Oct. 10, 2022

Kelly Campbell - How To Overcome Maternal Abuse | Trauma Healing Podcast

Kelly Campbell is a consciousness leadership coach and someone who is just absolutely incredible....
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/kelly-campbell-how-to-overcoming-maternal-abuse-trauma-healing-podcast/#show-notes

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Kelly Campbell is a consciousness leadership coach and someone who is just absolutely incredible. From leaving her home at 16 to building and selling an incredible digital marketing business to now helping other people who want to be conscious leaders create massive change in their life by being on sages and speaking and podcasts and things of that nature.

I loved her energy, her effort, and what she's trying to create in the world. Today, she shared aspects and bits and pieces of her story and her journey that she's never shared before. I feel both honored and humbled by her willingness to sit in the vulnerability of dealing with a lot of darkness growing up.

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Learn how to heal and overcome childhood trauma, narcissistic abuse, ptsd, cptsd, higher ACE scores, anxiety, depression, and mental health issues and illness. Learn tools that therapists, trauma coaches, mindset leaders, neuroscientists, and researchers use to help people heal and recover from mental health problems. Discover real and practical advice and guidance for how to understand and overcome childhood trauma, abuse, and narc abuse mental trauma. Heal your body and mind, stop limiting beliefs, end self-sabotage, and become the HERO of your own story. 

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Michael: Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation! Hope that you're doing well wherever you are in the world today. I'm very excited to be back with you with another episode with my friend and guest, Kelly Campbell, who is a conscious leadership coach. Kelly, my friend. How are you today? What is happening in your world?

Kelly: I am doing so well, mostly because I'm talking with you. I always love having conversations with you. We always get real deep, real fast and that's the way it should be.

Michael: Truth. I'm very excited to be here with you, that's for sure and the honor is all mine, I assure you. For those who do not know you, tell us a little bit about your backstory, your journey, and how you got to where you are today.

Kelly: Yeah. So, I owned a digital marketing agency for 14 years. I will say that it was a little bit of some days it was a little bit of a nightmare, some days it felt like it was the thing that was leading to like a spiritual awakening. I didn't know that at the time, but it was just really kind of tumultuous. And after I sold the firm in 2016, I was like, Great, what the fuck am I gonna do now? I can't talk to any of my clients. I can't start another agency. I can't come onto another agency in a partnership capacity. So, I guess I'll try consulting and I've really liked consulting, but you know what I take that back, I like consulting; consulting was fine. The money was great, but that didn't feed my soul. And so, I started having deeper conversations with some of my clients and we would talk about the business, but then they would ask questions like, Hey, you know, I had this interaction with an employee or a client, and then I ended up like bringing that kind of home to my spouse or my kids, and I didn't like how I showed up. Can we talk about that? Like, is that fair game in our work together? And I was like, yeah. And the more that I had those kinds of conversations, something lit on fire inside of me and I was like, Oh, this is what I'm supposed to be doing. So, that's how I kind of transitioned into coaching, that's all I do now is a hybrid of coaching 50 50, coaching and agency growth consulting specifically for creative and technology leaders.

Michael: Yeah, I love that. And you know what's really funny is, you know, thinking about having my background really been in digital advertising and marketing for well over a decade, it's not really fulfilling. Like I remember I'd work with some big companies, we would create some massive change they'd be like, Oh, you helped us increase revenue by X amount. I'd be like, Okay, it wasn't actually that difficult. You just gotta do the things right. What I wanna do though, before we start talking about this transition that you made, ‘cuz I know what you do and I think it's really incredible what you're trying to do in building consciousness around leadership. But I wanna rewind and kind of start a little bit earlier in your journey. Talk to us about where did you grow up, what was life like as a kid? Where did you come from? Which kind of your background?

