From Surviving to Thriving: How Embracing My Spirituality Helped Me Find Success

I grew up in a broken home. I was one of six children. Throughout my life I have been bullied, beaten, stalked, threatened, humiliated, depressed and penniless. I was drugged and sexually assaulted at 14, suffered a miscarriage at 16 and I’m now a single mother of two. So I’m definitely no stranger to adversity.At 16 years old, I moved out of my family home to live with my boyfriend at the time, working part-time just to pay the rent. But it was my first job in the legal profession that really turned things around. I left school and landed a job as a legal trainee, earning just $14,000/year. I commuted every day from Frankston and managed to afford just a sausage roll from the local 7/11 for meals. It’s all my budget would allow. But I quickly fell in love with property law. And despite finding myself pregnant at 21, while working full-time as a paralegal, I continued to pursue my passion for property law and conveyancing.As my career skyrocketed, my personal life imploded and I found myself pregnant again with my daughter, who was later diagnosed with ADHD and Autism. I also discovered throughout those years that my boyfriend, and the father of my children, was leading a very different life behind the scenes which saw him serve time in prison. I was often left heavily pregnant, or with young children, with no car, no money and unable to get to work or pay for groceries.While the next few years were a constant struggle as I raised my kids, pursued my passion for property law and conveyancing as a Paralegal, paying the bills and navigating my relationship, I tried to rally as best as I could.To kick me when I was down, despite working throughout my maternity leave with a newborn and a toddler, I was let go from my job when I officially returned to the office. This workplace was my home, my safe place, where I could escape to and be who I wanted to be each and every day, from morning to evening. To say I was broken would be an understatement. I was devastated, exhausted and utterly spent.With everything life dealt me, it would have been very easy to give up. Instead, I continued to pick up the pieces every time I was down.

I asked for a loan from my nana and turned $1,600 into a thriving business. Of course, it wasn’t an overnight success. At the beginning, clients would come to my home and sign documents on my kitchen bench. At the same time, I left my abusive relationship, became a single mother and accepted temporary office jobs to put food on the table, briefly returning to bartending from 5am to 3pm each Sunday while I built my conveyancing business during the day.

And that initial $1,600 eventually grew, through lots of hard work. Now, I run multiple successful businesses in property, and not only am I building my own empire, but I’m helping others build theirs.

How did I get here? I credit a lot of my success to how I’ve integrated spirituality into the culture of my business, and by extension, my life.

Spirituality taught me to take a birds eye view of major life events, helping me see the broader perspective. It helped me look at my behaviour, patterns, beliefs and consider whether there was a better way.

