The guest today is Fatima Oliver. Listen to this episode to find out how to have a soul journey to self-acceptance. Fatima and I discuss some of the main situations and experiences that damage our self acceptance, and she shares the steps that she followed in order to heal some of the trauma and hurt in her life to get to a place of self acceptance.
Fatima is a wife, mother, and author. She has a passion for helping others using what she calls a baby step approach. Fatima has been able to embrace the work necessary to heal from childhood trauma, heartbreak and abuse. Much of her life’s journey is shared in her new book The Prescription is in the Dirt, now available on Amazon.com.
We recorded this episode on April 12, 2021.
I’m worthy of love right now. – Fatima OliverTweet
Timeline of the Chat
If you actually start to participate in my own healing, what could happen? – Fatima OliverTweet
- The Prescription is in the Dirt, by Fatima Oliver
- Positive Intelligence: Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential and How You Can Achieve Yours, Shirzad Chamine
Don’t allow waiting to become a habit. – Fatima OliverTweet
Transcript of the Episode
The Prescription is in the Dirt [01:50]
Damianne President: [01:50] You recently released The Prescription is in the Dirt. Tell us why did you write this book?
Fatima Oliver: [01:57] I wrote the book primarily as an extension of healing for myself, Damianne. I was really going through a wild time where God was taking me through what I consider a soul healing journey. For me it’s when my mind, my body, my emotions, along with my faith, intersected at the same time and really caused me to do some soul searching and pay attention to what was going on in my life, my behaviors, my attitude, my decision-making, how I interacted with people.
I was able to address a lot of past trauma, a lot of things from my childhood, even just as an adult and making horrible decisions or just dating the wrong people and having a lot of pain and hurt from the past, from friendships and family members and all kinds of decisions that I’ve made that got me the wrong outcome, having to face those things.
In the midst of me looking at those parts of my life and working to release the pain from those situations, I wound up stumbling into a book. And so I was able to take those situations and actually write about those accounts in detail and share my failures, but also shared how I overcame them and how my faith was a huge part of my life and my new decision-making and just how I was able to capture some freedom within my life, to be able to be myself and to accept who I was, the good, the bad, the questionable, to be able to accept those pieces of myself and just all the things that I had to go through in my life to get to that one spot where I can say I love myself, I accept myself and I’m happy for who I am.
And so all of that accumulated into a book where I really was just writing down all of my accounts. And when I looked back onto it, I said, well, that’s a book. And I began the process of creating a book. What I wanted to get out of it was not just to find my voice and to be able to speak for the first time in my entire life and say, these things happened to me, they were not good, these things happened to me, they were my fault but my mistakes matter, they make me who I am; I matter. Not only was I trying to do that, but I wanted to make sure that I was a voice for those people who hadn’t found theirs yet and who was still working and struggling to be able to stand up for themselves. I wanted my book to be an extension to say that I’m carrying them also.
Recognizing the need for change [04:44]
Damianne President: [04:44] It sounds like it’s really a way of you capturing the journey that you went on in terms of your own healing. Where did this journey start? What was the turning point that helped you, that made you realize something needs to change here?
Fatima Oliver: [05:01] Honestly, throughout my life, I struggled with anxiety and depression very regularly. I didn’t even realize that’s what I was struggling with. But over time you get educated and you realize that that is what it is. Since I was a child, I struggled with sadness and sorrow and just always feeling invisible and feeling just downcast. I carried it throughout my life and I thought that’s just how I was. And those moments where I felt that there was something wrong with me, there were people around me that would encourage me and say there was nothing wrong with me. So I never really stopped to look heavily into that area of why I felt so discontent with my life. When I got around my thirties, late thirties, I got the nerve to go to a doctor and share what I had been feeling all those years, and I was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety. I was on medicine for over 10 years before I got to this place where I said, okay, I’m on medicine, but the deeper question is why do I need to be on the medicine? Why do I have this anxiety? Why won’t it go away? What is really behind this habitual illness that causes me to just have tight chest and not be able to tolerate certain things. These triggers that I have, what is that about?
