1. Every great initiative thrives because of a strong purpose, what was the one behind Belief School?

There is a parable about the good wolf and the bad wolf inside all of us, the boy asks his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” – and the grandfather says, “The one you feed.”

In my case, I was feeding them both with equal determination. Fortunately, the good wolf ultimately won and now I hold a tender place in my heart for my bad wolf. By facing her and fiercely deciding to survive and then thrive, I celebrate all that I am.

This is one of the foundational principals behind Belief School. I believe when we celebrate our broken bits, we accept all that we are and cherish the authentic, unique value we each bring to the world; this builds our self-belief. With a strong sense of who we are, we are able to contribute more, love more – show up in an entirely different way.

The principals we teach in Belief School healed my head, my heart and my soul.

Belief School was created for my sixteen-year-old self – broken and hurt. My 24-year-old self, full of hate and aggression and my 30-year-old self – exhausted and searching.

It is one part of a lifelong journey of self-discovery.

  1. How is Belief School transforming lives?

I believe every single person who goes through Belief School intentionally, willing to take the action required in each module, will gain a greater understanding of how special they are. It is impossible to complete Belief School and not feel better about yourself.

  1. In your own words “I smashed myself against the walls of life so often I should have died”, what was your biggest support system during those tough times?

Knowing deep down inside that I was loved.

In my darkest days, I was rejecting my family, my upbringing – everything about the conservative world I came from. I was deep in addiction, not just injecting drugs; I was addicted to risk, to dangerous behaviours. In that time when I truly didn’t know how to feel love for myself, there was still enough of me that knew I had value, that I had something to give and that I mattered – that was the gift of my family. That is what kept me alive long enough to decide to be present with what it feels like to be human in all its beautiful vulnerability.

If a parent ever asks me now, how they can help someone they care about who is in trouble like this, I always say the same thing: “Love them, unconditionally, broken bits and all – LOVE them.”

  1. If you had to suggest a non-clinical way to fight depression or addiction, what would it be?

I am not a counsellor or psychologist so what I have to offer is personal experience. There are so many levels of addiction and depression that I have to answer this very generically.

I spent so much time with drug users, most of which happily used drugs, alcohol or sex recreationally without any trouble. There were a select few of us; it was clear to see, whose proclivities were less about fun and more about pain reduction or escapism.

To move past the pain, we must accept it and chose not to let it define us. If I was talking to my 16-year-old self now, I would grab her by the shoulders and tell her that the rape had nothing to do with her, that it wasn’t about her and does not need to define her.

Then I would put her mind to work, filling it with affirmations, ideas and people that allowed no space for victim talk. I would teach her to focus on what she wanted, not what she didn’t want. I would help her get involved in the world in a way that reflected back to her that she had value, that she had something to contribute.

It is such a big question, there is so much more to this – your question makes me realise I have lots to offer here, and I need to do something about it.

  1. One piece of advice to our readers on how they can become a more confident and compassionate person.

Go through Belief School. There are eight principals we work with, things like understanding the great qualities you already possess, gratitude, contribution, facing our fears. Each of these principals builds your self-confidence.

You can’t build that confidence from reading a book, acquiring wealth – nor living a social media life. You must create evidence for yourselves that you matter, that you have value and that you are part of a caring, loving community.

Compassion for others is easy when we have compassion for ourselves.