I have to say, as I write this blog, my cup is overflowing. This week has been a very powerful week of inspiration and growth. October 16-22, 2023, is Gambling Harm Awareness Week in Victoria. It has been an absolute joy to have Kate Seselja from Canberra in town as she spreads her message of hope and change to people on her mission to advocate for gambling reform. Her own struggles with gambling addiction almost took her life, until awareness kicked in.
On Friday morning, along with the amazing Michelle Powell, Kate and I delivered an online session called Growth not shame; turning adversity into a superpower. The session was created to help anyone release shame from their baggage and use their adversity or trauma as a platform to grow and to help others. It was a wonderful session as I sat in awe of these two incredible ladies. Both who have overcome significant trauma to be impacting many lives. How did they start on this journey of growth, change and then purpose? They started with awareness, and as Michelle says, it always precedes change. In other words, nothing changes without it.
Michelle had experienced sexual and emotional abuse as a child, and then domestic violence in her marriage to the point she had totally lost herself and her three children. Her victim mindset was keeping her stuck, until a moment of awareness when she realised her part in the whole situation and action she could take as an empowered person. She is now an author, a global speaker, and the founder of the charity, Empowher. Kate was seduced into gambling at 18 years of age, and it led her on a 12-year experience that took her money, her control, her self-worth, and almost took her life. On the verge of suicide, she became aware that she needed help and that her unborn child, and her other five children needed her. She is now writing her first book, is an international speaker, is an advocate for gambling reform, and founder of The Hope Project.
It was awareness that preceded the incredible positive change for both of these remarkable ladies. One thing that Kate talks about is a concept she calls ‘addiction by design’. In other words, industries love to place full responsibility for addiction on the flawed character of individuals who make the choices that lead to addiction. They take no responsibility for the fact that their whole goal is to get people addicted. That is how the gambling industry works. That is how the tobacco industry works. That is how the alcohol industry works. That is how the processed food industry works. That is how the retail industry works. That is how the sex and porn industry works. Their only goal is to get people addicted to get their money. It is addiction by design. By glamourising these things, by clever advertising, by sights, sounds and noises which lead to emotions, addiction is a challenge for all of us. The greatest weapon we have against it is awareness.
By knowing what is happening, and what industries are doing to manipulate us and get us addicted, we can resist, we can educate, we can support, and we can take back the life of joy and freedom that is rightfully ours. Awareness is the key and will precede any and all change. It precedes the change you may want to make in your own life, and it precedes the change you may want to see happen in the lives of others. My suggestion is that you spend some time reflecting. Think about your life, think about your family, think about the results you are getting, and think about what change you want. Now, the important part, think about what you are doing that needs to change, and what kind of change needs to happen.
When you become aware of where you are at and what you need to do, the door for change opens. When you are aware of the world around you and how it is influencing your choices, you can make different decisions. This is a powerful realisation and one I hope excites you as you move forward from this moment.
In my podcast this week called Minutes matter, it was some significant events in the life of Scott White that forced him to stop, reflect, create some awareness of his life and what he could do. The result is that he now lives a life of joy, is an inspiring speaker, a best-selling author, and refers to himself as ‘the life is too short guy’.
It is time for all of us to open our eyes, open our minds, and open our hearts to see what is really happening in our lives. With the awareness that will come from this reflection, introspection, and talking to positive people in your life, the answers will come, and change is possible. Just remember, awareness always precedes change.