Building Strong Emotional Foundations

Do you remember the story of the three little pigs?

They each built a house. But only one built one that was strong enough to withstand the big, bad wolf. That saved the day.

When you build a house, you dig down to lay strong foundations.

These are what give a house its strength. And so when gale force winds and even hurricanes come, the house can often sustain the force. The strength of a house lays in solid foundations.

In people, the same is true.

We have strength, skills and capacity. But they are dependent on the foundations of how we nourish and supply our energy. Our emotional wellbeing is our foundation.

It is the strength we can draw from.

Happy and healthy we can operate at full capacity. But when we drain energy without refilling it, we run out and burn out. Just as we need to eat, we need emotional nourishment too.

Branka Pestar Hajšek grew up angry and experiences in her teens made her confront her emotions.

Since then she’s been on a journey to understand emotions and help people listen to them. She’s found a richer, happier life through developing her emotional intelligence. And now she teaches others to do the same.

We had a deep conversation about emotions.

How we both perceive them. How we process them. And how they affect our relationships and work.


Branka: [00:00:00] I’m Branka from Slovenia. When I was younger, I was full of anger.

Branka: I didn’t know even that emotions have any relevance in our life. The same for thoughts. I basically believe that our actions show who you are, what you do, and that’s all. And on the top of that, there was also this belief that you cannot change brain. What is wired and it stays that way.

Branka: So when you reach 25 years, you are all set and there is very little space. But it was interesting because I accidentally went to study economy. I fell in love with it. I fell in love with business, went further in management and it was all amazing. I was so excited to start the career, enter the market and to help to connect leaders with people because growing up in a middle class family, There are many people who were pissed [00:01:00] off about the leaders.

Branka: They are not doing anything. They are just blaming and shouting and so on. And when I started to explore economy and later management, it was the opposite side of the coin. So people are lazy. They are not working. They are not productive. And I was sure and completely convinced that there is a way to connect those two and find this good spot to actually make the business better for leaders as well as employees.

Branka: It was beautiful vision, but life turned me around because I got ill. It stopped my study. It basically thrown me into the self development at 18 years old. So it was painful way, but slowly I started to explore emotional intelligence, neuroscience, hormones basically how our body works, brain works.

Branka: Later on this interconnection was what fascinated me and what also helped me [00:02:00] reach this level that I’m Basically more in control of what I feel, what I do, how I think and building up this step. So alongside with this road, it was interesting that in times of illness, I supported a lot women who went through the same experience.

Branka: It was an informal way of coaching and helping them. And it started to be my passion. But I wanted to get a little further and implement that into my other passion, which was business. So I started to dig even more with new research about how to build a team, support people, and how leaders can use neuroscience and emotional intelligence to actually level up things. So now for three years, four years, I’m active on this area. So empowering people, especially business professionals who are eager to deliver, to do good and serve the world. But at [00:03:00] the same time I remember them with compassion that they need to support themselves to be in the game long term.

Rob: First of all, that’s very young to have that kind of awakening or event that inspires you. Yeah. 

Branka: But it was great if, look, if I just add I was very frustrated. Why is this happening? I’m just starting to live, but today back about 10 years now, I’m grateful because I wouldn’t be myself as I am today and wouldn’t be able to support others the way I am if this experience was not there.

Branka: So we learned a lot. 

Rob: You said that you were very angry. Yeah. So tell us a little bit more about that anger. Where did it come from? Where did it start? 

Branka: I don’t quite recall when it started. I know I was really curious from the young age.

Branka: I asked a lot of questions and you can imagine that adults didn’t have time to answer all those questions. And I assume that those [00:04:00] situations were forming this belief, I’m not hurt, I’m not sick. It’s not okay to ask questions. It’s not okay to be curious, but I still question things because I saw some conflicts.

Branka: I thought that things could be different and a special aspect that frustrated me was this judgment people had one another. As I was growing up, I was confused with social interactions. I felt different and I saw things in a different way. So it was frustrating, a classical story of I feel different and nobody understands me and I’m curious.

Branka: On top of that, it was also divorce in my family. It was not about fighting. I’m so proud of my parents of how they handled the worst. But for me, I was 11. I was just hitting puberty. And that was the time when I basically build up my confidence to the point that I became aggressive.

Branka: Because before [00:05:00] I, I did not allow myself to express myself. I was shy. I was hiding. I was pleasing people. And when I transitioned to another school, I made a decision. This is a new start. I will be me all the way. So you can imagine, and this happens to a lot of people now as I’m speaking with different kind of people, that when we start to set boundaries or step up in our game of confidence, we become a little bit too aggressive in it.

Branka: Because we don’t have the skill to balance it. We don’t have this method. How strong we should say it in order to be heard. Yeah, the puberty was really about this discovery. Am I accepted if I say so? Will you respect it? How far I have to go? And the last and strong one was really to make up the point that who I am, is who I am, you accept me or not.

Branka: This is something that got me the [00:06:00] nickname of crazy in a good way. Because I, I said things. I was not afraid of things. I was not afraid to make a joke. I told people what I think. I was honest. I was not rude. But yeah, at some levels, I told people what they needed to hear. And later on, I learned that you need to have a little balance of what is appropriate to comment and whatnot.

Branka: But yeah, at that time, it was learning, it was youth, and it was interesting, basically, and I didn’t quite understand and know at that time that I’m so aggressive and angry,

Rob: So initially you polarize to being aggressive and angry and, telling people what they needed to hear. How did you learn to moderate that? 

Branka: It was interesting because at one point I was so proud of that because I knew how to stop people.

Branka: They would not abuse me. They would not attack me. And I was proud of that. [00:07:00] But when I started to experience this pain, it was chronic pain every day, and it started this journey of exploring what it was, and later got diagnosed, and dived even more because of it. It’s misunderstood, not well researched, so I dive into everything that is possible, available, free.

Branka: And at that time it was more about hormones, and I was still angry. I was angry at the doctors, at the scientists, at the system, at all the people who didn’t believe I actually had pain, because it’s invisible illness and you look fine. Still angry, a lot. And it’s frustrating because you’re grieving about your past.

Branka: I was 18 at the time. And my life turned all around from going out to hang out and enjoy my life. I was bedridden and going to the doctors, not so pleasing. And as I was proceeding and my mental health started to get worse. I met [00:08:00] This emotional intelligence, I decided to dive into the book I got as a gift.

Branka: As I read this book, I was like, Oh my goodness. First of all, there is more to emotion than I ever believed it’s possible. And the other was I’m angry almost all the time. I cover a lot of things with my anger. At the same time, I believe it was okay. It was good. I was proud of it. And that was the hard part.

Branka: So when this came, I slowly started to address it and to really dive into what is that makes me angry. What is this trigger? Why do I feel such desire basically to express myself in this way and it was quite the journey I could say Of exploring learning and actually, implementing new ways to handle things because automatic response is strong.

Rob: First for [00:09:00] clarity. The book was that Daniel Goleman’s emotional intelligence. 

Branka: Yeah. The first those is 1995, I believe. So it’s really emotional intelligence, all the details and all the research that was done so far was conducted in this book and it was amazing. Great. And if I add one.

Branka: Interesting part. The first part of this book is basically a lot of neuroscience and stuff. And as I started to read this book, all excited, and I got to this point and I was like, Oh my goodness, I don’t understand anything. I have no clue what I’m reading. The author said it’s important for understanding that I was like, okay, maybe I should skip this.

Branka: This is too hard, but I was stubborn enough. To say myself, okay, read it, even if you don’t understand it, get through it, it will get a lot more interesting in the next part, but read it. And a few years later, as I was researching and meeting neuroscience [00:10:00] and exploring the brain, it was fascinating to read this chapter all over again and actually understand what it’s saying.

Rob: I was studying psychology. When you had an assignment and you’d have all these books, I never went through the course reading all these things. I would just, when I had something to find out, I would like whatever this assignment and you’d get your essay or whatever.

Rob: I just get the stack of books and then I’d go through it. And the first thing I used to do was I’d have all these and the first thing I would do is I’d look through them and then I’d just fall asleep. I just go, oh, it’s boring. And it would, and I’d have to do that a couple of times before I started going through it.

Rob: And then eventually you find something that you get interested in. And then after that, it’s smooth sailing, but getting into the actual first part, there’s so much resistance. It’s Oh my God, couldn’t I have written it easier? And it’s so boring. Do I really have to read all of this? So yeah, I, Yeah, there’s that initial resistance, isn’t there?

Branka: Yeah. 

