Turning 40 and Kickboxing Her Way Out of Depression on the way to Becoming an Ironman
Elle Nagy was living in a foreign country with small children when she found herself slipping into depression. Several years later, and on the on the brink of suicide, Elle asked the Universe for a sign, which it sent in the form of a kickboxing dojo she had never noticed before. She started that day and the sheer physical exertion of kickboxing lifted her years long depression in mere weeks. And then she became hungry for life. She competed in her first Ironman at age 41 and is known today as the Fear Maven after an encounter with a voice in her head during that race.
Elle Nagy is the only self-leadership expert who utilizes an innovative, ground-breaking model for pioneering women around the world who want to stop fearing fear in an age where so many are expending energy around fear instead of legacy. Known as The Fear Maven, she’s been selectively working with business leaders described as inclusive, humanitarian, disruptive and energetic. Her work spans 3 decades with professional qualification including BA Psychology, ILS Coaching, Pranic Psychotherapy, Yoga teaching and Personal Training bringing a truly holistic approach to embodiment of greatness potential.
In addition to her love for her profession, she’s relished the physical exploration of her own potential by participating in numerous cycling races, IronMan events and the illustrious SkyRun. Originally from South Africa, Elle now lives in New Zealand and as always obsesses in all things celebrating the gift of human life today, every day.
Early Life was So Easy
Elle Nagy was a good girl growing up in South Africa. She got good grades and did all the things that made her parents proud – but not enough to make other people feel bad about themselves. Her childhood was typical and she says she was a little weird, but she always wondered if the stork dropped her off at the right house. She was told she was too loud, too different, “too” many things. So she worked hard, got all A’s in school, earned awards and achieved things, but never felt good enough. She says achievement became such a part of her operating system that it was the only thing she knew. It did set her up to do well in adult society…until it didn’t.
Through her 20s she found life to be easy. She got a job, got promotions, and got a degree. She felt confident and unstoppable. Then, she got pregnant and her world changed. In Afrikaans culture, the next step is marriage, so she married her childhood sweetheart and became a mom – something she never thought she wanted to be. When her second baby was six weeks old, the family moved to Ireland.
Elle remembers her 30th birthday: it was pouring rain and she was sitting in a maroon-painted room crying. She remembers thinking she had no idea who she was. She knew she was a wife, a mom and a daughter, but she had no idea who she was on her own, which sent her spiraling down into depression. After several years of being depressed, she became suicidal.
She found it difficult to reach out for help. In her family, these things weren’t spoken of. One time, she told her mother she thought something was wrong and she thought she was depressed. Her mother told her “women in our family don’t get depressed.” So Elle thought, oops, sorry, and carried on.
Her family eventually moved back to South Africa and Elle didn’t feel like she was coping well, with the moves, with her kids, with the deaths of several family members. She remembers sitting in the bathroom one day with a bottle of sleeping pills thinking, “this is it. I’m done.” Then she heard her kids’ voices and realized that the pills might be an easy out for her, but not for her kids. So she made a doctor’s appointment.
She told the doctor, “if you don’t help me today, I will not see my children tonight.” She was diagnosed and put on antidepressants and sent to therapy. It sucked and she hated it. She hated the antidepressant. She didn’t want to kill herself anymore, but she wasn’t happy. In fact, she didn’t feel anything. She felt like a robot. And she hated therapy. She felt worse after every session.
One day, she was sitting in her car after a therapy session and she said a prayer. “God, Universe, whatever is up there, you have to show me another way, I can’t do this anymore. I cannot go to one more therapy session.” And as she drove home she saw a kickboxing dojo that had been there for years but she had never noticed. She pulled in and asked them when the next class was. She signed up and never went back to therapy. After years of suffering, in just weeks of kickboxing, the depression was gone. She was off her medication and she felt hopeful.
Hungry for Life
She also felt like a changed woman. “Once you’ve been to that dark place and you choose to live, you don’t want to ‘just live’ anymore, you don’t want to ‘just exist’ anymore,” she said. “You want to live. You become hungry for life again. You become hungry for experience again.”
Kickboxing made her feel like a badass again. It felt good to move her body. She progressed from ladies’ classes to mens’ classes to full contact. That’s when she realized she needed to be fitter to do what she wanted to do. So she took up cycling, got bit by that bug and started racing.
“The more alive I felt, the more curious I became,” she said. So she went looking for other healing modalities because she certainly wasn’t going back to therapy ever again. That led her to a life coaching course (which, 20 years ago, was unheard of). She loved the belief in people’s potential and acknowledging the past but not having to go tromping through it. She became a certified life coach. She became a pranic healer. She became a personal trainer, a spinning instructor, and a yoga teacher. She explored mind, body and spirit modalities because she wanted to know how they all fit together to get someone to a state of being whole.
Becoming an Iron Man
“Then life started picking up for me,” Elle says completely unironically. She began competing in cycling, winning medals and feeling unstoppable. Then a friend sent her a video of an Iron Man event.
When somebody finished the race, the announcer said, “John, you are an Ironman!” And Elle was certain she was born to be an Ironman. “And I went online and was like, “When’s the next Ironman event?” and it was four months time. And I took out my credit card and I entered the event and ran to the bathroom and had a spiritual poop because I couldn’t believe what I had just done.”
Only then did she research what the race actually entailed. That’s when she realized she probably should have done some research before she entered because she couldn’t swim and, in fact, had a traumatic near-drowning experience as a child. The cycling she felt comfortable with, despite it being further than she had ever cycled. Also, she had never run more than about a 10K.
