Carmen Bliss

Australian holistic counceller

S1 Ep17

Carmen Bliss

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**Please be aware this episode contains discussion about stillbirth, miscarriage, grief, panic attacks, PTSD and anxiety. Carmen opens up very honestly and at times graphically about her stillbirth experience and procedures in the aftermath**

My guest today is Carmen Bliss, holistic counsellor and mother from Mount Gambier South Australia. I invited Carmen onto the podcast to share her knowledge and expertise as a holistic counsellor, particularly around the areas of identity and mum guilt - that we discuss in each episode.

Carmen founded and runs her own business, Inspired Wellbeing Co. providing support for individuals, couples, parents and workplaces.

What follows today is an honest and open discussion about self worth, identity, setting boundaries and the ego, where Carmen not only shares her expertise, but shares her own experience with parenting, loss and finding your true calling in life.

Connect with Carmen here -

Connect with the podcast here -

Music used with permission - Alemjo

When chatting to my guests I greatly appreciate their openness and honestly in sharing their stories. If at any stage their information is found to be incorrect, the podcast bears no responsibility for my guests' inaccuracies.

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Podcast transcript at the bottom of the page

Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of The Art of Being A Mum Podcast. I'm beyond honoured that you're here and would be grateful if you could take 2 minutes to leave me a 5-star review in iTunes or wherever you are listening. It really helps! This way together we can inspire, connect and bring in to the light even more stories from creative mums. Want to connect? Take a screenshot of this episode and share it on Instagram tagging me in with @art_of_being_a_mum_podcast


I can't wait to connect. And remember if you or somebody you know would like to be a guest on the podcast, get in touch! I love meeting and chatting to mammas from all creative backgrounds, from all around the world!

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Thank you!

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Alison acknowledges this Land of the Berrin (Mount Gambier) Region as the Traditional Lands of the Bungandidj People and acknowledge these First Nations people as the custodians of the Region.

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Welcome to the art of being among the podcast where we hear from mothers who are creatives and artists sharing their joys and issues around trying to be a mother and continue to make art. My name's Alison Newman. I'm a singer, songwriter, and mother of two boys from regional South Australia. I have a passion for mental wellness, and a background in early childhood education. Thanks so much for joining me. My guest today is Carmen bliss, holistic counselor and mother from Mount Gambier South Australia. I invited Carmen onto the podcast to share her knowledge and expertise as a holistic counselor, particularly around the areas of identity and mum guilt that we discuss in every episode. Carmen founded and runs her own business inspired wellbeing co providing services for individuals, couples, parents and workplaces. What follows today is an honest and open discussion where Carmen not only shares her expertise, but shares her own experiences with parenting loss and finding your own true calling in life. Please be aware this episode contains discussion around stillbirth, miscarriage, grief, panic attacks, PTSD and anxiety. Carmen opens up very honestly and at times graphically about her stillbirth experience and the procedures in the aftermath. Today, I'm really excited to welcome a very special guest, a guest with a little bit of a difference. Welcome Carmen bliss, who's from inspired wellbeing code, you met Gambia thank you for coming on, Carmen, it's so lovely to have you.

Thank you. It's, um, pleasure to be here.

So I sort of thought I approached you because I've probably recorded 20 or so of these now, these chats with these artistic moms. And I have some particular topics that I love talking about. And they're the responses, I get a very different but quite similar in a lot of ways, but slightly different. And I thought, so I thought it was about time I spoke to someone who's got some expertise in this area, he could perhaps help shed a little bit of light on what's going on for moms when they're experiencing these things. Maybe some sort of ways we can look at it differently. To help us through before we delve into all of that nitty gritty stuff. Let's chat about you for a little while Carmen. So tell us a little bit about yourself and, and the business that you run and how you got into all that sort of stuff.

Well, I probably fell into this profession, it was not a planned profession, my personality type, which you'll learn, I love all that sort of stuff. So as we go along our discussion, you'll pick up on bits and pieces that I'm really passionate about, including understanding personality types and stuff. My personality type is quite I don't want to use the word rigid, but it but it is like it's quite structured. I like structure I you know, like numbers, data, all that sort of stuff, which people who know me probably think, oh, I don't think so. But that that is the the crux of my personality. So I was never going to be a counselor. So even when I was working as a student counselor, I said I'm never training in counseling ever. It's not my thing. I don't like it, you know, all of that sort of stuff. And then here I am, with my own piece was in counseling. Go figure. Um, so yeah, so I sort of got into the business because of a few personal situations that kind of changed my view on the world. Like it was like a not like a wake up moment or I suppose it was a wake up moment, but like a daunting period. And then if that's the right word, but you kind of know what I mean. And what you think okay, life's not as black and white as I've made it out to be for the last 36 years or 35 years or whatever, it was 32 years you know, I was very black and white before before that point. So yeah, here I am doing counseling which I never thought I would be doing.

