What does a life strategist do? We’re about to learn!
I had the esteemed pleasure of speaking with the dynamic Grace Onuegbu. I walked away from our conversation feeling empowered and inspired.
Grace is a mental health nurse practitioner, life strategist, speaker, and published author. She is the founder of SMILE BIZ LLC, a personal development company, Woman Arise Academy™, and Own Your Story Meet and Greet. A master at teaching women strategies to reach their goals with her signature MAP systems. She created multiple courses to help women maximize their personal and professional growth. With her expertise in mental health, Grace understands the importance of self-development skills and behavioral modifications in order to become the best version of herself. Grace is a speaker that helps women who feel overlooked and undervalued walk into their true selves.
Khadijah P.: How did you use your expertise as a mental health nurse to help women learn the importance of self-development skills and behavioral modifications and also to help women who feel overlooked and undervalued?
Grace O.: Well, I’ve been working in the mental health field now for ten years. I’ve been a nurse practitioner and psychiatric nurse practitioner for about four years. So when I actually got into the space, I really wasn’t even planning on becoming a life strategist or speaker or any of that.
In 2017 I went through a really rough breakup. In 2018 I rededicated my life to God. So in the fall of that year, I actually started blogging. I never had any thoughts of doing life coaching and life strategist speaking. I actually started doing Christian blogging.
And I would use biblical principle stories to touch base on acceptance, rejection, and many things that everyone deals with. It was more centered on women and just dealt with forgiveness, all those different internal things that we tend to struggle with. So it took off; I didn’t expect it to resonate with so many people.
I was just writing because I’m a writer. That’s one of my creative gifts. Going into 2019, I asked God, what do you want me to do with this? You know, do you want me to continue blogging? This is kind of how the speaking and the coaching thing kind of emerged for me to be able to help women to deal with these things because it really starts emotionally and mentally, you know, how we see ourselves and how we see the world is really based on how we feel, how we feel inside in our mindset. So that’s kind of how it emerged because I deal with personal development, and as I said, everything starts with the inner self first. I always tell people you cannot have an external manifestation until you do some internal transformation.
Khadijah P.: Definitely, it’s all about mindset. If you don’t believe it to be true, then it won’t be. If you believe that it is true, then it will be. I read that you didn’t understand your value at a certain point in your life and used those experiences to challenge other women to grow. What was that time period like in your life when you didn’t value yourself? What strategies do you use to help women to overcome those feelings?
Grace O.: Well, it all started in my childhood. I went through a lot of childhood trauma when I was younger, my parents actually had separated, and we lived in a battered woman shelter. So, I saw my mom become a single mom overnight, and me being the oldest, it was really difficult, especially trying to make friends. Those relationships were so hard.
So growing up, I never really saw healthy relationships with my parents. That really started affecting how I saw myself and how I valued myself.
But in that time period, because of my having a poor relationship with my father, seeing unhealthy relationships, and dealing with dysfunctional behaviors, it started making me operate that way. I began to normalize those things like, “Oh, that’s how everyone acts, that’s how everything is, and that’s how everyone thinks about themselves.” I started migrating to a situationship and started migrating to these relationships that were not fruitful whatsoever. And although I was in these committed relationships for a very long time, they were very dysfunctional. I thought I didn’t value myself enough to know, “Grace, there’s more to you than this. You don’t have to settle here”, and it took me a long time to realize that. If I want people to treat me better, I have to treat myself better. I have to value myself in order for me to be able to do that. So this is how I help women. It starts internally, helping reshape their mindset and getting to the root. Why do they even have the beliefs that they have? Why do you feel like you’re not valuable?
Why do you feel worthless? Why do you feel like you’re not good enough? And as I said, a lot of times, that stuff goes back to our childhood. It has to do with either experience we had in our childhood or, you know, social media is a big thing. So it goes so much deeper than the surface. So it’s about getting to the root of your issues. Why do you believe this about yourself? You can’t change anything until you start dealing with your past.
Khadijah P.: So many women are going through things right now. Everyone I know seems to have some limiting beliefs, trauma, or something they’re trying to overcome. So why do you think there’s so much trauma and drama in our community?
