My Story

I’m Shirley, and I thought I would begin by telling you a little bit about myself, my experiences and why I wanted to become a Mindset Coach to help people like you to flourish in their lives…

Your Mindset Matters

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN...

Born in South Africa quite a few decades ago, I was the only child in our family. My parents were working class and compared to some of my friends, we were quite poor. Mum and Dad had problems in their marriage, but stuck together through thick and thin, and did their best to resolve any arguments. My Dad, however, was quite quick tempered and I grew up in an environment where I learned to keep the peace and be a good girl so that I could protect my Mum.

Those feelings of responsibility and dependability have stayed with me my whole life. I have always had a strong work ethic and growing up in Africa, you had to find solutions and get things done. There simply weren’t any other options and it was a case of sink or swim. I had to grow up fast and figure it all out for myself.

When I was seven years old, I moved with my parents to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) to live with my grandfather, who sadly passed away when I was 10. He was the only grandparent I ever knew.

BULLYING DEFINED MY TEENAGER YEARS...

I enjoyed growing up in Africa and I loved the weather, wildlife and environment around me. However, I did not enjoy the merciless bullying, which started in primary school and continued right to the end of secondary school. The reason? I was a fat child. I hated school and all the sporting activities we were forced to do. All I wanted to do was hide and be invisible.

 

Looking back, we never discussed our feelings at home and so my emotional needs were never fully met. Something I now know is vitally important. And, as a result of burying my feelings, I became angry and depressed as a teenager and all of that negative emotion manifested itself into an (over) eating disorder.

 

I left school feeling empty, my self-esteem was shattered and I desperately grasped for anything that would challenge the mean, negative messages I internalised growing up. I believed everything was dependent on how others saw me, and this created a constant cycle of perception, self-judgement and personal interpretation. I was always striving to be the very best I could be and yet I never felt good enough. This is something that has haunted me for most of my life.

Testimonial...

“I only worked with Shirley for a brief few months. When I came to her, I was a very snappy, impatient, angry and defensive person in a very difficult time. From working with Shirley, I am a new person. I am now a calm, reasonable, happy, peaceful person, with no reason to lose my temper. I am so glad and feel very honoured that I had the opportunity to work with her.

 

I cannot recommend Shirley enough, she changed my life in more ways than I thought possible! Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for working with me! From a very content mum with a whole new outlook on life!”

Hazel

My life was shaped by what I thought I should be, not by who I was...

I became introverted and struggled to express how other people’s behaviours made me feel and how it affected me. I became more and more withdrawn and self-critical, which only further fuelled my feelings of unworthiness and insecurity.

 

I became a people pleaser, seeking approval from others to make me feel whole. In reality, it made me miserable and my self-esteem continued to decline. Why? Because I simply didn’t understand self-compassion, I never put myself first. I never felt worthy enough to do so, and so I was always trying to pour from an empty cup.

 

In 1986 I took a 12 month sabbatical from my long-standing Executive Assistant job in Harare and went backpacking in the UK, Singapore and Australia. I saw and experienced so much and I had so much fun. I felt like a caged bird finally set free to fly! It was empowering to meet different people and experience different cultures, and this is when I developed my love of people and my wanderlust, both of which I still cherish today.

My vision is to help people like you!

My vision is to create an environment for people to flourish in their lives. To unlock the traps and barriers that their mindset is holding them back with, so that they are able to live with intention, happiness and fulfilment, whatever that may look like for them.

Tragedy has a profound impact on shaping one's character and resilience.

In 1990 I got married to my first husband after eight years of dating. We had a son in 1991. Two years later, I gave birth to my second son. Tragically he was stillborn at nine and a half months, and I still believe to this day that if the consultant had not been on the golf course at the time and had got to the hospital sooner, the outcome might have been very different. But that is something I will sadly, and frustratingly, never know. It was the most heart-breaking and devastating time. All I wanted was for the emotional pain to stop. I wanted to die so that I could be with him. I felt so alone and so desperate that I came very close to taking my own life.

 

I was at my lowest point, and thankfully the hospital arranged for a counsellor to visit me. It was after a long time in therapy that I decided I would like to be able to do the same for others as that therapist had done for me. She gave me hope and she absolutely saved my life.

 

Only a year later, I lost my Dad – he was only 60, and left us far too early. He was my idol and I felt completely lost without him. My husband and I moved to the UK in 1998. By then, the political situation in Zimbabwe was becoming violent and terrifying. The final straw was when I became the victim of an attempted car-jacking in broad daylight whilst driving to collect my son from school. It was a terrifying experience which left me battered, bruised and traumatised.

a new life in the uk...

Starting a new life in the UK did not pan out as we had envisaged – it was a real shock after living in Africa and then discovering that living here was not as pink and fluffy as we had hoped! Our marriage soon reached the end of its natural course and it ended. I was brought up where a very heavy emphasis was placed on the sanctimony of marriage and how culturally, divorce was disapproved of but we were following the same pattern as my parents of criticism, attack and retreat – something that I would certainly not be coaching my couples to do today – and divorce was ultimately the best thing for both of us.

 

After a difficult period of struggling as a single Mum with a growing son, I eventually met someone who became my soulmate. He encouraged me and supported me to believe in myself and loved me for who I was. We got married a few years later and continue to live a life of love, partnership, respect and trust.

Whilst I had my new life in the UK, my Mum was still living in Zimbabwe. She was violently attacked at gunpoint in her own home and this triggered the start of a long and frustrating mission to get her out of Africa. It took me a couple of years, a failed court case and hiring genealogists to finally get the go ahead for her to come and live with us. But, for that to happen, she had to become my dependent. I didn’t care, I was just relieved to have her here and safe.

We built an annex on our home for her and she lived there happily for over 20 years. The last eight years of her life were very difficult as she battled with Alzheimer’s – a cruel, life changing disease, and it was very difficult to watch her fade away. She passed away in early 2023.

EMBRACING VULNERABILITY

I have always wanted to make people happy, and I have been a ‘rescuer’ since I was a little girl. Growing up, I never acknowledged my feelings about myself and the world around me, and have spent years building my self-awareness, learning to love myself and accepting that my feelings are the most important relationship I will ever have with myself. I know I have choices and control over my life to ensure my past doesn’t interfere with the success of my future.

 

Life has taught me valuable and essential lessons from my own personal battles and trauma, and I am still growing and learning, sometimes in mysterious and unexpected ways. After all, we are  always evolving until the day we die. The most important thing I have learnt is to be my authentic self, and not the adapted version I thought I should be. Authenticity is personal. Always.

 

Another thing that has really changed my life for the better is being able to show and express my vulnerability, to myself and to others. I have learnt that vulnerability is a real strength and not a weakness as I was conditioned to believe. Things change for the better when you let go of the things you battle to control and allow yourself to just be you.

STEPPING INTO MY AUTHENTIC SELF

And after many years of working through my traumas, trials and tribulations, I have learnt to truly accept and love myself, just the way I am. I feel passionate about my life again. When you are ready for real, honest change, through coaching, I will be there to support you in discovering who you really are, what really matters to you and how you can live a full and empowered life right now. Change begins with you!

Mindset is everything and having a strong mindset and believing in yourself can absolutely change your life, as it has mine.

Remember Your Mindset Matters...

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Your Mindset Matters

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