Yeah, so family I've got a lovely husband who we've been together nearly 20 years I think next year, which is seems like a long time. I'm still learning things about him every day. Which is probably a good thing because it keeps me interested. I've got two children. And Harrison he just turned 13 on the weekend. Lucky he's a pretty quiet child. So we haven't really hit that crazy teenage stage yet. I mean, there are, you know, the smelly bedroom and not showering and the greasy pair of the pimples and stuff. But yeah, nothing outrageous, which I'm thankful for. And then I've got my daughter Anna, who's just turned seven in August. And yeah, God help us when she turns 13. Because it's a completely different story. I've been managing her behavior since she was two. So just yeah, she she, her here as a teenager, I'm just pretty apprehensive about that. We'll deal with it when it comes. And then. So my family journey hasn't been like an easy one, obviously. So we had Harrison, he was not planned. So I was only 25 not really thinking about kids, you know? And then Oh, hello, I'm pregnant. But we owned our own house. And you know, we're in a really good position. We have jobs, and you know, everything like that. So yeah, wouldn't change it for the world. Absolutely. So then, when Harry was about three, we started trying for another baby, and had three miscarriages sort of in a row. Didn't really get to the point of testing, like, what, why there was a few things like to think it's progesterone levels, and just little things like that. But then fell pregnant with Anna after that, and she was just like, a normal, healthy kind of pregnancy. So it was, yeah, it was a bit weird. And then we lost a baby through stillbirth when Anna was two, so that that kind of put us you know, you know, the whole family situation number one, like that was unplanned. So you know, you have those freak outs, like, Oh, my God, like, Baby number three, what the hell are we gonna do? You know, I love my job, I don't think I want to take maternity leave, you know, all that sort of stuff. At the time, I was earning more than Brad. So you know, tossing up? Does he be the stay at home dad, and all of that sort of stuff. So you kind of go into this whirlwind, and I went into denial. So I think because it rocked our world so much. And because Anna was still only like one and a half to when we fell pregnant. But yeah, with the third baby. And so went into kind of like, I don't think I want this baby. Like, you know, there was all that, like self talk. Like, I don't know how I'm gonna handle three kids, you know, and as Harry was this perfect textbook, baby, you know, that slept through the night and his cot from day one. You know, he was just like this perfect baby. And then Anna came, and it was like, holy shit. Why don't we? why don't why did we choose to go back? No, she's got the biggest heart. But the biggest personality? So. Yeah, so she's totally and I'm trying to manage a two year old and then yeah, we bang. We're pregnant again. So yeah, I felt in those early stages, I felt like I didn't want to be pregnant, I, you know, was in a lot of denial and stuff. And then when we went to our ultrasound and at 20 weeks and found out that we lost the baby, then all the guilt started. Because you know, you think you think was that? Like, did I do this by wishing it away? Did I do this by thinking that I don't want this baby, you know, all that sort of stuff sort of starts to creep in.

But luckily, I've got a really, really good support network around me. But it wasn't easy. I don't think anyone tells you about these things. So like I had to give birth. So so it's like no one tells you that. You know, do you get what I mean? Like now you think but you know, people say oh, you know, we've had a stillbirth, whatever, whatever. Yeah. But they don't actually say, Oh, you have to give birth. You know, like the follow up stuff. Yeah, so I was completely shocked by that. Because I was like, oh, like, I don't know whether I can do that. I don't know whether I can, like, you know, go into a labor room and give birth to a baby that's not alive. You know, like that. That was a really big fear. And I think that's the point where I really broke down. Like when the doctor told me that I had to give birth like I was kind of not in shock. But yeah, in I don't know. Yeah, it would be shocked, I suppose. And I hadn't showed any full on emotion yet. Obviously, it's a whirlwind. But when the doctor said, and I was so lucky, I had an amazing doctor. And it was, you know, when people were there, the right people at the right time. She was One of those people because she was literally only my doctor for six months. And it was that period where I got pregnant, and then lost the baby. And she was there through the whole thing. And then she was gone. She just left town. So it's like, so weird. She was she was obviously there for the right time, you know, the right time for me. So she was amazing. And she was really comforting and talked to me through the whole thing. And yeah, and the midwives at the hospital were also really, really amazing. So I feel like I had, like, the support that I that I needed, like, throughout that whole journey, even though it's you know, it's horrible. It's I'm probably speaking about it. Maybe some people think candidly, but I've processed a lot of that stuff. You know, I've worked very hard over the last five years to, to process, all of that. So, you know, and had intense counseling myself, and to sort of work through all of that. And but yeah, the midwives were amazing. And I just remember this, this one, there was two main midwives and there was one whose name was Gloria. Oh, yeah. You know, her.

I know, Gloria.

Yeah. How amazing is she? Yeah, she,

she, I think she's still working up there. Like she's

been. But yeah, I think she just recently retired, oh, God, cuz she was

there. When we had ally eggs. She's like, like, I've got seven years between my two. So she was there when I had Alex 13 years ago, nearly 14 years ago. And then she was still there. When I had Digby, and we were just like, Oh, my God. And actually, I'm digressing now. But she was the first person I told about my, when I was up there, my postnatal depression was coming back. And so I just trusted her so much. She was just like the most like, she'd just come in. And she'd just sit down and have a chat. And my husband thought she was awesome. Like, she was just

here. So like, Gloria was there for the first half of the labor. And she was just like, this guardian angel, I suppose, you know, that had been sent to nurture me in that time. And, you know, she she was telling me about how, you know, how many of the births that are not live for her, you know, in her whole career standard? Yeah. So she, she told me about, you know, all the pregnancies and births and everything that she had come across in her career and what her life was like, and, yeah, that she didn't have any children of her own. I think she was, like, am I right in saying Not, not a nun, but something similar to that, like a sister or something?

Yes, she was. She was a sister. Yeah.