For a long time, I believed that I was born a specific way, that I am who I am simply ‘because’. I didn’t realise that I had the power to change the narrative, to be who I wanted to be.This process took time. And often, it hurt.I looked back through key defining moments and really dived into the circumstances surrounding and leading up to it, which may have aided in causing the event in the first place.First, I looked at my attitude towards myself. I believed that I was unworthy of love, unsuccessful. That I was a burden. That I was better off alone and that life always ‘happens’ to me. I believed that I always had to try and fix people. And then, I looked at how these beliefs led to certain life events happening.For example, when it came to the abusive relationship, I believed that I didn’t deserve any better, that I chose the relationship so I had to live with it. I didn’t think I could do things by myself so I had to have a partner, no matter how I was treated. I believed I was unworthy, not capable and worthless. When my children were diagnosed with ASD, I believed it was my fault – I must have done something wrong so I deserved it. The same went for when I was let go from the firm. I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, talented enough. I should have been better, worked harder and given more.The reality, of course, is that none of this was true. I didn’t do anything to deserve the obstacles thrown my way. So, I changed my mindset. And looked at each situation on its own merit – what did it teach me? How am I the person I am today because of those events?Looking at the abusive relationship, it taught me what not to accept in the future. It taught me how to stand up for myself, to believe in myself and showed me the strength I had. It helped me see that I was worthy. That I did deserve love, I could be loved, and I didn’t have to settle for someone who not only wasn’t right for me, but was abusive mentally, physically and emotionally. When my children were diagnosed with ASD, I learnt that there are different ways to parent different children. I understood that I needed to give them strength, love them for who they are, not what they do or what I think they need to be. I also understood that I had a real chance to parent them the way they needed, rather than what I thought was correct.This internal self-work isn’t for the faint hearted. It hurts, and it’s hard. But it is most definitely worth it. The hardest part is really looking at yourself and taking responsibility for your part in those events.I refused to look at myself in certain ways, and instead blamed everyone else. Thinking I was innocent to it all, and this was happening to me. But by gosh was I naïve.Each and every one of us are responsible for 50% of every situation that has ever happened in our lives. When you consider that I before, I wasn’t even willing to accept any responsibility, 50% is a pretty big load to take on.But we all have to realise that bad things do happen, and while they seem to be out of our control, we need to remember that maybe they aren’t meant to hurt us. Rather, they are here to teach us.I was raped at 14 years old. It was my first sexual experience. I was desperate to fit in so I went to a party with much older kids, where there was alcohol, smoking and who knows what else. Yes, I put myself in a dangerous situation, but for a bit of background information, by all accounts I was a full-blown prude. My younger sister used to joke with me about it. So no, I definitely was not ‘asking for it’. But why did I put myself in this dangerous situation? I know now that it was because I wanted to be liked and was desperate to be part of the ‘it’ crowd. If going to a party would make it easier for me to fit in, then you better believe that I was going to that party.Sure, if I hadn’t have gone, things may have been different. But I did go, and what happened did happen. I can’t change that. For a very long time I carried a lot of blame. But working through it, that pain and blame soon turned into shame. Shame of myself. I no longer blamed myself. And yes, there is a difference. What happened to me when I was a teenager resulted in a lot of feelings, understandably. I struggled with self-love, self-worth and belief in myself. Which I can see now led me to choose the partners I chose, landing me in some very unfortunate situations.So while I couldn’t stop it from happening, nor change the outcome, I did learn from it. And I was able to watch my life unfold as a direct result of the beliefs I created based on what I experienced. In a way, it’s the simple equation of cause and effect.So while I was living the life which I had created, I had created it unknowingly, I was following the path laid in front of me, and rolling with the punches along the way. This can sometimes be known as the fated life. The life we are given. By knowing these beliefs were there, and seeing what I did as a result of living by that set of beliefs, and taking full responsibility for my actions, I was able to change my future. Remember, the future doesn’t exist yet – you can literally change it in a heartbeat.

Realising that I couldn’t keep living the ‘victim’ life, or being a slave to my environment, I sought help to heal my past and create my future, on purpose. This is often known as your destined life. The life of destiny which you choose.

Our beliefs create our experiences. The first thing we need to do is to identify what our core beliefs are. But the key is doing this honestly, because as humans, we are very good at tricking ourselves. We can then work on changing them. But again, the key here is being honest. Be honest in what you can achieve. And then live them. We need to live, feel and be our core beliefs. And this can be challenging.

There’s a GIF floating around that sums up this idea perfectly. In the GIF, there was a car driving in a straight line down a smooth concrete road; driving a long, comfortable, safe, familiar road. This is our current belief system. Then all of a sudden, we introduce a new belief or change a belief, and the car sharply steers off the road, down a dirt track in between trees and bushes. The terrain becomes rough, bumpy and unfamiliar. The car tries so hard to pull us back onto the familiar and comfortable track of the road, but our new belief is strong. We remain on the unfamiliar path. But, in order to succeed along this ‘dirt track’, the belief needs support and conviction to keep going.

So, you have a choice. Keep going down the rough, bumpy and unfamiliar terrain, and forge a new way, creating a new belief for life, or veer back onto the safety of the concrete road. Stick to the new path, and you’ll soon find that you’re able to continue. Your experiences will change in line with your new beliefs.

It’s powerful, life-changing stuff. The best part is that everything you need to do it is right there inside of you. You don’t need anyone or anything else. No gurus, coaches or teachers. You just need you. You need your mind, your heart and your self-belief.

Of course, if you’re a little impatient like me, the right team of people around you can help speed up the process. But believe that you can do this yourself. You can make the change on your own. The true core of spirituality isn’t to believe in something else or someone else, it is to believe in you.

