And the last one is so important. If you can lower the amount of negative news and speed up reading positive literature, you will experience a great uplift in your mental wellness and well being. Read about people who struggled but overcame it, an autobiography or a biography by an inspirational person, because it’s so uplifting. Reading about others who struggled and overcame it is so inspiring because it tells not only your conscious mind, but also your unconscious mind that it is possible. Once somebody accomplished something, it’s so much easier for us to believe in it and do it, too.
As a part of our series about Mental Health Champions helping to promote mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Nicola Fernandes.
For more than 10 years Self-Love Coach & Shaman Nicola Fernandes has been helping thoughtful & open-hearted leaders to move from self-sabotage & doubt to Self-Worth, Self-Love & Success! With her Wholeness Mastery Method she supports her clients to get re-connected with themselves & Spirit — finally falling in Love with who they truly are and fulfilling their Dreams with Joy.
Joy, Spirituality & Self-Love for Leaders through Self Love with Nicola!
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
I grew up in Munich -Germany as an only child. I was super loved by my parents, yet could not believe that and was super shy and fearful. I really created my own twists of not being good enough in my mind which fully came out when my second child was diagnosed with Autism.
But first I studied business in Munich, started working for a major music company in New York City, had a beautiful office on the 43rd floor overlooking Times Square and traveled the world.
I also got married, had my first child, had a live-in nanny — actually I thought I was on top of the world — when Luisa was diagnosed..
You are currently leading a social impact organization that is helping to promote mental wellness. Can you tell us a bit about what you or your organization are trying to address?
So I had a really hard time when I received the diagnosis of Autism for my daughter Luisa. And as I learned, studied, and went to seminars my main objective was: How can I make the process of healing that I went through even easier for others? I was asking what makes the biggest difference that makes the difference. And I boiled it down to finding true Self-Love, living from that place makes the biggest difference. Let me explain:. I am convinced that when we allow ourselves to love ourselves truly with an open heart, make ourselves a priority, even be selfish, meaning when we are full of love, we enjoy life in a way that everybody else gains. We are in a good mood, we are happy, we are friendly. Everybody around us gets a piece of that. Imagine everybody in the world would feel that love inside of them, then the whole world would be heaven on earth. And we start with ourselves. So as we take care of ourselves and are in this loving space, falling in love with ourselves, everybody around us benefits. It’s just the most miraculous thing for your friends, your children, your partners, your co-workers as well as the store clerks, the postman, your neighbors, everybody benefits when you just fill up with your own Love. And it’s not just your own Love, it’s that Love from above, that universal Love, that divine Love that makes you feel whole and makes you love yourself, even for your faults. That’s what I am addressing with my company, learning and living from a place of True Self Love, which brings Joy and Wholeness to you and everyone around you.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
Sure. My backstory is: When my second daughter got diagnosed with autism that changed everything. The doctor said they don’t know where it comes from and what to do about it. And so I stopped working and it became my job to look deeper and deeper for help with her. And my husband was very generous and let me go to a lot of seminars although we had three kids at home. And guess what happened, every time I came home after a seminar?
Every time I came home from a seminar Luisa was better. And so long story short, as she got so much better, I was asking what’s my mission? What’s my purpose? Why is Luisa and this experience in my life? And so I started seeing clients and I started more and more boiling down to what is it in life, what makes life enjoyable at its core? What makes the biggest impact? What makes the biggest difference in people in the shortest amount of time? And that brought me to being a Self-Love Coach and Shaman. Guiding people to mental clarity, because long term healing is only possible when you also go within yourself. And people need help with that.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest them. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
You know through my seminars I learned that you have a choice. You can either choose that life is against you or for you. And when I learnt that, that was the first step of me stepping up. As much as I thought: Why me, why do I have a special needs daughter? It didn’t feel good to be the victim. It made me powerless. And so I learned to step in my power and asked: What if my life was my movie, imagine writing a movie. And knowing I wrote that movie I must have put Luisa on purpose in my life. So what did I want to learn through and from her?
And that thought empowered me, from that place I knew there was a purpose. I felt it wasn’t just to help Luisa, there was something bigger that I was learning and that I was supposed to share. She was in my life so I could share the beautiful experiences I had of her getting better, feeling her love, feeling her happiness with life. Sharing that knowing that she sees life with so much excitement and love, even with all the challenges she has. And sharing how the work though her lifted me mentally and emotionally. I had learned so much about life, healing, purpose and Love — Self-Love.
So I knew I owed it to her as she took on so many challenges in this life. I owed it to her to give to others what I had learned through her.