Kelly: So, I grew up kind of middle class in Suburbian upstate New York. I had a really loving father who was sort of like a bit of a protector for me when he lived with us. My parents got separated when I was nine, and so he was kind of in and out the house like he'd be there for a year out for two years, back for six months, super confusing. But more so than the confusion I think there was a lot of fear because I never ever felt safe inside of my house. My mother had undiagnosed borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder, so that comorbidity really, really difficult to deal with, really unpredictable and you know, I was on the receiving end of a lot of physical abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, you name it. And so, I grew up being very observant, looking at what was being said, what was not being said, how is everybody kind of feeling vibing in the room? Am I safe here? Do I need to kind of leave to protect myself? So, you know, there was a lot of that, I'll put it that way. And then I think the big picture was sort of because of my mother's mental illness she kind of saw me as, and I know this is gonna sound really kind of like strange, but she saw me as the other woman in my father's life. So, in her mental illness and her belief system, there was only a finite amount of love that he could give. And so, I was taking from her of surplus or her pile with him. And so, she just could not, she could not look at me as anything other than the version of herself that she hated, right? So, I was like the little version of her who she loath. And so, for me, I didn't understand that of course, you know, you don't understand that until you do the work, when you get older. But I tried every which way till Sunday to try to earn this woman's love and nothing was good enough. So, straight a's, captain of every sports team, got a full ride to school, you know, you name it. I was like the perfect fucking kid and there wasn't anything that I could do to make her love me. So, of course I internalize that as like, oh, I must be the thing that's broken. So, that's kind of how I grew up. And then if you wanna get really into it, I'll give you a pretty interesting story. When I was 16, she and I had a physical altercation at our front door. I had just come in from, you know, sports practice or something, and I was eating an apple and she probably threw some shade, I threw some shade back, she kind of lunged at me. We get into this physical altercation, I never hit her by the way. I dropped the apple; I bend down to pick it up ‘cuz I'm not thinking. And she takes a high heel that she had worn to work that day and plants the stem of it in the back of my skull and it was just one of those moments like, man, she's gonna kill me like she's, one day she's gonna kill me and I'm 16 years old. But what happened in that moment also was I was kind of, before she did that, I was sort of like holding her off, like sting her off with one arm. And I had this little aha moment of like, Oh shit, I'm actually stronger than her now. I had been doing sports my whole life, I was like very, you know, fit and healthy and it was the first moment that because of the interaction, because of the physicality, I was like, wow, I'm stronger than her. And that actually scared me because for 16 years of just repressing all of that anger and rage and hurt and pain, it manifested in the form of a dream that night and in that dream, I killed my mother. And I woke up the next day and I was like, I gotta get outta here because if she doesn't kill me, I'm probably gonna kill her. And that thought was just so terrifying to me, so, I left my house when I was 16.

Michael: That's so powerful. And I actually relate to that in such a, like, fucking strong way. And I feel this weird sense of solidarity with you in that because I was 18, I don't think I've ever shared this story on the show before.

Kelly: I've never shared this story before so go for it.

Michael: Wow, that's heavy. So, I'm 18 years old, I just come home from wrestling practice. My mother was living with us again through her bouts of addiction and in and out of rehabs and kind of the back and forth of that whole thing, dealing with narcotics addiction and DUIs and all the whole nine. And I was living with my grandmother and she had let my mother come and live with us again and she had been in this space of sobriety for a moment, but then we started to notice old behavior patterns, right? As these things. And one night I come home from wrestling practice and clearly, she's just drunk as you could be just on another level and she storms into my bedroom and my little brother happened to be gone we shared bedrooms cuz we were fucking poor and we all had to three kids in one room. And she comes in with and attacks me, yelling at me about having broken the computer. And much like you, I had that same moment or the first time in my life, just I had hit that breaking point and I had shoved her to the ground and I realized, just like you, I was like, Oh my God, I'm stronger than her. I'm bigger than her. She can't hurt me anymore. And I looked at her, I told her, I said, if you ever touch me again, I'll fucking kill you. And that felt so real for me in that moment. And fast forward a little bit longer, I told her, you know what? You can't be in my life, I'm removing you. And from that moment forward till the day she died, I did not talk to her except maybe one time. And so, if anything, I'm sharing this story in solidarity because I don't think people really sit and understand the impact that people's mental illness when they are not treated have on their children. And so, as you're in this moment, you have this dream, which is super fucking gnarly. You have to put yourself in a position of making a really intense decision at a really young age like I did at 18 to tell your mother I'll never talk to you again is like crazy difficult. What was going through your head and how do you make that decision at 16 years? Like, was it really life and death? Was it like, fuck it? Where did you go? What did you do? What, like what was happening?