Yeah. Yeah. So she she served, you know, in that way, sort of got in that way? I suppose. So yeah. And then there was another lady Fiona, who, who actually was there when I when I birth Lucy. And she was amazing as well, like, she was just so amazing. But no one tells you about all this stuff. And you know, that I think that's the hardest thing that I found is, you know, no one tells you those steps. And I don't know, maybe it's better to be naive. Yeah, I don't know. And I think the hardest part of that, because when you're in labor, like they drug you up. Yeah. Like you can say no, obviously. But yeah, that emotional and you know, you just want to be a bit numb. Which was probably, I don't know, I don't think I would have changed that. Because you just want you don't want any pain, you know, it's not like you're going to be rewarded at the end, you know, you just want to be numbed out for a little bit. But probably the hardest part of that, of that whole process was like walking out with without a baby. So like that, like you're in the maternity ward with with everybody else, and you have to exit that maternity ward with no baby. So that was probably, I felt like I was like the walker shame almost like people were looking, you know, I don't know, it was just a really weird experience. And quite confronting, like, that was pretty, you know, because, you know, you imagine, you know, and because I've had two children, you know, I have experienced this before, you know, that feeling when you're taking your baby home, and you're like, you know, it's just such a big moment of putting the baby in the capsule and getting it in the car. And, you know, all of that. So yeah, it was like the complete opposite of that. So yeah, it was really weird. And Gloria sent me and it's like, blew me away. She sent me a postcard Exactly a year later, on the exact date that I gave birth, saying, like, how she was still thinking about me and that she was in some conferences and midwifery conference and yeah, she was thinking about the date and yeah, like I bawled my eyes out. When I received that in the post because I was like, oh, How does she have time to even remember these dates? And she said like it was on the date. So yeah, I keep that because Oh, yeah, I made you cry now. Oh my Well, sharing that yeah honestly. Bla bla bla so I lean I, it's not that. And I know people talk about grief differently. And I know that it's very different for every individual. You know, I've worked with grief in my counseling work, you know, I understand that people handle grief and loss differently. But I had a period of denial, not denial of what had happened. Denial of my feelings. You know, like, I just shut them all the way. I didn't want to process them. Yeah, so that was for about a year. Then, then it came like that, then all of the emotions came and I had to get counseling and stuff because I ended up with post traumatic stress disorder, because I had quite an invasive operation afterwards. Which looking back now I if I could preach one thing to to young women, or young mums even is make informed decisions about your, about your own body. So I was tucked into a procedure and ablation of the uterus when I didn't actually need it. And it was one of the most invasive procedures that I've had, because it was really like, extremely painful. And now I don't, and I can't have children anymore because of it. And it was quite soon after that stillbirth. So the gynecologist who I won't name shouldn't not like they shouldn't be making people who've just gone through that make those decisions. Yeah. It's not an informed decision. How can you make a decision like that when you're not in the right frame of mind?

And the same as Brad, so he was booked in for a vasectomy? Already. Like before, we found out that we were pregnant with Lucy. And so then all of this happened, and it was about three months later. And he was still booked in for this discectomy. And, you know, like, we kind of discussed it and everything but looking back like you don't i don't know you can't you're not in the right frame of mind to December the never gonna have children again. I mean, I didn't find pregnancy easy. So I'm not sure that I would have gotten back for another pregnancy anyway. But it's nice to have the option, isn't it?

Yeah, that's thing, isn't it? Yeah. That's that's quite appalling. Isn't it to fronted with that? It's such a when you're so vulnerable, and obviously not having the time to, like you said, to find out what you need to find out and the ramifications of this. Yeah, that's That's appalling. Yeah, so yeah, you're working through that as well. As Yeah, so

yeah, yeah. So that's a grief and loss in itself. Because, you know, as a woman, we have periods, and then there was no longer so that's a that's a grief and loss in itself. And yes, it's fantastic. Not bleeding every month. But also, I feel like something's missing. Some months, you know, like, that's a process that we get used to it. It's a womanly thing. Yeah, it's spiritual and all the rest of it. So yeah, I ended up with PTSD, because that operation didn't go as planned. And a few few hiccups went wrong when I was going under, and yeah, so then I was presented with, you know, having these panic attacks, you know, multiple times a day and just felt completely out of control for probably three, three to four, three years, probably three, three solid years. Oh, wow. I didn't Yeah, I didn't want to go on medication or anything, because medication has its place. Absolutely. Like I am not anti medication, but for me and my body and knew that it wouldn't be the right choice. So and only because I'm so sensitive to all of that sort of stuff. Like I know that my body would have probably reacted, you know, unpleasant way rather than helping the situation. So yeah, I just got intensive intensive counseling and yeah, worked through it that way. And I mean, I still have anxiety a little bit and still moments. have panic every now and again. But it's pretty much under control at the moment. Yes, my family laughs and Poor Anna, she was too when all this happens. So I feel like we're having a lot of issues with her at the moment. And I feel like some of it has contributed to my probably lack of emotional availability around that time. All right, well, I'm gonna take you back right back to the start.

You refer to yourself as a holistic counselor, can you share what that holistic element means? And how that changes? How you approach your work?

Yeah, sure, um, I like the word holistic, because I don't believe counseling is just of the mind to holistic when when you talk about counseling is mind body spirit. So not only are we looking at what's going on in the mind, but the mind doesn't operate separately from the body, and separately from spirit, or energy, and genetics. So holistic integrates everything. So, you know, not only are we looking at what thought patterns and, you know, are detrimental to your mental health? Well, no, I don't even like the I know that the word mental health is, is recognized. And I don't know what else I would call it. But it's not just mental health. It's like Holistic Health, because every little bit contributes to the mental health. So when I practice, I look at the people's lifestyle, like are they sleeping? Because sleep has an a massive detrimental impact on mental health? Are they really low in vitamin D? I mean, I can't test that I'm not a medical doctor. But I will always suggest that they go and have a look at their blood work. Because if they're hugely low on vitamin D, or hugely, you know, they're not taking magnesium or just a really simple stuff, then that affects your mental health. You know, are they having bodily symptoms that they think are normal, but actually contributed to their mental health? Like their nervous systems on regulated? And then the energetics of it, you know, are you in a environment where there's yelling and screaming every day or, you know, that plays a part in your spirit and your energetics, which then plays a part on your mental health? You know, so that's kind of the holistic thing that we look at.

