Today, I interview Donna Tashjian who suffered loss and abuse at an early age. She was forced to grow up fast and put aside what happened, focusing on adulthood without a true sense of her own identity. She hadn’t been able to deal with her trauma, so her confidence was deeply hurt and she was very afraid of using her voice and making true connections with people.
She struggled with the child voice inside her vs. the adult voice, knowing right and wrong but being made to feel like speaking up about it wasn’t her place. So she stayed busy to block out those feelings.
She eventually developed an appreciation for stillness, learning the importance of embracing her inner intuition, letting it out, and learning more about her true self every day. She came to develop a relationship with God and credits a church group for helping her find the courage to dig deep within herself to process and deal with her past. Now she helps others to turn the heavy painful parts of their past into empowering tools they can harness today in a healthy way, striving for productivity, success, and joy.
Donna is the founder of Vibrant Living International a non-profit organization. She is also a Life Mastery Coach, an ordained minister, podcaster, and author. She helps bring accelerated transformation to people across the world. Her passion is to help you reach your full potential. She specializes in helping you turn your baggage into luggage so you can live the life of your dreams using and developing your spiritual intelligence.
Donna has been speaking and coaching for over 25 years. She has developed powerful programs and workshops to help you through life’s transitions and pain to achieve your goals or dreams. She also produces a podcast called “You Were Designed for Greatness” and has written 4 books. Her clients say she has a knack for turning fear into excitement and exposing lies so the truth can shine through.
Find Donna here:
https://www.ivibrantliving.com/ (Free book available on the homepage!)
Watch the episode:
Learn How to Speak Without Fear!
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Transcript of Interview
Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast
Podcast Host: Dr. Doreen Downing
Free Guide to Fearless Speaking: Doreen7steps.com
Episode # 53 Donna Tashjian
“Stillness, Intuition, and Faith”
(00:03) Dr. Doreen Downing
Hi, I’m Dr. Doreen Downing, psychologist and host of the Find Your Voice, Change Your Life podcast. What I do is invite guests to have some kind of story to tell about somewhere in their life feeling like they didn’t have a voice. We get to hear what those circumstances were what happened or what was going on and it’s always something new. That’s one of the things about this podcast that I think keeps people coming back is that the stories are all so different. Plus, how people find their voice and what they can do now is such a journey, and it can be such an inspiration. So, today, let me introduce you to Donna, I don’t have your last name.
(01:24) Donna Tashjian
It is Tashjian.
(01:25) Dr. Doreen Downing
I just didn’t know how to pronounce it.
(01:29) Donna Tashjian
You are not alone in that.
(01:33) Dr. Doreen Downing
But it sounds– now that you say it, it sounds easy. Donna Tashjian is the founder of Vibrant Living International, a nonprofit organization and she’s also a Life Mastery coach and ordained minister, podcaster, and author. She helps bring accelerated transformation. I’m going to say that again. Accelerated transformation. That’s a wonderful idea. She helps bring accelerated transformation to people across the world. Her passion is to help you reach your full potential. She specializes in helping you turn your baggage into luggage. So, you can live the life of your dreams using and developing your spiritual intelligence. Donna has been speaking and coaching for over 25 years. So, a bit more I’d like to say about you, Donna, before we get to the meat of today, but she has developed powerful programs and workshops to help you through life’s transitions and pain to achieve your goals and dreams. She also produces a podcast–and it’s called, You Were Designed for Greatness– and has written four books. Her clients say she has a knack for turning fear into excitement and exposing lies so that the truth can shine through. Well welcome, Donna.
(03:01) Donna Tashjian
Thank you, Doreen.
(03:02) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, it sure sounds like you and I have been on a similar kind of journey and are now at a point in our lives where we can offer people guidance back to who they truly are inside. But I’m sure like my own story but today is your story. We didn’t start out that way. We might have been– I think we were born inside. Something happened, so that’s where I’d like to start with you a story– origin story, perhaps you might say.