Kelly: Yeah. So, it didn't feel like I had an option to be totally honest. You know, I had had perfect attendance in school up until that day. And what she left for work and I stayed home from school and I was like, Man, I really hope that the school doesn't call. I had my learner's permit and I had like a, you know, beat up old car that like uncle's grandmother, I kind of got passed down because she had just passed away or something. So, I just filled up the car and I got in touch with my boyfriend at the time and I went over to his house and we talked to his parents and I was like, I have to live here for a little while like, it's not safe for me to be in my house. And they agreed, which was really awesome of them.

Michael: Did people know that this was happening in your house?

Kelly: No, no, no, because I had become a master at hiding a lot of it. I would explain away bruises as like sports injuries or this or that. And you know, there was even, like, some of it, I didn't always tell my own father because I didn't want him to feel bad or feel like, Oh, well if I'm not in the house, that's why this is happening. So, yeah, I don't know if I would even say life or death. I think it was just, there was no option. There was no option. And then similar to your story, it would be until I was 24, I think it was 24 finally said, listen, if we're gonna have any form of relationship we have to go to therapy like this is just beyond toxic. And so, she agreed to go, I was cautiously optimistic and then I checked in with her maybe like the, a day or two before that appointment was supposed to be scheduled, and I made it so that I was paying for it, we did it after work, we did it in her town. A therapist I had never seen before trying to, you know, again, make sure that this was something that she would kind of have, not have no out, but I would make it very easy for her. Right. And so, I check in with her and I was like, you know, you still able to make it on Tuesday? And thank God when this conversation happened, I was not driving, I was in a passenger seat, my girlfriend at the time was driving and. She said, no, I'm not gonna be able to make it. And I said, Okay, so, I knew, I knew you're not gonna be able to make it on Tuesday or you're not gonna be able to make it ever. And before you answer that question, remember that what I said, the only way forward, the only way that we are gonna have any semblance of a relationship or shot at a relationship is if we do this, if we go to therapy. And she said, No, I'm not gonna be able to make it ever. And I said, Okay, so you understand you are walking out of my life. And she said, yep, I gotta go Kelly. And she hung up the phone, that's the last time I talked to her.

Michael: Wow. That's so fucking heavy.

Kelly: You got heavy show. You got a heavy show.

Michael: This is true. But you know, I think about it and sometimes I hate to go to this reference ‘cuz it's an easy one to go to, but Tony Robbins and this idea of life is happening for you and not to you always comes to mind in this moment. What started to transpire? Because for me, what happened, I don't know if this was true for you or not, like, when that crossing of the line happened at 18 and I made that decision, I'm not gonna say it made my life better because I don't know that it did or it didn't, especially in that timeframe. But what did happen is I had this overwhelming like sense of freedom like it was crazy the way that I felt this weight lifted, and I'm gonna say something really dark. When my mother died, my little brother called me, he goes, Hey man, mom died. I'm like 24. And I go, Okay, cool. Have a great day. And I hung up the phone and it felt like all of the weight all of the weight of the world was lifted off of my shoulders. And so, what I'm curious about is, I think people hear conversations like this and they're just like, Oh, it's so heartbreaking, so devastating. And it's not that it's not, let's be very clear about that. But what started to happen with you from that moment? And where are you at in life and relationships and career?

