to work hard for a relationship. When toxic behaviour is involved it’s only a matter of time before someone is hurt… and it’s never the toxic one.
If you’re in any sort of relationship with someone who is toxic, chances are you’ve been bending and flexing for a while to try to make it work. This is normal – especially if it’s a blood relative, a close friend, or a spouse. Instinctively, you don’t give up on the ones you love – especially if you share a life history and there have been times when they have been good to you.
When the bad behaviour is more prevalent than the good, or there has long been an underpinning personal issue they've had with you from a much younger age, that’s when things get difficult and complicated because it's not your 'behaviour', but who you are as a person that they resent.
While a small part of them might be happy for your achievements, a more dominant part of them resents you for them. This creates an irrational, 'complicated' situation that you are powerless to fix. When you achieve bigger things, it can get the better of them and they might become verbally abusive when they feel insecure or threatened in any way. They can become downright nasty and destructive. You can only change the things that are open to your influence and toxic people will never be one of them. So stop. Just stop. Here are some of the ones to watch out for.
This is the person who exacts revenge on an innocent victim known to them (yes even a close family member), based on fixed, false beliefs that conflict with reality about the person they’re attacking. Despite contrary evidence, a person in a delusional state can't let go of these convictions, which are often reinforced by the misinterpretation of events and deep insecurities and envy that has long existed about that person. Many delusions also involve some level of paranoia.
For someone to be like this, they are often unhappy in their own life and feel as though they are very much a victim with no power or control. They might have an unhappy or emotionally abusive personal relationship and project their issues, blame and toxicity upon others - or one person in particular who they feel insecure or envious about so they don't feel guilt or shame.
If they made disempowering choices in their own life and find themselves unable to move forward the way they desire, they instead try to get power over you to ‘claw back’ that sense of power, control and gratification they so desperately seek in their life.
They might also derive a sense of irrational ‘revenge’ over you given there’s envy involved, even though such behaviour stems from their own life choices, how they are treated in other relationships, and deep-seated issues stemming from their own insecurities that have long existed. You're merely the scapegoat for their own predicament.
Look, there are good reasons that explain it, but it is inexcusable because no one should be treated like that. It’s an abuse of power: selfish, cruel and heartless. It shows they care little about the person they’re treating this way. This behaviour is entirely self-serving.
All relationships are about give and take but if you’re with a taker, you’ll be doing all the giving and they’ll be doing all the taking. Think about what you get from the relationship. If it’s nothing, or if it’s just downright abusive, it might be time to question why you bother.
We all have a limited amount of resources (emotional energy and time) to share between our relationships. Every time you make space for negative people who don’t deserve you, you’re saying ‘no’ to someone who is positive and who appreciates you.
Give your support and energy to the people who deserve it and when you’re drawing up the list of deserving ones, make sure your own name is at the top because when self-love exists, then you love others too and want to treat people well.
This version of toxic people won’t return your texts or phone calls or will wax and wane in regard to their level of contact with you. They do this because most of the time they want to derive a sense of power over you (trying to show you’re unimportant or insignificant), even though you have only ever been supportive and caring.
Even though you give them plenty of space, and get busy in your own life, you still might find yourself wondering whether they got your message, whether they’re okay, or whether you’ve done something to 'upset' them. No relationship should involve this much guess-work. When you ask if they got your message, they become hostile and blame you, saying you’re the problem. It's not rational. They’re insecure and try to crumble another person’s security to make themselves feel better.
Manipulators will tell half-truths or straight out lies and try to have you doubting yourself. They might verbally abuse you just because they're unhappy that day or have been dwelling on their issues with you, then tell you that you are the problem. Absurdly, they might then say that they need to distance themselves from you, while they simultaneously behave in a passive aggressive way and then accuse you of passive aggression.
They’ll change the facts of a situation, take things out of context and use your words against you. They’ll calmly poke you until you crack (if you let them get the better of you); then they’ll poke you for cracking and get numbers around them to help support their issues against you. There’s just no reasoning with a manipulator, so forget trying to explain yourself. They'll make any communication into an argument that will run in circles and there will be no resolution. It’s a black hole. Don’t get sucked in.
You: I didn’t say what you’re suggesting I said.
Them: Are you calling me a bad listener?!
You: No, I’m just saying that what you said was taken out of context to what I had communicated. I was saying a positive thing – nothing negative.
Them: Oh. So now you’re saying I’m a liar! Omg why think the worst in people? Please stop messaging me, I don’t need this ridiculous passive aggressive crap. This is exactly the reason I have been distancing myself from you.”
You: Please never speak to me like that again. It's not OK.
Them: Oh you just go on and on and you think you’re always right! You’re not always right! That’s not OK.
You: It’s OK to stand up for myself when getting abuse.
Notice how they want to create a problem? Notice how they want to find something to hate you about and then invent something and accuse you of the very behaviour they’re engaging in? Notice how some separate issue they have with you (their belief you always think you're right) has made its way into the conversation, even though it screams of their personal insecurities?
Their nasty tone, accusatory nature and bad attitude indicates they are someone who does not value or respect you and the relationship. When it frequently happens and it's unprovoked, and gets to the point that you feel like you can’t say anything (not even a reasonable question like ‘how are you?’) without them taking extreme offence and then accusing you of something untoward, then what does that leave you with? Why should any well intended communication turn into something entirely negative, hostile and difficult? When that happens, it is toxicity at its most extreme and you either let them continue to mistreat and abuse you in the relationship, or you walk away.
