Everything happens for a reason and serves a purpose. You may not be able to see it in the moment but you will in time. Look for the lessons and bank them as life has a way of teaching us the same lessons over and over again until we take notice! Dating the same type of toxic partner is a pattern I see with my clients until they learn to spot the signs and hone their radar.
Starting something new is scary. Learning to believe in yourself can be a critical precursor to starting a new initiative. Why is it so important to learn to believe in yourself? How can someone work on gaining these skills? In this interview series, we are talking to business leaders, authors, writers, coaches, medical professionals, teachers, to share empowering insights about “How To Learn To Believe In Yourself.” As a part of this series we had the pleasure of interviewing Sara Davison.
Sara Davison, best known as The Divorce Coach, has created revolutionary new ways to cope with break-ups and divorce. She has combined her coaching skills with her own personal divorce experience to create a unique program to help anyone battling a break-up. Sara is a bestselling author of “Uncoupling — How to Survive and Thrive after Break-Up and Divorce” as well as a podcaster: with her TOP 20 Podcast ‘Heartbreak to Happiness’
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I have happy memories of my childhood, growing up in the English countryside with my younger brother and my parents who were, and still are, very much in love. I had a great role model of what a successful marriage looks like and, despite everything I have been through since, they still provide me with faith that true love can and does last a lifetime.
My school life was rather more turbulent as I never really felt I fitted in to the all-girls school that I went to from the age of eleven. It was extremely strict and a lot of punishments were handed out and not many rewards. I lived in fear of the teachers and I am pretty sure looking back this impacted my ability to concentrate and study. I was average and, at times, below average in my grades and was led to believe that I would never really amount to much. I didn’t enjoy my time at school although there was one bonus as my best friend Charlotte is still my bestie today over 30 years later!
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
My Dad has always been my inspiration in business. He always worked for himself and he often discussed his business with me, which I found fascinating from a young age. I wanted to be like him, although I wasn’t sure I could run my own company as I didn’t think I was good enough and I had no clue what I could do.
When I was 20 years old my parents had returned from a trip to the USA, and they told me they had a gift for me. It was a ticket to a Tony Robbins seminar — the leading transformation coach in the world. They had been invited by a work colleague of my Dad’s during their stay and it had blown them away so they wanted to share it with me and my brother.
This seminar was a huge turning point in my life as I learned tools that took the blinkers off for me and I realised that I could design my life the way I wanted it…. So I did. Within six months of attending the training I set up my own business in personal development flying motivational speakers from the USA to the UK. It was a real success and we turned over just under £1m in my first year!
Unfortunately, due to 9/11 and none of my speakers wanting to fly, I had to close this business but I knew I had done it once so could do it again. And I did when I met my husband to-be; we set up a global business together. However, after three years of marriage, it ended very suddenly and this really was the inspiration to do what I do today.
The end of my marriage hit me like a freight train. I didn’t see it coming. I couldn’t believe it was real and actually happening. I discovered my husband no longer wanted to be married to me and over the next few months I watched as he moved on happily, fell in love and started a new family. I was reeling from the shock of losing my best friend, father of my son, business partner and soul mate. I couldn’t see a way forward but I knew I had to keep going.
I spent hours searching the internet for support and help specific to my situation but I couldn’t find anything that helped me. I felt helpless and frustrated by the lack of practical and emotional support available. I had been a Coach for over 15 years at this time so I knew that just because I was feeling this way now didn’t mean it would always be like this. I decided to take my control back over what was happening to me as much as I could and find a way to turn this around. So, I combined my coaching skills and techniques with the divorce experience I found myself flung into and created a plan to help me get through it.
It really worked to help me cope better with the emotional rollercoaster and I found myself feeling stronger day by day. I was no longer as vulnerable and, whilst there was no magic wand to take away all the pain, I knew that I would not only survive it, I could thrive too.
I knew I had a tool kit that could help others in my situation so I made it my mission to help others to cope better with their breakups so they didn’t have to feel the devastation and pain I had felt. I wanted to turn my pain into my power by showing others that they too could find a way to banish the heartache and turn their lives around and transform tough times into a future they felt excited to live.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?