Rob: Okay. You felt this anger, [00:11:00] you realized that there was a, or you looked into what was causing it. What was what did you come up with? Yeah, 

Branka: it’s I will not go into details, but in terms of emotional expression and emotional mechanism, it was basically the cover. For many different emotions, I didn’t know how to express in a healthy way.

Branka: So when I was sad, I knew I was sad and I was honest to myself that I was sad, but if anyone approached me, I was angry at him because I wouldn’t open up to the fact that I’m sad. I had few friends that I trusted and I shared this. 

Branka: So one part was really the cover of all the other from disappointments, fears shame resentment neglect from myself, basically it was all that. On the other side, it’s generational trauma, it’s ancestor trauma, so there are things that were [00:12:00] basically given to me from the generation I was raised in, I was raised in, and at the same time from the family I was raised in, and this was also hard to accept.

Branka: Because at that time I was really skeptical about all this trauma talk and I was resistant to it a lot. And it was until that I realized all this. So how our emotions work and how I actually can unlock this anger that I started to notice the triggers. And like I said, and like I mentioned a lot of times, it was this basic needs to be heard, loved, and feeling safe. Despite, I didn’t have any big traumatic experiences in my youth. I had pretty amazing childhood. But, the emotional level and these mechanisms are still affected by certain events. Because I didn’t have a role model to tell me and to teach me how to [00:13:00] regulate those emotions.

Branka: In certain situations, it became too much. And yeah, it became my coping mechanism to basically every track, my ego and my brain. It’s tough from the environment from everywhere.

Rob: And when you, so when you learn how to deal with it, when you come to resolve it and you come to understand it and learn how to deal with it. What was the difference? 

Branka: It was a big one. First of all, it was interesting because I learned a lot about myself. I was sure I know myself.

Branka: I know who I am. I know what I think. But it turned out that a lot of things were hidden. And I was ashamed of them, but they were not shameful, but this culture makes you believe that you should keep them somewhere. And it was interesting because when there was periods of this chronic pain, it trains you, you’re irritated, you’re frustrated, and you get angry [00:14:00] really quickly.

Branka: The first step was that I realized that In those muments, I became angry and it was piling up and Not only the anger was stronger, but the pain was also stronger. And that was a great motivation to really start practicing it. And slowly there was different ways that I used.

Branka: To address it, I tried a lot of different techniques because like I said, I was resistant to those ideas about energy, about trauma. I didn’t believe it. I was so programmed in this basic programming that we all get to some degree that I didn’t believe that this can be true. So only science, only doctors and such, but as I didn’t get the results there, I needed to dive in.

Branka: It was really step by step. So first of all, to really understand and see myself in those situations. I’m getting up and to realize what is the trigger and even [00:15:00] more to stop the first step. And the most important step was to learn. How to even recognize I’m getting there and stop. And sometimes I still freaked out.

Branka: Sometimes I still had those muments, but what I noticed is that the intensity got smaller and at the same time, this episode became more controllable. And it’s gained me a lot of different insights because, when you communicate with people, it has a lot of effect how you communicate. So when I was angry all the time, people didn’t share with me a lot of things that were actually beneficial to me.

Branka: So I started to get more information with others. Relationships were actually better. The communication opened up. At some point, it was really hard to communicate. I was only able to communicate with my partner and my mum, and I can tell you why, because they were the only ones, and my sister, they were the only [00:16:00] ones who believed my pain.

Branka: Quite interesting to look at. It was interesting to see how much life offers when you let it, and you’re not so stubborn in your mind, and you’re, I cannot do it, it’s too hard, it’s okay, I deserve this, or maybe even, it was more like I’m suffering so I can, and this is a vicious cycle you can get it because it’s hard to get out. 

Rob: A large part of the stimulus was the health condition that you had. And You mentioned that the anger made the symptoms worse which makes sense because in anger you’re under stress stress makes you more hypersensitive to pain and plus the built up energy and whatever.

 Is it a lifelong condition or did the improvement in emotional state change your physical conditions other than the instances of pain? 

Branka: Yeah, I get what you’re asking. So first of all, yeah, it’s a disease.

Branka: It’s [00:17:00] endometriosis. So it’s a condition that a woman has during the period of being able to reproduce and it’s not really in the Medical world. It’s not treatable. It’s not curable. It’s lifelong basically and I would say that I don’t want to basically say that all things and all symptoms and all the struggle will go away if you address your emotions, because this is a really big statement if you know the stories of women and what they are going through, because it’s really painful, traumatic.

Branka: I really talked with a lot of women and this was also traumatic to learn, even if I wasn’t suffering as much, and even for me, it was hard to tell. So many of them had life crashed because of certain things that are connected with it. So what I would [00:18:00] say is that when I started to address those things and started to look at myself holistically and understood this connection.

Branka: The body, the emotion and the brain. I started to use this connection to actually improve my situation. So in most simple way, I got from having three days a month, pain free to the point that now I have two or three days a month with pain. And even that day, I have strategy and tools and routine that helped me get it manageable and that I basically don’t need to take strong pain killers anymore.

Branka: Because in certain times, I was on strong one pretty all day and it still wasn’t working like it should. So it was a big change, but with endometriosis, you never know. So even now, I cannot say if [00:19:00] my physical tissue actually went off or not, because only operation shows. And so far, I hope that I don’t need another operation.

Branka: For quite some time. 

Rob: From what I understand, it’s a hormonally related condition and therefore stress is hormonally related and so there’s going to be a direct implication between the emotional state and the effects of the condition, I would imagine. 

Branka: In one way, yeah. And this hormonal aspect is really what made me fully frustrated because we knew that it’s hormonal imbalance, but for a long time I didn’t know that hormones were actually rational emotion or reaction. 

Branka: So when we experience emotion, this is a physical response of the body. It’s chemical that is formed out of our emotion. And it was all the talk about adding emotions or such, but I always believe that We can get this balance and yeah, when you learn how hormones work and how stress [00:20:00] or if you’re in pain, basically your whole body is under stress and you are basically piling up this tension unconsciously.

Branka: Because this is how we are made. We want to protect ourselves from whatever it is. And yeah, it’s so interconnected. And when you are in such a situation, it’s hard to even think positively, let alone feel something positive. It’s really hard. And it’s a lot of will and a lot of commitment that you start to do it.

Branka: It was a hard class. I can say, 

Rob: I trained in nutrition and besides the fact that almost no one sticks to diet. I realized that the emotional state changed how you dealt with chemicals. So it wasn’t necessarily what you ate, but as much the emotional state that you were in when you ate it.

Rob: So stress is so important for everything. 

Branka: It’s a big factor. And if I can add it’s interesting because [00:21:00] in business world, there is a lot of focus on do you handle stress? Are you good under pressure? I get it because leadership is hard role. It has diverse responsibilities. And of course, some periods are stressful and there is pressure.

Branka: What I would like companies and directors to realize is that really pushing people all the time is not a strategy. Those who are able to handle it for a year or two are not to be celebrated. Basically, they need help, because long term, if you want to keep this great leader, you need to give them space for rest, and you need to support them so that they actually can get this. With our bodies like that, like you said, it’s stress and it’s rest, and our body needs both.

Branka: We are wired that we get the stress response so that you get all these chemicals and all these different [00:22:00] physiological supportive actions. So we see better, we hear better, we start sweating, and so on. It’s designed to protect us, but what is not present in this modern world is the fact that when the danger is gone, Danger, pressure, deadline, whatever it is, that we get back and take time to restore, to relax, to regenerate.

Branka: And if we are under stress, even if we don’t know it, we learn to be always in a survival mode. We will over time drain our body and our energy and burnout. This is why managing stress and navigating emotions is so essential. 

Rob: Often we think you can look at people who have, who seem to be strong and their strength comes from a certain rigidity.

Rob: And I always think in that dynamic, There’s a point where something so rigid breaks whereas when you look at something like water it just completely mild. It, it [00:23:00] doesn’t seem very strong, but because of its flexibility, it will never break. And it’s like Bruce Lee said, be like water.

Rob: Because if you’re, if you have tension, then tension can be used against you. Tension is breaks at a point. And if you don’t have any tension then you can’t break. But I think often people think tension is strength, but the tension is only strong until it reaches his breaking point.

Rob: And that’s when it snaps. 

Branka: Beautiful. 