Kelly: Yeah, I mean that's actually a good point because it was a really pivotal time for me when that happened. So, I was in a relationship with my girlfriend at the time, we were just about to move, I think to, into Brooklyn and I hadn't always lived in the county that I grew up in, so that was kind of like a big change and I had just started my agency about maybe not even a year before that. So, there was a lot, I was self-employed for the first time in a new-ish relationship and about to change locations. So, like a ton, like a swirl of change and now all of a sudden, this kind of decision has either been made for me or maybe I subconsciously set this up cuz I kind of knew that would be the case. But you know, it was like someone ripped my heart out of my chest in that particular moment, but I think it got better every minute after that. And I'm not saying it was easy to your point, Mother's Day still sucks for me, right? Like the first couple of years after that, she tried to send me, like, mail me a birthday card and I was like, why are you doing this? It's like ripping the wound open every time, we don't speak, but you're gonna try to play Mother of the year and like, send me a birthday card. No. So, the last time that happened, I think she probably sent like three or four years in a row and I just put like returned to send her and she like, she got the message. But you know, in a recent session with what my shadow work coach, we were talking about this idea of what this represented and how much of a gift it’s kind of was, right? This thing happened for me, not to me, and I kind of found this word that I had never thought about before in the context of my mother and similar to your like liberation, I think in retrospect, I feel a lot of relief, I feel a lot of relief that she didn't agree to go to that appointment, right? Because that level of toxicity I would've been in it for the last 16 years, 17 years of my life. And like what a relief, what a gift to not do that and to kind of chart my own course and, you know, be a business owner being some amazing relationships. I was married for nine years in a relationship for 16 with my ex-wife, I mean friends that I've made, being part of the LGBTQ community. There are just so many beautiful things that where my life has kind of moved and navigated, and I don't think that I would be as present to those things or be as grateful for those things if I was still in that sort of toxic relationship with her if that makes.

Michael: Yeah, I mean, it makes perfect sense because when you're in those kind of toxic relationships and entanglements, it's all you think about, like, it's crazy how overshadowing those are. And that could be, you know, boyfriend, girlfriend, work, employer relationships, I mean, friends, however it is that you would describe a relationship, it's like that's at the forefront of your mind, it's with you when you go to sleep, it's at the gym, it's when you're eating dinner, it's when you're driving your car and it gets you the most in your moments of quiet. Right? And that's one of the really interesting things about this journey I've come to find is and I don't think any aspect of removing people from your life is easy. I don't think people taking themselves out of your life is easy, but I think that there's so much power in it because it gives you more opportunity to sit and reflect your truth, which is arguably the most uncomfortable thing that we do because you have to get honest with yourself, you have to ask yourself hard questions and then you have to put in boundaries. You have to put yourself in this position where you actually fucking follow through on what you say. And that's so hard because especially when it comes to other people, you know, this idea of guilt and shame and hurt comes up and we feel like, oh no, I should get back in that relationship. I should do that thing. I should bend who I am for that other person. And I've come to find more and more that the less that you do that the more empowered you become. Do you feel like that's whole true for you as well?

Kelly: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, it sounds like you kind of did a very similar thing six years before I did. Right. And I didn't realize until way later in life that that was the ultimate form of self-love and boundary setting that I could have ever done, that you could have ever done. We didn't know it at the time it was much more like protective, but in retrospect it's like, wow, that was like some hardcore boundary setting and I'm really. Again, looking back, I'm really proud of that of my ability to set that boundary, it's almost like I knew that it was like I needed to move forward and have a healthy life like that's what I was meant for and being pulled into this really tumultuous thing was not for me.

Michael: You know what I think is really interesting because when I'm coaching people, one of the things that we inevitably, I can count it, I can wind my watch to it, right? There's gonna be a conversation about boundaries around our toxic parents. Well, and especially in my world, I work with child abuse survivors and I've often thought to myself, and I'd love to know your thoughts on this and see what you think. But I've often thought do you think. If I hadn't had made that decision at 18 as a kid when I had not yet been influenced by the world in such a way, and I hadn't had all these thoughts about what it means to be a grown-up quote unquote, I wonder if I would've done it. Do you ever think about that?

Kelly: Well, I was 24…

Michael: But you were 16 when you left.

Kelly: Yeah, I was 16 when I left and would I have done it? I would have to say probably yes, probably yes, especially if I had done any kind of like, you know, self-development, personal development, you know, spiritual work, like any of that stuff. I would see that as like if we're just like fast forwarding this whole situation and pretending that this was just a couple of years ago. Yeah, for sure. I definitely would've done it and I would've recognized it as something that would be very difficult, but that I would need to do in order to live a healthy life.