Two years ago is where I really was in a spot where I said, I’m gonna not be afraid and I’m going to look at my life and I’m going to try to figure out what is going on with me. At that time, I felt like I was losing my mind. I felt that I was becoming a schizophrenic, if you can even just become one.
Getting Therapeutic Help [06:47]
I just felt that something was really, really wrong with me. The medicine wasn’t working; I was at a place where I was thinking about ending my life. I was thinking about ways to do it. I was thinking about how I could do it and my kids still be okay. I was really in a very desperate, dark place. That forced me to go and speak to somebody because I was afraid that I was really gonna act it out. And during that moment is when I really started to dive in to my life and my past to work some things out.
Damianne President: [07:20] It sounds like you got to a point of desperation basically for something to change and that allowed you to reach out for help. You mentioned that you had been taking medication for over 10 years. Was this the first time that you actually got some therapy as well, or some kind of assistance that was not just medicine?
Fatima Oliver: [07:44] It really was. And even when I went, Damianne, I was like okay, you can’t ask me certain questions. I’m coming but I only want you to tell me how to get rid of the anxiety. I don’t want you to ask me about my family. I don’t want you to ask me about my past. I just want you to tell me how to breathe so that my chest won’t keep tightening up, that I won’t keep flipping out and crying at work and my hands getting clammy, and I won’t be so easily angered. Just tell me how to fix that. But if you want to talk about my family and my life, I don’t want to do that. And so I went to therapy like that for at least a month where I didn’t really want to dive into anything. I just wanted them to give me some materials to help me to breathe through the anxiety so that I can come out of that anxiety crisis when I was having one.
About 30 days in, I had what I call a come to Jesus moment. I was talking to my God, and I just realized that the person they were trying to help me, they were genuinely trying to help me. They were giving me some really good materials. It was just one of those things where I said, if I actually started to participate in my own healing, what could happen? What else can happen? And so I made a decision to open it up and just trust in the process. And that is really when I started to see my life transform.
Along with that, I got involved with a Bible study program that was a pretty intense program. It actually made me dive into my habits and why I had these habits and how these habits impacted other people. As an example, Fatima what do you do when you get angry and how does that help you when you get angry and how does it impact your family? How does it impact your friends when you get angry?
So it really made me take a microscopic look at my decision-making and my choices and my behavior to see how it could be impacting other people. So then I could have a real moment of, is this helpful? Is this a bad habit? Is this a good habit? And so it was a lot of questions like that that made me see myself.
And in that process, I learned so much about myself. I learned about my habits. I learned about not just the habits I have, but why I have the habits. I learned that I had a shopping habit that my husband would say he already knew. I had an emotional shopping habits. I would always say, well, I earned the money. I go to work every day. I work hard. I pay the bills. I do everything that I’m supposed to do responsibly with my money. So why can’t I go and just buy whatever I want? What’s the big deal if I spend a hundred dollars here, fifty dollars here? What’s the big deal if I impulse shop and everything else was taken care of. That was my excuse for years. But in using that excuse, I would also put things in the trunk and not take it out until he left the house.
Uncovering hidden triggers and habits [10:47]
Damianne President: [10:47] That’s definitely a sign when we find ourselves hiding stuff.
Fatima Oliver: [10:51] I would still hide things and I would say, I just don’t feel like having the conversation. I’m hiding it because I don’t want to talk about it. I know what he’s going to say and I just don’t feel like the drama, so I’m just going to hide it. But when I started going through these deep questions about my life and my coping habits, I realized that I had an emotional shopping habit. When I would have anxiety, I wanted to buy something and it didn’t matter what it is. It could have been applesauce for the kids. It really did not matter as long as I was able to spend and the spending made me feel better. When I realized that I was able to make a big girl decision and say, is that healthy? So now I have an option to work to change that habit and deal with the things that was truly causing me to have the anxiety or causing me to go shop.
Between the therapy and talking to someone and being able to really hone in on my faith and realign my life with my faith and bring in a spiritual aspect to my life that I hadn’t really tapped into as deeply, it was those accumulation of all those things that helped me to be able to get to a place where I could say I found freedom. I found peace. I don’t have those habits anymore. I still have difficult times, but I’m able to walk myself through the processes and, and get to the other side. I’m grateful to be able to be in a place where I can help others now.