(03:35) Donna Tashjian
Sure. I grew up in a blended family and the one of the events that definitely shaped who I became, at that point in my life was at the age of 14, someone that I knew hurt me and I became pregnant. So, at the age of 15, I’m a mother. So, to gloss over that in that little couple sentences does not even begin to describe the amount of pain, shame, embarrassment, hiding, that I went through during those times. As I began to become an adult and have other children and get married, one of the things that I noticed is, I call it, hiding, or finding your voice. One of the things that I had an event, where I was really crying for that little girl, is that her voice didn’t matter. What she had to say didn’t matter and her feelings were wrong. I say that with air quotes. It’s like everything about that period of time was, that there was no voice and as I began to step into the role I’m in today, one of the ways that came up with my coach is they wanted me to do videos. I’m like, “no, I’ll talk to people on the phone and I will post things on social media, but I’m not doing videos.” So, we began to dig into, why are you hiding? Why do you feel like being visible, or you’re finding your voice is not okay? So, we began to do work around that, and learning that it wasn’t all right. You go past the childhood, and you don’t recognize that the trauma has occurred, and you can’t share. Being visible, to me, meant I was going to be in trouble. So, as an adult, if my boss said, “come in the office,” most of the time was commending me or giving me more work. But every time my name was called, my gut would drop and I’m like, what’s going to happen? That’s bad. So, that was the feeling I had about speaking up and finding my voice and being visible and being able to be who God created me to be, was learning how to rewrite that story so that I didn’t still feel like that little girl anymore.
(04:35) Dr. Doreen Downing
Already you have said so much. There’s so many points I’d like to have you–
(06:38) Donna Tashjian
Let’s go into it.
(06:41) Dr. Doreen Downing
First of all, what you just said about the little girl– there’s a sense inside of you that there is a being that was way more vulnerable. Of course, at that age, you know, early teens, we don’t have a lot of capacity to say, “no, stop, this is wrong” or whatever. But just say more about that little one inside.
(07:08) Donna Tashjian
Well, it was part of my healing process to “talk to”, if you will, the little girl inside of me, and tell her what she should have been told. I did have the capacity to say “no,” and, “this is not okay.” But it wasn’t all right. I couldn’t do that. It wasn’t allowed. My opinions weren’t allowed. Whatever I had to say, it was told to be quiet and not to speak and so it wasn’t all right, without going into more detail. That anyone else that’s experienced that will definitely get what I mean by that and then learning how to recognize when that part of you that still reacting as a child did, and recognizing it so that you can work through those kinds of things. What I tended to do is get really busy, so you don’t hear those voices. So, you don’t hear those impulses, you just get busier and you just do more. Rather than taking the time to look it in the eye, and to process and heal.
(08:28) Dr. Doreen Downing
I love what you just said, the facing and looking and the part of you that then faces and looks. I think that first there’s courage to turn around and go within, but also the kind of listening and looking. Say some things about that kind of approach.
(08:52) Donna Tashjian
It’s being still, which we run away from. How many times do we look at our devices? We’re never– it’s like, we’re not being still and actually listening to what our thoughts are. Not somebody else’s thoughts, not something you read on social media, but what are your thoughts? What are the thoughts that you think about what happened to you, about what’s going on currently in your life? What are your thoughts? And really begin to listen to yourself. My way was journaling, writing it down. Sometimes I destroyed it. I didn’t want anybody to find it. But it’s learning how to get still, get quiet, and really listen.
(09:39) Dr. Doreen Downing
The deeper kind of listening, to hear what you say, it comes from being nonreactive to what you are letting the little one say. I have a lot of people who I work with and then they go, “I don’t want to”– just like you said something about not wanting people to see it so they never do that journaling. But there are so many now online, there’s an app called 750 words.com and it’s all private, apparently, I don’t know, maybe people–
(10:11) Donna Tashjian
Anything online doesn’t feel private to me.
(10:13) Dr. Doreen Downing
(10:14) Donna Tashjian
I can write it on a piece of paper and throw it away or burn it or something. But online, I would not put any of that stuff online, that just wouldn’t sit okay with me. But you know, you can put– you have notes in your phone, type it in the phone. I mean, there’s all kinds of ways but there is something very lethargic about writing.
(10:34) Dr. Doreen Downing
That’s what I want to get into, whatever way you can find. Because what you’re talking about is voice, a voice that is buried inside and has for a lot of people, been tucked way back when even earlier than 14 where they just have not had access.