Michael: Yeah, that's interesting. I don't know, it's a hyperbole, obviously, you know, I mean, there's no real way to know an answer to a question like that, but it's something that I ponder because one of the number one things that comes to pass in coaching, whether it's in my group programs or one on one, is eventually we have that conversation around boundaries with parents. And so many people are meshed and in groomed, I should say, not in groomed and groomed into being in these toxic relationships. Did you feel like, so setting these boundaries, knowing and trusting yourself, I think there's something really interesting about the people who do that young. I know so many of them become entrepreneurial because what happens is you have to like rely on yourself. I wanna go in a different direction with this at the moment because it's something I'm always so curious about. Do you think that you were born an entrepreneur? Did you think you developed into an entrepreneur? Do you think that the trauma, the chaos made you have to become an entrepreneur? ‘Cause I'm gonna tell you right now, without child abuse, I would not be an entrepreneur. I know it's a crazy thing to say, but it's true.

Kelly: So, the really interesting thing is that, you didn't know this, but I mentioned before we started recording about this book that I'm writing and it's called Heal to Lead. And so, the whole contention that I have is that healing childhood trauma, integrating our trauma should be the most important fundamental for effective leadership or high conscious leadership. And one of the things that I talk about in the chapter, I think it's actually chapter one, why we become leaders? My contention is that most, not most, I'll say a portion of people, probably a good portion of people who become leaders, meaning create their entrepreneurial path for themselves. I think it is born as a from a trauma response. I know for sure that I can tell you, and it wasn't until probably just maybe four or five years ago that I kind of even figured this out. I know now that I created a company because I needed to feel valued and worthy and I needed kind of to feel valued for myself. I wanted to prove my worth to the world, to clients, it's like if my own mother doesn't want me, if my own mother can't see the value and worth and everything inside of me, then I'm gonna create a world in which clients and employees and those people in my world do value me. So, my quick answer to your question is I do believe that trauma is the sort of foundation for entrepreneurship, not for everyone, but for a lot of people. If you look at ACEs, right? What is it? 70% of us have experienced some kind of adverse childhood experience, right? So, at least one, right? And those only go higher with, you know, marginalized populations, but if that's the case and small businesses and entrepreneurs are such a large number. I mean, just look, there has to be a correlation. So, I would say absolutely yes, that is my contention.

Michael: Yeah, I think there does have to be, because one of the things that you find is especially young, you've gotta find a way to survive, like I was having this conversation, I was on a radio show in Chicago yesterday, and he was like, how did you learn how to be a business owner and entrepreneur? I was like, at nine years old. I was going to Big Lots on 30th in Georgetown and stealing candy bars, putting on my Boy Scout uniform, walking around door to door and pretending I was a boy scout to make money. Right. A hundred percent margin, by the way. Great business. But the truth about it is like, you learned to survive. Was there a moment where, one of the things I'm always thinking about is this concept of like, know thy self, like trust thy self, know thy self, love thy self. Was there a moment, particularly a pivotal experience, where you realized that you were actually trusting your capacity to be resilient, to survive, to be a leader, to be Kelly?

Kelly: Ironically, it all started when I sold the company because whatever was part of my identity at that time. I was 36 when I sold the company. I would say I was a conscious leader of the organization, but I was not someone who I would consider, healed or healing.

Michael: Can you define conscious leader?

Kelly: Well, a conscious leader is someone who, I'll give you sort of the traditional definition. It's someone who values people, planet, and profit, sort of on equal prioritization those things were, especially people in planet, you know, environmental and supporting my team were things that came very naturally to me, maybe those are trauma responses also that's probably a different show. But I was never an entrepreneur to try to make, you know millions of dollars that wasn't my driver. My driver was supporting other people that were kind of under my stewardship, especially mentoring young creatives and digital marketers in the field, especially if there were women, especially if there were women of color, that felt really important to me. And then we did a lot of give back initiatives and a lot of just environmental considerations as part of the business. So, I was a very conscious leader, but I was not a leader who had healed or was in process of healing or integrating her trauma. So, my world broke open after I sold that company.