Elle tried to find a coach, but the ones she talked to said there wasn’t enough time to get her ready, so she found some YouTube videos and a training program online and started training herself. Before long she started to feel pain in her lower body after running and found out she needed hip surgery. The doctor told her to pull out of the event. She told him that wasn’t an option. She found someone “crazy enough” to help her and told him, “If you get me to the start line, I’ll get myself to the finish line.” She did rehab seven days a week on top of her training and found herself at age 41 at the starting line on the beach with all the other athletes.
The problem was, she never really thought through the part about swimming in the ocean (with sharks!) since all her training had been at a pool. She figured out a strategy for counting three breaths and then spotting on the fourth breath to keep her going in the right direction.
The race included two laps of the swim area and, as she came around the last bend of her first lap, she remembers hearing “you might as well give up.” At first she thought it was God talking, but it turned out to be another competitor who said they would never make the deadline. And Elle said to him, “You have no idea what it took for me to get here. There’s just no way that I’m giving up until they tell me, sorry, it’s game over.”
As she emerged from the water on wobbly legs and headed for her bike, Elle heard another voice, this one from within that said “behind your fear lies your freedom.”
That was the day Elle became an Ironman.
And though you’d think she would feel incredible afterwards, at the finish line, her only thought was, ‘pfft. Anybody can do this.’ That’s when she realized that high achievement may not be the path to fulfillment and happiness.
Behind Your Fear Lies Your Freedom
After the race, Elle spent some time reflecting on the statement she channeled: “behind your fear lies your freedom.”
She thought of all the things she had missed in life because of her fear of the water. There were pool parties during school that she either didn’t attend or hid inside for fear of being thrown in the water. She wanted to surf and boogie board, but didn’t because she couldn’t swim. And then she wondered, “what else did I miss out on because of fear?” That led her to move into her fear – not just overcome it, but sit with it. “ I had to really French kiss my demons in order for me to get to the other side,” she said.
Elle says that every fear we have is conditioned by our “tribal consciousness” and that you can’t self-actualize until you’ve confronted the fears that have been planted in your mind through conditioning. Now, once you start questioning the “tribal norms” it’s likely you’ll be cast out of the tribe, which isn’t such a bad thing according to Elle.
But if we’re here to do great things, to disrupt and to create and do things that haven’t been done before, we have to acknowledge our conditioning and let it go and be willing to outgrow it.
Most of our fears are not life–threatening so it’s possible to sit with them and examine them. What are you really afraid of? What is the story running in the background of your mind that has you feeling fear?
“When you start understanding that any story, any belief, is just you saying the same thing over and over again, and creating evidence in the process – that’s what beliefs are – then you can go, okay, Well, how’s that working out for me? Do I really wanna continue believing this? Or am I intending to see life differently?”
Elle’s approach to life is, if I’m not dead yet, then I’m not done yet; and if I’m not done then why not do big, fun, audacious things? She says some people are so afraid of dying that they’ve stopped living.
For people who might be curious about what she’s talking about but have no idea how to start, Elle suggests that using your physical body is the fastest way to prove to yourself that there’s so much more you can do.
She suggests you consider how far you can walk and then have someone drop you off a mile further than that and walk home. While you’re walking, pay attention to the thoughts that come up. You may progress from, “this is easy,” to “well, maybe not as easy as I thought,” to “this is starting to hurt,” to calling someone to pick you up (you’ve warned them not to ahead of time!), to “this was a really stupid idea,” to “wow; I did it.”
That might then open the door to questioning your limits in other areas. And if you do these kinds of things on a daily basis, you’ll create evidence that discounts your previous beliefs. You will create better evidence of what you’re capable of while being present with your thoughts.
And Elle’s favorite line for interrogating our beliefs is: “oh, that’s interesting.” If we become curious about our thought patterns around a certain topic or belief, we allow ourselves the room to process the thought without judging ourselves.
The Voices in Your Head
We’ve all got voices in our heads, mean ones, nice ones. Elle says to create space for them and tell them that you will listen attentively but you don’t promise to obey that voice because it is not your master. You can choose for yourself. Elle says that those voices are in service to her growth. So many times those voices are speaking your fears and Elle believes fear is also in service to our growth.
She also cautions that the “nice” voice may not sound like what you were told it should sound like. For her, the sweet, soothing, indulgent voice is the enemy. That’s the voice she says wants her to be mediocre and complacent. Her true “nice” voice is spunkier, bossier and much sassier and doesn’t let her off the hook.
Elle has another take on the syrupy “nice” voice: “She’s the tribe voice. ‘Welcome. Sit by the fire. We’ll all hold hands and sing kumbaya and we’ll keep you safe. And we will love you. And we will be the source of your happiness. You’ll never be alone until you break one of our rules, then we will first turn on you, we will make you feel bad about yourself, we will give you another opportunity to fit in. Sit down, shut up, cross your legs. Look nice. And then if you still don’t behave, we will brand you the enemy and we will turn on you.’”
The Forty Drinks Podcast is produced and presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications
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Stephanie: Hi, Elle. Welcome to the 40 Drinks Podcast. How are you?
Elle: Hey Stephanie, I am fantastic. Thank you so much for having me on as your guests today. I'm so excited!
Stephanie: Am as well. You have a really cool story and I'm so excited to dig into it. Why don't we start by, give me just sort of a a broad stroke view of you. You have a great accent. Where are you from? Tell me a little about yourself.
Elle: Oh my God. What accent? Whenever people say you have an accent. Oh, what are you guys talking about?
Stephanie: Thank you for proving it for me.