Damianne President: [12:16] The things that we do, whether or not they serve us in the long run, we do them because they somehow serve us in the short term. And so that coping habits that might not be helpful for listeners who may be experiencing something similar, it’s soothing some part of us in that moment. And it could be something that we’re not even aware of, as you mentioned with your emotional shopping.
Someone who’s listening might think the same way that you thought. If everything else is taken care of, what does it matter if I spend money, and actually it might be fine. There might be nothing wrong, but we don’t know unless we have some curiosity and look under the hood and see what’s actually happening here. If we’re hiding things, that’s usually a great signal that we know something is off in that situation.
Fatima Oliver: [13:14] Absolutely. What’s so funny is it’s usually that everybody else knows it. They may have even tried to engage with you and do a light intervention, but because you just discounted so quickly, they don’t even try anymore. And so there’s usually somebody in your circle that already knows that you have a certain problem.
You may have not noticed that you have the problem, but they know that you have the problem. Like I said, when I told my husband I just realized, he was like, yeah, we’ve been through that like 10 years ago, but it was good to be able to recognize that about myself.
And I continue to see things about myself, but now I don’t fight the revelation, I embrace it now, because all that’s doing is making me a better person. And so I realized that I had an anger issue and that there were certain things that made me so angry. I had to realize what were those things that made me easily angered and why? And so I was able to see that I didn’t like feeling invisible. And so if I’m having a conversation and somebody starts looking somewhere else, or they just totally just stopped talking to me to talk to somebody else, it would begin to fester frustration whether I was at work, with a group of friends, with my husband. I realized that I had this issue with people with feeling ignored or when some people are just rude and they just stopped talking to you and start talking to somebody else and just pretend like you’re not there. Either way it would impact me the same. I would get so angry.
I had to look into that and say, Fatima, what is that about? Why does that trigger you so easily? Even if I’m not talking about it, I’m still there emotionally. And I realize that as a child, I was the one that always felt ignored and invisible. I would literally raise my hand up to ask a question and my family and the family will laugh and they will say, Oh my God, Fatima wants to talk. It was so many people all around all the time and they were always having these conversations and I was more timid.
So I always felt like when I talked, I was quieter and people didn’t want to take the time to hear what I was saying. And so I would always find myself raising my hand. I did not stop raising my hand to talk until I was probably in my forties. I would be in an office meeting. I will be in the conference room with other people on my team and I would raise my hand to ask a question and people will laugh and be like, Oh my God, Fatima. But it was such a habit as a child.
I had to go all the way to my childhood to see that that impacted me. Now did I call the people and say, remember when I was six years old and you ignored me. Of course not. It was more so from my understanding of why I had certain habits. And then from there, now when I have conversations and there are rude people around that that’s their issue, I don’t allow it to trigger me and make me go instantly angry because I know where that comes from in me. And it really has to do with me taking that trip back into my life, going back to my past, just sit there for a little bit to understand why it made me feel the way that I felt. It was because I felt inadequate; I felt invisible; I felt not a part of my family.
Now when I have those situations, I can talk to myself and say, Fatima, you do not know this person. You are not a part of their family. They are not trying to ignore you or that is just their habit. They are not trying to hurt your feelings. Shake that off. Move on. Don’t allow it to take you down that road.
So going back and reassessing the horrible things of my past, but also the things that are just innocent things from my past has helped me Damianne, to get to a place where I can better control my emotions. It’s not about not feeling them, but it’s placing them in the right place and knowing when they are healthy emotions and when those emotions are truly out of line and shutting them down before they send me into this place of anxiety.
Finding the Why for your Triggers [17:09]
Damianne President: [17:09] There are two components. You recognized what was happening and you also recognized why it was happening. How important is the why to you and how does this factor in in your family relations? So, for example, with getting upset, does understanding the why help you within family relationships as well as within work relationships or friendships?