It certainly is all it all. Everything affects everything else, doesn't it? It's not. Like I think the Western doctors way of treating the what do they do they treat the symptoms instead of treating the cause? It's like, they just look at one thing in isolation. Yeah.

Yeah. And that's, I think that's probably what spurred me on to, to look at the holistic stuff is, you know, I had like, some really significant sort of adrenal issues, that the Western doctors ah, made me feel horrible. You know, they they made me feel like I was making it up.

Yeah, because they didn't have they didn't have an answer for it. So it must have been.

Yeah, it must just be all in your head. You know, it takes me back to the description, when psychology was first around of hysteria. You know, like so, you know, women who are young mothers would be diagnosed with hysteria, which means, these days that they're not coping, you know, they might have postnatal depression, or they might have really bad anxiety. But back then, it was just labeled hysteria, and I feel like that has, you know, in the western Doctor world, they don't use the word hysteria, but basically, I was told that I was tired, or bored housewife. And I was working

for 40 work. So yeah, that's what made me so passionate about holistic.

Hmm. You'd never say that someone in a medical setting these days?

No, and I think because psychology was so new. You know, like, it's such an emerging field and the I'm sorry if I bore you with the details of the history and stuff. Like that sort of stuff. but back then they didn't believe that the brain like they didn't know about neuroplasticity. So if someone was in that state, you know, quote unquote hysteria, or you know, soccer or whatever, they didn't understand that that could be changed. They just labeled that person and put them incident in, in an institution. And they never got the chance to actually heal. Yeah, so all these people who were labeled, you know, hysterical or psycho or, you know, needed to be institutionalized. And they didn't believe that the brain could change. So that's where the research is now that the brain can change. And we can mold, mold, neural pathways to be in a better shape than what they were, you know, when we were suffering from mental health or experiencing anxiety or depression or whatever.

Yes, you've definitely come a very long way, very, very long. So the there's two, two topics that I love to talk about. And so they are the mum guilt, which I like to put in inverted commas because and the second one is identity. So the way that when a woman becomes a mother, how they see themselves changes. So well, let's let's do the mum guilt first. So, do you have any idea? I'm really intrigued by this? And I'll ask you this question. And you might not know and that's fine. But where did this term come from? Like, how was it created? Is it been like a social media hashtag like? Or is it like people who have to label things we have to call something we have to have a term for everything? What What's your take on that?

I think it's, and I don't know, I only know I'm not an expert, or I don't know, like, this is only my opinion. One person. I feel like it's a product of social media, the media. Because when, like when I had my son, I was 25. Like social media had only just started because don't forget, I'm old.

I'm, and I wasn't on social media. I didn't look at websites. I just parented from my heart, with my mom's advice, kind of like the traditional way that people would parent without all of this outside influence. And the only time I experienced mum guilt was when I put my son in childcare. And he didn't, he didn't gel with the carer for the first probably three months. But I don't, I can, I felt guilty I did, I felt guilty for dropping him off there. Because he wasn't settled. You know. I didn't feel guilty about going to work because I knew in my mind that without all this external pressure, and whatever else to be a perfect mum, because that wasn't around then you just did the best record that I needed to go back to work for my own sanity. And I did not feel guilty about that. So that was it when Harry was 10 months old. I'm not a maternal person. I'll be the first to say, I'm not a I'm not a person who's in an apron baking a cake, breastfeeding their child at the oven. Like I'm not that person. I work I thrive off work. I thrive off intellectual stimulation. Just being a mum is not enough for me. So never once did I feel guilty to for going to work and making that decision back then. And I did feel guilty for for because my child was quite upset in those first three months. But you know what, once we found the right fit, once we found the right person to care for him in that childcare setting. He absolutely loved it and he thrived. So I didn't have that. That my mum guilt. So I feel like mum guilt is a product of everybody else's judgment of what society should or shouldn't do or be. And then we take that on that we take that those feelings on from externally internally And then they manifest. And I don't think that's right. Oh, yeah, I don't think it's as a man, like, you're going to be very different to me, you know, do you get what I mean? Like, we can't see a social media stereotype of a mum and say, we all have to fit in that round peg, when we're triangles square diamond.

That makes sense. And I can sort of sense perhaps the connection, then you talked at the beginning briefly about the personality types. So it's like, everyone will experience things different because of the way just the way they are.

