Millennial mentor, Melissa Ambrosini, shares how to dissolve outmoded values and beliefs
It’s often said that the job of each generation is to challenge the ways of the previous and the current millennial generation is certainly taking that idea and running with it. As a generation that has been handed a world of technology, social media, environmental devastation and an uncertain future, you can’t blame them for wanting a new way. It’s a pretty overwhelming world they are inheriting. And, as one of Australia’s leading authors and rising millennial voices, Melissa Ambrosini is the epitome of this voice.
“When you come from a dark place, with anxiety and depression and panic attacks, and then you embark on this different life, and you feel, for the first time, inner peace and contentment — it’s never an option not to live this life.”
At first glance, Ambrosini’s message could be dismissed as just more “self-love” talk — perhaps just another self-improvement message from a beautiful young girl. Add to that, as a former Moulin Rouge dancer, model and actor, she certainly knows how to command a huge following on her various social media platforms.
But take a closer look and there is a lot more to this two-time bestselling author. She has a serious message for her young followers to question the beliefs and values that have been automatically passed down to them and a serious calling to do more in the world. And, at a time when the tide on speaking up, empowerment and making a difference is really turning, her timing couldn’t be better. She knows the young men and women of her generation want to know how to do things differently — and better — than their parents and she is courageously calling on them to step up and step into a new definition of happiness.
Rock bottom at 24
Most of us are handed our work ethic and belief systems way before we realise what’s happening. Without question, we accumulate values and thoughts passed down from generations before us. And we often carry those beliefs into our adult life and beyond.
For Ambrosini, that early belief system came from her Italian migrant parents. Her father came to Australia as a young boy without a word of English and left school at a young age to earn a living and support his family: a work ethic that was then handed down to his daughter.
Dancing in Paris, TV presenting, modelling, acting: as she describes it, pretty soon she was “running around at a million miles per hour to avoid sitting with myself, travelling the world and living out of a suitcase, working way too much in order to ‘feel’ successful, not loving myself at all. I was highly stressed and anxious, drugs and alcohol were my go-to quick fixes, I was dealing with panic attacks and lived off champagne and canapés. And my anxiety would allow me on average four hours sleep a night.”
A plethora of illnesses ensued. But it wasn’t until a cold-sore virus so severe it was on her face, inside her mouth and down her throat — making talking and eating extremely painful — forced her to be hospitalised that Ambrosini’s lifestyle finally became unbearable.
“There are so many other people out there that are suffering, that really need my love and support, and my help. That really drives me to stay on the path and to keep doing this work.”
At just 24, she hit what she says was her “rock bottom”. Her first step to “self-love recovery” was to enroll as an Integrated Nutrition Health Coach and from there she went on to coach thousands of young women, create a podcast with more than 3 million downloads in just over 12 months, write two bestselling books and speak on stage around the world.
“I’m really proud of the growth and the commitment,” says Ambrosini. “But, in truth, it’s never been an option not to be committed to this path. I’ve never doubted it. When you come from a dark place, with anxiety and depression and panic attacks, and then you embark on this different life and you feel, for the first time, inner peace and contentment — it’s never an option not to live this life.
“If you had said to me, ‘What does inner peace and contentment feel like?’ I wouldn’t have known. I was so uncomfortable in my own skin. I hated my body, I hated myself, I was in a very bad place. And to now know what it feels like to have true inner peace and contentment — it is such a blessing.”
Now 31 years old, Ambrosini has moved on from the health focus of her early work, to teach millions of young women how to overcome what she calls their “Inner Mean Girl”: the dark inner ego voice that forces you to chase outdated ideals of success, happiness and abundance.
“I truly believe this is why I’ve been through what I’ve been through — to help others rise, to help others to get out of that dark place that they may feel, in this moment, stuck in. Because that’s not our truth; that isn’t where we’re meant to be. Love is sexy, health is liberating and wealthy is not a dirty word.”
Setting your own path and values
“The truth is, we’re never given the time or the space to sit down and really ask ourselves what we believe in, and what we really want from life,” says Ambrosini.
Since that first step to getting her life back on track after her hospital stay, Ambrosini has been on a committed path of rewriting her values and belief systems, which has in turn became her main message to her masses of followers.
“We’re just handed down our values and beliefs from our parents, unquestioned, and then we get to a place where I did, at age 24, and say, ‘Hang on a minute, these are my parents’ beliefs around religion. These are my parents’ beliefs around money, health, wellness, abundance. These aren’t even my beliefs or values.’
“And these beliefs and values are often toxic. It keeps us small, it keeps us living in fear and it keeps us unhealthy.”