Fatima Oliver: [17:35] I think as far as me and owning my responsibility and the way that I respond, absolutely, the why matters. There’s a saying the external locus, the things that happen around you, you can’t control that, right. Only thing you can do is control yourself.
In me being able to control my behavior, control my responses, control my emotions, a lot of times the why does matter for me in regards to soul healing, especially if it’s impacted me in an unhealthy way.
When I’m at dealing with the anxiety, for example, it’s important for me to be able to say Fatima, what triggered that anxiety and why? So it could be a conversation. I have an example where I would deal with somebody at work who had a very boisterous, almost obnoxious, kind of arrogant personality. Whenever we would interact, it would be like oil and water. It would hit me in a personal way. I had to look at that and say, why does he trigger me? I wound up walking steps to realize that his personality was similar to my ex-husband.
My ex-husband was mentally abusive, emotionally abusive, physically abusive. He would play these games with me, mind games that would just take me on an emotional roller coaster. In one conversation, I could hit every single emotion that’s possible just for him to get an hour into it and apologize. But before he ever apologize, I would have to plead with him to help him see he was wrong. You could go through anger, rage, sadness, sorrow, feel like I was going crazy, like maybe I’m wrong. And then for him to at the end say, you know what you were right.
So those type of personalities trigger me and I go into hyper-vigilance as far as protecting myself. I wouldn’t be able to know that about myself if I wouldn’t have figured out the why. And so once I realized that’s where that trigger was stemming from, I was able to tell myself Fatima, this guy doesn’t mean you any harm; this is just his personality. His personality is similar to your ex’s, but he’s not trying to hurt you. You are in control of your space and you are no longer with this person.
So it helps me to be able to talk to myself and bring myself back up out of that space where my body wants to go, because it’s tagging onto that emotion and the emotion can often trigger the physical aspects of how your body reacts. So in having that conversation with myself, I would be able to calm myself and not go into that anxiety crisis that I normally went through. So that’s a light example, but that is why my why is critical when I’m dealing with things in my past in regards to sexual abuse, physical abuse, hostility and dysfunction that were oftentimes a part of my upbringing.
Although I know that my family loved me, we had some dysfunctional habits. And so in order to be able to check those habits so that I don’t transfer them to my children, I do need to do that homework and go and follow the breadcrumbs to the why, why were we this way? Or even if I need to forgive that person, I think to a degree it’s important to try to understand the why. Maybe they grew up that way and that’s how they were taught.
That’s, for me, where my faith has to come in to tell me how much I need to know and when I need to stop, because some digging can be compulsive and lead you nowhere but down a rabbit hole. I always take it back to soul healing, because it’s about your mind, your body, your emotions, but also your soul.
Damianne President: [21:07] It sounds like the why is very important for being able to access empathy, and also being able to support your own self, figuring out what you need in order to be healthy, to heal.
Fatima Oliver: [21:23] Absolutely.
On Self-Acceptance [21:24]
Damianne President: [21:24] So everything you’re talking about in terms of recognizing what’s true about yourself and facing those things that other people may have known but you never admitted or you never realized before, those are all elements of self acceptance.
How do you define self acceptance?
Fatima Oliver: [21:45] Well I certainly believe that it is being able to accept your entire self and pertain it to a level where. My speech portrays me as Damianne. I am a Christian and that is just the center of my life so you will hear that a lot. But for me, it is that if God can truly accept me how I am, then I need to be able to tap into how to accept myself, how I am.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t need to correct some things, but still be able to say I’m okay. And I’m, I’m worthy of love like I am, as I work on other things. But still, I don’t have to get to those other things before I’m worthy of love. I’m worthy of love right now. And being able to accept that truth about myself, to me that is the greatest form of self-acceptance.
But I also think that taking it a step further, I couldn’t accept who I was until I realized who I was. For most of my life, at least until my mid forties as I started going into my soul healing journey is when it was like putting on glasses for the first time. I just saw things so much clearer. Most of my life people were creating my story for me. People had already tagged me as insecure, attacked me as overly sensitive, soft, gullible, all these things. I was known for giving people the benefit of the doubt. I was gentle; I wanted to be trustworthy, that I was humble, and that I was compassionate.
