040: Resilience against judgment – Renee McDonald

Fearless Females Podcast guest Renee McDonald

In this episode:

In episode 40 of The Fearless Females Podcast your host Tegan Mathews interviews Renee McDonald who shares:

  • How she deals with constant judgment because of her short stature
  • Overcoming all of the other adversities life has given her
  • Her definition of resilience and why bad things need to happen
  • How her point of difference has become her strength

Tegan’s Take Aways from talking with Renee McDonald:

  1. You can’t be worried about what’s around the corner because none of us really know
  2. How can you use your experience for the good of others?
  3. Is your point of difference your strength? Could it be?
  4. There is no weakness in being vulnerable only strength
  5. If you are going through some tough times at the moment, don’t worry, it’s all for a good reason

About Renee McDonald

Renee McDonald is a counsellor/psychotherapist with a Masters and a Graduate Diploma of Counselling. She is also a counselling teacher, lecturer and facilitator of groups, workshops and retreats. She resides on the South Coast of NSW Australia, where she married to a patient and loving husband with 3 kids and a dog.

Contact Renee McDonald



Butterfly Courage

Heart and Soul Movement

A Gift for Listeners From Renee McDonald

Download a short chakra clearing guided meditation. It’s a combination of music and guided meditation and releasing exercises for your body. If you are stressed, it’s a really good way to let go of the knots and sticking points in your body using helpful breathing and chakra clearing.

By entering your name & email address we agree we won’t share your details with anyone! You may receive the occasional emails from Renee McDonald, Butterfly Courage and Heart and Soul Movement. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Show Notes: 040: Resilience against judgment – Renee McDonald

Renee McDonald’s Fearless Story

The reason I have come onto The Fearless Females Podcast is because I really have a sense that, that is the kind of person that I am and people on a regular basis do tell me that. I guess I need to tell you a little background about myself.

Firstly, I am a woman of very short stature. Only 143 cm which is about 4 foot 8 and a bit inches tall and that just means I see things differently.  Everybody is different and my story of difference comes from a young age of often people picking on me, calling me different names, saying things to me.

Particularly at primary school and then at high school there were different things they would say. Sometimes, along the way I have found good friends and people who would stick up for me or people who would help me along the way.

There’s often been that angel friend waiting in the wings to help me, in amongst the barrage of different things people have said to me over the years. Both from adults and children.

For example I have had friends and their children say some interesting things to me such as, “My mummy says you’re not a midget or a dwarf, is that right?” And I know for certain that I’m not so let’s just clear that one up.

But just because I am shorter than 97% of the population, does that make a difference? It shouldn’t. So anyway, I guess at times for me I have been told different things by people and I am often having to correct and it can be quite tiresome. Correcting people, “No that’s not the case, No that’s not the case.”

I was also talking a little bit earlier about how self-esteem can be linked to how tall you are. On a regular basis, whether it be with families I see or in child care centres, I’ve often seen there to be a focus on who’s the tallest or who’s the shortest. Does that then mean that the shortest person in the room should feel bad because they are not winning the tall game?

I was talking off air earlier about does it mean that when you are smaller that you are any lesser of a person because somehow we seem to focus on these things. As our society and community grows taller, it seems each generation is growing taller. Those of us who might be a little bit like leprechaun throwbacks, are we made to feel less of a person because we don’t measure up?

There are a lot of different sayings we even say like, “measuring up” and perhaps we don’t ‘measure up’ in that respect but I see spiritually I measure up probably even greater than the next person from that perspective because if there is a lot of ignorance around that then I can say, “Well perhaps they just don’t understand”. It’s better to not even argue with people if they don’t understand that.

On a regular basis I will go to pick up my kids at school, pre-school, anywhere I go in the community, kids will size themselves up against me and say, “You’re too short to be a mum”. Which is the judgement of society again.

You’ve also had other challenges you’ve had to overcome too?

Yes, over the years I’ve been through a lot of different personal challenges. I guess I will just list them off, starting with, I went through a terrible break up with an ex-partner who unfortunately got involved with hard core elicit substances.

That then awakened me to the fact that I might need to get my own therapy. I then discovered that maybe I could do that and it opened my eyes and I went off to study and become a therapist and that led to other things. Since then I got married and had kids but I’ve had a miscarriage, I’ve had a number of different deaths over the past number of years, all sorts of things.

What are some of the fears you’ve had to face through all of these experiences?

I think sometimes, for me anyway, it’s fighting the fear and doing it anyway. So, after suffering a miscarriage, as a really good example, the fear is, “Should I go on to have more children?” And then I went through problems with my next baby too where I suffered complications at birth and suffered haemorrhaging.

So, I’ve had a lot of different things happen yet for lots of different reasons I’ve been able to pull myself out of it. A large part of that is due to having supportive family and friends and in addition to that, seeking my own therapy at every stage.