Don't get me started about the patriarchal stuff that goes, get started on it. Because I would call myself like a feminist because I hate patriarchal systems, I, it actually makes me feel physically sick to my core. And I don't know whether that's, you know, from my past life, so, you know, whatever happened there, or because I've always had great men figures in my life, my husband is like, absolutely amazing. Like, honestly, like, we share hubs in everything, like, he comes in, and he does the dishes, or I'll go outside and weed the garden or, like he is, yeah, really, really amazing. I'm so blessed to have someone like that. So it's not because I haven't had these, you know, beautiful men, male figures in my life. It's just the systems. And what a mum, the word Mum, I suppose the peaks is, you stay at home, you look after the kids. And that's it. You do all the stuff around the house, you do all the washing. And I feel like that. That's society's mo of what a mother should do look like, etc. We shouldn't be going to the gym because mums shouldn't be doing that we shouldn't be spending money on ourselves because, you know, earning any money. You know, like, all of that is bullshit. Like, I really despise that patriarchal kind of thing. And that is sometimes where I think this mom guilt comes from, like it's generational trauma of having this patriarchal system. That is outdated. And really sexist. Hmm. Yep. So that's the other part of it.

Yeah. So it's almost like, because women men the way that they mother is changing. They've got to be reined back in. So they've got to be made to feel guilty to pull them back to this the traditional way that they're supposed to supposed to be mothering. I've used a lot of

lately. Yeah, absolutely. And why aren't we, you know, why aren't big organizations, including family daycare as part of their well being program at work? So mothers can return to work when they want to? You know, why do we have waiting lists of hundreds of children at childcare? Like, why aren't we doing something about that? You know, so women can actually get back into the workforce, and do what they love? Or, you know, you get what I mean? It's a big problem.

Oh, yeah. So I guess then people experience it differently then, because of how they were parented, what their role model then was from their mother, maybe they feel guilt because they're doing something different to their mother, or what do you think about the way that perhaps the other women and other mothers? What's their role in driving this as well? Because I feel like, I know, we're getting better at it. But I feel like there's a lot of judgment, from mums to other mums and women that don't have children, they're judging mothers. We've got a lot of work to do there, too. I feel Do you agree with that?

Yeah, I definitely agree with that. And it really stems back to the basic values and beliefs. And yes, role models come into the values and beliefs of people. So we grow up with a certain set of values. So our core values pretty much don't change throughout our lives. They might change slightly. And, and if you have ever come and done any of my counseling, you know, come and done counseling with me. You know, there's a few key things that I bang on about which probably people get sick of hearing. And one of them is values and beliefs. Because values are our core values. So it might be you know, a set of values that don't change that inherently ingrained in us from from our parents or whatever. And then we have beliefs on top of that. So values are things like, like family, so like, you know, I value family a lot, because you know, I'm very close to my family, I get a lot of support from my family, I love my family dearly. So that is one of my core values is having family around me and having them support me. And, you know, if I go a month without seeing my mother, I'd probably, you know, gets a bit tense, you know, we have a really good relationship. So that's a that's like a core value. And then we have these beliefs on top of that. So beliefs are a little bit more they are what can be changed and influence. And as we grow and evolve, they change and open and all the rest of it. So I feel like everyone has that. But what we need to work on and you talk about moms being judgmental towards other moms, etc. is actually a lack of awareness for our, and I'm going to speak in riddles, probably. Yeah. So pull me up if you don't understand anything, because probably I need to explain it a bit more. But the opinions and judgments of other people towards other people, whether that be mums to mums etc, or non working or non mothers to mothers is a lack of self awareness and reflection. about unconscious bias.

Yeah, explain that a little bit.

Yeah. So I'll try and put it in simple terms. Okay. So if we think about a drug addict, right? Some people might think that it's their fault, that they can stop anytime that they want, that they have control over what they're doing. And they want to penalize that person. I think that, for me, is a underdeveloped opinion of a drug drug addict, because that has unconscious bias behind it. They don't know what that person has gone through in the in the startup their life, to the trauma that they've experienced, and the depth of the pain and emotional pain that they're trying to numb or, or whatever it might be. They don't need prison, they need healing. So that would be being aware of the unconscious bias, because once upon a time, I would have been the person that said, drug addicts need to go to prison, because they're just ruining life for everybody else, you know, like criminal criminal behavior, etc. But because my beliefs have evolved, I can now see a hole a picture. So instead of looking through a pinhole, we're now looking through a 20 centimeter diameter window. So it kind of

makes sense. Yeah. So it's like you, maybe because of the way you grew up, or the way you your parents views where you've got that in. And so you have that until that time where you have whatever happens in your life, for whatever reason, or you start to educate yourself, whatever, you can change your opinion. So that unconscious bias is what you just have in New necessarily without realizing that's just how you see things, I guess. Is that Yeah,

yeah, it's funny. Yeah. And there's a there's a saying, and I've got to get it right. You don't know what you don't know. Until you know more. Yeah, so that information, like informed like those informed beliefs. And not everyone wants to have informed beliefs or decisions.

It's hard. It's actually very challenging. And it's sometimes it's just easier not to.

Yeah. Because you're not going to change somebody else to change their beliefs. Unless they're coming to you because they want to change, which is in my holistic counseling situation. They're coming because they want to be there. Yeah, they pay to be there they want they're paying me to help them to change their beliefs. But if you have someone that doesn't want to change, then there's no way that anyone else is going to check. You can argue with them until the mangoes blue, they're not going to change their beliefs because you told them to.

Yeah, when you're talking about this, I'm just reminded of actually my father in law. We caught up with him on the weekend and he's in his early 80s. And we had this discussion about because I said about how childcare is really busy and we're, we're really full up at the moment. He says I do do you accept children from mums who don't work? I said, Yeah, we do. said Ah, I don't I agree with that. You said mums should be home with the children. And I went into this great big rampage about what so what's great about childcare, what's for the children and for the moms and I said, all this stuff, and you just don't know, whatever. I thought you haven't heard a single. I've said, like, literally, you have this as if you've got your beliefs, and you're not changing your beliefs. It doesn't matter how long I went on about my great, big, impassioned views of what I think so great about Chuck.