I assumed that when I started my Breakup and Divorce Coaching business I would have lots of clients because everyone goes through a breakup in life — at least one and only once if you’re lucky. However, I soon realised that as this was a brand-new coaching niche I had a lot more work to do to educate everyone that this service was available. So, it took longer to launch than I had been expecting but the upside was that, having turned to press and media to raise awareness of my coaching, this became springboard to taking the business to the next level and open many doors along the way. Today, I am known as the go-to expert around the world for breakup and divorce. So there was a silver lining after all.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Having established my coaching business, I went on to write my first book, ‘Uncoupling’ in 2016, which quickly became a bestseller. Things really took off from there and I made a name for myself after establishing the UK’s first ever Break-Up Recovery Retreat, dubbed as ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, which launched with rave reviews across national media and was commissioned as a TV show in Ireland.
I also wrote another bestselling book, ‘The Split’ and launched Heartbreak to Happiness Podcast, which hit New and Noteworthy six times and hit #1 spot in Ireland and the UK charts and #18 in USA.
A particular passion point for me was helping people in emotionally abusive and toxic relationships recover and heal so I started working with The Dash Charity in UK as their patron, helping to raise awareness of the vital lifesaving work they do. I went on to launch the UK’s first dedicated retreat for ‘How to divorce an abusive partner and recover from a toxic relationship’ and was the founder of the International Abuse Awareness Conference.
Globally, the scaling really happened after I launched my Breakup & Divorce Coach Practitioner Accreditation Programme in 2018 before going on to found The International Divorce Coach Centre Of Excellence which has a coaching community of 400 Divorce Coaches spanning 23 countries and 5 continents. My training programmes are designed to help those interested in becoming a coach as well as existing coaches who want to take their business to the next level. I also run a Master Practitioner programme accredited by both myself as well as The Dash charity, educating coaches as well as family law firms (for whom there is no compulsory training) on what domestic abuse is and also how to support people through it.
This year we launched our Employee Breakup and Divorce Support package for businesses to support their team going through breakups. Our 1–2–1 and group coaching services help to maintain productivity, fast track recovery and reduce absenteeism, as well as boosting wellbeing in the workplace.
Educating the industry and putting divorce on the map as a traumatic life event has always been so important on my journey, so I still dedicate a lot of my time being a media commentator and as a certified motivational speaker, speaking at events around the world. I also get involved lobbying at government level and consulted on the rennet divorce law reform as well as the recent Positive Parenting alliance scheme which is calling for a divorce leave scheme and for HR policies to recognise that separation or divorce is akin to a bereavement.
How do you think that might help people?
Untangling the heartbreak, anger, depression, deceit and destruction which can often occur before a positive roadmap can even be imagined doesn’t come without hard work on both sides. This line of work is not for everyone but the rewards are huge. One of the best examples being a text from a client’s ten-year-old daughter who simply said, “thank you for giving me my mummy back.” Bestselling books, television appearances and my hit podcast ‘Heartbreak to Happiness’ have all been exciting milestones, but you can’t beat the sense of reward that comes with helping other people on their healing journey. I was out having lunch in London recently when a client walking past ran into the cafe and hugged me, saying I had “saved her life.” It was a profound moment for me that I will always remember.
Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to believe in yourself? Can you share a story or give some examples?
During my breakup I was working in Australia for a few weeks with one of my close friends and we had taken a break to go for a walk along the beach. That’s when I had my lightbulb moment — I remember telling her that I’d had an idea to use the techniques I had developed to help others going through a breakup so that nobody had to suffer the way I had at the beginning with no hope and so much pain. She stopped and turned to me and I will never forget her words. “Sara you cannot stay stuck in this hideous world of divorce. It’s a bad idea, it sounds very depressing.”
The interesting thing is that it had never occurred to me that it would be depressing or sad. My idea was to help inspire others that they could get through this and to arm them with the tools to turn their lives around. My work would be transformational and give people light in a time where there is only darkness and despair.
I also believed that I had to find a way to channel the pain and the trauma I was going through so that it had a purpose. Otherwise, it was just a waste in my mind. I had to flip this hideous life experience into something that it made a positive difference other people otherwise what was the point?
I do remember at the beginning a lot of people felt it was a crazy idea. My accountant helped me to set up my business and he asked me what name I wanted my business registered under. I said “Sara Davison Global Enterprises as it will be a global business one day Dan”. He laughed and thought I was joking as it was only me in my front room at this stage. He’s not laughing now!