Grace O.: I know childhood trauma experiences do play in that factor, your family and your upbringing. I also think it’s so much different from back in the day when you only had one role. Women are killing it right now. You know we have women who are CEOs. Women are very highly educated now.
We’re just doing so many different things, and I feel like society sometimes puts you in a box. We’re not one size fits all. We all come with different things, have different walks of life, and have different experiences.
So I feel like sometimes society tries to put you in this box where you feel like you have to compete versus collaborate, making you feel like you’re not good enough.
So that’s why I feel like many women are going through many unresolved issues from childhood, toxic relationships, family upbringing, society, and social media. A lot of external things can cause people to feel that they’re not good enough; they’re not valued.
Khadijah P.: I like your philosophy. Motherhood is an extension, not a limitation. I love that. Can you explain where you got that philosophy from and what it means to you?
Grace O.: Mothers think once they have children, that’s it. I feel like motherhood is a gift. It’s beautiful. Children are a heritage from the Lord, it’s beautiful, but that’s not just who you are. That’s a role.
Just because you’re a mom does not mean your life is over. Just because you’re a mom does not mean that you can’t go after your goals. Yes, there are things that you have to balance and adjust, but that does not mean that your life is over because you’re a mom. So I just want people to understand that it’s just an extension of who you are.
Khadijah P.: Yes, I agree, a lot of mothers put their life on hold until their kids get older, and then you’re essentially starting over.
Grace O.: But your kids need to be able to see that you look at things through a holistic view. They need to see the health in you, right? They can’t see you running raggedy out here and seeing you put your dreams on the back burner because how are you even gonna encourage and motivate your kids to go after what they desire if you’re not doing it?
Kids learn by modeling, so you have the model as an example. So at what point are you gonna do for yourself? Because the kids get older, there’s gonna be something else that’s gonna pop up, and you’re like, “Uh, I can’t do it now.” If not now, then when? That’s my philosophy.
Khadijah P.: So, just to wrap things up, I know we talked about a lot of different things, but for someone that feels they’re not being valued and being hard on themselves, can you give just three tips to kind of motivate them to push forward?
Grace O.: Okay, I believe in positive affirmations and speaking life over yourself. So write five positive things about yourself and speak them every day. Once you start speaking things daily, speaking these positive things about yourself, speaking life for yourself- you are literally reframing your thought process because it turns into your power and belief. You start believing those things when you start believing those things; then you start operating in them. I do things through biblical principles, not just practical strategy. not Go back to the word of God and find scriptures about yourself. What does God say about you? Write those things down, and start speaking those things.
Second, you have to give yourself grace. We are all flawed human beings, and we’re just trying to make it. That’s it. None of us have arrived. You have to give yourself space like, okay, this is where I was looking at where I am now. Start to forgive yourself for your past and all those different things. Let those things go; you cannot take them with you. All these things are dead weight and holding you down—so positive affirmation, speak life over yourself, and give yourself grace.
The third thing I would say is to surround yourself with people who are going to support and hold you accountable. We cannot do life alone, and we need a community. Get in a community of like-minded people who have either been where you’ve been and can help you get to the next place or who are where you want to be. I always believe in that and align myself with people who are where I want to go and where I wanna be because it motivates me, and they can be able to impart wisdom and strategies to help me. Those things will help you in your becoming process, and you will start seeing yourself. You start getting encouraged, motivated, and empowered right to walk in your true, authentic self. When you’re walking in your true authentic self right, people are gonna migrate to you. Literally, things will start to migrate to you. The right connections, the right alignment, the right resources- the things you need will start coming to you because you’re being who you’re supposed to be. You’re being who you’re called to be.
You can connect with Grace below:
YouTube: Woman Arise Tribe
Khadijah Phillips is a highly driven woman who was born to break barriers. She proves that when powered by purpose, women are unstoppable.
She’s built her storied life and career brick by brick, fighting fears, failures, and setbacks to have the success she’s always known was hers to claim.
Today she personifies what it means to ascend above adversity while inspiring countless others to do the same through her media company and strategic partnerships.