I owed it to her and I owe it to her to this day. That keeps me going every day, because we have a choice: You can say ‘it’s against me’ or’ it’s for me’ and I choose’ it’s for me’. I am showing up every single day so everyone can benefit from the great learnings and transformations I saw in myself through Luisa and I share those with the world.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
The most interesting story since I started my company actually happened quite recently. You know, the purpose of my company is not independent from my life. Everything that shows up is either because I’ve worked through it before, or I still have to work through it. And so I grow a lot with my clients because whatever shows up, I make sure I clear it so I can hold them and guide them through their highest and best journey. And so the most interesting story that really happened was that as I bring my clients to clarity, to a higher beingness, to to this joy in life, I was also expecting that from my husband. I was asking that he finds what brings him joy. What is it? Our life was great, but it wasn’t 100% And as somebody who wants to be clear in life and expects to open the doors for my clients to 100% I wanted that in my marriage. And I asked my husband so often that it finally came to a point last year,where he said ‘it’s not our marriage that makes me happy’. Wow, right?! So I guess that’s the most interesting story that happened. As I demanded clarity around me I realized my marriage was not that. And so it was a lot of grieving and working through my own processes after 26 years together. And my courses as well as my clients kept me really going and this interview here with you is part of my next step. That’s why I’m here now showing up in the media: Because I asked the universe ‘what do you want me to bring to the world next? I had beautiful children. I had a beautiful marriage. I had a good business.’ And I am guided that I need to be bigger. I need to show up more and there are so many more people that need what I can give. So that’s my biggest story that has happened to me since I started my company.
None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?
Yes definitely, we are all much stronger together. Having somebody who believes in you and can see where you are going, who even already went through that path and can see the light after the darkness. Having a person like that is so invigorating, exciting and in the end you move much faster forward, you might even make quantum leaps as I did.
Initially I was looking for alternative healing methods until I was very lucky to find a spiritual teacher who really helped me explore the reasons for Luisa being in my life and the healing in me that needed to happen by recommending a lot of different seminars that I attended. That really helped me connect a lot of dots as well as let me learn what I now give to my students, but didn’t have with her: Stepping in my power. She taught me a lot yet I always had to come to her to get the knowledge and that is something I truly teach now my students and clients: Having their own connection, learning to trust their intuition so they can step in that power. She would always say: A good teacher wants her students to become bigger than herself. And I guess that’s what I did, and that’s my goal for my students and clients as well.
I still have a mentor now, yet more a business mentor because spiritually I have the connection, content-wise I know what I want to teach, what my purpose is, what I’d want to bring out into the world. And it’s still nice to have somebody on your side, cheering you on, celebrating your success. I highly recommend having somebody in your court.
According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?
In my opinion one of the main reasons that there is still a stigma about mental illness is that a lot of mental health conditions derive in the first place from trying to pretend that everything is fine. And the more we say everything is fine in life, the more we suppress the anger and the hurt and the sadness and the fear. And all these feelings compound over time and can create a mental health condition in the first place. We don’t want to show the sadness or the anger or the hurt, because they don’t fit into the workplace or the school or even as children we didn’t want to make our parents concerned. So if we already don’t want others to notice our negative emotions, we definitely don’t want to show any indications about a mental illness. We are so concerned about what others think about us. And that’s one of the core reasons why there is so much mental illness created. We think so much. We are so concerned with what others think about us that after a while we get lost in all that thought and we don’t even realize it. And again all these emotions compound, it can even happen over several Generations that mental health conditions get created. Everybody wants to fit in and trieste seem fine, so they get the job, they get into the school, they get into the college, even if it’s totally not aligned with where they are. And so they’re leaving themselves behind to pretend they are someone else and it goes on your mental health. Over time you can’t pretend you’re someone else, the body rejects it and so we keep on pretending everything is fine and we can just fix it with drugs. And it doesn’t work because there was a reason why the body said ‘no you need to work with this anger’, ‘you need to work with this fear’, ‘you need to work with this hurt’. You can’t just fix it with drugs. We try to make it not a problem, let’s just make it even more challenging to get into a college, not looking at the fact that the kids have to totally put away who they are to pretend they’re totally fine and get into college. It’s the stigma of being fine in the first place that creates uncenteredness and instability in a person and thereafter all the negative emotions compounding still pretending that the mental illness isn’t there. We don’t want to acknowledge that people have emotions and are not always good and fine. That’s what we need to change. Allow people to express who they are, what they feel and give them time. As long as we don’t acknowledge and allow ourselves to accept and live negative emotions, mental illness will keep a stigma.
In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?
My opinion there are always two ways for a solution. One is to target what’s wrong and the other is to embrace what you want. To target what’s wrong is talking and going deeper into the mental illness, the instability of what the person needs..
- From an individual perspective there’s definitely a lot that family and friends, loved ones can do to help the person as soon as they notice something, talking about it. Yet in my opinion the biggest thing is love. Loving them for who they are,; loving them with all their challenges, spending time with them, giving them time, telling them how important they are in your life, making them feel loved. Because in my opinion love heals a lot and especially on an individual basis. In my opinion mental illnesses come a lot from being in your head, trying to figure things out, thinking about life instead of living it from the heart. So when you have someone who comes with love you are reminded what life is about, to live in your heart, to live in your feelings, to allow your feelings. Mental illness often comes from cutting yourself off from feeling, because you just have to function. So bringing you back into that heart, into the feeling, into who you are and who you want to be is really helpful on an individual basis.