That's great. Yeah, it's a prime example. And the only way that we can help people view the world differently, or view the situation differently as be a good role model. not preach, we don't, I don't preach to people, I don't, you know, lay it on the line of what they have to change. I'd be a good role model. You know, I talk about the science behind it, and you know, why things are better, you know, try and give them information, which doesn't, I don't, with no expectation information with no expectation. You couldn't have given your father in law, all of that information, and then expect it to change for him to change his belief. Because that expectation leads to disappointment on your behalf, which leads to anger on on your behalf. So we have to give people information without expectation. And I think a lot of the time people expect people to change because of their own. You know, if they've shared information, they expect that person to change straightaway. Which is just ridiculous. Yeah, yeah. Cuz

then they get disappointed and and then it affects relationships, then it doesn't it? It's like,

yeah, absolutely.

Yes, so identity, let's talk about that. The reality that when you have a child when you become a mother, that the way that you see yourself changes, and I guess that can also be influenced by society as well, about how you're supposed to see yourself. It really is the words I've heard mothers talk, like, they've experienced, like an identity crisis, basically, who am I, what am I, I only exist for this child. So what does that mean for you know, who I was before? It's in a grieving process to I suppose of the life that's, that's lost? Yeah. Share what you are how you feel about that.

I definitely went through that. But probably, and a little bit when when I became a mother, like a little bit, but probably more so when I was forced to make a decision about whether to leave a job or not. And that was a important high up job. And I had this identity crisis around that. But as a mother, I think, this identity crisis, because literally, like, at the start of this year, I had an elderly couple come in, and they said we want to do couples counseling. And I said, okay, like, yeah, like, Absolutely, everyone's welcome. And I think they would have been in their late 70s. Um, he was quite active in the community. So, you know, he did lots of stuff around the, around their local community, and it's quite involved, and she just sat at home. And it just blew my mind that she had no purpose in her life. Other than being at home and doing the stuff at home. So she still hadn't found her identity from when she had kids like 50 years ago, for the last 50 years, she had not had her identity. And whether she even had that identity before she had kids, because don't forget, that was in a different era, like women, you know, to be seen and not heard, you know, married quite young, and that was their purpose, to marry to have children and to look after the house like that was their purpose. Yeah. And she spoke about being really sad and, you know, not looking forward to the future and really resentful that he was out doing things in his community. so I gently sort of spoke to her about finding her identity again. What are the things she loves to do? You know, does she love to go and have coffee with friends? Does she love to go hiking? Does she love to go dancing? And including some of those things in her life again. And she was really she really had a lot of trouble understanding that she can and has permission to to find all those things again. Yeah, that's literally give her permission to find all those things again, because she she thought that that was not okay.

Yeah, when you were saying that I was the word permission was going through my mind too. It's like she was actually saying, Is it okay if I actually do this? Like? That's yeah. That's quite fun, isn't it? That's someone's Yeah. Wow.

So, the back the mums that I work with, quite often who, you know, either their child's just gone to school, or they're a little bit older, and they're in childcare or the mums going back to work or whatever, is always around identity. And it's also around the self worth. So thinking of yourself as worthy. And I always say to them, Why aren't you worthy? Give me you know, give me a good reason why you aren't worthy to have two hours to yourself on a Thursday night to do whatever you want. Like, why are you not worthy of that? You know, so it's really, that identity thing is, again, I feel like it's patriarchal in society, you know, born from society. And then when social media comes along, it's like, it's amplified, like, 200% with this massive magnifying glass. I, I actually, I know, social media has its place. But it's destructive and damaging. And I can you know, in my other job, I am in high school counseling, high school students. And I just cannot even fathom why they enter into this bullshit on their phones, like I just. And these kids are, like, literally stuck to their phone and have probably the worst self esteem issues that I have ever come across. And it just blows me away. And it saddens me, It saddens me to the core, that these young girls, you know, starting at, say 1312, or 13, probably even know probably 11, they're starting at 11. Like caring so much about what other people think of them. Like, that's what they base their whole life on. And then, of course, then we have the identity stuff that comes later with with moms. And I know that, you know, it might be two different topics, but I think they're into the interplay because of the self worth stuff.

Absolutely. I think it's almost scary to think how these young girls now and how they're going to cope with that motherhood. Because of the they've been in this world. I think it's interesting, like people like you and I, and probably a lot of people listening to this did live in a world before social media. So we can look at that and go, like my son, and something will happen. And I'll boost like, ah, that's no big deal. You know, because I'm not I have the hindsight and whatever I've lived that I've lived in a lot longer than him. And I can say that, obviously, that's not very helpful to him. But we know there's a world outside of social media, but for them, their whole world is that tiny, whatever exists on that phone. And it's really quite scary that

