How I’ve come to love myself and defeated anxiety (Tatjana Cameron Tajci)
I AM NO LONGER AFRAID TO BE WHO I AM
Once she started listening to her heart, she started experiencing plenty of wonderful moments – she has touched some music stars’ hearts, gotten to know her soul much better, but other people as well, has come to know what unconditional love is, married and had three children, published a solo album, written a musical, planted a garden full of luxuriant vegetables… Former Yugoslav pop star Tatjana Cameron Tajci now lives in America, works in coaching, music, works on bettering herself and enjoys the attention and support from her husband and raising her three sons. Tajci speaks for BGonline with great joy and without any reserve, about her journey of personal development, ups and downs, anxieties and personal drama.
What kind of psychological and emotional state were you in when you were leaving Zagreb and a successful music career? What was hidden behind your smile during that time and what would happen once the stage lights went out?
-At one point I realized that that very smile was creating an incomplete perception of me. I didn’t want to live like a “doll”, but even more than that I didn’t want to “fake it” in front of my audience. It was important to me that little girls who wanted so badly to be like me knew the whole story. At that time, I wasn’t strong enough to say and show everything I wanted to, and that was that nothing was worth making compromises with yourself, sacrificing yourself for, that success, glory and money did not define our value, that these girls themselves were strong and that they should never put their strength and dreams in someone else’s hands. I loved my audience more than myself, my dreams – until I realized that I would not be able to truly give myself to them if I lost myself… And that is exactly what happened to me. As much as I tried to be authentic, “the Tajci brand”, which was handled by a team of my producers and managers (where at least I had some creative input), was still stronger than me. I didn’t want to be a “doll”.
What was fulfilling and what was making you happy at that time?
-The music did. Connecting with the audience, when we would “meet” in feeling optimistic, in joy of living, love, and when we would sing, live, dream, love, be scared, cry and be one another’s support.
Tears, loneliness and fear
When did your first encounter with anxiety and depression happen and what caused it?
-My first encounter with depression happened when I was at the peak of my career. Exhaustion after concerts, constant dieting I used to do in order to maintain my figure, as well as being insecure about myself – all of these were the reasons why I would often cry and feel lonely. I had everything, but it was as if I had nothing. I was one the most popular people in the country, but I would often feel like the loneliest person in the world. Even at times when I would get consumed by the darkest of thoughts, I was not aware of the fact that I was depressed. I would attribute this condition to being sensitive and emotional and, this way, I created a vicious circle of guilt – I would blame myself for not being happy, for being ungrateful while having it all: fulfilled dreams, music, fans and a great career. I had a couple of unhealed wounds and traumas that I was suppressing and replacing with work, music and ambition. Nearly 15 years later, anxiety and depression led me to a breakdown. Insecurities and sense of low self-worth just took their toll.
How would you describe this condition?
-As a complete loss of conviction that I could change anything in my life. I knew those fears were not real, so I was accusing myself and feeling guilty for not being strong enough to free myself from them. When depressed, I was completely absent – always in some sort of physical and emotional pain. The only thing that was helping me at that time were my sons and my music. But my music was also so filled with sorrow, suffering and feelings of guilt. When I finally got better, I threw out a couple of songs from my spiritual repertoire, I changed the theme and the style.
What helped you the most on your path to healing?
-Therapy. First psychotherapy and then coaching. In particular – breathing. I simply started to inhale health and exhale toxins out of my mind, body and spirit. It was important for me to articulate the way in which I was going to understand God – as a force greater than all of us, omnipresent, that connects every living being and never stops loving.
Deciding for love
You are married and have three sons. Why do you say that attending psychotherapy is very healing for a marriage?
-My sons are artistic, they like talking about serious topics and they are not afraid to show their feelings. We treat each other with respect. Marriages where spouses communicate openly do not need therapy or consultations. But if that communication is compromising, then it needs to be worked on. Marriage, just like any relationship, requires a lot of investing, patience, effort and the decision to love.
In which segments of life has psychotherapy helped you the most?
-Firstly, with personal health. We often treat the “symptoms” that we experience as the strongest, without taking into consideration the real cause. When we are under constant stress (anxiety and depression are also stressful for the body), our immune system becomes weak and we can get sick more easily. When I am calm and have that inner balance, my body is healthier. Psychotherapy also helped me with parenting, marriage and career. For example, we will often say “I shout and say things because that’s just my temper”, instead of finding the thing that causes us to lose our nerves. Psychotherapy helps us identify those causes and change the way in which we react to situations we find ourselves in. I used to say: “I am from Croatia, shouting is normal in our book.” and, with this, I was actually keeping myself in this vicious circle of unnecessary shouting and getting upset. Once we realize this, then we can start growing, changing, and by this – changing our environment.