(10:53) Donna Tashjian
Mine started earlier than that, too. It’s learning that what I– when we’ve been told your voice doesn’t matter and what you have to say is wrong, then you begin to doubt yourself, and we listen to other people. When I got– when I mentioned, the “spiritual intelligence” part of the things I teach about is using our intuition and being able to follow our gut in what we know is right or wrong. When I ask women that I work with in my different programs, “can you name a time that your gut told you, your intuition told you, not to do something, you did, and it turned out badly?” And everybody can raise their hand, it’s like, we’ve all not listened to that. We minimize that voice. To me, that’s one of the most important voices, we minimize the voice of our intuition, which to me is linked to God. That’s my story, to be able to listen and know when something feels right or wrong, to be able to go. But people do all kinds of things, they become a different career because somebody told him they should and they don’t even like it. All kinds of ways that we listen to other voices, rather than our own and rather than valuing it, when we’ve been told it’s wrong all our life, that’s a big transition, to be able to listen to that.
(12:29) Dr. Doreen Downing
Right. It is a– there has to be some kind of understanding that behind us lies some answers or within us. That’s partly what you’re talking about. Lies not only where the pain happened, but also, you’re saying the spiritual. I call her, it, him, the essence, the essence of who we are. We’re born with that, and you have mentioned greatness. So, that whole sense of what got not reflected back to us early on. Instead, the messages in the voice that came to us was don’t or stop, or you don’t matter, or shut up, any of those kinds of things that then makes the voice not be able to develop itself from the inside. So, it’s almost like a weak muscle that is inside. Then you growing up later saying, let me take this inner journey, and then knowing how to do it. You know, the whole approach, and the discovery. I like the way you’re talking about it being an inner journey that you get to discover so much more.
(13:47) Donna Tashjian
Yes, it’s one of the most fun things when you really discover what you really like, what you really enjoy and you “blossom”, to me is a good word. As you get older you like different things, you do different things and embracing the journey. Rather than making an incident or a time period in our life my whole book, it’s going to be a chapter or it’s going to be a paragraph in my book, as opposed to my whole book. One of the things that has helped me to move forward was getting still and processing, but also continuing an outward vision of where I wanted to go, the type of woman I wanted to be and not necessarily focusing on labels that had been placed or words that had been spoken. But focusing on who I wanted to be while I’m looking inward and processing. But it’s a process, not a camp. I’m not building a house there. I’m not getting my camp side set up. I’m processing and moving on. So, it’s not a forever thing to be able to do. It shows up again sometimes. But it’s a different process each time, but continuing to keep my eyes forward of the woman that I want to be, as opposed to what happened to me.
(15:16) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes. And I see, sometimes people say, “I don’t want to wallow”, but there is a way to look back and gain more insight and achieve some kind of resolution within. So, I think that looking back is part of it and I agree it’s not about wallowing. But I like what you added the vision, I have a program called Voice Your Vision, and that is the sense of what you’re talking about, seeing something that’s ahead of you that you want to well, not that you want to but that’s calling you.
(15:52) Donna Tashjian
(15:53) Dr. Doreen Downing
Right. So, you talked about– there seems to be something that woke you up that you use. What was that? How did you go, whoa?
(16:09) Donna Tashjian
What are you referring to, what part?
(16:11) Dr. Doreen Downing
Well, you start to go through it, let’s say a transformation process yourself? What initiated that habit? What was the motive for that? How did you wake up, let’s put it that way and say, oh, I need to do this on myself, I need to heal?
(16:30) Donna Tashjian
Well, part of my story is my faith and my relationship with God. That’s a main component of why I am where I am today. I was in a small group, where I signed up for to go through it was called, Search For Significance, and where do you find your significance. Through that particular group, I did my first really deep inner healing on what had actually happened to me. Because at that point in my life, I’m married, and I have two other kids and my husband has adopted my first daughter. So, we look like a perfect family. No one knows my past. No one knows what I’ve been through and I didn’t talk about it to anybody. So, it was beginning to really focus on I want to be the best me I could be and that was one of the groups that I signed up for that initiated this whole process.
