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Barbara Vercruysse is a coach, spiritual mentor, thought leader, and public speaker. As she overcome life challenges and survived Stage 4 skin cancer at the age of 32, she decided to live her second life to the fullest 

So after running a successful 6-figure construction business for 18 years, she dedicates herself to her true passion now: guiding people through a deep transformation. She supports people around the world in leading a fulfilled life, creating impact and success by living and leading with love.

One of her clients is BMW where she operates as a Quality Manager and Business Coach, she is responsible for screening all business processes and guiding people to perform optimally in their job.

Having worked and still working with several coaches and mentors herself, she knows the transformative power of a personal coach. Once you open yourself up to being coached, you begin to receive the same advantages enjoyed by great actors and athletes everywhere, you grow so much stronger and you become more responsible for changing yourself.

Empowering people, supporting them in taking their lives to the next level, sharing love, wisdom, and compassion, have become her life mission.

Barbara is a Certified Master Life Coach, Business Coach and recently founded her own online school ‘Barbara’s School of Wisdom’. She was published in the Huffington Post and wrote the book: ‘7 Most Powerful Techniques to Release Stress’. She was selected for the ThoughtLeaderSchool founded by Bryant McGill and is part of the selection committee of Peaceprize.org. She has reached millions with her weekly Inspirational Talks on different social platforms.

https://www.facebook.com/startthelifeofyourdreams/

http://www.startthelifeofyourdreams.com/

https://barbaras-school-of-wisdom.com/

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How Barbara Overcome Life Challenges

Pamela Bardhi
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of underdog today we have a very special guest, Barbara. Hello, Barbara. How are you?

Barbara
Hello, Pamela. So glad to be here, joy and a pleasure to be here today.

Pamela Bardhi
It’s such an honor to have you. I love your story, your spirit, and everything about you. So I can’t wait to talk further with you and learn more about you and your journey today.

Barbara
Okay,

Pamela Bardhi
Yay. So I always say you know, the framework is, where you’ve been, where you are, and sort of where you’re going. And I always leave it up to you where you like to start?

Barbara
Maybe where I am now. Yes, and how I got there. I am a very accomplished fulfilled woman of 50 years old. Running a successful business, who has different pillars, part of his is business coaching for BMW part, personal coaching, an online school, and I have some a webshop with physical products. Mom of three happily married for more than 20 years. But that hasn’t always been like that.

So this morning, I was looking in the mirror. I was watching myself and I said, Barbara, the older you get, the more beautiful you get and that’s my spirit. It’s in every morning every day. I feel like shining and sharing more. And it’s you could say wow, Barbara Wow. Yes. But it took me many hardships, many challenges, many tears to get here. And without the hardships without the tears, you know, like I cried a sea of tears in my life, a sea of tears.

But the hardships, the challenges, the pain in overcoming it you blossom. If you have the courage, you know, like to every time again, get up again and say, Okay, we’ll learn from it. What is the lesson here? What’s the blessing here? how horrible the situation might be at that moment. And it makes you sometimes compare people. We are like unpolished diamonds and hardships polish us.

Pamela Bardhi
Yes.

Barbara
If I can tell you, Pamela, if I would never have had any challenge, I would have become an arrogant blonde bitch. I know.

Pamela Bardhi
It’s true.

Barbara
That the hardships got me on my knees and humble.

Pamela Bardhi
Yeah,

Barbara and The Power of Her Positive Thinking

Barbara
The hardships got me on my knees and more compassion for myself, and for others. So 50 years old now. But 18 years ago, there was an enormous turning point in my life. And I was diagnosed with stage four skin cancer. I was running a construction business at that time. I was a young mom of three. And my youngest was all only a few weeks old. So, a black spot on my knees was discovered just after my youngest was born.

And in the beginning, I wouldn’t even go to the doctor because you’re running a business with three small kids, your husband is combining two jobs, you know, like, you’re in the middle of that enormous, like that building. And that’s from morning till night. That’s babies business, you even have barely time to reflect on your life. You’re just happy that you’re getting your bed at night, and you have five, six hours of sleep that’s already like a victory.