Elle: Originally from South Africa, born and bred, Afrikaan school grew up in a, typical Afrikaan's household, very traditional. It was all about being seen as the good girl and getting the A grades and ticking all the boxes so that your parents can be proud of you, but not too much that, you know, you make other people feel bad about themselves. And then of course being the black sheep, the weirdo: loved dancing, never fitted into a box, but had that extraordinary childhood of "Am I on the right planet? Did the stork drop me off at the wrong house?" And how do I make the most of it? You know? So I really grew up in what I would see as typical fashion. I think I was a little bit weird in that I don't think the way that other people do. And so when I hear them speak about things, I don't always relate so much. But with that, there comes a price: you are told you're too loud, you're too different, you're too, this you're too that. And no matter how hard you try, no matter how many A's you get, no matter how many awards you get, no matter how much you achieve, you never feel good enough. It became such a part of my operating system that achievement was the only thing that I knew how to do in order for me to be, I didn't even wanna say loved, just wanted some recognition, from other people, which really set me up to do fantastically well in our current society. Until I didn't.
Stephanie: Right. So you did fantastically well, you said, through your twenties.
Elle: Yeah, I rocked it. I mean, it was so easy. Anything that you wanted, the doors were opened. I wanted to be a dancer. And then about two months before matriculating, I bashed both my knees and the dancing career was ended. But went into an interview, got the job and worked there and never had issues in getting promotions. Then decided to go and study and don't tell anybody, but drank my way through a degree, 'cause I was so bored that I had to literally lubricate my brain to get through the exams and then get A's. And, and You kind of like, "This is so easy." Went into restaurant business and everything was just easy for me. Success was so easy for me that it was almost a little bit shameful because it's like, it shouldn't be this easy when you hear everybody else talking, but it was, and it was fun and I was rocking it and I was confident and unstoppable. And then I fell pregnant and the world changed.
Stephanie: Oh, dear. How old were you when you got pregnant?
Elle: I was 28 when I, when I was pregnant
Stephanie: It was not planned or expected. Is that right?
Elle: It was not planned or expected. I was not married at the time. I was with my childhood sweetheart. And, well, I got the flu and was put on antibiotics and the doctor didn't bother telling me that antibiotics canceled out the pill. And so I peed on the little stick and cried because especially being from an Afrikaans culture, the next step was you get married. Now you are a mom. Now you are a wife. And that was that. I didn't know how to be a mom, I never wanted to be a mom. I mean, make no mistakes, I absolutely adore my kids, but I was never maternal. I still don't go go-go ga-ga over babies. I don't have that gene in me. So when I had to go through that, and then we moved to Ireland when my second baby was six weeks old. We moved countries and um, had two babies. I remember it was my 30th birthday and it was pouring rain, and I sat in this maroon painted freaking room and I just cried. I just cried. And I was like, "Oh my God, I'm 30 years old. I have no idea who I am. What has become of the girl and the woman that I knew myself to be?" I was somebody's wife, I was somebody's mom, I was somebody's daughter, but I had no idea who I was anymore. That kind of took me down the rabbit hole to, you know, suicidal depression, which kind of took me probably four, five years to hit. And, um, because I'm such a high achiever and because I'm such a strong woman and my family are all strong women, you just didn't talk about it. You didn't say, "Geez guys, I'm really struggling here, like, I'm REALLY struggling," because it just wasn't ever thought of, plus of course I had an honors in psychology, I should know better!
Stephanie: Yeah. As,
Stephanie: As an achiever myself, I'm not even sure. I'd know the, or certainly at the time, I don't even know that I'd know the language to say. "I'm struggling."
Elle: Exactly. I do remember having a conversation with my mom once and I was like, "Mommy, like, something's wrong. I feel so sad all the time. I think I've got depression." And my mom said,"Listen," I love my mom dearly, but she was like, "women in our family don't get depressed." And I was like, "Oh, oops, okay. Sorry." So I carried on.
Elle: We eventually moved back to South Africa and I wasn't coping with my kids, I wasn't coping with the moves. I had lost my grandmother and my aunt during that time as well. We are a really small family, so it was a big loss for me, and I just found myself in the bathroom one day with a bottle of sleeping pills. And I was like, "this is it. I'm done. I, I don't wanna do this anymore." I remember hearing my kids' voices and I thought, oh my God, it would be such an easy out for me, but what is the memory that they would have to live with? So I made myself a doctor's appointment and I went in, didn't know the doctor from bar of soap, and I said to him, "If you don't help me today, I will not see my children tonight." And I was diagnosed and I was put on antidepressants and I was sent to therapy. And it sucked. I hated it. I hated the antidepressant. Okay. So I don't wanna kill myself anymore, but I'm not happy. I don't feel anything. I'm like Mr. Robotic, going through life. Then I would go into therapy and it's like, let's dredge up the past and everything that you did. And after an hour, it's like, "Oh, time is up. Well, be gentle with yourself and I'll see you next week." And I felt worse after every session. And so one day I sat in the car and I was like, "God, Universe, whatever is up there, you have to show me another way, I can't do this anymore. I cannot go to one more therapy session." And I was just bawling my eyes out. As I drove home, I drove past a kickboxing dojo. And the interesting thing is, of course it's been there for years and I've never seen it. I pulled my car in and I went into the dojo and I said, "Um, when's your next class? I wanna, I wanna sign up." Never went back to therapy, went off all the medication, and within weeks the depression was gone. And I was like, oh, okay. Maybe everything we're told is not what we think it is. And there's another way.
Stephanie: Wow. Really within weeks, you had been suffering for five, six years at this point. And within weeks it was lifted. That's incomprehensible to me. How did you feel at that point?
Elle: Hopeful. I knew then that life was going to be different forevermore. I knew that I had just embarked on the journey that I would never have discovered had it not been for the depression. That's one of the reasons when people say, "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that," I'm like why? I am so grateful that I went through that. Everything else that happened in my background, people say, "Oh, you must have had it so easy, you're so happy," and no, shit happened in my life. None of us got through it without scars.