I said from the outset that I wanted to write a book as then everyone could have access to the information I wanted to share. However I had never done well in English lessons at school and was not a writer. But this wasn’t going to stop me. I set up a folder on my laptop “Best-selling book” and started to write notes which soon became chapters. Now I have TWO bestselling books that sell around the world and one is translated into Chinese! I love when I receive emails from readers who my book has helped. Then I know it is really making a positive difference to people and that is why I started my business back on the beach in Australia 10 years ago!
When I founded my business in 2013, I cornered a gap in the market by pioneering a completely new niche of coaching and made it my mission to educate the industry though media and marketing campaigns. Whilst I knew this was a niche area of coaching, I underestimated the time it would take me to put breakup and divorce coaching on the map. So, I invested my own money from my divorce settlement, such was my faith and belief in the business, and got to work. A decade on, I’ve built a global business and, through my Breakup and Divorce Coach Practitioner Accreditation Programme at The International Divorce Coach Centre Of Excellence, created a coaching community 400 Divorce Coaches spanning 23 countries and 5 continents. This has helped thousands of people across the world rebuild their lives for the better.
What exactly does it mean to believe in yourself?
I think for me it means having unshakeable faith in your capabilities and trusting yourself, no matter what obstacles and doubts you encounter along the way. We can be our biggest cheerleaders but also our worst critics — but believing in yourself is crucial to succeeding. It’s important to acknowledge that you may not have all the answers immediately, but keeping an open mind will ensure you learn along the way.
Can I believe that I can be a great artist even though I’m not very talented? Can I believe I can be a gold medal Olympic even if I’m not athletic? Can you please explain what you mean?
We can all dream big. In fact, it’s essential to dream big. Everything around us was first of all an idea in someone’s mind. Then they took action, massive action in most cases, to turn it into a reality.
I would never have believed that I would be CEO of an international company that helped people all around the world. I dreamt it and then I took massive action. However it was one step at a time and I didn’t let the failures (and there were and still are many!) stop me.
Of course there are practical impossibilities such as dreaming to become Queen of England so you have to be realistic to the extent that it has to be a viable option… but the key is it can be way outside your comfort zone and current ability. This is where the hard work, dedication and unwavering faith in your vision keeps you on track.
You may have to change course and adapt, you may need to be flexible but you can create a life you love and turn those dreams into reality.
Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?
Following the breakdown of my marriage, I was broken and at rock bottom. It took all my energy just to keep going and get through each day. Never, did I imagine at the time that this would become the driving force behind my greatest achievements.
Heartbreak is all consuming and has a ripple effect across your whole life, which is why breakup is known as the second most traumatic life experience after death of a loved one; it triggers similar symptoms to grief. At the time, I felt like It was the end of the world and that nothing would ever make it better. Betrayal is particularly devastating and destroys the belief you have not only in yourself, but in the world around you and the people you trust.
I couldn’t sleep or think straight and it impaired my ability to make good decisions.
At what point did you realize that in order to get to the next level, it would be necessary to build up your belief in yourself? Can you share the story with us?
At this point in my life, I had been life and business coaching for 15 years so I knew that I could turn this around, but I had no idea how. I searched the internet to find some help. I was looking for ways to cope. Ways for me to get my control back over this rollercoaster of emotions so I could start to function again. I googled “how to be a single mum” and “how do I cope when my husband is in love with someone else”. I couldn’t find anything to take the hurt away … so this is where the idea for my business started to grow. I decided I had to help myself so I combined my coaching skills with what I was learning from the divorce process and I created a tool kit of techniques and strategies that would help me take back control, navigate the divorce and see a light at the end of the tunnel. I tried and tested various ideas until I found a programme that worked for me.
It was my lawyer who commented on how well I was coping and asked me if I would speak with some of her other clients. I soon realised that the tools I had created could help anyone going through a breakup. I knew there was a big gap in the market for the tools I had created as well as a huge need for this help as everyone goes through a breakup at some point in their life. At least one but most likely several. It made instant sense to me to specialise in this area and become The Divorce Coach. I really wanted to flip this traumatic experience into one that could help others.
What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves? Please share a story or example for each.
1 . It’s key to recognise that it is not what happens to you in life that defines you, it is what you do about it that makes you the person you are. Life will throw us curve balls but we can find a way to move through it and be happy again. My divorce happened and it could have been so destructive for me and my son, but I decided to take action to turn it into a positive experience that could help others.
