5 Lessons Learnt from an Abusive Childhood


It came as no surprise.

The sound of my fathers hand colliding with the soft and beautiful flesh of my mothers face. I was old enough now to understand what was happening and so was my brother. I was old enough now to understand that I could not just stand by. I was old enough now to understand what a knife might do to a mans flesh.

I strode onward rounding the corner I collected a knife off the kitchen counter and puffed my chest up as big as my tiny lungs could push them. At 10 years old I was contemplating an act that may change my life forever. An act that might throw me into a downward spiral resulting in jail, addiction or worse… death.

I pulled myself to my full height, an impressively uninspiring 4ft! At the top of my lungs I yelled the most intimidating words I could think of, “Oi! STOP HITTING HER YOU F*CKING DICK!” As my father turned the world was a blur..

.. I dropped the knife and curled my tiny fist into a ball plowing it as deep as possible straight into his crutch. Dick Punch Son! A smooth backhand sent me spiralling toward the ground, with a thump my head connected with the wooden floor.

A blurred image of my brother (one of the biggest heroes in my life) fighting valiantly to no avail as my father collected him off the ground with one hand. All the while stars danced across my eyes as nausea & dizziness played havoc with my head.

The last image I remember as my eyes flooded with tears was my brothers tiny body flying straight through a wall. The world closed out as my fathers rage turned once again towards my kind and caring mother.

Thump! Thump! Darkness.

We all have limitations that we cannot simply overcome. Memories that will change and shape us into the human beings we ultimately decide to become. What we can do is choose! What we always have is a choice!

We can choose to let our limitations get the best of us and fall into a darkness that can consume our lives or.. or.. we can choose to harness the power of those limitations to better ourselves. We can choose love over hate. We can choose to learn, grow and contribute in a positive way.

An abusive childhood was rough but by no means did my brother or I have it hard. There was a period in our life that was tough but in general we had a fantastic upbringing, all thanks to our incredible mother & her brave actions which resulted in our great escape to New Zealand.

We all have our own personal limitations but we can learn and grow from these moments more effectively than any positive experience we may encounter.

These are the 5 lessons I learnt from an Abusive Childhood. Lessons which I hope can help you overcome your own limitations, personal battles & shape you into a person you can be proud of.

Phew! Glad that’s off my chest. Let’s get into some self development shall we.

See Also - Gratitude | The Cure to Entitlement.

Hold True to Your Values

As the bus ground to a halt, she sat quietly taking in the world outside. The bus driver reached down to pull the lever which opened the bus doors. A middle aged man stepped onto the bus and made his way towards the young woman sitting quietly on her seat.

The male requested, in no polite manner, to give up her seat. The lady refused & in silent protest she sat, taking in the outside world. Without saying a word she put the wheels in motion that would change the world forever.

The year was 1955 and on this public bus in Montgomery, Alabama Rosa Louise Parks would change the course of history. A black woman refusing to leave her seat for a white male. Her quiet courageous act reverberated across the states triggering a civil rights movement that would free Black Americans from oppression.

Rosa Parks held true to her values against overwhelming opposition. She did this knowing it might result in a life of imprisonment or even death.

Regardless of who you are or what your situation is you should hold a set of values that guide the decisions you make in life. From how you treat other people to how you react to a terrifying situation. If you are sitting down reading this and thinking, “I don’t have any values..” Then you really need to think about writing some down.

I am not a religious person but in many ways religion has helped stare people towards values that are based around kindness, respect & love. Some may argue that religions are responsible for all the conflict and violence in the world, but are they?

Or is it people that are responsible? People who have chosen to observe bad values, that have triggered acts of hatred, violence and war. Atrocities that have been actioned in order to meet that individuals/groups needs which in turn line up with their values.

Before you jump out into the world head first screaming at everyone that does not adhere to your values. Take some time to analyse your values & determine if they are:

  • Contributing to the world in a positive way.

  • Values of Kindness & Love.

  • Respectful & Caring.

  • Humble & Empathetic.

Or are they:

  • Materialistic and vein.

  • Cruel and hurtful.

  • Based on Hatred or Revenge.

Set values that better you and the world & then hold true to them no matter the opposition. Hold True to Your Values!

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Be Kind

The other day I went to a cafe and half the staff that worked there were volunteers. I thought to myself, ‘Why the hell would you volunteer at a cafe?’ Nothing against barista’s and waitstaff but ask yourself, would you want to do your job for free?

It puzzled me so I asked one of the waitstaff and her answer blew my freaking mind!

“This is a not for profit organisation with all the profits going towards feeding the homeless and educating people who are stuck on the streets. I want to volunteer because I know that I am helping people.”

Wow! Just straight up Wow! Kindness is so powerful and if you look deep down inside yourself you will see a part of you which just wants to care for people. A part of you that wants to show kindness & caring.

Contrary to popular believe you don’t need to be an asshole to win! Look at Gary Vaynerchuk or Jay Shetty. Both incredibly successful men who are also incredibly kind. Kindness is the longterm winner.

This one is simple… Be Kind.

It is Always your Choice

You could argue that some of the things you do are ‘not your fault’ but deep down you know (and I know) that regardless of what your circumstance may be; your reactions, actions & decisions are on you.