Elle: And I got to choose who I desire to be next. Once you've been to that dark place and you choose to live, you don't want to just live anymore, you don't want to just exist anymore. You want to live, you become hungry for life again. You become hungry for experience again.
Elle: The kickboxing was so instrumental for me, I really started feeling like a badass again, I even went and got some tattoos and everybody was like, "Ooh, you've got tattoos - evil woman." But it just felt so good to move my body. It just felt so good to start feeling strong again. As I was progressing, first starting off with the ladies kickboxing. And then I was like, "Oh no, I want full contact, baby." You start progressing to the male classes and start going into contact kickboxing and stuff. I was like, "Oh, I need to get fitter for this." So I went and bought a bike and I thought, oh, we're so fit. And I got onto the bike and I remember the first ride was two kilometers and I was dead. Oh my God. But the bug had bit. You know? Now I went to cycle, and so I started cycling and then I started racing in my cycling until I took a really bad fall. I had to stop kickboxing because I completely damaged the one side of my body. And to this day, I don't have the strength back in my shoulder to actually kickbox. But again, when we look back in life, everything builds on each other, everything just kind of takes you to the next place. The more alive I felt, the more curious I became, and so I went on a mission and I, wanted to find out what other healing modalities are there because clearly I was never gonna do therapy. I was never going to use my degree in counseling, so I needed to figure out what else there was. And that took me under a whole new path as well.
Stephanie: Tell me a little bit about the modalities that you looked into and experimented with. I'm curious about that.
Elle: So I first signed up for an energy healing class, cause I figured there has to be something in energy healing. The day that it was supposed to start, they phoned me two hours before the class. And said, "Oh, we're so sorry, but the class is being canceled due to lack of interest, but we have a life coaching course starting tonight." Now, this is almost 20 years ago, and in South Africa, I'd never even heard the term before. And I was like, "Well, what is, what is that?" And they said, "Come for the first lesson, if you love it, you can continue, if you don't, you know, we'll give you a full refund." It was 11 K even back then, it was a lot of money. So I was like, "Okay, well let me go." And I walked in and I loved it. I just loved the, you know, the real belief in people's potential and getting you to where you want to be and acknowledging the past, but not having to necessarily go and delve into it. Cause you are where you are, right? Like you don't have to go backwards. You wanna go forward to life. So I went and did that, I became a certified life coach. I did go and do energy healing, I'm a pranic psychotherapist, a pranic healer. Then I wanted the body part, so I became a personal trainer and a spinning instructor, an Aqua instructor, yoga teacher So I wanted all of it. . I wanted to know body, mind, spirit, all the modalities, how they all fit together in order for us to get to a state of being whole.
Stephanie: So this is your, the second half of the, your thirties decade. This is sort of 35 to 40. Is that right?
Elle: That's right. Then life started picking up for me. I started feeling I can do this. I started competing in cycling one thing led to the next, next thing I knew of was winning silver medals at provincial level. Feeling unstoppable because the competition was pretty badass and I'd started so late in life. Then I was like, "Oh, okay, well now I've done all of this what's next?" And a friend of mine sent through a YouTube video of an Ironman event. I so recall the day I was sitting in the dining room , this was still in Johannesburg and and I was like, "Oh, this is so cool. These people are amazing." And when the guy went over the line and the announcer said, "John, you are an Ironman!" I was like, "Oh! I was born to be an Ironman, oh my god, I have to be an Ironman!" And I went online and was like, "When's the next Ironman event?" and it was four months time. And I took out my credit card and I entered the and ran to the bathroom and had a spiritual poop because I couldn't believe what I had just done.
Elle: I went to go look well what does this actually entail? And it's 3.8 kilometers swim in the ocean and then 180 K bike ride, and the 42.2 K run as one event. Maybe I should have done a little research first because: A, I couldn't swim. I was terrified of water after a near drowning as a child. The cycling bit. Yeah, I've got that down pat.. I mean, I haven't done 180 Ks, but you know, easy peasy, but I also wasn't a runner at the time. I think like the, the furthest I'd run was five, maybe 10 K. I was like this, this could be interesting. And I started approaching coaches and they were all like, "That's not enough time. You, you can't do it." And I was like, "What are you talking about?" And, went and got a program off the internet and started my own training. Went on to YouTube, Googled videos, started training myself to swim in the gym and then started feeling severe pain in my lower body in the runs. And so I started going to specialists and eventually they said, "You need a hip operation. You have to pull out of the event." I was like, "It's in two months and there's no refunds. And you can't guarantee me that I will be able to run after the operation. So that's not an option for me." So I found somebody who was crazy enough that I said, "If you get me to the start line, I'll get myself to the finish line." And I did rehab seven days a week on top of the Ironman training and, um, yeah, 2013 there, I was on the beach with all the other athletes.
Stephanie: And you were 41 at the time.