See, my story on myself was different than what other people would say. However, I lean more on what the other people would say to direct my life. And so in that I found a lot of insecurity. I set in a lot of self victimization based on what other people said about me so I made my future based on that.
I think we all have to make the decision on what we say about ourselves and let that be our story period. That is the name of our book, whatever we say that is. And then we start to write the story behind that title and let go of that old title. When I was able to do that for myself and got a lot of revelations about my habits, got a lot of revelations about other people’s habits and dysfunctions that were placed on me, I was able to make those determinations and let some things go that I did not own.
Then I was able to fully embrace my self acceptance. And so now I’m in a place where I really truly feel more free than I ever have in my life. And I’m just fully enamored with myself and my growth and what God is doing in my life. I was never that way while I was owning somebody else’s story about my life.
Damianne President: [24:29] It’s so damaging and so interesting that people don’t realize the judgment in those words, like sensitive and timid. And even when they do have an element of truth, like who’s to say that sensitive is a bad thing.
It’s so interesting because people start placing societal judgements or their own values on people and saying that somehow bad other. All those negative connotations that we associate to words are really societal.
At work, we’re reading a book called Positive Intelligence. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but as you’re speaking about judgments and the role of the victim and being hypervigilant, there are many of those words in that book and he talks about how those saboteurs are the unhelpful parts of our brain. I’m not that far into the book yet, but since you’re in this space, you might be interested to take a look at it as well.
Learning from failure [25:33]
Fatima Oliver: [25:33] Yeah. I’ll definitely look that up because it’s true. I don’t know how it travels. Maybe the book would say that, but somehow we take those words from other people or from our experiences. We can have an awesome group of supporters, but because of our own experiences and maybe failures. I don’t look at the idea of failures as failure as failing; I really look at it as an opportunity to learn something, even if it’s learned what not to do. But just that idea of something not going your way, you could get into this place where see, it’ll never work out. I won’t even try again because it won’t ever work out. And we start to sabotage our own possibilities.
We sabotage our own success. We lean into this story that is not even true, and the problem with that is no matter how much somebody believes in you, no matter how much somebody wants to support you, put financial backing behind you, go through this earth back and forth for you, you will never go anywhere because you don’t believe in yourself. And so the self-sabotaging mechanism is huge. I really found that it was difficult. That was the most difficult for me.
There was a lot of my life where I was a victim. I was victimized. There were things that happened to me that was not my fault. There were situations that occurred even in my marriage that I couldn’t control this person, but they did a lot to control me. So there were some aspects where I could say, but I was a victim. It’s not about whether you were treated fairly or not. It’s about what you do with your story, whether you change it and say, yes, this absolutely happened to me and I will continue to acknowledge the fact that it happened to me. However, it will no longer have control over what I do with my life. It will no longer stifle me from moving forward with the things that I desire in my life. That’s when yes, you have been a victim, but you’re not living in that victimization space. And that’s what my goal is when I’m helping my clients is to help them climb out of that space of just feeling that they have no future because of something that has happened to them.
I would say if you want to continue to tell the Swan song, become an advocate. Then you can share your story, but also share a message, also share how you can grow from and also share your testimony.
The greatest threat to self acceptance [27:49]
Damianne President: [27:49] In your own journey of self acceptance or in your work with clients, what do you see as the main situations that damage our self acceptance? I don’t think we’re born not accepting ourselves so what happens along the way that damages it?
Fatima Oliver: [28:06] I really think that it’s access to the wrong people. That’s a huge component as far as sometimes as a child we’re exposed to people that mean us no good and unfortunately that is not dealt with in a healthy way. I also have seen in that because of certain situations, our viewpoint, our outlook, and not placing ourselves around the right circle of support.
So I really think that those three things really do get us in a place where it’s habitual of us having this negative perspective on our life and our capabilities. And we live saying I wanted to do that. I wish I would’ve did that. One day I’ll do that. We probably don’t even say one day, but we never really put forth the action to make it happen because somewhere deep inside our subconscious, we don’t think that it’s possible.