Michael: What does that mean?

Kelly: I just hit rock bottom. I felt like the ground just got like pulled out from under me, everyone else was like, you should be so happy. You kind of like hit the holy grail.

Michael: Because your identity was so tied to the business?

Kelly: 100 percent. All of my worth, my identity, everything was like, you know, these were the people that I surrounded myself with on a daily basis. You know, I mean, I didn't know how to answer the question, who are you without responding. I own a digital marketing agency, right? Like it was so entangled or entwine in that CEO title because that gave me my worth. It was like, well, if I own a business, especially for this amount of time and you know, I'm responsible for these people, then that means that I'm valuable, that means that I'm worthy. And so, when that was gone, well then who am I? Does my worth now change because of that? Yeah, it was a scary moment, it was a really scary moment, and it took me a little while, I would say legitimately, like six months for me to kind of crawl out of that, it felt very kind of apocalyptic, you know?

Michael: Yeah. I mean, that's a strong word, I get that. I relate to that so much because my first legal entrepreneur endeavor, right? What I could publicly talk about was being a professional photographer and being award-winning and traveling the country and the world and being on magazines and all these things. And when I walked away from it because I had to, for my own mental health to go and seek what ultimately would become what my life is now it was like I just had no fucking idea who I was. I was constantly like, what am I doing? Like I'm in these therapies and I'm going to fucking AA and NA and I'm having these conversations, but I'm so clueless. Like whoever is that I thought I was so tied into party guy and entrepreneur guy and like none of what I am today. But in that, what I think was really interesting that happened is I had to ask myself some really difficult questions about who it is that I was, what I wanted, and what I was willing to do to have it, like folks who listen to the show know, I've probably said it ad nauseam, but the question that changed my life forever is what are you willing to do to have the life that you want to have? And my answer ultimately was, No excuses, just results that leads me to today. So, as you're in this apocalypse, which I fucking love that you use that word ‘cuz I totally resonate, as you're in the apocalypse of your own making. What is starting to transpire in your mindset, in your community, in your journey of starting to become the Kelly that you are today?

Kelly: Yeah. I had to just get really, really honest with myself. I was one of those people who would like roll my eyes whenever I heard any kind of like, spiritual language or even religion, to be honest with you. I had to wonder and really ask myself if I still wanted to be in the marriage that I was in. I had to ask myself why I was so deeply, deeply miserable. I was so unhappy. I thought that, you know, selling the agency and not having that stress of carrying all of these people's salaries, and I thought that would make me happy. I don't know. Where was my mindset? My mindset was all over the place, I was in a, like a pretty dark place at the time. I had never been depressed. I'd been in therapy for a long time, since 16, but never been I've never really thought about myself as having depression and maybe it wasn't depression, I don't know, but it was just such a dark place. I felt like I ran out of options. I felt like I didn't know who I was, everything in my life felt like it was imploding and I didn't know actually what to do. And so, I started, it was kind of weir, I was cleaning out the office one day and this woman and a friend of mine had walked in and they were opening up like a metaphysical shop across the street from my office. And so, the woman said something like, oh, well, if you've just sold your company and you're a designer and all of this, like, we're gonna need help, would you do our branding and our website and collateral. And I was like, well, what do you do there? And she was like, Oh, we do, it's metaphysical, so like spirituality. And I was like, of course, this is gonna be like the thing that I have to do next. Like I don't want to do this. And so, I did it just because I had nothing else to do and it opened my whole entire world, it was like, these things that I had railed against for so long that I didn't really understand because I wasn't curious, I wasn't open-minded to them. I started attending some of the workshops and classes and reading books, and then that led me to podcasts and you name it, I just broke open my whole world and ultimately, I ended up getting divorced, moving out, I just bought a house that I'm in now, about seven months ago. So yeah, the last five years of my life have been a complete 180. I'm still the same person, but I am definitely a different person, if that makes sense.