Elle: That's right. And you'd think that you'd have it all figured out by then, but I'd never thought I'd actually have to swim in the sea with sharks. And so we went, a couple of days beforehand and I just couldn't do it, every time I tried to go into the ocean, my mind would freak out and I would run back and sit on the beach and cry like a baby. And you must know people look at you really funny 'cause there's all these Ironman athletes and their families and supporters. And here's you sitting crying on the beach 'cause you can't swim in the ocean. And I thought I'm in real trouble here. I don't know what I'm gonna do, but I knew I was born to be an Ironman, baby! So, you know, life wouldn't have led me here if it wasn't the truth. So as I stood there, I was like, okay, I need a strategy to get through this swim now. My strategy was I was gonna count three breaths, and then on the fourth breath, I'll spot to kind of see which direction. All I need to do is to keep on counting. And it seemed like such a good strategy at the time, but we underestimate the voices in our heads. So, the cannon went off and there goes the adrenaline charged monkeys all into the water and, um, I walked 'cause well I don't want everybody around me, so I'll just get there, you know? And I started counting and I remember going "1, 2, 3, spot, 1, 2, 3 where's everybody? 1, 2, 3 shit. I'm in the wrong direction!" And I was like over there anyways. So that's what I had to do, I literally had to count all the time to myself. And, um, I recall as, because we had to do two laps as I came through the last bend of the first lap, I heard this voice going, "You might as well give up." I was like, "God, seriously?" And I stopped swimming and there was this guy in the water and he goes, "You might as well give up. We're never gonna make the deadline." Now, by this time the leaders were lapping me, they were finishing their second lap and I hadn't done my first one. And I looked at him and I said to him, "You have no idea what it took for me to get here. There's just no way that I'm giving up until they tell me, sorry, it's game over." So I left him behind and I carried on. And when I came out of the ocean, it was the funniest sensation because you have Baywatch in your mind, you know, all those babes running, and then you feel like the Michelin Man on jelly legs, and all you can think is "Dear God, please don't let me faceplant in front of all of these people, cause that'd be really embarrassing," and as I came ungracefully stumbling out of the ocean, there was this true voice in my head and it said "Behind your fear lies your freedom." I was like, "Well, that's profound. Thank you. And I don't have time for that right now. So let's park that, we'll come back to this, we have race to finish." And I became an Ironman.
Stephanie: For those of us in the states, the triathlon is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and then a marathon of 26.2 miles. There are lots of shorter triathlon races around, but a true Ironman is those extreme distances, in my personal and humble opinion.
Elle: Everybody said to me, "You can't just go from zero to Ironman, you have to go and do the shorter ones." I eventually gave in and did one Sprints tri, which is like the baby, baby triathlons. And I hated it. I was like, oh my God, if I have to do this, I will never become an Ironman. Never. It's all or nothing The the really sad part is I have so many friends who afterwards said, "I wanna be an iron man too. But let me first go and do the half." Then they never do the full because they go, "Oh no, if the half is this hard, I don't have what it takes to do the full"
Elle: It's all their mind. I think people play so small that they're uninspired in life. Why not just bite of the big thing. What's the worst thing that could happen people? We can die. Well, we're gonna die anyway. So why not just bite off more than you can chew and you're either gonna spit or swallow. But either will be better than not biting at all.
Stephanie: That's pretty profound. So you became an Ironman on your first try.
Elle: Oh, hell yes.
Stephanie: Congratulations. I know it's in the past now, but still even the story is worthy of telling you congratulations.
Elle: Thank you. Now the interesting thing is I thought I would feel incredible afterwards and the moment I crossed the finish line, I thought, oh, anybody can do this. And it's true though. Like honestly, if I could do it, anybody could do it. And that's when I started understanding this whole high achievement thing is maybe not the path to fulfillment and happiness.
Stephanie: Another profound statement. You're you're absolutely right. Go back and say again, the voice that you heard, the clear voice in your head, say it again, what it said to you.
Elle: Behind your fear lies your freedom.
Stephanie: So after the race, when you had time to sit and think about. Tell me what you mulled over about that statement.
Elle: I started at the water point because for me, the water was a big thing. And I started thinking about everything that I had missed out on in life, because I was afraid of the water. I started thinking about all the pool parties in school, my friends went to that I either didn't attend or I hid inside because I was afraid somebody would throw me in the water. I thought about all the things that I'd wanted to do, like surfing and boogie boarding. I feel real peace at the beach that I didn't for 40 years because of my fear of water. And then I thought, "What else did I miss out on in life because of fear?" The moment I moved into my fear, and I think it's really important to understand I'm not talking about overcoming your fear. I think that that's a mistake that we are making. I had to move into my fear. I had to really French kiss my demons in order for me to get to the other side. I had to move through it. The freedom in that is your mental freedom. The freedom in that is becoming unavailable to not live because of fear.
Stephanie: Wow. People always talk about moving through fear and past fear and facing fears. It's interesting that you're saying exactly the opposite. You're saying, just pull up a chair and sit with it.
Elle: Because in the last 10 years, what I've also discovered is even though behind your fear lies your freedom within your fear lies your power.
Stephanie: Tell me a little more about that.
Elle: Every fear that we have is conditioned. And I have traced it back to more than 3,000 years of tribal conditioning that we are sitting with today. Within every fear, there is a critical growth piece for us to self actualize and transcend tribal consciousness. You can't self actualize until you have gone into all of the fears that have been planted in your mind through conditioning, because you need to figure out what that is. What is the story that we have been telling for generations that has people afraid?
Stephanie: Give me an example, just a mundane one.
Elle: You have to be liked to be successful. We we've created a brand culture globally. Everybody has to be a brand. You have to be liked, known, and trusted, the marketing gurus will tell you, in order for you to be successful, because if you are not liked, the tribe will abandon you, the tribe will reject you. And if the tribe rejects you, you will die because you will be left out in the cold.
Elle: So what do we do? We prostitute ourselves. We tell people what they want to hear, "Honey, you can call me Candy. You can call me whatever you like, baby. As long as you take me home with you tonight, make you a very happy person. Cause your happiness is my happiness. When my kids are happy, I'm happy. When my husband is happy, I'm happy. When my clients are happy, I'm happy."
Elle: Well, no, because happiness is an inside job. And if you are not willing to take responsibility for your own personal wellbeing and happiness, who do you think you are to take responsibility for somebody else's? So that's a lie. That's a tribal lie. And so everybody thinks, well, if they don't like me and if I don't belong and if I'm not part of the tribe, I'm gonna be so lonely.