No one knows you better than you know yourself. But, if you are like I was, you may not know yourself at all.

When I first started this work, and implementing it daily, I realised I had no idea who I was. This feeling even stemmed to what food I liked and what clothes I liked wearing. Often, I didn’t even know which emotions I was feeling.

Breaking down the walls of trauma brings with it a lot of ‘new’ experiences. I felt lonely for the first time. I felt real love for the first time. I felt envious for the first time.

The same goes for our businesses. No one knows them better than we do.

I will never forget when I called a very dear friend who is an amazing businessman – wealthy, intelligent and so much more – for some advice. I needed to know what to do next in my business. He listened, patiently I might add, despite how worked up I can get. But when I was done, he politely said, “Kiani, you don’t need my help… You know all the answers. You know your business better than anyone will. So take some time and listen to yourself, feel what needs to happen next and follow your instincts. You made it this far, keep going.”

In that moment, I was disappointed. I had really been hoping for some miraculous revolution which would fast-track my business. I was hoping that someone would help me, that someone would give me the answers and tell me what to do. But my friend was right. He was absolutely 100% right. No one knew my business better than I did. All I needed to do was observe, listen and implement. So I did exactly what he said. It didn’t happen overnight. It took time. Searching, looking, feeling, exploring and finally landing on the answer. I just needed to take a beat. But I never would have done it unless someone else had told me to.
So there sits the reality, sometimes we can’t see what is right in front of us, but if we’re willing to listen, we may find it, even if it’s not what we expect or hope for, or even like. My tip for you here? Advice from someone you admire and respect should never be ignored. Follow your gut, be your own biggest champion, and know that you have the answers. At the very least, you have the answers for the next steps forward.

For me, once I knew the next step, I then knew who I needed to bring in to execute the plan. But until that point, until I understood what the next step was, I was useless to everyone, and to my business.

I started to become a human-being, not a human-doing.

I don’t know about you, but I have always had this internal drive to push myself and those around me. As the saying goes, “If you’re not growing your dying.”

But I took it over the top. I didn’t ever allow myself time to stop, slow down, or even breathe. I remember living in Albert Park, which is such a beautiful suburb, right near the beach, surrounded by parks, beautiful houses and serenity, but I couldn’t tell you much about the place I lived, because when I walked anywhere I was rushing and looking at the pavement (or at my phone), when I was driving I was anxious about getting to where I needed to go and then worried about what I had to do next, when I was home I was working or looking after kids or getting stuff done. That old saying of ‘stop and smell the roses’… well I needed to stop and look up. I needed to pay attention to my surroundings and appreciate the beautiful part of the world I lived in and was so blessed to be able to raise my kids in. I mean, who doesn’t want to live in Albert Park?!

This all formed part of my process of slowing down, something I thought I could never do. I would get angry at people when they told me to meditate or take a yoga class, thinking that they clearly had no idea how much I had to do, or how much I was carrying. How dare they suggest that? The thought was absolutely ridiculous to me. Already there weren’t enough hours in the day, and you wanted me to waste a whole hour to do seemingly nothing. I thought they were all crazy.

My nervous system loved the chaos. This was where I thrived. And this is still where I thrive. I am a naturally born problem solver. But things have changed. Before it was my drug of choice, I created a need for it; if things were quiet or seeming a little slow, I would create stress and drama just so I could solve the problem. And all of this was happening without me even realising I was doing it.

And it wasn’t just the big things, it was the little chaos too. Sending ‘just one more’ email, knowing full well that I had to be on the other side of the city for a meeting shortly, or ‘accidentally’ confirming my attendance to two separate events only to realise they were on the same day, at the same time but at two very different locations. I really was running on smoke and fumes. But not knowing any different, it felt normal; it felt safe. This was just how it was meant to be done right? This was what life was meant to be like if you wanted to succeed?

There was a real element too of outsiders’ perspective, which was solidified when I allowed a girlfriend to work for me, doing phones and admin (side note, don’t do this; friendships should remain outside of working environment, especially at the young age I was, emotionally immature, eye on the prize and willing to do anything to succeed).