Since we’re speaking on the negative, it would be traumatic experiences that were not handled. And that’s the thing, the event happens, something that was out of everybody’s control possibly that it happened, but then the victim somehow became a victim again because they weren’t helped, they weren’t supported, they were told we don’t talk about that to other people. What happens at our house stays in our house and they were shushed somehow. And so even though maybe the family members weren’t trying to do this, they revictimized that child and that child learned that their voice didn’t matter and that their desires didn’t matter. And to me, more critically, their pain didn’t matter. And so they carried it with them throughout their life.
That seed of I don’t matter was planted in there and in them. And so as they go through their life and they go through professional relationships and personal relationships with family, with friends, with a loved one, even their spouses, there is that seed there that says I don’t matter.
So when things happen and maybe there’s a breakup, then they say, well, you know, they were too good for me anyway. Or if they apply for the job and they don’t get it, well, maybe I wasn’t qualified enough; I knew I shouldn’t even apply for that job. There was something on the inside of them that tells them that they should have knew better than to believe in themselves. And that is what I see.
So again, when it comes to aspirations, it’s always, I wish I could do it. Maybe one day I’ll do it. I thought about doing it, but I rarely hear I’m going to do it, I have set it on my calendar, I started going to school for it, I have started walking the steps to do that thing, I’ve been thinking about all this time.
I like to tell my clients don’t allow waiting to become a habit. Don’t allow waiting to become a habit. We will wait and we will wait and we will wait and wait some more. Then before we know it, we are looking over our lives and saying, dang, I wish I would’ve did that. Take the risk, take the risk and learn from it. You may learn that you are awesome sauce and that you did that. You also may learn I shouldn’t have did that. I won’t do that no more, but then you’ll have a story to tell, right. There is nothing like being at a dinner party and having an awesome story. So either way you win.
Either way you win and so take the risk. that’s what I really been trying to drive home to my clients is don’t allow waiting to become a habit. We will wait our life away and then have such regret about the things that we did not do.
Milestones on the self-acceptance journey [31:37]
Damianne President: [31:39] If you, think about your self acceptance journey, are there any signposts along the way? Are there any milestones that you can identify?
Recognize errors and take responsibility for your part [31:49]
Fatima Oliver: [31:49] Well, I would say being able to recognize and accept my, my errors, being able to humble myself because it took humility to say I did that. That was me. I caused that relationship to go in a worse or direction than it needed to. I could have I could have kept my mouth shut.
I wouldn’t have been able to make the amends or at least approach making the amends with people and with situations, if I wasn’t able to acknowledge my errors, I would also say the huge, huge milestone was me being able to stand up for myself for the first time in my life to people that were closest to me, and actually being able to say you allowed me to be hurt. Why did you allow this to happen and having, or attempting a dialogue, not in an attacking way, but truly share my heart of how I was hurt and how I was potentially damaged and how I’ve had to climb myself out of it, and let’s discuss it.
Have difficult conversations [32:58]
Being able to approach a conversation like that is not by any means easy. I was able to have the courage to do that, and I will be forever grateful for that and proud of myself for that. And also being able to reconcile relationships because I took those steps, because I found the courage to have that conversation and specify situations, not get petty and name 50 million things of what somebody did, but being able to look at maybe five key things that I felt broke our relationship and schedule the time to talk to them like a business meeting and say, I’m going to go through these five things. And if you allow me to speak, I will give you all the time you need to address them, but just allow me to get through these. With each five situation, everyone said, this is what happened, this is how it made me feel, this is how it impacted my life to where I’m carrying it today. This is who was at fault, well you’re on the call with me so I’m kind of saying it was you, right? This is how I wish that we could repair our relationship in this area, in the future. With every single specific incident, going through that phase, and then taking my hands off of it and not manipulating the response.
Take the steps for the life you want, don’t wait for the other person [34:16]
In that I was able to get reconciliation with my father, who I had not spoken with in over 15 years, who I lived in the same town as him. We were like people at the workplace where you see them in the hallways and you may talk to them in the cafeteria, but outside of that, you are not connected whatsoever. That was our relationship. And we were able to make a significant affective, loving relationship because I took those steps. I didn’t wait on him to call me. I made the effort. I made the phone call. I set the time, I presented the conversation and I have a relationship with my father, which I’m very excited about.