Branka: Beautiful. Because yeah, it’s in our society, there is a certain honor badge for pushing it for being the toughest, not basically not being affected by anything. People admire people like that. And it’s Because we want that because we feel that society told us and all those programs that we have are made in a way that You need to present in a certain way, you need to be positive, you need to collaborate, you need to be [00:24:00] nice, and we are human, and we all experience certain emotions, a little difference comes with traditional upbringing, where men are allowed to be angry, but not allowed to be sad, or whatever it is that is behind this.

Branka: On the other side, women are allowed to be sad, but not angry. It turns out that this imbalance first in upbringing and then in understanding how our emotions work really made a lot of confusion. This is why not so long ago, still many companies believe that emotions do not have a place in the business, ignoring the fact that all those positive emotions are still emotions.

Branka: Trust is still related to emotions. Basically every aspect of business is connected with it and neglecting that or ignoring that, or even brainwashing yourself that this does not have space here is nonsense. And [00:25:00] I just wrote a post a few days ago on it, that it was really about It’s not the fact that every emotion should be celebrated and expressed and being proud of to show it.

Branka: Obviously it’s not the space for expression of all emotions, but it has to be a space of acceptance to all emotions. So even if employee experience certain confusion or frustration and the leader sees that fulfills that certain empathy to notice it. It’s not okay that this later lets him, okay, let it go.

Branka: Let it out. Crush things. No worries. Just go with the flow. No, that’s not what leader would do. What leader with emotional intelligence would do would basically first acknowledge, I see you are frustrated. Tell me more. And this way will help balance their life at the right and left part of the brain.

Branka: So that’s the employee instead of drowning [00:26:00] in this emotion starts to verbalize it. So what am I feeling? How,? What happened? And even if it’s not if it’s not psychological safety built up to the point that they are comfortable sharing just the fact that leader noticed, acknowledged this and said, give yourself a break for 10 minutes.

Branka: I see you’re frustrated. No worries. You will take care of the rest. Get, quick walk, breath, water, whatever it is. So having the permission to be human is a lot because after 10 minutes, this person will return grateful for recognition, grateful for the fact that it was hurt seen, this frustration were seen, and it was still accepted in a way that I’m part of this, and I’m still human, and it’s okay.

Branka: Many people would think, okay, but what if I cannot lose those 10 minutes, hear me out. If you don’t do this person will probably have a [00:27:00] drop in productivity for at least an hour. This frustration affects every aspect of the work they do, so they are not as fast, as productive, as focused on details, and they will eventually take more time out of the workday if they are unaddressed when frustrated.

Branka: On the leader side, even leader, you cannot leave heart at home. You have it with you. You have it in your body. And there are many situations that are really tense. And you probably know that from so many different stories and your experiences. And in those muments, for sure, on one hand, there is a drive.

Branka: I need to solve it. I need to do something. I want to act. And what this does for many leaders, it is hard to deal with this guilt. If you just think about it, okay, just five minutes off to get myself back on the ground. And then I will deal with it. We have the [00:28:00] same situation. If you take those five minutes, you will get to the comments, clarity and to the presence.

Branka: So you will actually be productive and you will respond. If you don’t take this time, you’ll probably react and go on with this reaction wherever drives you. And we know that those stories can be pretty painful and bad. So understanding this and actually embracing that, no, it’s not that we let people go crazy in the office, but it’s about acknowledging the fact that every emotion can happen there.

Branka: And having this space and empathy or even compassion so that we actually offer solutions to the fact that we take care of people and step further would be actual training so that you can help people learn how to regulate them, how to basically build up those emotional foundations. But even if it’s just [00:29:00] this aspect of acknowledging and accepting this makes a lot of difference in team dynamics, in leaders, and in employees.

Branka: It’s a big win, I would say. 

Rob: I always think emotions are information. 

Branka: Yeah. 

Rob: I used to have a website, theemotionalgps. com. Really? Yeah. And because I look at I’m very logical and people think I don’t understand emotions, but I just separate emotions. Because I think there’s what you have to do.

Rob: That’s logistical, that’s logical. And this is what you need to do. But emotions tell you when you’re off course and when you’re on course, and if you’re on course, then you’ve fine, you don’t need to really deal with emotions, but it’s when you’re off course, then that’s when you need to take the, Information that the emotions are giving you.

Rob: So if you’re overwhelmed, it’s because the frame that you’re operating from. It means that your strategy is you’re trying to do much more than is your job to do. And if you’re stressed or it’s overwhelmed or you’re torn between two things if you’re angry, then there’s some kind of fear [00:30:00] underpinning it.

Rob: Like you say, it’s all about acceptance. When we accept the emotion, then it’s guidance of whether we’re on course or off course. I think emotions are how we judge how well our logical logistical strategy is working. Interesting. It’s the match, it’s the match between the context we’re in and how we’re operating within it, I think.

Branka: That’s an interesting perspective., I didn’t hear of that and I’m just, Placing it around because it’s interesting that I was always logical. So reasoning numbers and all that. And even now it’s a lot of important there. And I respect all the information and I love the structures and analyzing and I love it.

Branka: But I basically learned that every aspect has the benefits and benefits. Like you said, it’s basically, I like to say that emotions are basically speaking through our body and [00:31:00] our language of our soul. So I don’t know where you stand from the full perspective, but you can say. Tell me, how do you perceive thought?

Rob: Okay, so I think we have an operating model. I look at operating system, is the beliefs, the assumptions, and the expectations that the frame that we have of the world. And I see the so that is how we operate within the world. It’s like our autopilot. Emotions give us the goal of where we want to go to and emotions tell us when we’re on course or off course for our goal.

Rob: When our operating system is flawed so for example, when we’re, for example, this person is very rigid. And they’re like, I’m doing this. Then what they’re doing, when someone who’s very rigid has an approach, a fixed approach that I am right. If you link it to the soul, I would say the person that says I am very rigid, I am right, I’m going to fight for my way, what they’ve done is they’ve made themselves God of their world because they’re the determinant of what’s right [00:32:00] and what’s wrong.

Rob: And when they break, it’s because their model, their internal map of the world is at odds with the reality of what is. And the world is showing them that they’re off course. They’re flawed in their thinking. And that is what’s breaking them. And it’s the fluidity of when you hit tension, The problem isn’t the world, the problem is your map of the world.

Rob: So whenever you feel a strong emotion, the emotion should take precedence over the logic. Because the emotion tells me that, tells you that you’re wrong, or tells whoever that you’re wrong. It’s a sign to you that what I believe and what is are wrong, that they’re mismatched. And, 

Branka: Yeah I want to jump in, because this is tricky. I will give you something. There are people, so for example you have certain awareness around emotional world, about inner world, and such. But, a lot of people do not have that. And a lot of people, Those [00:33:00] people that, like you said are rigid and actually so tough and so on.

Branka: They don’t even have the connection with the emotion. It’s emotional confusion, I like to say. When this clarity is not reached, like you said, I agree that basically we are quite similar. It’s emotion and it’s direction that we feel. So it’s our purpose, our mission, where we are going, where we are driven and what is important.

Branka: And we build it up with this logical and our actions and our connections. But many people are on autopilot without even touching the heart. At some point, I ended that I wanted to be like magic. I wanted to be, so I don’t feel such in such a high intensity, but it was a really mind blowing when I was speaking with a person who was like magic and what they told me, it’s, I envy you because you feel [00:34:00] things and you feel it back.

Branka: Exploring further, I learned that for some people, emotions were so prohibited in childhood. Every healthy expression of emotion may be good or bad or pleasant, unpleasant. I don’t like to say positive, negative, but it was. And this is why they learn that you cannot trust emotions. You cannot show emotions.

Branka: You cannot listen to emotions because so many times in youth, they were told they are wrong. And that was, that also meant that this adult was right. And now this little boy or girl grown up and now he or she is right. Now I am an adult. And I will say what’s appropriate and what it’s not. And we can reflect also in the business, how many leaders were excited and it really doesn’t matter if they had certain connection with emotions or not.

Branka: They wanted to get a career and they [00:35:00] started it and they climbed this ladder and a lot of pressure, a lot of adversity, a lot of challenges and some pretty rough bosses along the way. Made this desire to become this CEO or something even bigger. And they did even more, they overworked, they did their best to get there.

Branka: It’s a funny paradox of life when they reach all the beliefs they had about leadership and all the desire to inspire people, lead people. I will do it different. I know how to motivate and such. We’re thrown either. Because for so long, they were observing, experiencing, and living in an environment that Basically form new patterns and those patterns were being the boss.

Branka: I am right, you’re wrong. Do it this way. I don’t care what you think. Even if they want, [00:36:00] this is the struggle we are often experiencing when I’m working on empowerment with somebody. Somebody who finds out that they have a problem with this is that we find out that even if they know how to support, they know what is needed to actually be empowering to serve others, to inspire them, to lead them, guide them, coach them.