There are no quick fixes here either. Ambrosini is very clear on the commitment and determination she has applied to the changes in her life. While some social media self-help gurus make it all seem as simple as a little positive self-talk, Ambrosini is very open about the grit it has taken for her to change the deep patterning that led her to her lowest point.
“When you take your attention off yourself and you have a bigger mission and a bigger vision, the inner suffering really dissolves. I think a lot of people are very focused on their suffering, and if we just turned our attention to serving others, it’s a win-win situation: you get filled up, and you’re filling someone else up at the same time.”
“So much of what I do each day is driven first by wanting to help and wanting to be of service to others. That’s what propels me out of dark moments — it’s like, ‘This isn’t about you.’ There are so many other people out there that are suffering, that really need my love and support, and my help. That really drives me to stay on the path, and to keep doing this work.”
“When you take your attention off yourself and you have a bigger mission and a bigger vision, the inner suffering really dissolves. I think a lot of people are very focused on their suffering and, if we just turned our attention to serving others, it’s a win-win situation: you get filled up and you’re filling someone else up at the same time.”
If she had her way, this type of focus would be taught to every student in high school and beyond. “I would love to see this focus in schools. I just wish there were lessons [on] values, self-love, meditation, yoga. If I could create a curriculum, it would look very different to what’s in the curriculum now. The most important thing I have learnt is to make sure that I’m clear on my purpose and that I keep checking back in with that purpose. If we could teach students to use that as their barometer, then the world would be different.”
Craving real connection
In 2017, Ambrosini released her second book, Open Wide, which went onto become her second bestseller. In this book and shift in focus, she went beyond the focus on self-love and values and bravely stepped into topics that not many 31-year-old authors would dare to attack: sex, friendships, money and passion.
“I think it was definitely the natural thing for me and my journey. After years of doing work on myself, I got to a place where I was really wanting to feel that peace and contentment in my relationships too. To be honest, I still had some superficial, inauthentic relationships that were not congruent with what my soul wanted. Inside, I had changed, but outside, something was still misaligned. My soul wanted deep, rich, soulful connections.”
What followed was a complete revisiting of her values and beliefs around marriage, sex, money and friendships, in Ambrosini’s typical style of clarity and encouragement. Her marriage with musician and entrepreneur Nick Broadhurst is shared openly with both of their growing audiences, often sharing intimate details of how they have overcome issues in their marriage and sex life. And in the process, this has empowered thousands of young women — and men — to approach their relationships differently.
“As humans, we are hardwired for intimacy and connection. We are hardwired for relationships, love and connection. When we open up within ourselves, we can open up for others, and that’s when our relationships deepen. A whole life includes deep love, not surface-level love, rocking relationships and soulful intimacy and sex.”
If you were to sum it up, Ambrosini is giving a generation of people permission: permission to shake off the old limiting beliefs, to explore who they are, to believe life can be good — to even enjoy sex without shame or self-doubt.
“I think it’s really important that people remember they didn’t come here to suffer. God, the Universe, whatever you believe in, did not put you here to suffer. You CAN have the life of your dreams, including the money, the relationship and the work you dream of.”
“I think it’s really important that people remember they didn’t come here to suffer. God, the Universe, whatever you believe in, did not put you here to suffer. You can have the life of your dreams, including the money, the relationship and the work you dream of.
“I grew up as a good Catholic Italian girl. I had to say sorry for my sins. I had to go to church every Sunday and pray for God’s forgiveness. My dad would say to me, ‘Get on your knees and pray for forgiveness,’ and I remember racking my brains trying to find something to say sorry for. I didn’t know that you could live a life beyond your wildest dreams. I did not grow up with that programming. I didn’t have that reality; I had to learn that through my own experience.
“Do I work hard? Yes. I love what I do so much that it doesn’t feel like it’s hard work, though. That’s also one [of] the beliefs that we need to change, because you can live a life beyond your wildest dreams. You can have the health, you can have the wealth and you can have the love that you truly desire. Life is a playground. You have this blank canvas that you get to paint and colour whatever you want on it — but it’s a matter of stepping out of that suffering. Stepping out of the belief that ‘God is punishing me’ and stepping into the belief that anything is possible. It really is a matter of ‘How much do you want it?’ For me, the pain was too excruciating to ignore any more.”
And for a world filled with far too much excruciating pain, it’s reassuring to see someone so young willing to call out the suffering from an unexamined life.
“We have gone from a ‘me’ cycle into a ‘we’ cycle where we’re really seeing the importance of collaborations and the rising feminine now more than ever. We need it. The world needs it right now. But I believe this is just pulling us to rise more. It’s pulling us to step up, it’s pulling us to make a change within ourselves and within our families so that we can be part of this ripple effect and help other people. We just need more of it, more of it, more of it.”
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