My Personal Story: The Courage to Change

ByCindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C.

My Personal Story: The Courage to Change

courage change abuse leadership development emotional intelligenceChange is difficult, no doubt.  I’m hoping that by giving you a glimpse into my life, you will feel motivated to make a change in yours.  There is a saying that you will change when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.  If you are turning to substances to help you feel better, eating too much, becoming a miserable person (jerk) or starting to slowly “check out” by just going through the motions every day, know that you are currently in the fight of staying the same.

I’m going to advocate for change because my pain got to the point where I had to change.  Through the process, I learned I had the resilience I needed and was able to develop my character and integrity at a much more meaningful level.

Napoleon Hill hit the nail on the head when he said, “if you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self.  You may see at one and the same time both your best friend and your greatest enemy by stepping in front of a mirror.”

In my 20’s and 30’s, I was of the mindset that nothing productive was going to come from dealing with the emotional pain I carried inside from my childhood.  I thought if I just pushed through, worked harder, read more, achieved more, that everything would be okay, and it would all work itself out in the end.

It didn’t quite work that way.  Life kept throwing me curve balls in the areas of failed relationships, financial struggles, health issues and a deep disappointment in how my life was compared to how I imagined it would be.  I was being “conquered by self.”  I finally had to step in front of the mirror to see who this “enemy” was that I was dealing with.  This is what I saw…

I grew up in an environment of domestic abuse, physical abuse and emotional and physical neglect.  By age nine, I had been repeatedly sexually molested by two different male relatives.  By the end of 6th grade, I had moved seven times and attended five different schools.   At the age of 15, I was admitted to a treatment center for Bulimia and was assessed as being in the late stages of adolescent alcoholism.  By age 18, I had moved a total of 16 times, four of which included temporary foster homes, and no, I did not grow up in a military family.

What I didn’t realize was that I was unconsciously reliving the wounds from my childhood over and over again in my adult life.  You can imagine how I felt about myself growing up in that kind of environment.  I didn’t feel loved, supported or appreciated.  In fact, I felt unloved and worthless.  And even though I had every intention of working hard, making a good life for myself and being successful, these underlying beliefs kept holding me back.  It wasn’t until I was hurting enough from this cycle that I realized I needed to figure out what was going on.

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “why does this keep happening to me?” or “why do I keep doing that?” it is a clue that your past unhealed emotional pain is calling the shots in your life whether you want it to or not.  The suppressed emotions are trying to get your attention and need to be healed.  And that’s okay.  It’s what needs to happen.

Since I have lived through facing my “greatest enemy,” I want you to know two things.

  1. If I can overcome the emotional pain and adversity I experienced in my life, so can you.
  2. If you think that you don’t have to deal with the emotional pain that’s underneath those unpleasant memories from your childhood, that is simply not true. I know.  I’ve tried it.  At some point, what you resist, persists.  You can only go so far on will power.  The emotions need to be felt, healed and released in order for you to be authentic and live in integrity.  Otherwise, it’s just a smoke screen.

The process of making a change in your life doesn’t have to be mysterious or frightening.  In the beginning, it involves lifting the valve on the pressure cooker a bit.  Once that is done, the rest becomes a series of action steps to move you forward to the life you desire.  It’s definitely worth doing, and I think you’ll be glad you did it.

This article was written by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C., Owner and Leadership Coach at Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC.  If this article has inspired you to make a change in your life and you’d like to discuss the next step, please email me at to set up an initial consultation.  Please note that coaching sessions can be conducted in person or over the phone.

About the author

Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. administrator

As a Certified Spiritual Life Coach, I specialize in emotional and social intelligence coaching for business leaders and key managers to increase effectiveness and overall satisfaction in both business and personal arenas. I provide one-on-one coaching in person or over the phone.