“Be sincere, be honest and do so kindly.” With Beau Henderson & Belkis Clarke-Mitcham

We can’t deny that we live intense, stressful times. Add to that the pandemic Coronavirus COVID-19 and already tense situations become near explosive. It is easy to feel panicked and overwhelmed and as if everything is beyond our control. As much as we think we can distance ourselves from all the chaos it takes a […]

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We can’t deny that we live intense, stressful times. Add to that the pandemic Coronavirus COVID-19 and already tense situations become near explosive. It is easy to feel panicked and overwhelmed and as if everything is beyond our control. As much as we think we can distance ourselves from all the chaos it takes a mental and emotional toll. It is hard to believe that things aren’t all doom and gloom. Not when every new headline brings fear and despair.

As a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Belkis Clarke-Mitcham.

Belkis is a captivating, insightful communication teacher, Empowerment Expert, Catalytic Life Coach, and international speaker and author who possesses a unique gift of delivering messages that transform lives and echo long after she leaves the stage. Belkis helps women learn to make better choices, build self-confidence, step into their purpose and live a thriving life after trauma and is also known for being able to bring messages that leave lives transformed and audiences inspired and on fire. Creator of the life transformation program “Reaching Beyond Your Now,” Belkis is a sought-after speaker, who has spoken to audiences ranging from corporate, non-profit, personal development seminars, and workshops to audiences across the Caribbean, Central America, The United States and Canada.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Iwas living on a tiny Dutch island in the Caribbean. I moved there because it was the home of my now ex-husband. I remember the day I lay on the floor of my living room. Scattered around me were every pill that I could find in the house and a bottle of wine. I had just written a note to my mom, apologizing. I sobbed my heart out, lying there on the floor trying to bring the pills to my mouth and for some reason, I just couldn’t. I sobbed as if someone had died. I saw flashes of all the bad choices I had made, men who had abused and mistreated me. I saw how I claw and clung to relationships that weren’t good for me and how I begged to be heard and considered. I saw myself behaving in ways I did not like and regretting the behavior after. I sobbed until I was gasping for breath. I saw myself being sexually abused as a child and then physically and emotionally abused by my ex-husband and how I still threw myself at both men hoping to be loved. Then I saw my mom’s face and almost felt the sadness she would feel if I was not there anymore. Then somewhere I heard, haven’t you suffered enough? Will you make another bad decision? One you cannot correct. I heard you can do better but you must be here to do it. Just then a friend happened to pass by and found me there on the floor. They took the pills from me and emptied the wine. We talked for hours, the next day began a journey of healing. One of the toughest journeys I had been on — a journey of redemption and rediscovery. I got help, returned to school and graduated top of my class. I got coaching, read more than a hundred books on purpose, overcoming trauma and adversity, building self-confidence and got a master’s degree in Human Communication so I could learn to find my voice and use it. I did the work, found the value in myself ad learned how to help others. Today I am married to a wonderful man and have a lovely daughter. I am certainly more confident and know my boundaries, who I am and what I want. I make better choices and have committed my life to help women achieve what I have. Self-confidence, purpose, knowing their strengths, how to overcome adversity and how to turn the madness of their experiences into a marvelous life. As a result, I took my experiences and education and designed Reaching Beyond Your Now. It is the process and system that I use and now walk my clients through to help them so they can live their most empowered lives.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Wow. Let’s see. That might be the day a young lady bolted from my office in tears. I once had a young lady come to me. She’d been in a relationship for several years and had a son with her partner. She came to me distraught. She was being emotionally abused and felt like she could not leave. She had no job and no money. Going back to her family seemed just as horrifying as staying. She sat across from me, pouring her heart out about how she did not want to get up in the mornings, felt so depressed and wasn’t sure where to start doing things differently. I listened to her until she finally fell silent. Depleted, in tears and so lost. Then I started to speak to her and ask questions. Conversational coaching, I call it. I jotted down her answers and then I went silent for a few minutes as I wrote. Then I turned the notepad to her. I asked, does this look feasible for you? What I placed before her was a plan, simple, effective and personalized to help her begin to make different choices and break the cycle she found herself in. She grabbed it, looked at me, whispered yes. She grabbed her bag and left without another word. I was puzzled. I kept looking at what was written to see what could have sent her running. I could not find anything. It bothered me late into the night. The next morning the young lady called and before I could ask anything, she said thank you. Thank you for helping me to find hope again. Thank you for helping me to see my way forward. For the first time in a very long time, I am happy it is morning. Thank you for helping me find my possibilities. I did not know what hope was and now I know. That was one of my most amazing moments.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

