The Secret To Healing Goes Back To Indigenous/Aboriginal Traditions As Told By Joe Williams, Episode 132

Joe Williams is a former NRL player, professional boxer, and turned mental health advocate, who’s bringing The Enemy Within workshops to various communities. The Enemy Within is built on its five pillars of values: love, care, respect, humility, and compassion. 

Joe is known for his committed work within the community mental health and suicide prevention sectors. During our conversation, Joe mentions how we always talk about, “it takes a village to raise a child.” And he makes a valid point that we don’t have a village anymore. We wake up and go to work and send our kids off to school or to daycare in the morning, pick them up in the afternoon, and put them to bed. Unfortunately, we’re not raised by our village anymore. Our kids are being shipped off and passed around by all these different people that have absolutely no idea who they are. 

Now, where is this magical village that was supposed to help us raise our kids and support our families? How can we heal as a society and recover from some of the consequences that come from living in a concrete jungle? What practical wisdom might we want to borrow from indigenous and/or aboriginal societies that have worked for thousands of years? 

You may be new to this podcast and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for listening. In exchange, I want you to know that I believe you’re in control of your overall well-being and success, whether you’re a parent or not.

My perspective comes from being a daughter to a mom who has manic depression. I’ve witnessed a parent whose capacity took a hit and had grown up in that environment. I had to figure out the tools, methods, and ways to show up resiliently in my life. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve my goals and ambitions as a coach to moms in business, a podcast host who has brought on big names like GaryVee and Suzy Batiz, nor as a mom to three young sons. 

Before jumping into today’s story and wisdom, I want to be sure you are connected to a completely free group of powerful, driven, and resilient moms with child-proofed coaching or services businesses that can bounce back faster after family interruptions. 

What is a child-proof business? The key to business success as a coach, podcaster, or service business professional is that you and your business can navigate the volatile and unpredictable changes – childcare, illness, newborn, homeschool, etc. Join our Facebook group: Resilient Moms With Child-Proof High Impact Businesses:

Share this with a mom in business who values her mental health and that of her children because Joe offers wisdom that can honestly save someone’s life. This conversation offers the key to healing as a society and for generations to come.

Meet Joe

Joe is a proud Wiradjuri/Wolgalu, First Nations Aboriginal man born in Cowra, raised in Wagga NSW, Australia. Joe played in the National Rugby League for South Sydney Rabbitohs, Penrith Panthers, and Canterbury Bulldogs before switching to professional Boxing in 2009. Joe is a 2x WBF World Jnr Welterweight champion and won the WBC Asia Continental Title. 

Although forging a successful professional sporting career, Joe battled the majority of his life with suicidal ideation and bipolar disorder. After a suicide attempt in 2012, Joe felt his purpose was to help people who struggle with mental illness. Through customized workshops, Joe talks of dealing with adversities, struggles, resilience, addiction, connection, emotional wellbeing & healing trauma in schools, communities, correctional services, sporting clubs, and workplaces.

Joe was awarded the Wagga Wagga Citizen of the Year in 2015 for his committed work within the community mental health and suicide prevention sectors and was named a finalist in the National Indigenous Human Rights Awards. In 2018, Joe was awarded Suicide Prevention Australia’s highest honor, a LiFE Award for his excellence in communities within the suicide prevention sector. In 2019, he was named a dual winner of the Australian Mental Health Prize. 

Now a published author, Joe’s autobiography “Defying The Enemy Within” shares not only his life’s story but also offers practical tools anyone can implement to improve and maintain their emotional wellbeing. Joe also contributed to the book, “Transformation; Turning Tragedy into Triumph” and was featured in the documentary, “Suicide: The Ripple Effect”.


Mental Health: Decide to proactively identify the best mental health tools for you and begin to implement them.

Introspection: Think about modern society and see what parts are not serving you or your kids. Use this chat as an invitation for self-reflection because you don’t have to copy/paste what everyone else is doing…not as a mom nor in business.

Values: Learn about the values of society you admire (one that is authentic to you or one you admire from a distance).

Distraction: We sit from nine to five in front of the computer. We go home tired because we’re working and earning money for someone else. We get nasty at our children because we’ve had a tough day, not even worrying about how emotionally unstable our kids are.

Lineage: Every family has patterns and mythology of thought, belief, and behavior that are passed on from one generation to another, the same way physical characteristics have been passed on.

Compassion: Everyone is the way they are for a reason. We just need to be kind and compassionate to each other. 

Awareness: Any outburst of emotional pain is a response to something else. A lot of the time, it’s not directly related to the person we’re out bursting and responding to. We’re triggered by something that happened to us many years ago – and awareness is key.

Expression: We fail to talk about mental health due to shame. It’s sad how children are not given the agency to regulate their emotions because adults don’t allow them to. We have to look back to go forward again.

Connection: As human beings, we are born wired for love and connection. People have been connected since the beginning of time. And we’re more disconnected than we’ve ever been in the history of humankind. 

Gift: Shamans walk into mental health facilities and they don’t see sickness. They see an abundance of people who are spiritually gifted. 

Grounding: If people are 70% water, and the earth is made up of water, we need to get back to water.

Anxiety: The fact that we’re so sick as people now is because we project forward into a future that may not even be there.

Depression: Anything that we’re depressed about has happened in our past. But the best we can do is learn from it and adjust it to be better. 

Presence: All we have is a moment of presence and it becomes the past. It’s about being the absolute best person that we can be in the present moment. 

Advocate: Advocate for yourself and don’t be afraid to speak up. Be the best version of yourself – but you have to do your work.

Values: The opposite of respect is disrespect. The opposite of compassion is judgment. The opposite of humility is ego. The opposites of those values are aligned with behaviors as well. 

Acceptance: We don’t know what the destination looks like yet. We just have to be grateful and thankful and try to find peace with that.

If you enjoyed this conversation, check out these episodes with similar themes:

How To Rebuild Yourself After Trauma With Faith, Hope, and Mindset, Timothy Phelps is the Author of The Invisible Child: Overcoming the Odds, Episode 58

Will Travis, Global Brand Builder and Creator of Elevation Barn Talks About How to Boost Morale and How to Become an Elevated Leader, Episode 33

Books mentioned:

The Dreaming Path

What Happened to You?

Lost Connections

Links to continue to learn from:


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Melissa Llarena

Melissa helps movers and shakers up to those in the corner office rediscover what makes them unique so that they can land their dream job in a forward-thinking company where their ideas are listened to, valued, and supported.

She brings insights from having worked in 16-business units (including Human Resources) in NY, Paris, and London. Additionally, in her former corporate career, she worked on billion-dollar brands for P&G and on IBM for Ogilvy & Mather. Later, as the founder and CEO of Career Outcomes Matter, Melissa created a 3-step “sellable strengths” process which has been the centerpiece of her clients' results.

Melissa applies this method consistently to support mid-level professionals up to the c-suite to get into Fortune Global 500 organizations and agencies. She studied Psychology at NYU and earned her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

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