I wouldn’t even go to the doctor and my husband was like, Ooh, that black spot on your knee. It’s bleeding late, like, honey, you have to go and I was like, No, I have no time. Eventually, I promised my husband, I went to the doctor. It was a little surgery like run spot, and he was very chill about it. We’ll send it to the laboratory and they will just check it out. You will get a result in 10 days.10 days later, I got a call from the surgeon who took away the spot, but I didn’t remember his name. So he says, Hello, I’m Dr. Rhonda, Patrick M. and I was like, Who? I was at the office Monday morning. And he says, Well, we got two results, and it doesn’t look good.

The first moment was, he is mistaken. I’m not the person he wants to talk to. I don’t know what you’re talking about. He says you know, remember, 10 days ago, you came to cutaway? I was like, Oh, yes. And he says you have to come to the hospital immediately. Immediately, I have no time. You have to come and you have to take your husband with you. Still, I didn’t believe it, I said can we come later, He said lady, it is melanoma and it doesn’t look good. I have melanoma, he didn’t want to say it on the phone. But I almost make him tell how bad the situation was. And we went to the hospital.

Then it started a week of tests, two surgeries, and a year of chemotherapy.  I was told in the early beginning I had metastasis in my lymph nodes. I was told I have practically six months more to live. So you’re 32 years old, three little kids. Your husband is almost his fault that he will be a widower soon. So that’s a huge shock. And first night in hospital, just like the hardships and first night in the hospital was so tough. For me most of all, as a young mom, you’re very used to like have always a baby or a toddler, who have to warm you, you know, they always need you. And there you are alone.

For the first time in years, I was alone in a room. Nobody around me. I’m here in the hospital. The first thing I taught, I miss my babies and I started crying. And I made a shift. I was like, Okay, my babies are so small. They do not realize what’s happening. My oldest was three years and a half. I had one of two years and a half and a newborn. They were with my parents-in-law. So I was thinking they are surrounded with love and care. So I was like, it’s no use crying for them. And then the next thought was like, Barbara, what is the thing you can do right now to help yourself.

I promised myself that I would not allow any negative talk or any depressing thoughts in my head. It was the only thing I had control over my health. I had to surrender to the doctors. And I had full trust in the doctors, but my mind was under my control. And I was very well aware that negativity and depressed thoughts would wreak in me.

I knew that staying positive would strengthen me. That was the first thing that you know, it was like a surprise. Maybe it was the hormones from the pregnancy. I don’t know, The youngest was a few weeks. So I had a like a tigress, a mom who’s like, I’m going to survive to see my kids grow up. That was so permanent in my head. On the first day’s people come to visit you in the hospital, everybody’s crying. And my husband cried nonstop, he’s very emotional. He is more like an Italian type of a very emotional family man. And I had to stop my parents, there’s nobody, not one person will enter this room and cry.

I’m not dead, I’m not dead yet. And I’m not going to waste my energy in pumping you up. I said, No tears. If you want to cry, go outside, not here. Here, I want to see smiling faces, I want to feel the warmth, the love. Just tell me random things, what’s happening outside these hospital walls. I had to kind of educate them. There were even people who were almost shocked. But I said, stop because there is a kind of people like, Oh, my God, Barbara, are you okay? oh, how horrible. What’s happening to you, you know, you see how I’m going? It’s as if they’re trying on the drama and the negativity. And I would say stop, and they wanted to hear all about my surgeries and the pain.

I’m not going to repeat the pain I went through. Because if I repeat that, I relive it. I don’t want that. So what you speak, what you think is so powerful, who you surround yourself with. And these are like main life lessons. Those are not only for people who have cancer, it’s for your everyday life. Watch the words you speak, because they become your reality. And sometimes people don’t get it. What do you mean words become reality? Well, if you say, if I look at the mirror every morning, and I say, Oh, my God, I’m getting old. Look at these floppy arms. No, I look and I say, Barbara, the older you get, the more beautiful you get. Because it’s not about my skin and my body, Pamela, it’s my spirit. If my spirit is shining, no age counts.