Elle: We live in an epidemic of loneliness. People have never been lonelier than what they are today. Why because they're seeking love and attention and happiness in all the wrong places. They don't know who they are, they haven't taken the time to figure out how they're thinking, how they're thinking is impacting their emotions, how their emotions are impacting their actions, how their actions are actually creating their realities and the lives that they are living in. So all they do is they react the whole time and do everything so that other people will just like and protect them and then we will all be happy, but they're miserable.. So when you start understanding that and you start going into that fear, then you have to face that demon and go, "Well, if I stop giving a rat's bum about what people think about me, then who am I? What do I dare to say that some people will love and other people will hate? ' Cause if I don't love myself, how can I expect you to love me? I expect you to love that which I cannot even love?" We call that love in society? Oh, it's a little bit, um, insane if you ask me.
Stephanie: Yeah. And then once you start questioning these tribal learnings, as you're calling them, you get cast out because you are no longer behaving according to the norms. So that's scary for the group. So now you're out on your own, which isn't necessarily as scary in this day and age as it was a thousand years ago, because out in the cold, we still have all the trappings of modern society. But it does become a different way of experiencing life. From almost looking at it from the outside, not looking at life, but looking at all these groups that you see them in communities. I see them in my communities, these groups of people who are happy doing everything together. And a lot of times I know I personally feel on the outside of that for some of the choices that I've made.
Elle: And quite frankly, you stop being lonely once you fall madly in love with yourself. And I know people even judge that. Oh, you're a narcissist? No, I actually took the time to figure out who I am and to be the woman that I'm profoundly proud of every single day. And I'm madly in love with myself, 'cause I'm worth loving. Now I don't need other people to love me. I get to love others deeper than what I ever have before, and because I operate in a tone of love, for the first time I actually can receive love, because if you don't love yourself, you are not on the frequency of love. So you think that you, that other people are loving you, but you can't receive it, cause it's disharmonious. And so now you stop being lonely and then you kind of go, "Well, actually I've been a bit of a weirdo all my life. I've never really fitted in anyway. And when I did try to fit in, it didn't work out so well for me." And there's more and more of us, that's the really wonderful thing about this time, Stephanie, there's more and more of us that go, like, I know my people are lone wolves. My ladies are lone wolves that when I say lone wolves, they go, "Oh yeah, that's me absolutely." My people are disruptors. You know, I say the word disruptor a guy will go, "Yep. That's me. I'm here to disrupt the system, baby. We can't carry on like this."
Elle: But the thing is that if we are here to disrupt, if we are here to elevate, if we are here to do new stuff that hasn't been done before, we have to be willing to, first of all, acknowledge and understand the prison that we have created within our own minds, through the conditioning. Then we have to be willing to actually let that stuff go. We have to be willing to outgrow it, 'cause here's what I want people to think about: if overcoming fear was the answer, we would have a fearless world because everybody's like, "Just feel the fear and do it anyway. You have to let out your comfort zone. You have to overcome, you have to rise to the challenge." We have to be motivated people, which is billion dollars industry, but here's what I learned: you have a finite amount of energy every single day that you use in your mind, that you use in your body. We are using so much energy overcoming fear that we have a minuscule amount of energy to create our legacies.
Elle: When you've outgrown fear, you don't have to exert any fear or any energy in resisting your fear, because that's what you're doing, you're literally at war with yourself, because your fear has a purpose. Otherwise, you wouldn't feel it. If you stop fighting yourself, if you stop fighting your demons, they bow down to you and they go, I have a treasure for you, and within the treasure is power and you take that power and you create your legacy from there. And it becomes fun. Becomes really fun, 'cause we get to play with the scared people. I know this sounds horrible, but I have tattoos and they say you don't tease the untattoed people, but we can because we love enough. Yeah. I say, if you don't have a sense of humor, it's because you have things to go and sort out for yourself. I'm not evil, I know my intention are well. And so I make light a bit because I want people to understand as well, fear is not scary. They're so terrified of fear that they have lost a sense of humor in life. Fear itself is not scary. It's not gonna kill you. You think it is. And the really sad part is most people have such a dysfunctional relationship with fear that they don't recognize when something really is dangerous.
Stephanie: For most of us, when we feel fear, we're not facing down a saber tooth tiger. It's okay to sit with most of your fears.
Elle: And have a conversation with your fear, what are you trying to tell me? Like what, what am I not seeing here? What am I really scared of? And go into it. Don't settle for the, oh, I'm afraid of failure, oh, I'm afraid of, of success stuff that everybody is saying. That's just more humdrum. You want to get really specific. What am I really afraid of? What is the story that is running in the background in my mind, that has me feeling fear?
Elle: When you start understanding that any story, any belief, is just you saying the same thing over and over again, and creating evidence in the process - that's what beliefs are - then you can go, Well, how's that working out for me? Do I really wanna continue believing this? Or am I intending to see life differently? Am I really actually ready to go: The meat suit is going to expire. She is going rot in the ground. She is not here for much longer. I can already see where she's starting to go towards Mother Earth. I was thinking the other day, if I could do a handstand, my boobs would go back to their original place.
Elle: But I know that who I really am, what I really am is eternal. I'm just having here a beautiful life experience that I get to evolve in. So if I could just relax on that and I also came to realize my soul has already decided her expiration date. She knows, and she's not going to tell me when that is, but that means nothing I do is going to stop the moment of death coming upon me. See white doves flying. And I dunno what wonderful way she has planned in order for me to use as an excuse to depart the body. Everything is just like whatever. So why not go and do an Ironman? Why not go and run across a mountain? Which was my next thing, which made Ironman look like a freaking walk in the park. Why would I not go and do that? Because I'm not dead yet, so I'm not done yet. Why not live a little and live with eyes wide open. If I'm here to evolve, if everything is about me learning and seeing life differently, what is life giving me right here in this moment? I don't have to go back to my childhood to go figure this out. Life is giving everything to me right here right now to go "What if this is wrong? What if I'm just curious all of the time, like a child, oh, why is that? How's that work or what if we do it differently? What if we maybe let this out? What if we experimented?" Because we don't care what other people say about us anymore, and we know that we can't get this wrong and we know that we'll never get done and we kind of know all of this. Why not have more fun? That is really what society needs right now. They're so terrified of dying, they've stopped living, Stephanie.