If you’re feeling vulnerable and are not consciously aware of what they’re doing, this sort of talk from the toxic person might have you questioning or doubting yourself. You might begin to think that they’re right! It might even have you retracting, laying low, tip toeing on eggshells or watering yourself down if you’re desperate to retain that ‘relationship’. Remember your worth. You shouldn’t be treated that way. Don’t believe a word of what they say to you.
These people only hear things through their negative filter, so the more you talk, the more they’ll twist what you’re saying. They want power, not a relationship. They’ll try to use your weaknesses against you and they’ll use your strengths – your kindness, your openness, your desire for stability in the relationship - when they feel the need. Is this the type of ‘relationship’ you want?
They talk themselves up, they talk others down and they always have a reason for not doing what they say. They’ll lie outright or they’ll give you versions of the truth – not a lie, not the truth, just that feeling in your gut that something is off. These people have extreme self-involvement to the degree that it makes that person ignore the needs of those around them.
While everyone may show occasional narcissistic behaviour, true narcissists frequently disregard others or their feelings. They have no empathy whatsoever. Some do not understand the effect that their behaviour has on other people, while others do but don't care and instead use it to get what they want.
General rule of thumb: people don't typically change. Someone who disrespects waiting staff will always be the type of person who is rude to the waiting staff. Having said that, it's very possible for people to change but only when they’re ready and usually only when they’ve felt burning pain to take real action to do it themselves. It’s normal to fight for the things that are important, but it’s important to know when to stop.
When a relationship hurts to be in due to the toxicity of another, the only thing that will change will be you – a sadder, unhappier version of the person you started out as. You can try to be assertive and communicate your feelings about this treatment, but people like this will be hostile in their response and will likely hang up on you.
If they don't care about your feelings, then they will do whatever makes them feel superior. Before it gets to this, set a time limit in which you want to see change. Check in with yourself at the end of each week and write down how you feel. Have something concrete to look back on. It’s easier to let go if it’s clear over time that nothing has changed. It’s even easier if you can see that the only thing different is that the lights have gone out in you.
The signs might be subtle at first but they’ll be there. Soon, there will be a clear cycle of abuse, but you may or may not recognise it. Gossip is an etiquette rule many people don’t know they are breaking, and just one way that toxic people engage in relational aggression, a type of aggression in which one causes harm to another by damaging their relationships or social status. Toxic people often exclude people or encourage social ostracism, which can be very damaging to a person, often having psychological effects.
If this is familiar, you’re in a cycle of abuse.
If you have a person who is constantly jealous and envious and they have toxic tendencies, then of course they’re going to find problems with you no matter how hard you try. If you act in a trustworthy way, you deserve to be trusted. If you treat others with respect and kindness, then you expect (and deserve) to be treated the same way.
Anyone can get insecure now and then and could do with a little more kindness and reassurance but when the questions, accusations and demands are consistently unwarranted, and occur frequently as part of any communication without reason or just cause, it highlights the toxic person’s unhealthy jealousy and other issues. You can’t control those interpretations and feelings if they really want to think badly and feel like that, but you can control whether you let them 'punish' you for them.
These people will always have problems that are bigger than yours. When you're sick, they're sicker. When you're exhausted from working hard every day, they insist they worked longer. They are very firmly fixed in a victim mindset, and you'll always be the supporter and never the supported. There's only so long that you can keep drawing on your emotional reserve if there's nothing coming back. A one-way street isn't a relationship. It's an energy sap and a massive waste of time.
If you ever get the feeling that you can only have a positive relationship with someone you care about when the timing is ‘right’ that’s a symptom of a conditional relationship. When someone only gives you time, care, friendship or love in certain circumstances, or at certain times of your life that makes them feel comfortable with it, then it’s completely unreliable and the person isn’t someone who is always going to be there for you.
You might notice at other times when you’ve experienced positive personal growth or have embarked on a new project or career and they responsively withhold their care, time, friendship or love hostage from you, or even verbally abuse you about your personality or intelligence without provocation, that you begin to unconsciously draw conclusions about that new set of circumstances. Sadly, a person who does this to another person is conditional and if you do anything worthwhile and make good decisions, and personally grow, they will punish you for it.
Don’t expect that person will ever be there for you. Perhaps they’ll be nice to you again if your life suddenly went off the rails somehow because that would make them feel superior to you. Then they’ll want to know you because they can feel secure and important in the relationship by giving you sympathy. If this is support, then don’t bother. Why would you want to be rewarded for stuffing up your life, and punished for anything positive? Do you think that would make you a better person?
The toxic person in your life might not fit one or two specific categories like these, but might be a mix of all of them.
Whatever the unique combination, toxic people are soul destroying. They won’t do what it takes to climb out of their own toxic circumstances so they resentfully try to drag you down instead. It’s sad, especially when it’s someone you care about. For those on the receiving end of it, it is important to step back and see it for what it is.
While many say it’s important to see the good in everything and everyone, I have learned over time that it’s more important to see the truth in everything and everyone. That’s part of survival and in your life, your number one priority is to survive and thrive because no one else will make that happen for you. It's important to put things in perspective and understand what you’re dealing with, so you can make good decisions.
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.
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 outloud (or in your mind), “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!
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.💛