Michael: Yeah, of course. Well, you know, we're the sum total of all of our experiences leading up to this moment. So, to discount your experiences of the past, informing who you are, I think is irresponsible, so, in my opinion anyway, you know, it's really funny. We often make fun of the things that we don't understand, we often ignore the things we don't, we bulk at the things that we don't understand. I remember I was like 24, 25, right before my rock bottom, which I think is actually really timely. I remember Tony Robbins had popped up on an internet show, this was before they were really called podcasts, right? Just somebody had a fucking internet show. And I was listening to him for about six seconds and I was like, fuck this guy. He doesn't know anything about life, about struggle. He's sitting here like giving you the keys to the castle, right? And I'm like, fuck this guy. I gotta tell him that in person which I thought was really fun. But you look at that and it's like there's so much power if you're willing to just shut up and pay attention to what the universe is giving you. And I think we fight that so often, right? We fight, leaving the relationship, we fight building the business, we fight stepping into our self-actualized self. And in that, I think it's detrimental because it leads you down this path where you're constantly stuck in this narrative that you've created that's built in the foundation of chaos like again, I'm going back to you talking about you built your own apocalypse because it's so true. What do you think in that time period, you said the last five years just been like, boom, Right? This explosion. What do you think you've learned about yourself? And I wanna ask you in a very specific way, what do you think you've learned about yourself that you already knew was there, but you had to face the truth of?

Kelly: Wow, that's a really good question. I think what I learned about myself is that I have an immense capacity to love. And I always knew that, but I felt like I had to wear a mask or I had to play a certain part, or maybe, I thought that I had to earn love from other people, like the way that I needed to earn it from my mother, it never felt pure, but there was something inside of me that was like, No, like I knew that I was a really kind, loving, generous human, but I never felt comfortable showing that part of me, you know. Owning a business in the like, kind of creative and technology industry, I had to present a little bit more masculine, I had to push emotions down, I couldn't show who I actually was, I couldn't be vulnerable. Right? Now, all of these things five, ten years later are like the hallmarks of effective leadership, right? Like, be empathetic, show your emotion, be vulnerable, be compassionate, like those are sort of juxtaposed ideas, you know? So, I guess that's what I would say like this has always been me and I think I feel more myself than I ever have before because I tell clients that I love them at the end of session sometimes, and that's not weird, but that would be weird for the version of me that was eight years ago, 10 years ago, they're like, you can't do that, that's not professional. Right. What are they gonna think of you? I don't even know what the hell professional means anymore, all I know is that we are not two different siloed individuals, whether we're at home or at work like that integration is where it's at for me and clients and I see more and more people, people talk about bring your authentic self to work. Like what does that actually mean? It means removing the silo like you don't need that. You can be yourself, whatever that means. I mean, I was always out as a business owner, I never hid that part of myself like my sexuality, so that wasn't it, but it was this who I was at the core, you know?

Michael: Yeah. There's this idea that I've been sitting on that is becoming more deeply profound, and I hate to say the older I get, but the older I get and that truth is like massive, undeniable, and unreasonable to an extent, ownership of self and who you are is the truest and most accurate sense of what I think it means to be healed. I was sitting having a conversation with somewhat on a podcast and like in real time this happened. I was like, actually, you know what I think the truth about healing trauma is, is when you only ever do what you want to do and you never do what you don't want to do because everything is or is not aligned with who it is that you've decided that you are. And I think that holds true. You talk about removing the silo, you talk about authenticity, and it's like you’re the vulnerability of being authentic with yourself is so incredibly fucking scary, but it's the only way that you're gonna truly know who you are. What role has been vulnerable with yourself played in this journey for you?

Kelly: Being vulnerable with myself and also removing a lot of the like, blame, shame, guilt stuff, facing those things through shadow work, I work with a shadow work coach and a Buddhist psychology coach and like facing those aspects of myself, that was the game changer, hands down, which is what also as I was working with those two practitioners. I started incorporating that into my coaching practice and started talking about, you know, past trauma and emotional history with my clients. Game changer because we bring our entire past and our entire selves and our entire egos into everything that we do, leadership style, etcetera.