Stephanie: Tell me this, there are plenty of people listening to this nodding going, "Yep. Yep. Yep." And there's someone listening who's going, " I have no idea what you're talking about or how I would even go about it." So for that person, what are some of the things they might start questioning first that might be the easy on ramp to opening your mind and stepping off the cultural, truisms and things like that. Where might someone start? What's a good place to start either sitting with your fear or questioning your beliefs.
Elle: Experiment for one week and say, "I'm gonna prove myself wrong." So write down some of your beliefs, maybe not the ones that are so precious to you, that, you know, you will fight tooth and nail for them to stay with you. We'll deal with those later, but what are some of the easier beliefs that you've maybe held that you can go but what if I consciously go and look for things that prove me wrong? Which means go and speak to people or read stuff that's contrary to my beliefs and not needing them to be wrong or me to be right.
Stephanie: Let's make the on ramp even lower stakes than that, because right now in the world, questioning beliefs comes with a lot of baggage, with a lot of, uh, meaning. So let's not even talk about that, but even lower stakes. I'm even thinking, I don't know when you were talking, I was thinking, what do I believe is true? I believe that the best time to go grocery shopping is on Saturday mornings. Well, okay. Try a different time. See what it looks like Tuesday nights at 8:00 PM. I don't know. That's a really stupid example, You, I feel, were ready for the big leap. And I think for some folks who are looking to wake up, they need a little bit of success before they make the big leap. A couple of small hops, before they get there.
Elle: Think of what is the furthest you can walk and get somebody to drop you off a mile further than that. And then walk home and pay attention to the thoughts that come up in your mind. And if that thought has to be, "Screw Elle. Stupid cow. This was an insane suggestion," then let that be your thought. I'm okay with that. You have to start proving to yourself that there's so much more to you than what you've allowed yourself to believe that there is and using your physical body is the fastest way to do that because you are absolutely going to go through: oh, well this is easy. Oh, okay. Well maybe not. Oh, well this is, this is starting to hurt. Oh my God. What was I thinking? Let me phone a friend to come and pick me up. So you have to tell the friends before the time, "Whatever I do do not come and pick me up!" And then the real stories are going to come up about what you believe you are capable of and why this is a really stupid idea. But by the time that you get home, maybe not by the time you get home, 'cause you're gonna be hurting and you're not gonna be in a good mood, but that's OK.
Elle: The next day, sit down and kind of go, "Wow,, look what I've just done. I honestly thought this was my limit and I went a whole mile further. Where else can I do this? What else can I do?" The body was not given to you to sit and listen or to sit and read books or to sit and learn. The body is the instrument of learning. We learn through experience. So what experience do you need to have that's different and not that scares you like doing an extra mile, nobody's going to be terrified of that. You're just gonna be a little bit out of your discomfort mark. But you do a little bit of that every single day, and you create evidence that is stacking up against your previous beliefs. That's really what you wanna start doing.
Elle: You wanna start creating better evidence of who and what you really are whilst being very present with the experience, be very present with the thoughts. I used to do a, a squat challenge with ladies where they would do 250 consecutive squats within 30 days. And I had them journal every day: At what point did the voice start? What was the voice saying? And where else was the same voice speaking in their lives? And they're always blown away by it. Always, nobody believes they can do 250 consecutive squats in 30 days and they all did. I had one lady do 750 consecutive squats after 30 days, this is a woman who didn't squat before, when you start tapping into the power of the story and you start changing that story, even if you have to speak out loud, I do this all the time. When I'm out training, I speak out loud to myself. I also sing out loud. I also, howl, which is very liberating, people. Everybody should howl. So good to shift your energy and people get to look at you really funny, which is even more fun, 'cause you get to scare them. But you know, start doing these things or do the fun part - go and dance in the street. When you're standing at the queue, instead of standing there like a morbid robot, like everybody does, not trying to see anybody else or not making eye contact, bust move, baby, just go and dance a little bit. People's energy change. And when you start understanding you are the changer of energy, because nobody can keep a straight face when you start dancing, guaranteed. When you start seeing the energy, how you can change people's energy, that already starts creating new thought patterns for you. Wow if it's so simple, what else can I do? Doesn't have to be complicated, like meet yourself where you're at, whether you need to be more fun or whether you need to be a little bit more badass. You do you baby, you can't do this wrong.
Stephanie: That's spectacular. Yes. I love your example of just however far you think you can walk, go be dropped off a mile further and then just get yourself home. It sounds a little adventurous, which is fun. A challenge, which I think sort of motivates us. And if you're just curious, I love that idea about being curious about, can I do it why did I think X miles was as far as I could go? I love that. That's a great on ramp. That's a great way for people to see this is what it looks like and feels like when I challenge a belief that is pretty low stakes.
Stephanie: Most people don't start with the high stakes beliefs. I think most people work up to those.
Elle: Absolutely. And when you find yourself that you're starting to be hard on yourself with this whole process, here's my favorite line. Oh, that's interesting. Oh, it's interesting that I'm thinking that, oh, it's interesting that I'm saying that. I don't have to judge myself, I just become curious. Oh, that's interesting. Cause we are very hard on ourselves. We're so self critical and we have this self flagellating culture going, because we are not bashing each other over the head enough, let's do it to ourselves first. Let's not even get started on the martyrdom, but be nice to you. Be nicer to yourself than you would be to anybody else in the world. You know, what, if everybody did that, we would have a completely different world.
