002: Overcoming fear of leaving a dangerous situation + setting boundaries – Ruby Usman

Ruby Usman

Ruby Usman

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In this episode:

In this episode of The Fearless Females Podcast your host Tegan Mathews interviews Ruby Usman who shares:

  • What it was like growing up in a country where women were treated as second-class citizens
  • How she managed to escape a violent marriage
  • What it was like to breathe for the first time
  • How she learnt to set boundaries and decide for herself what was acceptable and what wasn’t
  • Why self-care is so important both for ourselves and for the good of others

Tegan’s Take Aways:

  1. When you know you’re going to be facing something that will trigger your fear, prepare and create a strategy before hand to support you to succeed
  2. Replace anger with curiosity and you will find peace
  3. People hurt other people when their needs aren’t being met so it’s so important to give yourself self care
  4. You have to want things to be different before you can decide and take action
  5. Say yes to new experiences – it’s the only way you are going to find out if you like it or not

About Ruby Usman

Ruby Usman is a change-maker and passionate self-care specialist. With a brilliant business mind, an international career and first-hand experience of the hardships of life, she is an inspiring speaker and author of the book “Self-Care for Parents”.

Growing up in a third world country where women were oppressed and self-care was non-existent, Ruby witnessed the consequences of this neglect, manifesting in a violent and frightening community. This is her motivation for helping her clients find the balance between bliss and drive – strategic bliss is her overarching goal and her ultimate strength.

Contact Ruby Usman


A Gift for Listeners From Ruby Usman:

Download your free copy of Ruby Usman’s book – Self Care for Parents

By entering your name & email address we agree we won’t share your details with anyone. You will receive your book plus occasional emails from Ruby Usman. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Show Notes: Episode 002: Ruby Usman

Ruby’s Fearless Story

  • Felt like I had no existence – was told you must be a reproductive machine and a slave to the person you marry
  • Blessed to have parents who believed education was a non-negotiable
  • Parents gave me critical thought & that gave me the ability to stand up against society and leave Pakistan
  • I call myself a self-care activist
  • Reconnecting people with their needs – when you do, you can’t hurt other people

One Highlight Moment

  • I believe in seizing the day so I have lots of ‘moments’
  • 9th April 2002 in Germany – first trip overseas
  • There was a river flowing and I was on top of a hill with the wind on my face
  • This is what it feels like to breathe
  • I have never known this feeling before consciously as an adult
  • That moment was my re-birth
  • It gave me the courage to leave my marriage
  • I was another person before 9th April and another person after
  • My experiences before that contributed to who I am today
  • But before that I felt like a prisoner of my life
  • Before that I thought I couldn’t get out of the abusive marriage
  • I felt like I didn’t deserve love so why try
  • After 9th April none of that mattered because I now knew how to take free breathes and that was enough to start my journey

How did you turn it around

  • I had tried to get out of the abusive marriage before but discovered I was afraid of being alone
  • As soon as I left him I had a panic attack and it was so severe I asked to be with him again
  • My boss at the time – who I have dedicated my book to – said to me:
  • When you are going to do something difficult that you know you are going to feel afraid
  • Why not create strategies before hand so that when it comes time to be afraid, you already have something prepared
  • Wow, I thought, that is so simple and so logical
  • So what I did was I created a power point presentation
  • I knew that eating watermelon was the only thing that made me feel better during my panic attacks
  • So I wrote – eat watermelon
  • Do not call him – and the reasons why I shouldn’t
  • Then I posted them in front of the bed so that they were there all the time to remind me
  • If those reminders hadn’t been there I can honestly say I would have called him
  • And I turned off my phone because I knew if it was on, I would call him
  • It’s so important to have a plan when you feel you have to leave a situation
  • It’s also very simple and that’s the beauty of it
  • It’s all about knowing and then creating a system to compensate for it

A specific facing fears moment

  • You were extremely courageous and faced your perpetrator. How did you prepare for that and what was it like for you?
  • When I left the marriage I was full of hatred for men and for the world and for everybody
  • I did not think I could trust anyone
  • I also didn’t have any friends because the relationship I had been in, he didn’t allow me to have any friends
  • So it was a stage zero for me
  • So I went and did a course called Asia works
  • It was a five-day course, then a three day advanced and a three-month leadership program
  • The first five days was about awareness and it made me confront all the hatred I had
  • I had to face what was behind that which was all the pain I was storing within my own body
  • After that I became curious as to what would drive someone to hurt someone else
  • I thought, maybe if I can understand what was going through his mind when he did those things to me, then I can understand what happened to me
  • And if I can understand him then maybe I can understand this pattern within that society
  • So I put myself into a situation where I could have a conversation with him
  • But that was easier said than done – how do you start a conversation like that
  • “Hi, you abused me a while ago and do you know why you did that?”
  • So I wasn’t brave enough to say that but I did ask him what was going on for him when we shared the experiences we did
  • And he said those were the darkest allies for him and he never wishes to revisit them in his life again
  • And that brought me to understand that sexual abuse does not define him, it’s one of the things he did
  • And that started this search for me on why people hurt other people