Path of change
When did you decide to start practicing life coaching, whom have you’ve been doing it with so far, whom did you learn it from and which direction did you take?
-During the summer of 2015, a friend of mine who runs the Radiant Health Institute invited me to attend a training course, because I wanted to learn more about it. Coaching helped me immensely after I had “healed my wounds” through psychotherapy. During the very first class, I realized that I myself wanted to go through the training course and start practicing coaching. I own a couching certificate, and my directions of choice are personal transformation, career, relationships and spiritual growth. So far, I have worked with clients who were usually on some life crossroads or wanted to make significant changes in their life, but didn’t know where to start. I also teach a long course (online & workbook) that clients attend with my support (by phone, Skype or e-mail). At the moment, I am working with women in the state penitentiary. The most beautiful thing of all is when you can help someone get rid of their fears, sense of insecurity and the feeling of low self-worth. It is wonderful to see that life force and belief in ability to do anything they decide come back.
When did you come to love yourself and what kind of person did you become after that?
-This happened only a few years ago… It was a long and gradual process. The most important thing is that I am no longer afraid to be who I am, because only then I can be of benefit to others – my children, family, friends, audience, strangers, passersby and the world. I freed myself, became far more cheerful, sociable and relaxed, but also more ambitious and braver.
You host some very interesting interviews in a TV show program “Waking up in America”. Which story touched you the most so far?
-Many, but I would like to mention two: Becca Stevens, who founded the Thistle Farms – a community that takes care of women victims of sex-trafficking, prostitution, violence and drug addiction; Clemmie Greenlee, who herself was a victim of sexual abuse, forced prostitution, rapes. And today they are helping young girls get away from that.
Which is your favorite confirmation?
-I am enough.
What does the path of holistic approach look like?
-It is important to look at all four areas of life: physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual, find where the blockages and breaks that are interfering, in order to achieve balance. In other words, harmonize a healthy life of one’s mind, body and spirit. A few of the guests on my show said that, in the moments of great emotional and spiritual changes, it is important to be dedicated to eating healthy. When we start eliminating everything that’s toxic in our lives, we usually find a lot of things that are poisoning us.
Whom would you want to do an interview with?
– Oprah Winfrey, Angelina Jolie, Brene Brown, Malala Yousafzai, Mary J. Blige…
What didn’t you use to know, but know today? What guides you through life and what do you always suggest to your clients and people you talk to?
-Be yourself. Be YOU. Unique, required, irreplaceable. Do not be afraid. Everything you need you have already got in you. Negative comments from people around you are a reflection of their own personal fears, sufferings and insecurities – and not the truth about you. Know that you are loved. In every moment of life. Nothing and no one can take that love, that life giving love, away from you.
What is happening inside of a person when they are not living in a harmony with themselves?
-They get lost. First the sense of life’s purpose disappears: “Where am I going? Why? What is my life’s purpose? What can I hope for?”… When we are not in harmony with ourselves that means that we are separated from our true self and that we are living our lives on a superficial level… My personal belief is that that true self is connected to God – the source of our and all life – and love that gives us that life. When we lose sense of connection with the source of life and love, fear is created (just like when babies are separated from their mothers). Out of this fear – we make mistakes, choose the wrong paths, give in to quick pleasures and enjoyments, trying to compensate for the emptiness caused by separation. Breathing is one of the best and simplest ways for gaining back that harmony with yourself – connection to our center and source of life and love.
What nice things have happened to you since the moment you listened to your heart?
-When I listened to my heart, I won in Zadar. When I listened to my heart, I went on a trip – physically to America, but, more importantly, on a trip to the depths of my soul. I loved without fear or shame. I learned what it means to love someone unconditionally. I got married and had three children. I published a solo album. I wrote a musical. I planted a garden full of beautiful vegetables. I felt the joy of the homeless for a couple of moments they could spend together. I came to a penitentiary and witnessed the joy of a woman who was waiting eagerly for me. It happens to me every day – through those little, seemingly ordinary, moments, which are, in reality, more valuable and precious than the usual definitions of success and happiness.
Photo: Danko Puttar
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