For the first time in my life, we went to a daughter – dad dinner. I’m 46 and at 45, I was able to have a father daughter dinner and I was just as scared as a 12 year old kid and just as giddy and jittery. And my kids were able to have Christmas with their grandfather for the first time; they thought he was dead. They were able to have a Christmas with him and they’re able to make Christmas cookies via Zoom and have been able to form a relationship with their grandfather. And it all started because I took the initiative and made the call and had the conversation. So those are three huge milestones in this journey that I personally had. And now I’m just trying to help other people have their own milestones.
Celebrating Successes on your Journey [35:49]
Damianne President: [35:49] As you began to accept yourself, when did you know it was working? When did you know that something was definitely changing significantly?
Fatima Oliver: [36:01] When I saw the results through my family. I would say they’re the closest ones to me so when I saw that they saw the difference. If I got into a disagreement with my husband, I wouldn’t go to level 50 like I normally may have. I would choose to say, I’m not going to have this conversation at this time. Or I would choose to say, well, maybe we need to talk about it another time, and so the conversation was shorter. And so his response became to be different. When I saw the change happening in my home, where my kids were happier to be around me and I was able to laugh more, that is when I said, okay, this thing is working. I need to continue this.
From there, I have seen some amazing transformations within myself. I know that it was not just because I did some steps on a paper. It was because I did the steps on paper and I looked at myself in the face and I was able to face my fears head on and not turn my face away for what I was seeing. And I was able to invite my faith into the mix. I had a great support team, my sisters in Christ who helped me out and supported me and also told me the truth in love and my therapist; it was all of those things that helped me to see transformation happen in my life.
It’s been an awesome journey and it’s amazing to be able to have written a book when two years ago, I was in the car sobbing thinking that I was going to end my life. I have written a book and I have been able to come up with a website full of study guides on anger and comparison and grief and emotional trauma for people to be able to get help and also started consulting, and have clients I’m helping to walk through their own soul human journey. For me, I don’t know about anybody else, but for me, that ain’t nothing but God. I could not have done it by my myself. I’m so grateful to be walking in this space.
Change starts with you [37:55]
Damianne President: [37:55] That’s quite powerful. It’s interesting because often we want to change somebody else. But what I’m hearing you say is by changing yourself, the people around you responded in a different way. And so it, you’re trying to control them, but rather controlling the things that are directly within your locus of control, which is your own reaction, then had an impact on everybody else around you. And that’s quite powerful.
Fatima Oliver: [38:23] Yeah. That’s how change works. Right? It starts with you. And then it slowly starts to hit other people and then they have to make a decision on if they are going to accept your change or not. So it wasn’t even a matter of necessarily working to change them. It was them accepting my change. And that may have meant that they needed to change some things to accept who I was now. So yeah, absolutely.
Struggles with self acceptance [38:46]
Damianne President: [38:46] What trips you up still with sell acceptance?
Fatima Oliver: [38:50] It is striving. I’m naturally someone that works towards excellence. Everything that I do, when I get a plan in my head, nobody can stop me. My husband just needs to move out of the way and just let me go for it because I won’t let it go until I see that Fatima, you can’t do that. And even when I tell myself I can’t do it, I’m like, yes, I can try it. I’m naturally that way.
However, there is also a side of me that strives from insecurity, still hearing that voice that was once planted in my head that I’m not capable, that I’m not smart enough, I’m not intelligent enough, or I’m a girl so I’m not able to access this or what have you. Sometimes I still struggle with that. My striving, when I’m not getting enough sleep, but I’m staying up consistently throughout the week till two o’clock in the morning to four o’clock in the morning, that type of stuff, and I’m not doing healthy things to keep me centered, that’s when I have to go back and say, what is that about? I’ve definitely had those talks with myself to say why am I striving so hard right now, what is at the root of it? And I have had some really deep conversations with myself in regards to what was driving me to strive so much.