Branka: But as the situation comes, they automatically become this boss, they hate it. This boss, they were frustrated with because It’s this foundation is still built on outside power, outside authority, and this common belief that with the role and the title, there is a lot of things connected. And this first of all, separating those two, who you are as human and what is your role is important, but even more, it’s important to recognize what pattern did we pick up from role models that [00:37:00] we’re learning us how to live, how to lead or how to be.

Branka: Does that make sense? 

Rob: It does. That’s what I talk about the operating system, that we can know other stuff. But if it doesn’t become laid down into our neurology, then it doesn’t change anything. 

Branka: Yeah, and it cannot be laid down until we learn those stories.

Branka: So it’s important to dive to some degree in emotion that you can realize what story is connected. This is the first step that you can actually rewire your brain and form new connections. Because until you do This automatic response is the strongest. It has the strongest wire and will be dominant.

Branka: And this is why, for example, digital visualization and meditation and basically mental training is so powerful because we can actually, first of all, reflect on For example, it’s overwhelmed or it’s anger, so we examine it to the point that we [00:38:00] understand what is off from our mission, what is happening, that we are experiencing this and what are the thoughts, beliefs and such that are connected to it, supported to it, and slowly we can update this system.

Branka: So we are making those updates and when we connect all those three. We are making lasting change, and we are actually forming new brain, new pathways that over time can become the dominant one, and this becomes our second nature. But it is a journey, it’s a process, and like you said, like I said, it’s where you are on this journey, and many people are not even aware what emotions they are feeling let alone what the story is behind them. So it’s complex. 

Rob: I suppose I, I was quite lucky or not. But the way that the world and school and things told you that things worked, I never had enough respect to, it didn’t make sense to me. So [00:39:00] I questioned from a young age. So I went to school and rebelled because none of it made any sense.

Rob: That was 

Branka: also one reason I was angry. I was rebel too. 

Rob: Yeah. When you told your story. It was quite similar to mine actually, because none of school made sense. School, I should have thrived that because, academically suited me, maths and English I could do. I didn’t work at anything else but they were enough to get through with other subjects.

Rob: Sport I was quite good at. So by every measure like I came out top in the tests. I came, I was the second best footballer. So that’s how they you get judged. And I see a lot of people struggled in their early years, which developed their character in other ways. I think it’s very unfair, but however it was, it was weighted towards my strength.

Rob: I’ve always had a problem in terms of leadership as in, I’m not going to just follow someone because they tell me to. And I’ve never wanted to lead because I don’t want to lead other people. I think they should have free will for themselves. So I’ve always had that strong freedom [00:40:00] thing.

Rob: So going to school and being told, you have to be here. And I was like, I can do this quicker. Why do I have to sit here? Why do I have to learn what you tell me to learn? So I had that rebellion all through school and college until I got to university and actually picked mine.

Rob: But yeah, then I had a model and I had. I was gonna build this big business and I was 20. And when I set up a gym and 21, I was 60 grand in debt. I was homeless, I was sick because the stress of it which was like your I don’t know, awakening maybe when you were 18.

Branka: Experience. Yeah. 

Rob: Yeah. So that was really what changed my. thinking, but I’m not very emotionally expressive. So you talked about the emotions. I’m not emotionally expressive. Like I don’t give out anything. But I recognize it. I feel it internally. And I suppose what, I always had, or maybe I have a low tolerance as a child, I would, if I felt bad, I would sit and think, why?

Rob: And I would go why? And break down what was the cause? [00:41:00] And I just learned that being on my own, being able to think, someone then told me that basically what I was doing was meditating, but I would, just think about things and break them down to where did they start from, what’s the cause of it and then I, it’s like breaking everything down into facts down into Lego bricks, and then assimilating a new model so that then I felt optimistic and I felt good about it, and I would be able to go again.

Rob: So I’ve never had a problem that I’ve not been able to just. go off on my own, think about, figure out, and then not feel better. But I think my strength from that is I’m able to reframe perspective. How young, 

Speaker: I’m sorry, how young were you? Very young, 

Rob: very young. I suppose about six, seven, eight, nine, but I’ve just always done that.

Rob: I’ve always just took myself off to my bedroom. It’s why even now if I really need to think about something, I can’t think at a desk. I can’t think around people. My best place is to go to bed, sit on my bed. I’m away from everyone I, I don’t think as clearly [00:42:00] when I’m around people, but when I can have that silence, like I can’t have music, I can’t have any noise, I just need to sit with whatever it is, break it all down and have like my full focus on stuff like that.

Branka: That’s wonderful. You probably had amazing role models. You know who it is, but someone. Gave you bits because in those age, you are absorbing. And this process, if you had it, this is amazing. No wonder on the other hand, that you maybe have a struggle with expression is the last part of emotional intelligence.

Branka: It’s the last bit of it, but. This process. It’s something I didn’t know the emotion even have a story. Do you understand? Until the point I was 18 or even 20, I didn’t know. And even more, I didn’t have this reflection when I was 18. Yeah, I was thinking I was reflecting what, but what I was doing, I was bullying myself and I was blaming [00:43:00] all the other things and situations and such.

Branka: So it was really big training for me to get to this level and this exercise that you got at such a young age. And it is fascinating and amazing, but do you allow me to say something regards it? It’s based on the fact that you mentioned now, because it’s really fascinating and I may be wrong as you experience and learn this so young.

Branka: You were not many times you didn’t have a lot of situations when you would express emotion because you had this self mechanism to actually address it before it became so much on the other side. A lot of people express it a lot and it can be pretty loud for you. And you are aware that this is not up your business.

Branka: This is not about you. It’s about them. So why would I bother? Why would I? Being old and [00:44:00] it’s on the other side. Maybe like I said it’s your choice. If you want to also learn how to express them because not all people are excited to do many people actually prefer yet to give it to them.

Branka: And I say that even that is healthy because if you are transparent within yourself, there’s nothing wrong with it. you decide how much you share. But yeah, there are some certain situations that you would like to express them. This aspect also can be trained and can be learned, but in according and unique to your perspective, of course, because you are unique.

Rob: I think the two are linked. Yeah. I, I suppose because I never felt safe to express emotion. And it was because I felt I needed to deal with it myself. And so I think that’s, and I think probably because my way of operating in the world has always been to understand. And so one, 

Branka: [00:45:00] sorry, 

Branka: but it’s so important what you just said, because one aspect that we talked about the start, it’s a regulation.

Branka: And we humans learn to regulate through relation with another. If you had those experiences and this knowledge to calm yourself down. So that is amazing capability and that is amazing thing to have. So it helped you in so many ways. I’m so jealous of you that term I, but not in a bad way, but really I envy you because if I remember how many frustrations I had and I didn’t know how to address them. Oh my God, you are so structured. Oh my, all the best. But on the other side, yeah, if you didn’t have the experience of having safe adults that basically sees that, hears you, and accepts you in those sensations, situations, that can become a [00:46:00] struggle of not feeling safe to share with anyone.

Branka: not feeling safe to be vulnerable about it because you got a gift on the one side, but on the other side, it was probably, you can agree a little bit too much of responsibility for this young Rob. 

Rob: Just to give you a little bit more clarity. I was lucky I was safe. I did have good models.

Rob: And in a sense, my mum had always given me confidence. She would always be, if other people can do it, you can do it. So I had this strong belief that I could solve any problem because that’s what she would say. 

Rob: Actually it was all from a misunderstanding. So I had a very dramatic big sister.

Rob: And I remember once we were sitting ready to go out and I think I could hear mum and dad shouting somewhere in another room. And she just looked at them and said they’re not really our parents. She’d always had this dramatic story that her mum was a Hollywood actress who’s going to come back and save her.

Rob: She was only young as well, but she [00:47:00] was obviously a dramatic child. So she said, yeah, they’re not really our parents, they’re murderers and they’re going to come and get us in the middle of the night. And so they come back in and obviously she’d not thought any more of it. And it’s not the sort of thing that you’re going to ask.

Rob: So most of the time I was confident, that it wasn’t true, but it’s like that kind of thing. Like maybe if you’ve watched a horror film, is it true? Isn’t it true? Is that a noise? So I felt I guess to hedge my bets, I wasn’t sure until I was about 11. And so through that time, I never felt I never felt I could show weakness.