(17:39) Dr. Doreen Downing
Well, speaking of intuition, I think what that must have been playing apart intuition. My first one was transactional analysis. When you just talked about that process of discovering and how it felt to you I saw on your face, what joy you had is that, oh, there’s more to me and that, I think, I remember feeling that there’s wow, you know, we have this best outer space. But there’s this vastness of our inner spaces, too. You must have a little touch of exploration in you.
(18:19) Donna Tashjian
I’ve been an entrepreneur for a long time. So, yes, I am always looking to improve and grow.
(18:27) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yeah, and that takes willingness. Also, I keep coming back to what you said about intuition. You know, like looking around, who are you attracted to and what’s calling you and who, you know, what kind of people and coaches. So, let’s move into your work as a coach.
(18:53) Donna Tashjian
Well, I’m a Life Mastery coach, and I’m the founder of Vibrant Living International. So, I have two major programs. The first is called Turn Your Baggage Into Luggage, so you can create the life you dreamed. It is an accelerated transformational six-month program that I work with women to be able to turn their baggage into luggage, and be able to repackage it to be able to use it for something that helps us to walk away from low self-esteem, even self-loathing at times, into love and peace and joy and confidence for your future. So, that’s my first program. The second one is called Life By Design, Not By Default. Generally speaking, after people complete the first program, they go into that now that I’ve got my luggage packed. I don’t know where I want to go. So, how do I create a life that I would love, a life by design, not letting it just happen? Just happened to me. But what can I do to create the life I would love and that works with intuition and other spiritual gifts that we have, that most people are not utilizing? It’s kind of like using a knife the wrong way. We use imagination and intuition all the time. But we usually cut ourselves. Because we use imagination to focus on what I fear, what I don’t want, as opposed to what I do want. So, we–
(20:25) Dr. Doreen Downing
I hope people just heard that– I’m interrupting, because I love what you just said about how imagination and how we’re using it as fear. You’re right, and especially around anxiety about speaking up.
(20:39) Donna Tashjian
Absolutely. We imagine it going wrong– and imagination works, it’s just utilizing it the right way. So, My Life By Design program goes into that and a whole bunch more.
(20:53) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yeah, I like the idea of baggage, taking out my baggage and opening it up and you know the bags and looking inside and shaking it out and throwing away stuff and purging, I guess you might say, and then packing what I really want to pack now.
(21:11) Donna Tashjian
When I think bags, I think about like college students, when they move, they throw everything in a garbage bag, and then just move and that’s what we just stuffed stuff in bags. But luggage is like nice, expensive luggage and I’m going somewhere. So, it’s a much different feeling.
(21:31) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yeah, the other image, I have memories when children come home at a break and they unpack or they don’t unpack, they just open the suitcase, and then it’s all over the floor. Build and gathering ourselves and I like that. Well, so how do people find you?
(21:54) Donna Tashjian
The easiest way is on my website, there is free resources. I have a free book on the homepage of my website and it’s I the letter ivibrantliving.com.
(22:08) Dr. Doreen Downing
Good, and we’re nearing the end. So, I’d like you to take the space to have some last words that seem to come through you intuitively, maybe.
(22:21) Donna Tashjian
Thank you, Doreen for everything you do to help people find their voice and to discover who they were really created to be. So, I commend you for what you’re doing. As we end this time, I just want you to know that if no one else does, I believe in you. I would love to support you in any way that I can in the resources of reaching out to me. One of the tips that my coach said, is to get up every day and proceed as if success is inevitable. That statement in itself was one of the things that transformed my life in all kinds of ways and is still doing so because so many times we get up and go. Well, if I do this sales call, they probably won’t buy and if I do this, it won’t go well and so– but get up every day and proceed as if you can’t fail. Success is inevitable. So, if you’re working through pain right now, just get up every day and say I won’t be here for arbor. I won’t be here forever. It’s only a period of time to get up every day and proceed as if success is inevitable.
(23:39) Dr. Doreen Downing
So, it’s what you focus on, is what you create.
(23:43) Donna Tashjian
(23:44) Dr. Doreen Downing
That’s what you’re saying to us. Thank you so much Donna, for your time and your wisdom and your great smile.
(23:53) Donna Tashjian
Also listen on…
Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: doreen7steps.com.
Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: doreen7steps.com.