So, if we're not talking about those things, if we're not getting vulnerable, if we're not looking up kind of unpacking some of that stuff that we've been distancing ourselves from for such a long time, consciously or subconsciously, if we don't do that, we cannot ever become who are the leaders who we wanna be or the people, just humans that we wanna be. It was a game changer, that self-vulnerability. A hundred percent.

Michael: And I would guess that probably what you've created now would not be possible without having those moments.

Kelly: Not even a little bit. None of my world would be possible without, you know, all the things that have been what'd you say done for me over the course of time.

Michael: Yeah. And so, tell us about what does your world look like now? What are you building? What is it that the mission has become?

Kelly: So, I have the coaching practice and I work with 10 clients simultaneously, not in group setting, just one on one. Those are again, just the leaders of creative and technology agencies. So, that's one thing that I do, I also host a podcast called Thrive Your Agency Resource that's kind of in that same audience. And then about a year ago, I founded a company called Consciousness Leaders, which you know you're gonna be a part of, it's a representation agency for people who are speakers, authors, coaches, consultants, and workshop facilitators who happen to be women by pac, LGBTQ, and me and or members of the disability’s community.

So, pairing those folks, those experts with the organizations that are looking to create real change, that feels very purposeful to me. So, that's kind of, I'm splitting my time between those two ventures and the podcast is biweekly, so it doesn't take up too much time. But I really enjoy that as well, and I've got two sponsors for that. And I have a new partner in my life, who is like a unicorn like I don't mean a unicorn in the sexual way. I mean like, legitimately the rarest human I have ever met, and totally aligned from a values perspective, everything that I have ever wanted or dreamed of in a partner. So, yeah, life is pretty good.

Michael: That's beautiful. Congratulations. You know, it's funny when you look at all the moments in life of the struggle ultimately leads to the success, you know, and I just don't know that we can have the things that we want in life without the willingness to kind of dive in and see what happens. You know, I was even having a conversation with someone last night about this idea of, you know, you discover who you truly are when you swim into the deep end when your feet stop touching the bottom and it gets a little fucking.

Kelly: Yeah. I love that analogy.

Michael: you know, it just hit me last night so strongly because I was like, that's everything about life is how far away from sure are you willing to swim? Because that's where you're gonna discover yourself. So, before I ask you my last question, my friend, can you tell everyone where they can find you?

Kelly: Yeah. So, my website for coaching is just klcampbell.com and then the Representation Agency is consciousnessleaders.com

Michael: Brilliant. And of course, we'll put the links and the show notes for the unbroken audience. My last question for you, my friend, what does it mean to you to be unbroken?

Kelly: This is a hard question. I think back to one of the questions that you touched on earlier and maybe this resonates with some of the people listening, I think it means embodying love. The reason why I say that is because I think, you know, no one is broken, we kind of know that already. We are all whole entities. We are the subject matter experts of our own lives. And I think that a lot of the trauma that we experience forces us into sort of a scarcity or fear-based mindset. So, if love is the opposite of fear, then I think embodying love is kind of what it means to me to be unbroken.

Michael: Wow, that's very beautifully said. Thank you so much for being here, my friend.

Unbroken Nation. Thank you so much for listening.

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And Until Next Time.

My friends, Be Unbroken.

I'll see you.

Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.

Kelly CampbellProfile Photo

Kelly Campbell


Kelly Campbell is a Trauma-Informed Conscious Leadership Coach, helping creative and technology leaders transform both life and agency. The former owner of a cause marketing firm for 14 years, her coaching and consulting work focuses on her 6 P's framework: personal development, purpose, positioning, people, pipeline and profitability. She is the host of THRIVE: Your Agency Resource, a bi-weekly video podcast for agency leaders, sponsored by accessiBe and Workamajig. A keynote speaker at conferences across the country, Kelly has been featured in Forbes, Woman Entrepreneur and The Startup on Medium. She is also the founder of Consciousness Leaders, a representation agency pairing trusted and diverse experts with organizations to create positive change and drive lasting results. She is currently authoring her first book on the connective tissue between healing trauma and becoming a conscious leader.