What did you learn from this

  • There is a book The Lucifer Effect by Dr. Philip Zimbardo
  • He created an experiment with volunteer prisoners
  • Within five days of the experiment there were riots, guards abusing prisoners and all sorts of things so he had to shut it down
  • What came out of it is that if you deny a person what they need or what makes them happy, they are going to react and sometimes that reaction hurts other people
  • Similar to fight, flight or freeze where if someone is put into a situation, these will be their reactions
  • I spent a lot of time being numb to my emotions
  • I was just lucky that I was able to leave that world and create a life for myself and not everyone is able to do that
  • Imagine a life where you have to provide for your wife, children, parents, sisters and you aren’t supposed to show weakness
  • You’re not supposed to talk about your feelings
  • And they are burdened by those responsibilities and it has to come out some how
  • I love how you had curiosity because with knowledge comes power and by creating that understanding it created peace for you
  • You could see him as a person who acted out badly – which doesn’t excuse what he did, but it helped you to understand and find peace with that
  • Having the courage to speak to him about that was hugely courageous and commendable and amazing
  • Its amazing, when things happen to us, instead of confronting them we take it out on other people which isn’t good for them or us
  • We are never happy when we take it out on other people
  • It comes down to a choice, if I want to stay in the known, the familiar, even if I don’t like it then the tools won’t appear
  • You have to want it to be different
  • For me, I had never dreamed of leaving Pakistan. As a girl its just not possible to do that and create an independent life
  • So I understand its hard but I think everyone can do it, you just have to make up your mind.
  • I was so hell bent on finding something that works. In 21 months I saw 24 different professionals to handle and confront what I had to deal with
  • That’s how much stand I took for my life

How did you get to the point of determination

  • I think curiosity is one and willing to take a stand for your life
  • Deep down I wanted to become a better person
  • I said no to what I didn’t find acceptable
  • And that meant I had to find something to accept
  • That’s how I live my life now – if its something new then I just ‘lets do it’ because that’s the only way I am going to find me
  • The moment I accept bad, I am saying I don’t deserve good and I am telling the other person that it’s ok for them to do that to me
  • Sometimes you have to experience something before you know if its acceptable to you or not
  • I would like to acknowledge my mother for that
  • I had exposure but my mother didn’t
  • So she came to visit me and I took her paragliding, to a strip club and dancing
  • She had never danced in her whole life, she had never worn a skirt or let her hair out
  • And she said yes to experiencing it
  • Its ok that when we do something new and it doesn’t work out
  • Not everything is supposed to work out
  • It’s a rainbow
  • When we don’t accept bad it stops us from doing something about it
  • But if it does get worse you will find something to make it better
  • Believing that you can handle anything takes practice
  • The universe will never throw us anything we can’t handle
  • We only attract those things that are of the same vibration as where we are
  • There’s nothing you can’t handle – that’s just fear trying to keep you small that tells you otherwise

What are you passionate about today

  • Helping people reconnect with their needs
  • I believe we live a life where we feel that if we are to be happy we have to say no to people
  • I believe we can create win-wins
  • So I call myself a self-care activist because I want to bring self-care revolution
  • As a parent – instead of saying I have to stop thinking of myself in order to raise this child
  • If you come from the mentality that I am not responsible for shaping my child I am responsible for loving and I can include my child in my life then its win win
  • Showing self-love to yourself is a wonderful example to set for your children

What is something in your future plan that scares you

  • I want to make emotional learning and emotional vocabulary something that is in all our institutions in the future
  • For example, as part of pre-natal classes so that we are not trying to control our babies, we are letting them experience life instead of making it into something that is not
  • It scares me because I don’t know how I am going to do it
  • Roots of empathy where they bring a toddler and a mother into the classroom so that they build empathy and get to experience what it’s like to feel other people’s feelings.
  • What a great plan that is to have

Five Fast Fun Fearless Facts about Ruby Usman

  1. Who inspires you? Growth and learning
  2. Favourite thing to do each day? Meditation and connecting with friends
  3. What’s something that still scares you? Camping alone at night
  4. Favourite technique or app or book? App = Day One Journaling App, Book = Andrews game in eleven minutes
  5. If you could wave a magic wand and fix one thing in the world right now, what would it be and why? Bring more self-awareness – unless we know, we can’t do anything about it

Gift for listeners

Book – Self Care for Parents – downloadable gift

Final Question

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

  • I don’t regret anything in my life
  • I don’t want to change anything – like the butterfly effect, I wouldn’t want to change anything
  • I would say to my fourteen-year-old self though – don’t worry, don’t think too much, it’s going to be ok

Where can people reach out to you? www.rubyusman.com.au


A Gift for Listeners From Ruby Usman:

Download your free copy of Ruby Usman’s book – Self Care for Parents

By entering your name & email address we agree we won’t share your details with anyone. You will receive your book plus occasional emails from Ruby Usman. You can unsubscribe at any time.

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