Keep in mind that when this was happening, I felt that I always needed to be ‘on’. I needed to be the one performing, being the best, working harder than anyone else. It was my way of proving that I am worthy, successful, friendly, helpful, kind and all of the other positive attributes everyone seeks to be. But one day, my friend got quite upset with me. While she was office-based, I was the one working in the ‘field’. I was performing all of the conveyancing, as well as business development work, networking, marketing. I was doing it all – small business owners will know what I am talking about. I was wearing all of the hats. Her remarks were simple. She said she was stuck in the office all day, doing all of the work while I was out gallivanting around, leaving her to hold down the fort. It hit me hard. Here I was thinking I was spinning all the plates, and finally had support and help from someone who saw how hard I was working and how hard I was trying, but actually, it was the opposite. She didn’t see that at all.

It was a really interesting time for me, because I woke up to what was going on. Suddenly, I questioned everything. It just goes to show that those closest to us have a way of affecting us deeply.

Whilst I didn’t agree with her comments, I still took them on board, and looked at this particular working relationship and considered where things had gone so wrong. It was a huge realisation for me. By not slowing down, by not being aware of my surroundings, and not taking into account the emotions, energy and behaviour of those around me, I missed the signs. I totally missed that she was disheartened by her job and her role.

This became a really pivotal part of my journey as a boss, employer and mentor, things were bigger than me. It wasn’t all about me, definitely not any more. And it was my responsibility to be clear with the roles, responsibilities, expectations, direction and overall business structure so that this wouldn’t


ever happen again. At the same time, I realised how this was playing out in my personal life too. Friends and family had a totally different view to me on how things were panning out.

This is, by no means, a blame game, if anything, it’s an opportunity to become more aware and understanding of what’s going on. We don’t know what people around us are thinking, we cannot control their behaviour, we shouldn’t assume. We need to slow down and consider the scenario from both sides.

I don’t see ‘conflict’ anymore, but when situations like that may arise, I stop, slow down and consider, what of my actions have led to this disruption or upset? What could have been misunderstood or delivered incorrectly for this person to be upset at me right now?

Sometimes, there will be ways in which you contributed, which you can apologise for. Other times, there won’t be. Sometimes, a difference of opinions comes down to a different set of values and ethics. And in my world, values and ethics must align to the best of their ability for a friendship or relationship to work.

Through all of this, slowing down has really shown me a new appreciation. This appreciation starts with myself, for simply being able to consider all angels, perspectives and ideas. I have an appreciation for other people, for understanding that we all think and behave differently.
I also have an appreciation that what is right and wrong to me, may not be right and wrong to those around me. That doesn’t mean others are wrong, it means we have a difference in our beliefs, our values and our ethics. It is not personal.

I don’t carry hatred in my heart for any person in my entire life, no matter what their wrong doings.

I believe that we are all here, doing the best we can, wanting to be loved, wanting to give love, wanting to be happy, and searching for peace, love and joy. I believe we are doing this with the tools we hold at every particular stage of our lives. Some have more tools, better tools, some have less. We need to remember that it’s all a journey, at different stages, with different measuring tools, surrounded by different people.

It was a process to give my nervous system the support it needed to be able to slow down. It didn’t happen overnight. I still today practise constantly. My natural born thriving mode can be detrimental to my development, and especially to those around me.

I need to remember that when you are a certain way for so long, it will naturally take time to change these habits and patterns, and create new pathways for survival. So if you are heading down this path, please know you are on the right track. It won’t always feel like it, and you will go backwards to be able to go forwards, but know that you will always be starting again with more than you had before. Each down day will be surpassed with more happy days, each disrupt will be overcome with tools you didn’t have before. Each repeated situation will come with it awareness that you are repeating a pattern.

Life is a journey, there is no end. Life is not linear. Life is what we make of it!

Everything that life has thrown my way has been an opportunity to learn. And it was when I realised that life throws teachable moments, not bad luck, your way, and embraced this ideology in all areas of my life – including the workplace – that I really began not only to survive, but thrive.



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