Pamela Bardhi
Mm-hmm. Amen to that.

Barbara
It’s the spirit within you. So it’s not and I don’t have anything special. Maybe I had the courage to learn from every hardship. So there was, first of all, as the focus on the positive thoughts. I had all those weeks, those months in hospital, thinking about my legacy. Because if you’re faced with death, I was like, Oh, so if this is really true, and I’m dead at the end of the year, and 32 am I happy with the life I’m looking back at? The answer was no. I was not happy. And why? Until that moment, most of the time, I had lived up to the expectations of others. I had based my choices on what I thought would be good. What do theyexpect from me?

I chose a business that my parents that I thought, okay. If I’m like, what so many people have, you are born, you go to school, you go to college, you married a job, you retire, you die, but the passion, and you could say, what your soul is here for people never listen because they only hear the noise of the world. But they never listened to insight to the whispers of the soul, which are fairly quiet. We have to become so to hear them. Yeah, it’s so easy to only listen to your parents, you know, well, oh, you start getting a business? Or are you going to do that job? Are you sure? Oh my god, you have to get a degree.

All those voices brainwashed us every day that we need a certain size of a house to become happy, a certain size of a car, a certain kind of family, a certain kind of title. And those bring happiness, the biggest lie ever. Those will never bring happiness. Because there are people living on the streets in India, who are happy just with a handful of rice every day. So they don’t even need the car. They don’t need a title. So we are brainwashed that happiness is outside us. It’s somewhere we have to run to. Everybody has to run to someplace for that to happen.

No, stop it. Yes, just become quiet and listen. What is it that makes your heart sing? That spark? What is that seed that has been planted in your heart that you have to water and let blossom? And for me it’s you know, it’s easy for me to say it now but it’s like 25 years of self-development inner work.

Now after I recovered from cancer, I  still run my construction business and started following coaching certification courses.  I felt like that is something guiding people have been doing that naturally, you know, like I was the person in the entire family people call to when they had like problems. So I did it naturally, I was like, Okay if that’s just who I am listening and seeing from a certain perspective, and always seeing the spark that most people don’t see anymore because they covered it with so many beliefs about how they should be that they don’t see like, what’s my purpose, what’s my spark, and help them find that and support and encourage.

And so, I took courses, went to retreats, conferences and started a coaching business as a side business. In 2016, I was still running my construction business, because I wanted to end that beautifully and life decided otherwise, I was betrayed by two employees. And I ended up with almost $200,000 of debt. I was 46 years old.  I had a bad moment and I was talking to God. Like, seriously, I survived the stage four cancer to end up here.

That day, I had a call from the bank, which wanted to sell a private home. We would practically become homeless. I was like, Oh, my God how did we end up here? And, you know, like having that conversation, like, seriously? So what’s the lesson here? That’s what I was asking myself. So what in this horrible situation? What’s the lesson, and I got like, something that came over me, and told me, Barbara, whether tomorrow, you are homeless or not, you are a good and birdie person, anyway. And I was like, Oh, my God, all those years, I had been identifying myself with the business, the big car, the beautiful house, even if I didn’t really realize that I was attached to it.

Now in being taken, almost being taken and everything away, was like, Oh, my God, even without living on the streets.  It will still be a good purse. And we got protected against bankruptcy. Now, all those troubles are over, I had an opportunity from BMW to work with them. In the beginning, work below my level, that I said, Yes, I had to swallow my pride. I worked as a contractor, just more administration work. But if you have an intrinsic value, it boils up. So after two months, they told me, oh, could you do quality management first? Oh, could you do the customer board? and within six months, I was part of the management team there. The first weeks, all I could think of is I have to make money, I have to make money I have to make I have to get out of this.

Now, like five years later, it’s still a big part of my business, my work with BMW, I have my personal coaching clients, the feeling inside me is the most powerful feeling. Because in life, I know you have ups and downs now. Nothing is forever and nothing is sure. Tomorrow, something can happen, that my house is taken away, my car is taken away. But the most, the most important thing will never be taken away. And what is that? knowing that I can bring value.