absolutely, and I agree. And it leads to this identity and, and even identity, and I know, this is the probably not the identity that you're speaking about. But, um, gender identity. You know, a lot of the young people at the moment, you know, that plays into the identity because they have got so much information at their fingertips. It's like, this is like before the internet before social media, etc. You had to go and you had to look up scientific papers and encyclopedias, you know, remember those big Oh, yeah, like 100 of them? Yep. You know, it was it was qualified information. So you had to go and do research. Whereas now you can just type in Google. And it's not quantified information. It's not research backed. It's not evidence based. It's not. So I feel like the kids get overwhelmed. Like instead of just sitting with themselves sitting still within themselves or exploring the outside Oddworld all that information is just like an information superhighway. And it's just bombarding and it's confusing is honestly confusing for them. And I feel like that's the same with moms as well, you know, especially with raising babies, etc. Is that information overload. But I think the identity of mums, I hope that it's changing. And I think it is slowly but it's like, really, really slowly. It's like the snail. Yeah, yeah. And I, I hope that we can instill enough self worth in these mums to say that raising a baby is a two person job, you know, if you have got a partner, you know, that that other partner needs to step up. Or if you're a single mom, that doesn't have that partner, having that support network that they can call on, you know, to be able to take the baby for, you know, a day or a couple of hours or whatever. So the mom can actually fight, like, find herself and do things for herself. And I get it, like, when you're immersed in that newborn stage, you know, like, it's full on like that you live in breathing. Like it's, it's pretty suffocating. Like, you know, you're sleep deprived, your brains not functioning properly, you feel like, you know, you're either, you know, depending on how you feed, you either got the baby stuck to your boob or heating up bottles or sterilizing bottles. The hours on end. Yep. Okay, you do you fall into this world of just Baby, baby, baby. But I think at some point, when the baby gets out of that, being dependent on mum stage all the time, then we have to start exploring ourselves again, as Mum, you know, as as Carmen or Alison. Yeah, as a mum. Yeah.

Yeah. Yeah. And being confident enough to, like you said, ask for help. Using fit like, yeah, it really comes down to it really comes down to but the heart of this, from my perspective, anyway, the building up that self worth, so to feel like, you can ask for help, like, you're worthy enough to have that conversation with your partner and say, Can you please do this? Or I need your help, what can you help with for, you know, reaching out to people and then feeling confident enough in the way that you are parenting in the way that you are? living your own life that you don't feel so influenced by what you see around you, whether it is social media, or what were the what your best friend's doing? Or that kind of thing? Would that be? fair comment?

Yeah, I think so. Yeah, definitely. Um, and I feel like teaching our young girls self worth, you know, that's where it really starts doesn't, you know, teaching our young boys how to, you know, be sensitive and all the rest of it, you know, in tune with their emotions and all the all of that sort of stuff, and then with our young girls teaching themselves where.

Like, I'm a huge believer of boundaries. I feel like women who don't necessarily have an identity or feel lost in their identity, don't have boundaries, because they feel like they need to please everybody else. And so that's, you know, another thing that I do harp on about is having these boundaries, you know, saying no to things, you know, not being afraid to upset people, because at the end of the day, you have to honor who you are and what resonates with you. And it is kind of like the whole the holistic picture, you know, you've I'm very introverted. So, you know, if I was to if you were to invite me to a big party, Allison, like, if I didn't have an identity, I might say yes, because I feel like I need to appease you by coming. But me as Carmen says, that environment and would really, really drain me. So it's not even about feeling uncomfortable because at this point in my life, I'm okay with feeling uncomfortable. I have a cold shower everyday like, I'm okay with feeling uncomfortable. So it's not about feeling uncomfortable in that environment. Although I would sit, you know, I would feel uncomfortable, but it's about okay, if I go to that party. So say if I go at eight, and I don't leave till 12am, Around 50 people that I don't know, I have to exchange small talk with 50 people that I don't know. That to me would take two days to recover from energetically.

Yeah, be that be that draining and that, yeah.

But you know, like, maybe 10 years ago, I would have gone to that party. And then and then wondered why I felt like shit for two days afterwards. But you know, like an extrovert. So my mom's really extroverted. So that would be her ideal situation to go to a party with 50 people that she didn't know. And I think that's part of our, you know, part of this identity stuff as well is learning. What gives us energy, what drains our energy, you know, what do we love? What don't we like, you know, exploring all of that stuff. Because that becomes the foundations of your identity, and being more authentic to

yourself. Hmm. And actually like recognizing, because I'm, I, I'm sort of guessing, but there might be people listening today that might not have made that connection between that city save being in a situation that wasn't that great for you. And then you didn't realize why you felt pretty ordinary, you know, in the next day or the day after. So making those connections and realizing that there is more, maybe there's more to it than what we think there is if that's the way Yeah,

absolutely. And also, it's about because if you have no boundaries, so say, say if I said yes to your party, then you you might feel great about that. But if I was to if I was to have the confidence to say no to your party, that takes a certain level of self worth, from me to say no, because I might think Alison won't like me anymore, because I didn't come to our party. Together.

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

But I think the more you know, yourself, the more you're self aware about what what works for you, which is part of the holistic counseling process is, is rediscovering what, what works for you.

And makes you and maybe for the first time actually looking at that, like, like, we talked about the lady before in your 70s that maybe wasn't even had that self awareness to actually go there. Their whole life maybe?

Absolutely. And I feel like the identity comes from the seasons in our life as well. People get lost in the seasons in their life. So we give ourselves labels. So you know, mum is a label. You know, that's a season in our life where we're raising children. But then, you know, maybe after I have the stillbirth, I get, you know, rabbit holed into looking at support groups for stillbirth and everything and then I become Carmen who had a stillbirth. Does that make sense? Oh, Carmen, who works at dot, dot, dot dot, like this, this identity thing comes with these seasons in our lives. But it takes a lot to shed that ego because it is ego. Like when we identify with these things that we attached to. It takes a lot of, you know, courage and bravery to get rid of all those layers. And just be Common. Common. That's it. No labels attached. It's just me. This is who I am. You know, without all of that.