Rob: I felt that would make me unsafe. I felt I always needed to show to be strong. And so what that meant is that I’ve never been emotionally expressive because it didn’t feel safe. So that is. Wired down into my automatic system. And it also means I’ve been uncomfortable about sharing things because things never felt safe to share.

Rob: Like I was never sure what I was supposed to know and what I wasn’t supposed to know. So for example, I got mugged when I was [00:48:00] 15, 16 and it happened that the police were. It was a place where. It was quite a lot of muggings and anyway, we went to court and I had to give evidence. And the police had told me that they were going to tell we were two opposite gangs and I was part of this other gang.

Rob: And I hadn’t, I didn’t know them. We didn’t know each other. And it was a gang thing rather than the mugging. But because the police had told me, When they cross examined me, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to know it, so I was uncomfortable, so I looked shifty and they got off basically because it did look like that, but it was because, it’s that kind of thing. I don’t being overheard, if I’m talking on the phone, I don’t like being overheard because I’m never sure what I’m supposed to reveal, so in that sense it’s probably made it harder for me to connect to people not necessarily close people, but more social. 

Rob: On the other hand, I think the confidence that mum had given me, so I think I had a perfect parenting for confidence because my mum would always like, if other people can do it, you can do it. And she very much had this strong, she’d come over from Ireland.

Rob: She’d been, bullied for her [00:49:00] accent and whatever. And she had this thing of fight and do it. Whereas my dad was much less confident and whatever. But he probably had dyslexia and literacy and he’d come over from his country school in Ireland, where everyone was in like one hall and obviously standards weren’t very high.

Rob: He came over to a Catholic. school in London where the nuns beat them and called him thicc. And I think he probably had dyslexia and stuff. So he was never confident. And he would give me a lot of opportunities. He’d asked me to check his writing and things like that, even when I was young. So I had mum telling me you can do it. I had the strong will that I felt I wanted to do things. I wanted more responsibility. And then I had the dad that let me. do things. Like I remember he was fixing a neighbor’s roof and he let me work it out. He acted like he didn’t know what he was, he clearly did, but he let me figure it out and do it when I was 12, 13.

Rob: So in that sense I had the perfect environment to, to grow up confident. 

Branka: Yeah. And that’s [00:50:00] the fact that confuses so many people because. Even in those situations, so I recognize the first time you mentioned it, but you probably had amazing parents that did encourage you, did see the potential in you, did tell you and offer you this space to actually get your confidence and believe in yourself and pursuing.

Branka: And this is amazing because not all people have that. And not in such extent. So it’s really amazing thing. But what I would outline is that trauma is not connected with the intensity of catastrophe, but it’s connected with how we felt and how we dealt with this situation. So it could be this incident you mentioned that’s took you for quite a while in this internal world and actually made you feel unsafe, despite the logical part knew at some point that [00:51:00] it’s not real, but emotion when you heard this, and it was at that young age. was normal. Of course you wrote and were afraid and you had doubts because those are the people who you trust the most as kids.

Branka: And sister is another human that you are connected to and you, of course it’s confusing. And apart from it, I have a similar sister with certain things like that. So I know I had the same one with spiders. I still have struggle about spiders because of her joke, but let it go. Okay. But what I wanted to say is that Of course that this can be a foundation of certain dynamics you have now in relation because you were definitely left alone in it, and you needed to handle it yourself.

Branka: And in those situations at this age, it’s hard to be your own caregiver. Your own nurture [00:52:00] and to actually explain to yourself, it’s okay. It’s safe because you don’t feel it. And you don’t, even if you want to feel it, you don’t believe it because there are doubts. And this is why emotional experiences are so complex because they are often linked to the situation.

Branka: Many people don’t even remember childhood because it was so traumatic. They deleted everything. But now in adulthood, it’s interesting when they start to understand that there is connection and it’s important to address. You can get certain parts of the story without digging into the pain.

Branka: This is one beautiful part of empowerment because you are not digging into this painful mument, but you are actually exploring. You will like that you’re exploring a mindset of certain emotions. So I believe that every emotion has certain mindset that it’s attached to it based on all those [00:53:00] situations that are affecting it.

Branka: And when you look at this emotion you have, you actually get access to all those thoughts and beliefs and assumptions you have around it. So this is why when we are angry, we have completely different mindsets than when we are happy. Because there are different thoughts, there are different neurons, and it’s different.

Branka: It’s different. The way we build up those mechanisms is the way that are shown and you as your life basically guided you and all those different steps you made, you are well aware of what are your strengths and weaknesses and how you function and how your brain actually operates, how you can support yourself.

Branka: So this is a big one because I always like to say it’s not that I don’t like the fact that people want to resolve all and become this perfect. I don’t know what kind of version they have in mind. Because I fell [00:54:00] in that trap. I wanted to be a perfect mama. I wanted to be a perfect partner and I was a complete perfectionist about it.

Branka: And I almost burned out about it. Because I was not obsessive about who I am and what I am. I was not accepting those mechanisms that helped me survive in certain situations. Even if it was just my drama, my emotional drama in myself, even if it was not something fully traumatical from the outside, it was traumatic for me and it was dramatic for me.

Branka: And it was hard, this acceptance and compassion, it’s so fascinating for me from that aspect because I wanted to make it all right. I wanted to clear it all out and I realized you cannot. For two months, all the things I was doing was crying and doing this and that and I had so many passages and tools and different kinds of techniques to help me, but [00:55:00] I was feeling bored.

Branka: And it was when my partner came and look at me in the eye and said, Darling, I think you need a different strategy. And I was like, what? I’m trying so hard. I’m doing all I can. I cannot do more. Maybe you should do less. What? Even more. But I, as we talked further, I realized it was right. For those two months I had breakthroughs.

Branka: I had wins. But I didn’t acknowledge them. I ignored them completely. I was pushing myself. I was judging myself and I couldn’t be the mum and the partner and the Branka that I wanted to be because I was caught up in all this should and could and why and such. So I celebrate the fact that you know yourself so well, because what you said it’s so amazing because you learn how to balance what you are, how you are, and how you operate in a way.

Branka: And you still know that if you have a [00:56:00] desire or will have a desire in certain time, that you can address even those aspects that are not bad or in any way wrong. They are unique to you. But if you would want, for example, to feel more clarity or gain more clarity around people, is it possible to get there with your step practice. But if you found a way to live with it and to build your life around it so that it doesn’t feel hard for you or stressful, that’s okay. And if it does at some point, you can do something because you have this amazing mindset of I can do it all thanks to your mama.

Branka: Really amazing upbringing. 

Rob: Have so much respect for people that have come from A background where they can’t trust the people they can’t trust their parents or the family. And it, I think that must be so hard to come from a place [00:57:00] that where there was no kind of moral compass.

Rob: Like I used to deal with kids who basically by the time of high school. Had learned never to trust, never to tell the truth not to talk because it wasn’t safe to do and I think, I’ve come across people who have had that kind of background and basically they’ve had no one they can rely on, no one they can trust.

Rob: And it’s very hard. I can’t even comprehend how you would learn to, how to navigate the world. Because if there’s no one you have to, from the start, your whole experience of life is that everyone is untrustworthy. Everyone is unsafe. You’ve got no referential experience to go back on.

Rob: Yet I’ve seen people and some people stay trapped in it and they, Perpetuate it, but others. break free and they like create their own life and they find the environment and people that they can trust and they learn. But it’s so difficult. It must be something that you come across.

Branka: It’s quite common. .

Branka: This is such an important question because [00:58:00] I mentioned this aspect that made me really curious about the fact that people who are miserable as employees as well as leaders. So the other part of the world that was extremely interesting to me, and at the same time fascinating, and I was so curious but did not get answers, is why certain people do bad things.

Branka: Why do they commit a crime? Why do they harm others? Why do they fight? Why a lot of questions because you observe I was happy enough and I was I’m grateful for the fact that in my house it was not fighting beating we I didn’t experience that from my parents yeah there were discipline actions but not in a way of violence and I’m truly grateful for it, but not a lot of people have this privilege. 

Branka: Many people, yeah, raised in a terrible situation. And as, as I sit today, and as I was [00:59:00] learning all those different aspects it made me realize one really big, breakthrough I got from this aspect. So our core need is to be accepted, to be loved, and to be safe.

Branka: And if those are not built up from the start, from the young age, and we don’t get that in any form from our family and our upbringing, we come to the adolescents like you said, with a broken compass inside of us. So first of all, we are not able to even express, show it’s basically poker face in some way.