So that’s why I’m here. My childhood was quite rough, but it made me stronger. So if you use every difficulty as fuel, you know, like as fuel to become better. And at the same time, I didn’t, I became a lot stronger, but I’m still it’s still a very, you could say soft person or compassionate person. It’s not like I became heartless or bitter or rude? I would never, I always preserved. I was very conscious about that, preserving that sunshine, that ray of sunshine, however dark it was. And I have learned, people say, Oh my god, Barbara, you don’t see the darkness, you don’t see the evil in the world, you’re too positive. I say, no, the darkness is an invitation for you to be the light.

Pamela Bardhi
Absolutely. You know, what I really love about you is in your moments that people would lose their minds. in that hospital bed, you were still, you still had the strength to tell people like Hey, no crying,

Barbara
no cry, no crying, that doesn’t help me

Pamela Bardhi
It’s like so I can’t get over that. You know, that just tells me how strong your spirit is and your soul, that you’re able to say, now we’re gonna shift our mentality, people is going to do that even when you’re not sick, let alone when you know when you are sick.

Barbara
Well, I grew up with a chronically depressed mom and she was also an alcohol addict at that time. Now she fully recovered. And I could see as a child, it learned me so much. How people who are chronically depressed, who are addicted, always use their circumstances to pull themselves down. If someone said a word, they will take it wrongly and say you see, I’ve heard nothing. And I have the best. I love my mom dearly, we have a very good connection, we went through a whole circle of like, deep forgiving, and she’s sober for four years. So very healed relationship now that we went through a lot.

And seeing that, as a child, you know, as you observe. I’m passionate about human behavior. Just observing as a child seeing, oh, my God, this time, it’s my dad who said something wrong, or it’s the kids who bothered her. She lived a trauma as a child, a very, very heavy trauma. And in a time, where there was no psychologist, nobody helped her. So I understand now where she came from, and she did the best she could every time. But it opened my eyes, it opened my eyes. It made me so much stronger. That’s why I said in every hardship in every difficult situation, there is an opportunity for growth. Yes, take it, take it.

Pamela Bardhi
Yes.

Barbara
Blaming and complaining never helped anyone. If you read biographies of people we all admire, whether it’s Gandhi, Mandela, Benjamin Franklin, all the speed of all this, they all went too deep into deep trouble, real hardship. But it’s those moments, those leadership skills that come up, yes, they’re courageous choices to say no. You know, like, just having that strong vision for your life. And since coming out of the hospital, I was really like, what do I want to, I’m really very conscious about what I’m doing, and the brand that I’m creating, and it’s based on two values. And I would invite everybody who has a business to really think about that the values which are very important for me, do I carry that through in my business?

For me, I’m a free spirit. So freedom, then love and wisdom. I always look based on love and wisdom in everything that I bring into the world. It’s love and wisdom and I think it’s something I do with my coaching clients to like pour down your two or three core values in life, those core values, and look at it. Do you have it in your relationships? Do you have it in your business? Is it in your self-development because it’s very easy to be and there are many of them so-called coaches who can say, but I always look at the life are they happily married? How is their relationship with their nearest ones, how do they relate to their parents, to their sisters, brothers, to their children? Are those relationships healed and powerful?

I think that’s very, very important. My husband and I know each other for 25 years and we have gone through very difficult times. Very difficult. There are moments that I wanted to you know, just run away. But we grew through it, we grew to it. We had the courage to face it because I think we are very miss taught also in relationships, especially in romantic relationships. We are taught to find that Prince.

Pamela Bardhi
Yeah,

Barbara
There’s no Prince, we all have luggage. So you come, you marry and I was like, Oh, my God, my husband, and I put them on that pedestal. And I serve them, love them and I pamper them. He was like, he is astrology. He’s a Leo. So he was like, Oh, my God, I love to stop. I’m served. This is wonderful. I just enjoyed it. And I was waiting, and there’s like, those expectations, those things unsaid.