Kind of makes sense. Oh, yeah. Yeah, and courageous enough to actually look at yourself. Like take away all those things that you think you are, or that you're seen to be? And just look at, actually, who is this person without? Yeah, without all that stuff? Why? Why do we have this obsession with labels? Like even when I start to speak to you, I asked you what, what do you call yourself? Like, you know, why do we have this thing that we've got to know?

It's an E, it's definitely an ego thing. And it's not even like a conscious ego thing. You know, it's like when you say, when you when you meet someone for the first time, you know, say you're at a networking, lunch or whatever. And, you know, you say to people, well, Hi, I'm Carmen, and they say, Hi, I'm Allison. And then I say, what do you do? What does it matter what you do? Yeah. It's I'm here to meet Alison, you know, not Allison, who is the podcast person What do you call yourself?

Podcast fears?

It's not common the holistic counselor,

yes, it's common. Yeah. Because there's so much. There's so much. I don't I don't know if this is the right way. So but there's so much more to pick a person and then just how they, how someone perceives them. So like, he could say, I'm Alison, that, that I, I am a mom of two and they'd go Alright, so that's what you are. You don't do anything else you have nothing else that you do. That's what you are, you know?

Maybe pigeonhole. You don't mean, hmm.

That's very interesting, isn't it?

It is, it's very interesting. It's, and it takes guts to and vulnerability to stand there and say, I'm calm and full stop. Yeah, you're leaving yourself wide open for people to make their own opinions. Which kind of weapon enough

to not care about that.

Which is when you have when you have that self worth, then you can stand there and say, Hi, I'm Allison booster. And let you know and the way on the other side of things, if you know, if you are meeting someone new or whatever, and you don't want to subscribe to, you know, the labels or whatever. You can use curiosity. So, you know, Hi, I'm Carmen. I like to read, Allison. You know, you say Hi, I'm Allison. And I say, oh, Allison, what are some of your favorite things? Be curious about your person?

Yeah. Tell me tell me about what you enjoy doing? Or, you know, yeah, it's not reaching for this, this label to describe someone. And it's almost like you feel when someone tells you the label, you feel like you found out all about them. It's like you've you've created that image, in your mind are what they are. And it's like, well, that's I don't need to know any more about you, you know, but then when you have that conversation, you actually, like you said, Be curious. Yeah, it's a completely different way of looking at it, isn't it? Yeah. Yeah. I wonder if anyone will take that tip and try that at the next networking function are the x winning from a meeting some people are really.

In spite of all Benko is on Instagram, we are on Facebook. And the sad thing about LinkedIn people told me that I need to know more about LinkedIn, but I'm there somewhere. I do check it occasionally. But yeah, you can just reach out and if you have any questions, you can email me and pretty responsive on on email and pretty try to be pretty responsive, responsive on social media as much as I can, at the moment. And have got one day a week where I'm canceling. Like for the full day. Again, I have to be careful with my energetic so I you know, I'm not I don't want to be a business. That's five days a week. I couldn't handle that. Unless I employ someone else. So yeah, and at the moment, I'm like, completely booked apart from one appointment for October, and which I'm truly truly grateful for. But it doesn't make it easy to get in. But what I say to people is please just always message me because if I get enough people I will open another day. It's just Yeah, balancing that. Yeah, get in touch. Like if you're if you're thinking about counseling or have any questions or just want to ask me a question, like I always am open for those questions.

Yeah, that's lovely. And yeah, I think if anyone that's listening today if it's sort of sparked something in them that they think oh, I'd like to know more about that. Yeah, definitely reach out to Carmen I'll put all the links in the description so you'll be able to find it that's yeah, it's that's it you're so you're very very authentic person because you're like you said your your energy it's you have to be aware of yourself so you could go you know, like I think there's this idea in business that business has to be this great aggressive well that you know, the be all and end all everyone has to be busy, busy, busy, busy, busy at the at the expense of everything else in their life. That you're you're saying and you're you are showing that that is not how it works. And you can actually that's, again, you're setting your boundaries, you're respecting yourself your own self worth. So you're living the talk, you're literally living what you what you don't say you're practicing what you preach. You know what I mean? Like you are modeling. This is this is how I want to live my life. This is how I want to run my business. This is what's important to me. So I think that's, that's fantastic. It's, you're very, I'm

not perfect. Oh, no one's perfect. Put that out there. Like, you know, I'm authentic 85% of the time, the other 15% I question myself and go, should I be, you know, aggressively marketing to you what I mean, like you always have that, those self reflection points. So, you know, we're not I'm not, you know, always. You've always got to have self reflection and awareness, I think is my point.

Yeah, navel gazing.

Yeah, exactly. Being still in the moment and absolutely about me waiting. Yeah. It's been a really,

really enlightening episode, and I really appreciate you sharing and sharing so honestly, your own storytelling and I'm really grateful for your time calm and thank you.

No, thank you, Allison. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be on here. So yeah, thank you.

If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on the podcast, please contact me at the link in the bio. Or send me an email at Alison Newman dotnet.

Edge to Ellis Cafe is a fortnightly ish, long form interview based podcast featuring conversations about politics, environment and mental health in a world on edge with Ben habit. Ben is an international relations researcher, environmental educator, mental health advocate and longtime friend of mine who enjoys having a yarn over a hot coffee. The podcast tries to make sense of the different kinds of edges that define us, divide us and shape how we interact with each other. In a world that's gone a little bonkers, and what it means to be a little different. Check it out at pod bean.com or wherever you get your podcasts