2 . You don’t fail unless you quit. You can always learn from failures. When I lost my first business after 9/11 I was devastated but I knew I could do it again.. and I did
3 . Sometimes the right choices are not the easy ones. But making those right decisions will give you the integrity and keep you true to yourself. I see examples of this all the time with the clients who are coparenting — there can be huge challenges with this but doing the right thing is always the best choice.
4 . You are better than you think and your best is good enough. We are always our own worst critic but have faith that if you do your best then that is enough.
5 . Everything happens for a reason and serves a purpose. You may not be able to see it in the moment but you will in time. Look for the lessons and bank them as life has a way of teaching us the same lessons over and over again until we take notice! Dating the same type of toxic partner is a pattern I see with my clients until they learn to spot the signs and hone their radar.
Conversely, how can one stop the negative stream of self-criticism that often accompanies us as we try to grow?
Having been through my own difficult divorce I really understand the journey my clients are on. The tools I share with clients are tools I have personally tried and tested on myself so I know they work and also how I can tweak them to specific situations.
One fundamental consideration is that everyone is different, and the approach can never be a ‘one size fits all’. For example, I recently had three clients all with their partner leaving them for someone else. One client was distraught, crying, and unable to dress in anything other than an old tracksuit; another was livid, chopping up clothing and full of hatred; another was simply relieved but feeling stuck and unsure about her future. Everyone will have their own life story too, shaped by lifestyle, finances, reliance and possibly children.
The first session I have with new clients involves listening to what they have experienced, looking for ‘red flags’ and identifying the most effective tools to help them with their specific situation. The synergy between body language and vocabulary provides me with a route map to deep dive beneath the surface so I can create the fast transformations and ‘lightbulb’ moments I am best known for. By enabling each client to see all available options and create empowering action plans to maintain momentum gained in the sessions we can cement the progress and results. By sharing tools designed to help clients take back their control and shine a light on the positives I create a momentum designed to dial down destructive emotions. We are all born with a remote control to our brains but frequently we don’t know how to use it.
Did you know that your brain has to answer any question you ask it? If you don’t believe me then try NOT thinking of the answer to this question — “what is the capital of France?” See! You have to think of the answer to then try to not think of it!
So, when you are asking yourself a stream of negative questions like:
What is wrong with me?
Why don’t they love me anymore?
Why does this keep happening to me?
Then our brains will search for answers — they may not be accurate but it will come up with negative answers for you. So, the key here is to ask more empowering questions like:
What is good about this?
What can I do right now to make this better?
What am I grateful for in my life?
If you ask a more empowering question you will come up with a more empowering answer — it really works and will immediately help dial down some of the negative self-talk.
Are there any misconceptions about self-confidence and believing in oneself that you would like to dispel?
That we have to react in a certain way because of someone else’s behaviour. We all control the remote to our brain and can choose how we react. We can never control anyone else’s actions, words or what they do. However, we can control what we do. It’s not always easy but there are lots of tools that I share that can really help you to take control of your remote and change how you feel. Some examples are changing your body language, using more empowering language and questions and making you self-care is a priority for you.
What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?
This is typically associated with high achievers. The irony is, real frauds don’t worry about things like this. Recognising that you have Impostor Syndrome is often the hardest part, but it’s also the first step toward overcoming it. There are several strategies you can use to beat Impostor Syndrome:
Acknowledge your feelings.
Talk to others.
Develop a quick response plan.
Understand your strengths and weaknesses.
Own your successes.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I think it would be to teach our children at school a lot of these tools to manage their emotions and understand coping mechanisms and behaviour patterns. There is a huge rise in teenage self-harming and suicide and I do feel a lot of this is down to the fact that we don’t equip our children with alternative healthy coping mechanisms. For example, how to change your body language to cheer yourself up in a heartbeat, how to make friends in the playground and how to deal with negative emotions in a healthy way.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
I would also love to meet Gwyneth Paltrow as she was key in shining a light on how to have an amicable divorce; ‘conscious uncoupling’ was a term she brought to our attention — and she was a leading light and role model on how to do this. Super inspiring and I would love to chat to her and share with her my ideas for how I hope my business can grow to help even more people around the world to cope better with their breakups.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
For more information on one-to-one coaching, support for employees in the workplace or Sara’s online Breakup Support Groups, please visit
For more advice on how to navigate breakup or divorce, listen to Sara’s podcast at www.heartbreaktohappinesspodcast.com
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.