For me, I have to learn that those expectations are the worst things. You can have that acceptance of who he is, but also learn to take care of yourself. It’s not my husband, who is responsible for my happiness. I am. And that was a long journey to learn that, because we are taught, my husband has to make me happy, my children have to make me happy. I have to be happy and be a role model. And in being joyful, your relationship just changes.

Pamela Bardhi
Right? Right.

Barbara
I know it’s not, like, in having that self-growth. It’s not forever, some people grow. So in such a way that their partner cannot follow. And that’s okay, too. Sometimes that happens, a breakup. I was lucky enough that my husband and I, you know, like at 50 years, we are more in love than ever. It’s the love of it’s that acceptance, and that knowing, like, all as well, even if we have discussions, and even sometimes in the kitchen, it’s loud. And we, you know, there’s yelling, and the undercurrent is so powerful and loving.

Pamela Bardhi
Wow. I love that. And you’re about to celebrate your 25 years. Congratulations.

Barbara
Thank you. Thank you. I can hardly imagine. I only feel 25% of my heart. Oh, oh, but I think that that’s one of the biggest teachers, like your closest relationships. How do you relate to the people you are with every day? Are you being that example? That you know, like, want to be the very top of our show to be? Where are you in every human encounter? Are you embodying what you talk about? most difficult thing? Because we’re working progress.

Pamela Bardhi
Right? And that’s tough, too. Because when you’re forced to reflect, you’re like, Oh, am I being who I want to be out here, you know, with my closest people, you know, and you have to almost check yourself. But that comes with being conscious, like you said, you need to be aware because if you’re not aware of your life choices and your decisions, your subconscious mind will take over for you.

Barbara
Absolutely and it still does, now when I get overloaded with work. When I get stressed, there are some automatic patterns, which come up. And the first one is in the female DNA is that of Oh my God, look at me, I’m the slave here. You know, like, I’m doing all the work and they’re doing nothing. It’s like it’s embedded in us. Yes and then I go, Barbara, like after a few minutes or seconds, Barbara, we don’t go there anymore. We don’t talk like that anymore. You can choose, you don’t have to fold the laundry right now if you don’t want to.

But some people are so used to that pattern, and they fold and they curse their kids, they curse their husbands, you don’t have to, it’s a choice. The moment you see, you choose, every thought you focus on, you choose every mood, you become very powerful. Because you choose every response to every situation you’re in. But we’re very conditioned. And that’s okay, once you see it. And sometimes you go back and conditioning and then you go out of it, you’re like, Oh, it’s just a very exciting adventure.

Pamela Bardhi
It is and it’s tough. And you know, in, in your experiences that you’ve had, like, for example, at like a hospital, and then just with moving on from your construction company, after you found out about those, is a very hard thing to like, go and be like,

Barbara
Oh, yes, I cried for 48 hours, nonstop. I was so well, you could say disappointed, deeply. But then I was like, Okay, now, we had the tears, that’s over. This will not help you but allow your emotions first, when they are like a crisis or a shocking moment, you have to allow your emotions first. Otherwise, it will work against you. So allow the tears, allow the anger, allow the first moment has to get out, the emotion. And then once it’s out, don’t dwell in it. Like, then, you know, like, then you take a step back, and you look like, okay, what’s the situation here? But first, we are emotional beings. First, we have to feel the emotions, suppressing them. And being like a robot or like, that isn’t healthy, that is not healthy for it for your well being.

Pamela Bardhi
Right. And being conscious of the decision. Sort of what’s that? Now there’s the thing that you have the power to choose. And you should choose well because otherwise the negative is just gonna.

Barbara
Yeah, yeah. I had an interview few days ago, and they asked me like, How do you stay so positive? After everything, you went through in life? I was like, what’s the alternative?

Pamela Bardhi
I think your conscious decisions always point to your main goal, which is your legacy. Right? So you’re not only do you choose, but you were like, Okay, I’m going to choose because I want to create something in my life that’s meaningful, that if I’m not here,

Barbara
Because I knew when I was in the hospital, that there’s only one thing that matters. It’s the people around you. Because in that hospital, whether you live in a hut or in a castle, it doesn’t matter. You know, it’s those people around you, support you, we’re there for you. So I want to also to be like to be that person to support others, to know that I could add value, maybe should sometimes just be in, if I’m fully me, I’m a gift to another one to someone else. And being that gift you have to be so full in self-love, you have to go fully in self-love, and self-acceptance. And even being so comfortable with yourself that even on an imperfect day, you can laugh at yourself and say, Oh my god, it’s okay.