  1. Never forget the human factor. You are dealing with people, not a bank account, and not a number. Treat people as the most valuable asset because they are, so that when one person fires you, an army will stand to applaud you because you did your job exceptionally well and cared about them as human beings. Know your limits and your boundaries and respect the limits and boundaries of other
  2. Be culturally aware
  3. See everyone as equal and treat them as you would want to be treated.
  4. Improve your emotional intelligence
  5. Be willing to learn. The day you stop learning is the day you stop being effective and may become redundant.
  6. Learn to communicate effectively. It is critical to be understood but also to develop the art of understanding others.
  7. Be sincere, be honest and do so kindly.
  8. I love the quote from Richard Branson “train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don’t want to.”
  9. Never forget where you started or why. It will be the compass that ensures you are always meeting the needs of those assigned to you.
  10. There are always three jobs you need to be good at. Yours, the one below you and the one above you.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I was divorced before I was 30 and felt as if I had no direction, no real passion and no idea of who I was or wanted to be. My mother bought me the book A purpose Drive Life by Rick Warren. From page one of that book, I felt something clicked in me on a very deep level. I took my time and went through the book and got the workbook. I internalized the words and felt myself awaken like a flower bud in springtime. Realization dawned on me that I was significant, and I was not a mistake. My life had a purpose. It was the beginning of my pursuit of purpose. Today I live my purpose and I get to teach others to do the same.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?

I understand mindfulness to be the state or condition where a person is completely conscious and aware of what is going on in the present moment.

Some people define mindfulness as the condition of being completely conscious and aware of what is going on at the time. Some also say that those who make no good or bad judgment on any situation are in complete control of their thoughts and are being mindful. Mindfulness is a useful tool that can help you to understand your subconscious feelings and to control them. Underlying negative feelings can give you problems in your personal and professional; being mindful helps you to be aware of negativity from the past and to avoid continually peering into the past. Additionally, mindfulness is often used during meditation as a therapeutic tool. It helps to soothe the impact of negative emotions. The benefits of being mindful include a reduction in anxiety levels and the risk of depression, as well as ensuring your wellbeing and helping you to fight feelings of isolation and rejection.

This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?

The benefits of being mindful are vast. Here are a few benefits:

  1. It helps you to not be overwhelmed by experiences and helps you to maintain control. One of the things that result from adversity is that we tend to feel as if we have no control and we get overwhelmed because our present moment is intermingling with thoughts and worries of the past and or future. Mindfulness helps us to maintain our control because your only focus is the present moment. When you are in control, you make better decisions because you are not reacting to the circumstance of the past or potential issues of the future. You are focused on the one thing you are doing in a specific moment. It can be cooking or watching a show. Mindfulness allows you to experience what you are involved in in the present and to be better able to assess and decide the best course of action for the here and now.
  2. You can train your body to flourish. Athletes use mindfulness to help them remove negativity so they can focus on being successful. They teach themselves how to control breathing and channel strength. By being mindful, we too can train our minds and body to flourish. Be aware of what is happening in a moment and decide what you need to be your best at that moment. By practicing this, you are training your mind and body to give you the best that will serve you in a moment.
  3. Creativity increases. Mindfulness allows for clarity of mind. It is not flooded with a million thoughts but with the present. That frees up a lot of space for creativity to flow. It also allows you to connect with your truth and you are then able to create based on that truth.
  4. Neural connection strengthens. Practicing mindfulness can help you to develop neural routes and connections in your brain, improving the way you concentrate on what is going on around you. It also improves your wellbeing and allows you to be flexible. This is critical for general happiness and peace of mind.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness and serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.