There is nothing wrong with shooting for excellence. There is nothing wrong with being passionate over what you do. I think we want to be passionate over what we bring to this world. However, there is a thin line between being passionate and striving for what really. And it’s that striving area that I continue to be aware of and work to keep it in a healthy space.
Damianne President: [40:23] Well, it sounds like you definitely have the awareness to be able to recognize when that is happening, which is the important thing here.
Fatima Oliver: [40:31] Or my husband, he’ll be monitoring me and be like, I saw you on social media and the light was on. You were still up at two in the morning what’s going on. And then I’m like, okay, all right. I need to check this.
Damianne President: [40:43] You have people around you holding you accountable as well.
Fatima Oliver: [40:47] Absolutely. I do have some people who have self-proclaimed themselves my accountability partners. So yes, absolutely.
Damianne President: [40:57] Thinking about your work and your experience and more broadly, the topic of self acceptance, do you have a challenge or an invitation for listeners on something they can do right now today to help them live the life that they want?
Fatima Oliver: [41:13] Determine one thing that you may have put off, that you have not done in like forever, that you probably even have been thinking about getting back into but haven’t found the time. I just want you to think about that one thing that if you could do it, that you would get back into doing. Is it writing, is it riding a bike again, is it swimming on the weekends? What is that one thing that you wish that you could incorporate to do again? And then ask yourself, well, why aren’t you doing it? What is the why that is stopping you from doing it?
I want you to follow those bread crumbs all the way to where it’s stemming from that has stopped you from doing something that you enjoy so much. There’s this cards that I like to use. And it says when you’re in your most positive space, dialectical therapy, when you’re in your most positive space, what are things that you like to do? Name those three things that you like to do when you’re in your most positive space. Do them now. And when you’re in your awkward space or in your uncertain space, at least do one of those things. And guess what, if you do one of those things now, what do you think is going to happen? It’s going to start to work on your attitude and change you to motivate you into the positive space.
It’s like a circle and it feeds off each other. Your positive feeds off those positive things that you do. And your attitude starts to feed off those positive things that you’re doing. It’s like full circle. So I would encourage you to find that one thing.
What is it that you wish that you could get back into doing, and then ask yourself, why did you stop and follow those reasons? Was that a good reason to stop? What could you do in return, but get back to that place where you were feeding your soul.
Fast Five [42:54]
Damianne President: [42:54] Now it’s time for the fast five, which are five questions where you get to answer with one word or one sentence.
So you have a meeting coming up, a very important meeting in 12 hours. What are you doing right now?
Fatima Oliver: [43:11] Preparing.
Damianne President: [43:12] Do you have a phrase or a pep talk that you would give yourself to help with motivation?
Fatima Oliver: [43:18] Yeah, but I don’t know if it’s that suitable, but I’m going to say it. When I’m so scared, like so, so scared, I go back to my family’s mantra, meaning my brothers and me, our mantra in our home. It is my mama didn’t raise no punks. My momma didn’t raise no punks.
Damianne President: [43:36] Oh, I don’t have to blip anything out. This is fine.
Where do you live? And if you have guests, what’s the first thing you show them or the first place you take them to.
Fatima Oliver: [43:49] I will be in Charlotte, North Carolina, and I would take them to this park where I know for certain, they’re going to see deer
Damianne President: [43:56] Nice. What is the thing that’s guaranteed to recharge you and increase your energy?
Fatima Oliver: [44:03] Listening to inspirational music. I consider it praise and worship music. It will definitely change my disposition.
Damianne President: [44:11] And the last one. You have been given the gift of time and you have a free day where you can do anything you want, what are you doing on that day?
Fatima Oliver: [44:23] Oh, well, that’s a tough one. I would say that I am in Martha’s vineyard, chilling out on the beach.
Damianne President: [44:32] Nice. Thank you so much, Fatima.
Fatima Oliver: [44:35] Thank you.
My momma didn’t raise no punks. – Fatima OliverTweet
Take the risk, take the risk and learn from it. – Fatima OliverTweet