Branka: And what also happens in those years is that we are starting to connect with peers. You have parents that are strict, that are always blaming, shaming, and basically saying awful things to you. First of all, your mindset is awful. You will have a lot of self hatred. And at the same time I don’t know if [01:00:00] you’re familiar with this phenomenon that what you’re telling your kids, they will become.

Branka: So for example, if you will tell your kids every day that you’re late, they actually over time, this will become true for him. may be a form of self belief, but behavior will adapt to the belief that parents have about children. So those kids have many different harming beliefs about themselves.

Branka: For example, they entered high school, that is where the struggle starts to happen. And you had certain experience like that. So it will be interesting for you to hear this. You either have extreme with people that are not taught from the young age, how to regulate, how to be healthy, motivated, confident, and so on.

Branka: So on one side, you have survival coping mechanisms that goes into people’s pleasing. They are having no boundaries, serving all forgetting about yourself, your own needs, your own happiness, just for [01:01:00] the sake of the peace of the world. Calm environment so that everyone else is okay. So this means that I will be probably safe.

Branka: Those people have enormous empathy that is not genuine care for building relationships. They can learn it, but the basis is rooted in this fear. I need to read the room so that I know if I can mention something, if I can do something, or if I need to hide. So this is one aspect. And those are often those who were Good kids.

Branka: They did things right. They were celebrated. So it’s the other side. They were celebrated for being good. What that does to them is not expressing things that are not so good, not admitting things that are not so good, learning how to cover things, learning how to hate, basically, and Now we come to the other side, the one that you mentioned.

Branka: [01:02:00] So the ones that actually were criticized and were blocked in the expression. The very unique voice was basically shut out from the beginning. So they were not able to express them. They were not able to find their voice. And even more, they have a lot of limiting beliefs, a lot of harming beliefs about themselves in their head.

Branka: And as they are looking for peers, it’s normal, good ones and people pleasing ones, they connect with one group and they are connected and related to one another, and there is a group of bad guys and bad girls who are doing rebellion in one way or another, but they are forming another group that has these tendencies of rebellion.

Branka: And to what extent you go, shows to what extent you feel safe. So I don’t know about you, but I was pretty rebellious. But at the same time, [01:03:00] I had a clear boundary of not harming people, of not doing too much damage for others with this stupid thing. But when things got really bad, too much off so that it would be an actual, I don’t know, criminal offense or something like that.

Branka: I stepped back. I had boundaries and I did not do it despite the fact that I would maybe be excluded. But I had certain relation and connection between our family. I have three sisters and we are quite connected. The same with parents. It was up and down, but they were amazing in so many ways and still are, I have to say, fortunate to say it.

Branka: And what happened is that those kids, they were told all their lives that they are bad. They are Nothing. They are worthless and so on. And now they found a gang and a group that celebrates them, their uniqueness, their voice, their, they are daring, they are saying, and they are acting like [01:04:00] a cool adult because they’re basically copying their parents.

Branka: And they found themselves and they feel accepted in this group, they feel celebrated in this group. And if this is not recognized and addressed soon, they will start to identify themselves as a criminal. I am like that. I’m bad. I’m doing bad things. And at least. I can be celebrated if I do enough strong things.

Branka: So if I will be so stupid or so naive or so daring, the more celebration will be, and people will be excited to hear about it. And this tries for the same emotion to be accepted, to be heard, to be valued for who they are. But as they are not there, Getting back. They can get on this other side and many sad stories are formed with it.

Branka: And here I believe that it’s important factor. Does this kid [01:05:00] meet an adult that sees them and is willing to invest time and energy In this person, because most of the time, those people that had this experience and actually managed to get from the other side, started with personal development, started to explore things where the people who had maybe a teacher who recognized the struggle and started to do with them one by one. And on the other hand, they were maybe parents from a friend or a neighbor or someone outside of their family that gained their trust and actually let them know it’s okay. Let’s do it together.

Rob: That’s really profound because that really explains gang culture which when I’m talking about the school I worked in, that was quite prevalent is now with county lines gangs, which are basically, I don’t know if you have that there or if you’ve heard of it, but it’s basically say drug gangs in [01:06:00] London will come somewhere here, like here.

Rob: Which is out in the country and now get these kind of vulnerable kids and have them basically dealing their stuff and supply them with weapons and drugs and things to, to extend their reach. 

Branka: We don’t have it yet. Not to expand, but yeah it’s present even in Slovenia, 

Rob: I can see a lot of of that happening, but yeah, like you I went to an all boys school and if you go to all boys school, the way that you have, your place in the pecking order is how well you can fight.

Rob: Without having girls, there’s it just becomes about male dominance or whatever. It’s a lot more fighting. And the other school in the town was boys school. So there was always school fights and woodwork and metal work. We used to be people making weapons.

Rob: But I never got into that. I was like, I would spend my time arguing and fighting with school because I didn’t like, I didn’t want to be in school. I didn’t see it as a, my identity. So I was never going to get caught up in that. And equally then [01:07:00] when we as you’re older and you’re going out, everyone was getting into fights and there was always this kind of, I don’t know, I don’t know if it’s anger or proving yourself or something, but I never Lost myself in that.

Rob: And I never, yeah, I just never had that need. But when you’re talking about 

Branka: Because you had strong foundation. 

Branka: You had a foundation of safety and acceptance at home. So you were, you were basically looking for a way to connect. If you wanted to connect, yeah, you had to have certain fights. You have to engage in certain ways that the boys did, and it’s healthy to some degree that, yeah, you need to test your power and such.

Branka: It’s what the masculine energy needs in some way, but where is the limit and where it goes beyond it? That is the challenge where we go into, like I said, billing and fighting and shooting and all the other. really serious crimes and stuff that are sad. 

Rob: Yeah. I think that’s why I went into [01:08:00] boxing because, I think I was the only one who didn’t have a criminal record.

Rob: I felt it was a way of, proving yourself, but without having the ramifications that would come.

Rob: So going back to that I don’t know if you’ve ever come across the work of Dr Mario Martinez. 

Branka: I don’t recall the name. So tell me what she was what it was all about.

Rob: Basically he says that everyone has a core wound from childhood and they have one of three wounds. And those are abandonment, betrayal. or shame and the wound that you have will manifest in different ways and it requires different types of healing and for him, healing is within the relationship.

Rob: So if you’ve been shamed, you have to be honored. If you’ve been betrayed, you have to be not trusted, but you have to, yeah be made trustworthy or be in an environment where you can 

Branka: trust You can trust yeah, 

Rob: And if you’re abandoned you need to be in a relationship that shows loyalty. It’s really interesting, but quite a good frame for Looking at how someone behaves [01:09:00] now and linking it back to where, what happened and what was the most dominant wound that you have from childhood.

Rob: And to show that kind of field of how you heal it. 

Rob: So in your work now, What does that look like? Who are the type of people that come up, show up? What are the symptoms that might trigger them to reach out to you? What does it look like when you’re working with them? And maybe what are the benefits that people typically see?

Branka: Yeah, so the most often is Maybe the leader may be people who are fully committed to the career. Some are entrepreneurs, like it said today, or even creative type. The reason they are coming, it’s actually emotional frustration. So not being able to stop reaction, not being able to manage stress.

Branka: And not being able to achieve clarity. Those are typically the three top ones and, [01:10:00] exhaustion that is in the middle. And what is basically the biggest reason is. It is sad, and I hope that I will get to the point that people decide to reach out faster. Because with emotions, it’s often like that.

Branka: You don’t get to the point when you start looking at it before you hit the wall. And usually this wall is Either health crash bankruptcy, losing a job, losing a partner, family. So it’s a big crash in life that shows you, Oh my God, everything is crazy, confused, and I don’t know what to think. So usually those people have certain backgrounds, certain knowledge around mindset and those tips that are so prevalent, how to be productive and how to manage stress.

Branka: They know it intellectually, but they do not know how to embody it. So they may have [01:11:00] had training, they may have had presentations, courses, and so on. But the problem is that when the amygdala shuts, it’s over. And it’s connected with disappointment, with a lot of guilt, a lot of shame. This is why this model is interesting.

Branka: And I will look it up. I did not hear about it. And I would love the reference because I wanted to check it. So yeah, it’s a lot of shame. It’s a lot of guilt. It’s a lot of anger. It’s a lot of frustration that are connected with it. So that I, that they are not even able to confront what is happening because a lot of judgment is put on them by them.

Branka: Not even by the outside, but inside. So it’s interesting that. At first, compassion was not even a pillar or important part of this empowerment as I saw it, because for me, to some degree, it’s natural. I was always natural empath and I have [01:12:00] this way of offering space of not judgment.