No big deal. You know, like we have a second lockdown here. I can go to the hairdresser because they’re closed. Yes, we have a second lockdown. Belgium is one of the most countries where we have the most cases. And there was a time when I wouldn’t have felt very comfortable in talking and like thinking, Oh my God, my hair, it’s the end of the day and now I’m like, Whatever. I’m here, I’m present. And let me be the gift. With you know, like good hair or bad hair that that doesn’t matter. Maybe you have to become 50 years old to be comfortable.

Who Influenced Barbara Throughout Her Life?

Pamela Bardhi
In your own skin. Yeah, no, you are a gift in every way. Because even though all the hardships that you went through, you were still thinking about other people, you know, you were thinking about, even when you’re on the hospital bed, it was your choice, right? But ultimately, you were making a sacrifice, because you were like, you know what, I am going to get better, I’m gonna have some positive thoughts. And ultimately, you’re looking out for everybody around you still, I just think it’s a very special person to do that.

I think that you are remarkable because even in those moments, if you’re still thinking about other people, right, you’re like, no, no tears, no tears, if you’re going to do a go out there. And you know, you help them through the end, and it shifted their mind state someway, somehow. So I just think everything that you shared with me is super amazing. And I do have to ask you, what was one person that really influenced you throughout your life?

Barbara
Jesus,

Pamela Bardhi
Jesus.

Barbara
Always and it’s not like I’m so a religious person. It’s not like in dogmatic because I’m a very free spirit. So I have studied Hinduism, Buddhism, I have studied, you know, like, all great teachings, but from childhood on, I have always felt very protected and very loved. And I can tell you a story when I was seven years old, I just had on my holy communion. And I went to church, my parents were not churchgoers, there was not, you know, like lots of praying at home.

And for some reason, it was the first Sunday after Holy Communion. You know, like, I went to church. It was the first time that I heard the story about turning the other cheek. And I was like, I had tears in my eyes, I was thinking, that is me. That is me. Because in turning the other cheek, you are so much more powerful, and angry person before you, the person before you is overwhelmed and swept away by emotions. You just turn the other cheek, and you stay kind, compassionate. I felt in my heart like yes, this is it’s just feeling the purity of the teaching. At that moment.

Pamela Bardhi
It is a very powerful thing to be able to stand your ground and like, turn the other cheek, one expects you to react. Another thing is, like when you’re reactive to everything in your life, you’re gonna attract energies

Barbara
Absolutely. And you, the moment you react or become very judgmental, or whatever, you lower your vibrations. Always. So becoming aware that it’s not beneficial for yourself. It’s like when you have to forgive someone. It’s not that you are approving of their behavior and you become a doormat, it is not. Forgiveness is a gift to yourself first. You forgive, you know, like, if you forgive that person, that anger, the bitterness, and the hatred is not running your life anymore, and not running you’re being anymore. So you take distance of that, if that person, you know, like had once a behavior that torture deeply, you forgive and you move on if it repeatedly takes distance because you have the choice. Even it’s your own parent, it’s your own child, you have the choice.

You set boundaries, setting boundaries was a big one. For me. It’s a very big one because I feel very compassionate. I feel like the one person in front of me. It has been a big one, to find my own space to always be aware of how I recharge my batteries. Like they say you cannot serve from an empty vessel. And in being aware that I’m responsible for my happiness, I am responsible for my vibes, I’m responsible for my energy, I become very much. It’s not always easy, because I am a mom and a wife. And sometimes they come to the office and I say, or I take a boss, I close the door, say nobody comes in. Let me just have an hour for me and taking that time was a journey too.

Tune in to the episode to hear the rest of my incredible interview with Barbara Vercruysse.