How have you gotten through the experiences you’ve had?

One step at a time. You can’t be worried about what’s going to happen around the corner because none of us really know.

I joined lots of women’s spiritual groups. I’ve become more spiritual myself. I’ve learnt a number of spiritual healing techniques both for myself and working with other people. I’ve attended lots of workshops and retreats and all sorts of things like that.

Using the experience for good and for positive effect for both myself and others. At the time it can seem like the worst thing in the world and there have been some terrible, harrowing experiences in my life. Yet, on the other side, as long as I have been able to get through it, and work through it and take the time to process it to some degree, not ever fully processing anything I think in life we try and process it as much as we can.

Then it’s looking for what the gift might be or how to use this as a positive for other people.

What are the gifts you received from your experience?

Certainly, that’s what I wanted to raise again about resilience. I see resilience as being part of a person. We all talk about resilience being the ability to bounce back. But how can someone bounce back if they’ve never been through anything? That’s a question I want to put out there.

So if we wrap our children, or ourselves, up in cotton wool and we don’t ever experience anything then how can we ever learn to bounce back?

What is resilience to you?

Like I said before, it is the ability to bounce back but you need to have been through something to be able to bounce back. In addition to that, you’re absolutely correct, I see it as the ability to be able to be vulnerable. I like what Brene Brown talks about in relation to vulnerability, that vulnerability is actually strength. Not a weakness.

Often we make vulnerability out as a weakness and I’m very clearly, if you meet me in the street, and look at me compared to the other person, people are happy to point out my weakness. But I see that vulnerability as an actual strength and a point of connection for me with other people because if they’ve got problems, they can see I’m not perfect. Or, I’m not the same as everyone else, therefore I might understand their point of difference.

Most Memorable Moments

I’m an ice skater and I still ice skate and it helps to be a bit smaller because you have a lower centre of gravity and it is one of the things that I’m reasonably good at.

So, one of my most memorable experiences was winning ‘Eye of the Tiger’ as in I did a competition to the song, Eye of the Tiger and I won the competition against some very fierce competition. I skipped with a skipping rope on the ice and did push-ups on the ice.

I’ve done a lot of things in my life. I’ve had the good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between. I was a beautiful journey of having my first born daughter, even thinking about that experience and with all of my children I have had positive experiences having them.

What are you passionate about today?

These days, I do a lot of things. I try and get to the gym, I love Zumba, I like to have a bit of fun. I get out with my kids and they like to come skating with me, or we might go bike riding. Recently we went camping. I had a wonderful trip to Hong Kong with friends. So I have a lot of good things going on.

In addition to that I have a great private practice and some really great work I feel I’m doing in that with clients. I see all manner of different clients, couples, individuals. I do business mentoring now. I see clinical supervisee’s, I do that now as well. That brings me a lot of joy as well, seeing the positive changes in people’s lives.

What is something in your future plan that scares you?

Just around the corner I am doing training for therapists which is part of my business plan. I am training therapists in online therapy which is something new coming up.

And I feel like I’m becoming the bridge between the younger generation and the older generation with technology and the therapy world.

Five Fast Fun Fearless Facts about Renee McDonald

  1. Who inspires you? Besides Brene Brown I love Oprah. I love her story about luck because it’s the story of my life. That luck is not just luck in itself but luck is a combination of hard work and universal timing. I’ve had a lot of universal timing and really good ‘luck’ in my life as well.
  2. Favourite thing to do each day?
  3. What’s something that still scares you? I’m not the best swimmer in the world. It still scares me a little. Not as much as it did as a child but there’s still a little bit of a fear of that. Not afraid to go into water, just don’t like going under water.
  4. Favourite technique or app or book?
  5. If you could wave a magic wand and fix one thing in the world right now, what would it be and why? I would want two things. The first thing that came to mind is world poverty. The second thing would be the environment.

Final Question for Renee McDonald

If you could turn back time what’s the one piece of advice you wish you could give your fourteen-year-old self?

I love this question. I would say to my fourteen-year-old self, if she was feeling lost I would say to her, “Don’t worry, everything will be ok and it’s all for a reason.”

Where can people reach out to you?

 www.butterflycourage.com and www.heartandsoulmovement.com  

Facebook –

Butterfly Courage – therapy practice

Heart and soul movement – classes, meditation, retreats and workshops

A Gift for Listeners From Renee McDonald

Download a short chakra clearing guided meditation. It’s a combination of music and guided meditation and releasing exercises for your body. If you are stressed, it’s a really good way to let go of the knots and sticking points in your body using helpful breathing and chakra clearing.

By entering your name & email address we agree we won’t share your details with anyone! You may receive the occasional emails from Renee McDonald, Butterfly Courage and Heart and Soul Movement. You can unsubscribe at any time.

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