Branka: I, I heard a lot of it from people because they I like to say that we are all humans and yeah, we all make certain things and we all mess up certain things. But at the end of the day, who am I to judge you? I respect you and I’m honored to hear your story. And I’m not hearing it to judge you, but I’m hearing it to help you uncover it and understand it.

Branka: So it’s quite interesting that when we start the session, we are all formal and all those typical like you would read LinkedIn posts. What can I do with this? What can I do? I struggle with this to struggle with this. And with a few interactions, we start to go

Branka: It’s often that they try to share one thing that it’s not so clear, comfortable and they see that many times I hear for the first time, I’m accepted. I feel accepted. I feel heard and not judged. So this makes it that we go similar that [01:13:00] we did. So we get really fast through the talk about emotion to the story, that are layered that they know already about, but they don’t have a map how to put them together, how to learn from them. 

Branka: So the basic structure of coaching is that we have three months for our program. Once a week is a session. And this session actually combines Self leadership, human connection, compassion, and mindfulness.

Branka: And what that means, actually, it’s a halfway exploration of who you are and how to lead yourself. The person actually realizes the strengths, the weaknesses. Like I said, you, you are amazing in those areas. You understand yourself, you know yourself, you know how you operate and you know how to get yourself into certain situations, certain actions as I perceive you. So many people [01:14:00] struggle on that and they want to improve their living. But at the same time, the struggle internally of what it actually means to lead others and what is this that it’s important to address. And the most shocking one is often that they are the most common aspect they want to resolve is communication.

Branka: And we almost always come to all this emotional background that makes communication hard. So here is, yeah. Self control, self management, awareness, actually recognizing what is happening and calming yourself down, building up response, healthy response, empowered response, and it’s basically combined. Let me go to the first one.

Branka: I said a little bit. So human connections really about boundaries about respecting others, how to build trust and actually believe that can be built. How to communicate in a way. So for leaders, [01:15:00] struggle is big with feedback, with difficult information, with a colleague you like, but you have to let go or something like that.

Branka: So how to handle this internal situation you have in those muments so that you can actually use all those things that you read about on LinkedIn. Because even if we have it logically, When you are caught up, you should, and it’s really foundational. So first understanding why, what and how all happened.

Branka: On the brain level, on the body level, how to recognize how to basically identify triggers and when this part is clear, so when this part is basically covered to the point that the person realizes the personal role and personal responsibility, we can get to the point of exploring self compassion and mindfulness.

Branka: And even though I said it like that, [01:16:00] I have to say self compassion is combined that we even make it to this level, because it’s often hard to admit to yourself certain things about your communication, about your internal struggles and such. So self compassion is basically the glue that holds all together because every time a person will start to apologize, judge themselves, or in any way, try to apologize for things. I will remind them, it’s okay, relax, have compassion towards yourself. You didn’t know better. You’re here to learn how to do it. And it’s amazing because You see how people are afraid of expressing how people are afraid of sharing and how afraid they are that this will be used as a weapon.

Branka: It’s really sad. But then the other side, the beautiful part is that by the end of the, this program, I remind them of this compassion part so many times [01:17:00] that it stays with them and they are able to actually stop themselves like I stopped them. This comes together. So one way of this new communication internal is formed through the experience they have.

Branka: On the other side, we also do practice of mindfulness. So learning how to be mindful, a lot of people still don’t know. And even I struggled for years, between I knew what was the mindfulness and actually did it. So we get those foundations and then this mindfulness is really supporting everything because You probably know when you’re grounded in the present, you’re most capable of addressing things.

Branka: You’re most capable of getting clearly a result. Basically, the only thing we have is now. And the more we get back to it, the more we see. For example, in the sessions, it will happen that The person will fly too much in the past or in the future and so on. It will be reminded that the energy [01:18:00] you’re losing energy because you’re going too far.

Branka: Let’s focus on what is happening right now. What is right now? Because what I want with this empowerment coaching to achieve it’s like I said before, not digging to Get all the pain, but to actually address what is happening what is present in your world right now and work with that. If we address just one aspect, it’s never just one, but because when we start to address one, it’s connected with many different ones.

Branka: But when we get to the end of those three months, Client actually gets the roadmap, they have experience and the process they can go through for any situation. And big helping part is also Map of Power. I also have ebook available for free on my profile. In a featured section. It’s basically a roadmap.

Branka: I made it very visual and clear so that you can see actually [01:19:00] how, what is the process to get from the survival mode to basically empowered mode, empowered action, calmness and such. It’s based on the neuroscience and emotional intelligence combined, how our body works and how all of this is connected.

Branka: And the link to the other side is basically credit. And it’s well explained. The feedback I got, it’s really simple, it’s clear. And it’s on the point of what information we need. Like with everything we do on coaching and as well with this information I share or you find in this book or in my book, Human Empower Yourself, which is representation of what I mean and what I believe about empowerment.

Branka: Those informations are useful and will help you when you start coaching. Doing the work. So only knowing is one part, but regular exercise and regular investments, daily investments are [01:20:00] key. So you will not get with me a lot of homework and write up, I don’t know, three pages or such. No, you have one small step and committed the whole week.

Branka: And it’s building those small foundations. From my experience, it doesn’t go any other way. If you start too big, you will be disappointed. You will quit sooner or later because you don’t have that much capacity, you don’t have that much of the faith of will, whatever it is. So that’s basically the process and the end result that it’s the most commonly shared is basically having clarity around what is happening despite being stressed. So noticing when the stress is coming and feeling this sense of control. I know what to do. I know how to handle it. Sometimes you need 15 minutes. Sometimes you need 30 minutes. Sometimes you need five minutes. But just this knowledge that I know how to handle it.

Branka: And I know I will not be [01:21:00] drowning in this for, I don’t know, three, four days. It’s a big one. Another one is basically more energy. This is quite instant because after two, three sessions, people report that they finally realized how fast you can regain energy with mindfulness does that. So it’s really an energetic level.

Branka: They lose guilt and shame around self care. So prioritizing self care is a big part because I wanna look at life in holistic way and we all know that we need to care for ourselves, but we feel guilty to set up the time and dedicate to it and even more. Not just not feeling guilty for taking the time, but also not overthinking when you do, because I don’t know about you, but the experience is often that you do find time and you do dedicate.

Branka: But you will do something and you will take care of yourself and invest this time. But when you’re doing it you’re [01:22:00] constantly thinking about job or other problems or other things you need to do after that. How much is the hour? Am I two minutes late? So it’s anxious, it’s anxiety in action because we feel uncertain about the future.

Branka: And about what will happen because we took one hour or 30 minutes off. So this guilt removal or guilt understanding, I would say, because I never teach to remove or delete emotions. I actually unlearned that from what previous coaches did. A lot of people learn that you need to delete all emotions and just accept all the beautiful ones and the high level ones.

Branka: I support that. It’s amazing when you train yourself enough that you are able to elevate on those levels, but until you are human in the situations that are, that those feelings come up, feel them, accept them, let them go. Because if you don’t, you will explode sooner or later. And many times this is [01:23:00] the reason why they come.

Branka: The last I would outline is basically improved relationship. May it be with co workers, may it be with partners, may it be with a team. For those who are leaders, because you know that when someone starts to become aware of them, of their communication, of their sensations, they change the way they communicate, the way they relate, the way they respond, and it’s quite obvious.

Branka: Those three months are the period when those changes are slowly implemented. And there is struggle on the leader’s side. Insecure, not confident enough frustrated because still I went to the same pattern again, and I still shouted, Okay, but did you stop? Yeah, congratulations. Did you breathe?

Branka: Yeah, congratulations. But I still shouted, okay, you know it, congratulations. And they are looking at me like, what? But this is the journey. Yeah, one month [01:24:00] ago, you didn’t even realize it. You didn’t even know that you can stop. You didn’t even allow yourself to stop. So why you would judge yourself because the last step is not winnable at the mument.

Branka: And also the team, for example, it responds differently. Because maybe they are not trusting, maybe they are frustrated still, maybe they are confused, maybe they want to basically be that bad guy that will do it like that. Are you for real? Is this real? When will it explode? And all sorts of characters are in the film.

Branka: And we also learn and explore this aspect of unique personalities. In the group diversity, so how to basically embrace the fact that every team member is different, make a strategy that they know them better. A lot of times they don’t know anything outside of what they do. And even that sometimes questionable.