- As a society it’s definitely bringing more to priority how important it is to live from the heart, to live from a place of love, to live from a place of appreciation and kindness. Instead of just making it a score, a test. How smart are you?
And I think the solutions are always best on an individual basis and then they expand. You start with yourself, you start with a small community that you are in, because societies change as individuals change.
- And from a government perspective I really think requesting less tests, less pressure and reminding people to connect with what they really want to do in life. I see so often college students who just do something because they think they have to perform instead of asking themselves what do they want to do in life?
So if the government could play a role there reminding people to ask who do you want to be in life, what do you want to do? That would be the ultimate. And again it starts with the individual. I think that’s where our work is now.
What are your 5 strategies you use to promote your own wellbeing and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?
Definitely, here are my 5 strategies, many of which I do daily, and if I don’t, I notice it.
- So my first strategy is my morning setup. For the morning set up I don’t even put my foot out of bed before I have a good thought, like,’ thank you for this great day ahead’ or ‘this is gonna be a great day’. And then before I start working, I do some work for myself. Meditate, journal and exercise, those three, even if each is just five minutes. Having that time for myself gets me set up for a really great day, because I already had that ‘Me’ time. I expressed my emotions, concerns and asked for guidance by journaling, I got a clearer head by meditating and my body feels good from the exercise. So I really recommend making it a practice and if you can up it to half an hour each, journaling, meditating and exercise that’s even better.
- And the second one is, and that is specifically for mental health: ‘be kind in my mind.’ So it’s really about more than positive affirmations. It’s when you tell yourself a limiting belief, i.e. ‘I am not good enough’ to still be kind to yourself. It’s like a little kid that just spilled milk. Imagine, there is this three year old who spilled milk. You wouldn’t say ‘oh my god, you spilled the milk, you’re never gonna learn to carry milk’. But often we talk to ourselves (in our mind) like that, right? So I would say to myself instead ‘ah, no problem, next time I am going to do it better’. So that’s how I practice speaking to myself kindly in my mind.
- And the third strategy I use is seeing abundance as an example in nature. You know, so often when we have a good life, when we feel good, we don’t want to show off. We don’t want to stick out, everyone might think ‘who does she think she is’? No! It’s like nature: the flowers are proud. And nobody thinks oh my god, look at that sunflower how she’s beaming in yellow now. No, she’s beautiful. We all have the same abundance as nature. So really taking part of that and reminding myself that whatever I have is a gift, and so I can be grateful for that, because it’s like nature. It is just as when the grass is green and the leaves come out, the same I have available and I just bask in that knowledge that the same abundance is available for me. And when I walk through nature, I remind myself that it is all available unlimited in this universe.
- And the fourth strategy I use is: Smile. Smile even if I don’t feel like laughing in a moment. But something happens as i just pull up the ends of my mouth to a smile. It’s almost impossible to be angry while my face smiles. So I smile more often and smile to myself. And if I want to go a step further,I smile at my heart, smile at people and smile specifically at myself looking in the mirror — smiling at myself. We always have a choice to be happy or sad. And why not choose happiness? Life is easier that way. So as I told you, I just separated from my husband and I often have that ‘happy or sad’ choice in front of me. And then I look at myself in the mirror, and tell myself ‘you can choose happiness’ and I smile at myself. And it’s a better day. So I wish that for all of you.
- And the last one is so important. If you can lower the amount of negative news and speed up reading positive literature, you will experience a great uplift in your mental wellness and well being. Read about people who struggled but overcame it, an autobiography or a biography by an inspirational person, because it’s so uplifting. Reading about others who struggled and overcame it is so inspiring because it tells not only your conscious mind, but also your unconscious mind that it is possible. Once somebody accomplished something, it’s so much easier for us to believe in it and do it, too.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?
One of my favorite books is from Florence Scovel Shinn: The Game of life as well as The Power of the Spoken Word. I read them both periodically because they really wake me up to the knowledge that I am the creator of my life.
I also love audio books and so the conversation of the Dalai Lama with Desmound Tutu in the Book of Joy is always a pleasant listening.
Finally I follow Joe Dispenza quite a bit and do his meditations several times a week that reminds me also how I create my life.
If you could tell other people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
I would tell them because making a positive impact will from the start make their life more enjoyable.
For example the practice of speaking lovingly to people.That will obviously be received well, yet it is actually a huge effect on the person that is speaking. When you speak more lovingly, you treat yourself more lovingly by having those loving words in your mind. So making this positive impact on others puts yourself in a better place.
And the second one that would make a positive impact is only saying what you want. Imagine we would really know that everything we say creates an energy around us, like a bubble. And we only want to create a bubble that we like, so we only want to say what we want to see around us. So again you would have a positive impact on our world, while you also create a beautiful world for yourself.
How can our readers follow you online?
3 way, IG, FB, and my webpage:
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Mental Health Champions: Why & How Shaman Nicola Fernandes Is Helping To Champion Mental Wellness was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.