Iva Ballou Is A Viable Resource For Children’s Mental Health

This interview was released on August 11, 2020.

You were born with a bilateral cleft palate-lip and Peter’s Anomaly, which caused blindness in your left eye. As a child, what were some things that you relied on to help you understand your conditions and make you confident in your journey to come?

My first resource was my family. My parents did a great job, in that they never allowed me to operate in a deficit. They included me in all things dealing with my cleft. That prompted me to build my self-assurance, which led to my confidence in my decisions and self.

Surgery became a mainstay in your life before the age of 6. With each operation, what did the doctors explain to your parents regarding this process?

They would always try and prepare them and tell them that even with all the planning and projections, they couldn’t guarantee anything.

At 14, your dad transitioned after a second consecutive battle with cancer. With him transitioning, what questions arose in your spirit as a teenager?

My biggest question for a long time was why him! Before my dad got sick, he was my superman. I thought he could do anything. He always said that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. So, I thought, why didn’t he put his mind to beating cancer. That haunted me for years. It was until about three years ago while talking to someone that it clicked for me. My dad gave everything he had to beat cancer. He went two long rounds with me, but he was tired and needed to rest. He’s resting now, watching me carry on the fight for joy.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about the humanity of others in adulthood?

It may sound cheesy, but to not judge people for their outward appearance alone. As kids, we’re training to put things in their place, including people. Having a cleft and knowing the story of many others like me, I understand that some may see us and write us off. I know how that feels, and I try to make sure I don’t do that to others.

As a motivational speaker and certified cleft confidence coach, you’ve used your platform and voice to bring awareness and encouragement to others through your company, Real Confidence Joy. Talk about the transformative power of turning pain into triumph, one of the many skills that you teach your clients.

That is my favorite part. Seeing one of my clients take something that for so long they considered a negative and channel that pain into something beautiful and productive — challenging them to find their own joy and watching them take appropriate steps to create lasting change in their confidence and lives. It becomes a domino effect for them. Once they get it, they take ownership of it and dominate. That gives me joy!

With so many shifts transpiring in today’s world, how important is it for us to continue to strive for peace of mind and tranquility?

Peace of mind = peaceful sleep. I let my clients know that when they haven’t made peace with themselves and their past, they’ll always be running. Even in their sleep, the mind is trying to outrun the pain, shame, or guilt. And just like the game Pac-Man, the more you run and consume other things, the shadow within will try to overcome you. For that reason, you have to face it and embrace the pain to get through it. Once you’ve done that, no matter how hectic life gets, you can still rest peacefully.

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