Branka: So that they understand [01:25:00] because some people they 

Branka: like to tease. And if they are like that and you’re their leader and you know that fact, it’s easier to let go of that feeling when it happens because you know that it’s not personal to you, but it’s their form of handling this situation.

Branka: Many situations. It’s like that. First of all, it’s a little more confusing because all those changes, just like when you start setting boundaries, you feel guilty. You feel guilty. Frustrated at the same time, people are reacting, they are resenting and so on. So it’s a protest and breaking that.

Branka: I remind them basically on every session, at least three times to be patient, to be self compassionate, to be one step at a time and celebrate your wins. So those are the mantra, I would say. 

Rob: Sounds a powerful program. 

Branka: Thank you. 

Rob: It makes sense to me. So for example, I’d never connected this story I told you about my older sister. It was [01:26:00] when I first looked at public speaking. So today is the 99th episode of this podcast, but it was originally a relationship one. And one of the very early podcasts was with a speaking coach. And she has this philosophy of psychology of the voice. And she will listen to you and she will tell you basically what your story is. So I interviewed her and I went on her podcast and she she was like, you’re just so closed off. She said, you like, you know what he’s talking about? You’re rock solid about what you talk about, but you won’t let anyone in.

Rob: You won’t show anything. And so I told her the story. So it was really where I connected that in having to speak, I think the fear of public speaking is the fear of revealing yourself. And then you have to confront the shame and all the hidden things, the self judgment and all of that in relationships.

Rob: So I’ve always taught that when a couple meets, there’s a breaking point of their [01:27:00] relationship and that is set and that is their operating model where their operating models meet where they become challenged enough. There’s the point where the relationship is going to break unless they adapt and change those operating models that’s where the why the relationship will break.

Rob: And then I think the other area you talked about was leadership. And so obviously I’ve come from a personal background of happiness, stress relationships, conflicts, and now teams. And now I’m looking more at leadership from the perspective of how does, Leadership interact on people. How is it going to work on the psychology of people?

Rob: And leadership is really I think the current model of leadership is asking people to be superhuman. And it’s asking them to be 100 percent together. And so I can see. How this is going to be beneficial because first time managers fail 60 isn’t it on the first two years and I think they fail because not because of the technical competencies, but because the jump to emotional [01:28:00] of how people are viewing them of being able to say those difficult things, all of that stuff is too challenging.

Rob: And I think often we haven’t recognized the emotional leap that it takes and the emotional growth that is needed in order to have the technical competencies to lead. So I can see in those three areas where everyone. It’s where we become challenged. Are you familiar with the hero’s journey?

Rob: And I think that’s the call to adventure. The ordinary world is where you’re a competent specialist or technician, and then the new world is becoming a leader and where you’ve got to face the belly of the beast and the fears. And you’ve got to challenge yourself in that arena before you can grow.

Rob: The hero’s journey is. In films, it’s always like Luke Skywalker fighting the galactic empire, whatever they are or the matrix or, Neo doing that or Harry Potter or whatever, but the real journey is their self doubt. The real journey [01:29:00] is their before they conquer the empire or whoever it is, they have to conquer their self doubt that they can do it.

Rob: And I think that’s what you’re giving to people that emotional growth, which like you say, a lot of people have never had the role model. No one ever talks about it and it’s very new. I think Daniel Goleman’s book came out when I was at university. I was born. 

Branka: in that year. 

Rob: 93 was when I set up my gym. No, 93, 93. Yeah, the end of 93. And yeah, I went back to I, because of my rebellion, I never wanted to go to university. And I went back late. And yeah, so I was, I went back when my daughter was born. She’s probably just a couple of years younger than you. So yeah, that’s making me feel old now.

Branka: I have to say it because I want, I don’t perceive you old at all.. No, 

Rob: so don’t I don’t perceive me as old. Like you see people you grew up with and you let me go. Oh my god, we’re old, but I never feel it. But [01:30:00] Okay, that’s good.

Rob: Yeah. 

Rob: Yes, so it’s a new subject and I think there’s so much challenge in leadership that I think where everyone needs to have that journey. I don’t like to prescribe. I always, I was around at the beginning of coaching. Or I didn’t say the beginning of coaching, but I learned from Thomas Leonard, who was like ICF and all of that.

Rob: And their whole mantra was everyone needs a coach and my instinctive rebellion thing is no, they don’t, you can’t prescribe for everyone. And I think everyone finds it in their own way, but having said that, I think for a lot of people, an efficient and effective way is to have a guide, someone like yourself who can save you the shortcuts and that process.

Rob: I’ve loved the conversation. I could go on so many more ways, but we need to wrap up. So if someone is in on, is on that journey looking to for a guide and I think from our conversation, you are clearly a competent, compassionate, and someone who can [01:31:00] guide people through that journey. How should they reach out to you?

Branka: The easiest way is LinkedIn. This is, this has become my main channel. Because having Facebook and websites and so on, it was too overwhelming for me because I’m not that creative in technology. And yeah, I love real life and nature and gardening. LinkedIn and on LinkedIn I also have email address if it’s preferred methods.

Branka: No worries. Send me an email and we can talk further. Okay. 

Rob: That is the place. And you also have your ebook and your book. 

Branka: Yeah, they are also in the feature section. So this ebook I mentioned is a map of power. This is free. It’s basically a lead magnet. So yeah, it’s not free for your email. Sorry. But on the other side, I have a book called human empower yourself.

Branka: So it’s a book is available on Amazon. It’s a small price for it. And [01:32:00] it’s Basically a great roadmap to show this philosophy behind my work.

Branka: And at the same time, it offers a lot of little nuggets that really can empower you and set you off to true self compassion and basically drive to go further. That’s it. And the last thing I would mention is that I’m building the online course leading with emotional intelligence. The pre order is open already.

Branka: It’s in the building phase, so I will not get the deadline right now. But the main Point of this course is not giving you a lot of knowledge because you have internet, you have chat GPT and all the other stuff that you can get all the information or just open up LinkedIn and type in emotional intelligence.

Branka: So my main goal with this course is that leaders have Emotional first aid toolbox. So this will be the section where you will find [01:33:00] 10 tools that are basically based on neuroscience, emotional intelligence and other Paths of science that are combined, and it’s actually a road map, step by step process, how to use them so that you that they can be trained and used in a certain way.

Branka: It will be supported with video guidance for those who would want to learn more about the process and how to implement it for those who like just lines you have it. There will be some part of education, but really this is not my main focus. So I will outline those facts that were the most important aspects of my learning.

Branka: So that I went from I know it to I do it. This gap was big and I struggled a lot. I will not lie. It was not easy. And I understand that. So those aspects of how our brain works, how our heart expresses and so on, those will be explained but not in a classical way, [01:34:00] because those informations are all over the place, but people still don’t know how to implement, how to use.

Branka: So this is why the Third section actually will have tips and tricks on spot here with the leaders to find different situations that are happening in leadership. So for example, communication troubles, feedback, conflicts a lot of big days, hyper and over those different reasons that emotional intelligence can.

Branka: And in those sections, later we’ll find which tools can help, what are possible reasons for it, and how they can address it from inside out. And here is connection to the last pillar. And model. This is off spot. So on spot is, for example, in the office, in the business, in the relationship, whatever it is, because many things from this course are also applicable to other relationships.

Branka: But I want to focus it on leadership for now. So this one is off spot. That means [01:35:00] time for yourself. So when you have time for self care, what can you do? So practice of mindfulness, of reflection of meditation, I will share how I got to the point that I was even able to meditate because I struggled a lot with it.

Branka: It was hard for me, and it also had different roots in this emotional mechanism. So basically I want to express and share. How I got to basically understand and use those aspects so that they actually benefit me, not just my brain select an ego. I know it. I know it, but to actually do it. So this is something I’m building.

Branka: You’re invited to check it out. The offer page is still not so made up. So this is the best example explanation besides the posts I’m doing, but I don’t want to force things. I, but I strongly believe that this is something that people need, the leaders need that the business world needs, [01:36:00] and I want to build it and share it.

Branka: So if anyone’s interesting also in my feature section, and you can pre order it right now and have it secured. So that I believe it is. Okay, 

Rob: sounds fantastic. Thank you for the therapy. Thank you for the conversation. It’s been fascinating. And yeah, I’ve really enjoyed it and time’s flown by. 

Branka: As a compliment, I enjoyed it. It was really fascinating and I didn’t know that we were going so many ways, but I’m so passionate about this and it’s really such an important topic for many people around the globe. So I hope that many will decide and see this, listen to it and gain some wisdom, some value from it.

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