Stephanie: Yeah. There's another thing that I've heard, I've read, I think, and that is that, the voices in your head that are being so mean to you: you are also the voice in your head and you can tell it to shut up. I definitely have, at least I have two voices in my head. I have the mean one and the nice one. And it took me a while to get the mean one under control, but I did. But when those thoughts come to you and they're plaguing you, it's interesting to remember that you are not at the mercy of them. You can question them, you can refute them. You can say different things. You can have a conversation in there, ask those mean voices why they believe that.
Elle: Create space for them. Speak to them and say, "You know what? I listen attentively to you on the condition it doesn't mean I'm going to obey you. I will listen to you, but I will not obey you. You are not my master. You are in service to me. You are in service to my growth." Because that is what the voices are, that's what fear is, it's in service to your growth. They were never meant to be your master. When we start understanding that as well, we say French kiss your demons, decapitate your darlings, and live your dreams. The darlings are your excuses, all your little BS reasons as to why not you? Why not now? Why you're not ready? All of the time, money, the kinders whatever, they're all your little darlings. You have to decapitate them and you have to really love your demons, they're in service to you. And then life becomes juicy. I have many, many voices in my head. And I also had to learn that my nice voice doesn't sound like what I was told the nice voice sounds like.
Elle: When I hear, "Oh, it's okay. Just, you know..." That's, that's the enemy voice! That's not. My nice voice is like, "Bitch, please get your ass outta here. What do you think you're doing?" That's my nice voice. But when I say that to people go, "You're so mean to yourself." I go, "No, the cotton-wrapping voice, that's the one I have to be really careful of because she's the one that wants me to be mediocre. That wants me to be complacent and fit in. Let me just wrap you in cotton, Elle, and I'll keep you safe.
Stephanie: She's seductive..
Elle: She's the tribe. You guys, the tribe voice. Welcome. Sit by the fire. We'll all hold hands and sing kumbaya and we'll keep you safe. And we will love you. And we will be the source of your happiness. You'll never be alone until you break one of our rules, then we will first turn on you, we will make you feel bad about yourself, we will give you another opportunity to fit in. Sit down, shut up, cross your legs. Look nice. And then if you still don't behave, we will brand you the enemy and we will turn on you.
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. So your nice voice, although she sounds mean is actually your cheerleader to go and get what you want.
Stephanie: Yeah. I love that. You told me you have a name, sort of what you're known as these days: the Fear Maven.
Stephanie: I love that. You also told me you work with female leaders over 40, because the idea of being a follower is ludicrous. I love the way you wrote that.
Elle: Well males as well, I work with both men and women because even social media's button to say, follow this person. What? I'm not a sheep and I'm not a sheep dog either. I have no desire to have followers. The concept of following for me is just mind blowingly ridiculous. And I know that there are so many of us out there that, that kind of look at what do you mean I must follow.
Elle: What do you mean? I must follow Well, I believe that rules are for the people who are here to lovingly create contrast for us. They are the creators of the society that we are finding ourselves in, and we thank them because if it wasn't for them, we would not be here at this time. They made us. The chaos that they created is what created us at this time to come through and go, "All right people, I don't think so. It is time for us to actually start remembering who and what we are and to start understanding there's no scarcity, let's get back to prosperity. Let's get back to divine love. Let's get back to one team, team human. Let's actually be the caretakers of the planet that we came here to be let's get our shit together, people." And you can't be there if you want people to like you.
Stephanie: I love your point of view. It's refreshing. It's, As much as the powers that be want us to think that fitting in is cool, the more I talk to people and the more I've lived, the more you realize that it's the outsiders that are really cool.
Elle: Well, like I say, the strength of one who's operating from genius is more powerful than a million operating in tribal fear. The powers to be? Honey, we are the powers to be. Those imposters who are sitting with their titles and making the rules for the other people to follow, 'cause let's just be honest here, the rules do not apply to us. Like every time the people get upset about rules, I'm like, why are you, why are you getting upset about it? It doesn't apply to us, 'cause we operate in integrity. We don't do harm. So why do I need somebody to tell me how- I'm not freaking five years old anymore, people. Can we please grow up?
Stephanie: That's wonderful.
Elle: That's why we're over forty. Like at what point do you stop obeying like a freaking school child because you're scared you're gonna get spanked? Let's maybe not have the spank conversation. Cause apparently, you know, that's the
Stephanie: Some people might like that, but that's not what we mean.
Elle: That's not what we mean. but we we've created a Lord of the Flies society. Mature people are terrified of the youth and the exuberance of youth has to be tempered by grounding wisdom. Over forties, have to start going through their period of liberation because quite frankly, our legacy, and I'm not talking about the children that we've birthed, our legacy can be better than what it is. Right now.
Stephanie: That's wonderful. I feel like I could talk to you for hours, but I feel like that's a wonderful place to finish this conversation. I'm sure you and I will connect again to keep going here, because this is so interesting. I love your point of view and some of the things that you shared with us today. When I go back and listen to this, my jaw's gonna drop again, 'cause I think they were so profound and wonderful and just a great point of view. So thank you so much for sharing so much with me today.
Elle: Thank you for having me here. This has been amazing. And I have a feeling that we'll be having many cups of coffee and maybe glasses of wine over conversations, 'cause yes, absolutely. I wanna say as well to everybody who's listening, shout out to Stephanie for putting this together.
Stephanie: Thank you.
Elle: So needed so needed. You are an inspiration to me and thank you for the work that you're doing.
Stephanie: It's my pleasure. Thank you.