We can’t deny that we live intense, stressful times. Add to that the pandemic Coronavirus COVID-19 and already tense situations become near explosive. It is easy to feel panicked and overwhelmed and as if everything is beyond our control. As much as we think we can distance ourselves from all the chaos it takes a mental and emotional toll. It is hard to believe that things aren’t all doom and gloom. Not when every new headline brings fear and despair.

But peace is possible. There is a lot we can’t control, but if we learn to control our personal internal space, we eventually feel better and realize there is hope. We can do that by being mindful. Here are a few suggestions to help you maintain or gain your peace.

  1. Be in your moment. Whatever you find yourself doing now, be immersed in it. If it is a conversation, a game, a movie, a chore at home, be present, focused and involved in the present moment. Be grateful for what you have and want nothing more than what you have at the moment. When I find myself worrying about if my toddler gets sick or if my husband gets sick, what will happen, I stop. I tell myself none of these situations exist. Then I ask what exists now? Right now, we are together and healthy. Then I do something with them. We take walks, do craft with my daughter, watch movies and cuddle in one bed together. At these points, nothing else matters except how happy I am in the moment and I am grateful to have those moments. I find that doing this helps to restore me to a peaceful mindset.
  2. Determine what specific actions you can take to make you feel better in the present situation. I remember one day feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of people that where dying from the present pandemic. Tears flooded my eyes. Yet I would not get off of social media and I did not turn off the News. I sat there just taking it all in, and the more I dwelled on it, the worst I felt. I felt as if I was being swallowed by it and things looked hopeless for a moment. Traumatic situations will do that to us. Suck us in and keep sucking us into the negative spaces. I stopped and realized that what I was feeding myself was creating a toxic situation for me and I needed to interrupt it. So, I turned off the television and put down the phone. I gave myself a moment to compose myself and then I started thinking about what would make me feel better right now. A light went on — dancing. I love to dance. I put on one of my favorite happy songs and at first, I didn’t feel it but I pushed myself to move to the rhythm. Soon I was dancing energetically, and my daughter came out and joined me. Her delight boosted my mood and the music did the rest. I realized that when things are overwhelming and beyond our control, we take back control by focusing on what we can do in the now that would improve our state of mind.
  3. Determine what part of the situation you can control and act on that part. When we feel in control, we think clearer and make better decisions. Intentionally block out what you cannot control. Growing up in St. Kitts and St. Maarten in the Caribbean meant that most years we faced hurricanes. Some were downright petrifying and quite traumatic. Every hurricane season I had a choice. I could panic and go into a dark place dwelling on the disaster to come and the loss that will follow, or I could do my best to prepare. You see, I learned that there are some things in life you cannot control. When things are beyond your control it is critical to focus on what you can control. In preparing for hurricanes, I could safeguard my house as best as I can and put an emergency plan in place. I could make sure I know where my shelters were and how to get there safely. Doing the things I can control made me feel as if I was taking care of myself and being proactive. This boosted my good feelings and self-confidence. This not only helped my mood but erased the sense of helplessness that I felt. It is the same with this pandemic; we can follow the rules of social distancing and practice good hygiene. We can focus on keeping ourselves, family and homes safe. This helps us feel empowered as we move through the crisis.
  4. Decide to take a positive perspective. Perspective drives feelings and behaviors and determine your level of peace or upheaval. As a child who survived sexual abuse, I often focused on what I lost, how inadequate I felt and how I wanted back the innocence of childhood. That served to keep me depressed, ensured I made lots of negative choices and self-sabotaged a lot. However, there came the point when I wanted to feel different. I just wanted the heavy negative, unhappy thoughts and feelings to go away. I read that if you change your thoughts you can change your feelings and your behavior. I dismissed it many times before I tried it. There is truth to the whole think positive thing. It took me years to master the art. It was not just thinking happy, positive thoughts; it was about taking a different perspective, a more positive perspective. The abuse was horrible, but I now help others identify the signs and recover self-confidence and a sense of purpose after abuse. I help women so they can make better choices and the experience I had, the lessons I learnt and the paths I took to be happier is what trained me to be good at helping others. During the present upheaval, we can easily look at the negatives. The negative is evident. The question you need to ask yourself is what is positive in all of this. Challenge yourself to find the positive in your everyday moments; it will elevate your peaceful state immensely.
  5. Talk to persons who help you gain clarity and confidence and who offer support and if possible helpful insight. Our minds and subconscious are like sponges they absorb, absorb and absorb and then start leaking out what they have absorbed without much effort. The thing is if your sponge is soaked in vinegar you should not expect it to leak honey. In other words, to maintain your sense of peace and positive outlook, watch what you absorb. It is important to read, listen to and watch what will contribute to what you want to pour out. If you want to be happy and at peace, then you need to ingest information that will contribute to that. So always consider the source of information first and then what that information is. Then determine if that is what you really want to absorb. It empowers you and helps you to maintain the mental, emotional and spiritual state that you desire.