70,000 years ago males would risk their lives as they attempted to fell one of the largest mammals to ever walk the earth. Killing a mammoth would not only feed the village for an entire winter, the act would also show strength and power.

70,000 years ago showing strength by risking your life made sense. The strongest males attracted the most females and ensured their DNA would continue on and strengthen the village further. Those men chose to risk their lives in order to legitimise their claim on potential mates.

Nowadays men & woman choose to show strength in different ways in order to attract the opposite sex, feel powerful or create a legacy that will outlive their own mortality. Some choose to belittle others. Others purchase pointless material goods & spend thousands every week on cocaine & escorts.

Others wear suits and spend their days destroying good peoples lives through shady wall street deals(not all traders are bad). The attractive scent of money lured Pablo Escobar into starting a Cartel. His needs grew and his hunger for power caused him to terrorise an entire country while simultaneously becoming the richest man on earth.

In the worst case these choices result in individuals building gas chambers and killing fields, ending the lives of millions in their horrific attempts to cease and show power. Others decide to pursue different paths that empower others.

When Tony Robbins was chased from his home by his own mother brandishing a kitchen knife he faced the same choice many of us do. Choose to hate the world and show power through evil, contempt and hatred or choose to show power through kindness & contribution.

“We are ALWAYS responsible for the CHOICES we make. Take complete ownership!”

No matter what your limitations may be. No matter how terrible life may seem. No matter how hard you may have it. The choice is always yours!

If you are starting a business but your product is getting terrible reviews you can choose to ignore the feedback and throw a tantrum, “These people are stupid! They just don’t understand my product!” The other choice… yeah you guessed it! Take the feedback, assess it & make calculated changes to improve your product.

You choose… always.

You choose to care what people think of you. You choose to conform to expectations from society even though you want to pursue your own dreams. You choose to chase money over your own purpose or passion. You choose to hurt others in order to make yourself feel better. You choose to see the negative instead of being grateful for the positive.

If someone holds a gun to your head and says, “Take off your pants and sing the theme song for Spongebob Squarepants.’ It is still your choice whether or not you take your pants off.

Take complete responsibility for your own life! It is Always your Choice.

Try Also - I Suck! Embrace your Limitations

Your Ego is your Greatest Enemy

When you choose to argue tooth and nail even though deep down you know that you are wrong… that my friend is Ego. At every stage in life your Ego threatens to tear you down (Ryan Holiday, Ego is the Ememy. 2016.), from relationships to career opportunities.

Modern society encourages and idolises Ego. We are encouraged to love ourselves at the expense of others. We are told to celebrate our successes & encouraged to share our wins with the world. Without knowing it we encourage Ego from day one!

Ego is seen as something that precedes success but what do you classify as successful? Some of the most ego driven success stories have ended up depressed, lonely, bankrupt, addicting to drugs, hated by their own families or in severe cases they choose to end their own lives.

We view success as material wealth; flash cars, Rolex watches, beautiful people, super yachts, private jets & powerful businesses. We see the people who reach these impressive levels of wealth and we associate their ego’s with that ‘success.’

Ego is however responsible for many of these ‘success stories’ coming to a dramatic end. The downfall of American Apparel, the end of days for Pablo Escobar, the fall of Blackberry or the famous ramblings of a drug f*cked Charlie Sheen.

But ego is also responsible for those day to day failures that you and I might have. Failing to achieve your workplace tasks, your inability to see a problem in your relationship or your fear to act due to your insecurities.

Ego stops you from receiving appropriate feedback & limits your ability to grow and learn from failure. Your ego also fuels your fear of failure and success feeding off your insecurities & blinding you from the obvious solutions.

True success is achieved through staying confident but humble. True success is achieved through being open to learning from your failures & being able to receive the views of others. True success is achieved by staying gracious in your wins & staying resilient to failure.

In every aspect of your life from relationships to career choices ego is their luring you with quick fixes and tasty small picture success’s. Don’t be fooled, think big picture and remember that Ego is Your Greatest Enemy!

Love the Sh*t out of Yourself

So we just talked about Ego. One of the biggest problems with Ego is way too much self love and sense of self importance. So before I risk completely contradicting myself let me start by saying this;

The first step to loving yourself is to understand that you are nothing special.

Well that was a hit to the Ego wasn’t it? I am not trying to make you feel worthless or hurt. If that is how you feel then it is your choice to feel that way & your ego has way to much control over your emotions.

Loving yourself starts with the realisation that we are all equals. A buddhist monk with $0 and a robe to his name is the same as Warren Buffet. We are all human; we are born, we live & then we die. There is nothing special about us!

Once we except that we are nothing special we can begin to truly love the person that we are. Rather than the person we want the world to see us as. Once we love our ‘not so special’ selves we can begin to find purpose and work towards creating a legacy much bigger than ourselves. We can create something special!

The last lesson I learnt from my abusive childhood is to love the sh*t out of myself! My true self, the self with limitations & failings. Not the ego driven image I wanted you to see.

You are nothing special and that is OK. Love the Sh*t out of Yourself!

Here’s the hardest truth of all guys! Regardless of how terrible your situation is/was nobody else can truly face it but you. Friends and family can be there to support you but it is you that must make the choice. It is you that must embrace your pain, your anger & your past.

Choose to become something you can be proud of. Choose to be a positive light in the world.

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Life is Great. Travel is Better.
Paulo & Jacques