From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

  1. Ask what they need or want. Many times, we assume we know what others need based on our perspective and just as often we are wrong. By asking the person what they need you force them to shift focus from the problem to the solution. This is empowering. Additionally, you save precious time and energy by giving what is necessary as quickly as possible.
  2. If they need help other than what you can give suggest it and have suggestions of resources they can use. Do some research to see how you can best help. No on person has all the answers and sometimes the best thing we can do for someone is to point them to the best person who can help them. Having resources lets them know you loved hem enough to do the research and it does not leave you and them feeling helpless.
  3. Create a space where they do not feel as if something is wrong with them. When anxious the last thing a person need is judgement. Chances are they are judging themselves already. They are looking for a safe space where they can just be. A space where they can let the anxiety out and know they are safe. Be that space for them.
  4. Know their style of attachment and adjust your support accordingly. Some people want a listening ear, some may want a hug, some may want solutions, and some may want you to just sit with them in silence. It is not about you at this moment but about what serves their need. Silent your impulses and give them the type of support that they understand best.
  5. Don’t take over. Let the person suffering direct the interaction. In our earnestness to help it is easy to start giving directives. But in these scenarios lead with love. Let them tell you how you can love them best in the moment.

What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?

I would suggest my book Girl, You Are Overthinking It!: How To Step Out Of Negative Thoughts And Jumpstart A New Way Of Thinking. It is practical and insightful without being burdensome. An easy read and easy to apply. I would also suggest The Art of Believing on Purpose, by Bev Aron. She uses everyday experience to teach some profound lessons on how to improve your life. Additionally, I would suggest meditation and yoga. They are excellent for calming and centering the mind and body. I personally love scripture-based meditation because my beliefs and faith ground me.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

A favorite quote that I live by is “she remembered who she was, and the game changed” — Lala Delia.

There was a point in my life when I just couldn’t be happy. Nothing made me happy. Many years after childhood sexual abuse I was still reeling from the impact. I tried suicide and self-harm several times and couldn’t wait to escape the never-ending cycle of pain, internal conflict and unhappiness. There were many days when I could not escape the darkness and wasn’t showing up as my best self or as myself at all. I felt as if I did not deserve anything good and the choices I made in relationship, jobs and friends reflected those feelings. I hit a place in my life where I felt like it was my rock bottom. I really wanted an escape and so I decided that I had to make a change. I finally took a look at my life, faced the fear I felt and realized that though things happened that I could not control, I now had total control of what happened to me. It took some time. I kept going between trying new habits and falling back into old habits. But I kept pushing. I became desperate for change and for something better. So I kept trying. Eventually, I found my momentum and fell in love with discovering who I am. I discovered who I was and what I was made of. It changed my life. I finally understood my beauty and strength and that that I had the power to change and create my reality.

I decided. I decided to change my story, change my concept of who I was and become who I am. I decided to be the best version of myself. I did the work for many years and still do, and now I help other women do their work as well. From sexually abused, suicidal and depressed to success, it has been and continues to be quite a journey.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would start a different kind of self-care movement. Most self-care routines involve escaping from your life for a specified period so you can focus on yourself. I would start a movement where we create lives that we do not want to or need to escape from. I would start a movement to live balanced, motivated, passion-infused lives.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online? and

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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