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A Curious Soul Who Loves Learning And Helping People – Exclusive Interview With Deborah McPhilemy

Deborah McPhilemy is the Founder of Selfie School, a Self-Empowerment Academy that empowers and educates women and children holistically, so they can become completely comfortable being themselves. After coming from a disempowered background of being bullied and abused, she completely ‘lost’ herself. After spending years healing and rediscovering who she was, she returned to being herself and her life was transformed beyond recognition. She now spends her life helping others to do the same, as well as helping them in a preventative context.

bear mascot at children's party

Deborah McPhilemy, Selfologist Coach and Lifestyle Entrepreneur


Introduce yourself! Please tell us about you and your life, so we can get to know you better.


Hi, I’m Deborah, lover of life, my large extended family, my dog, my friends and everything travel. I’m a curious soul who loves learning and helping people to become who they want to be and live the life they’ve always dreamt of.

What is your business name and how do you help your clients?


My business is called Selfie School which is a Self-Empowerment Online Academy. Students learn who they really are, how to get rid of whatever is standing in the way of them being themselves and how to consciously create the future they want.


I also have a brand called ‘The Bears of Blueberry Forest’, a series of books and characters that help children aged 3 – 10 to become Emotionally Intelligent and Self-Empowered.

What kind of audience do you target your business towards?


My audience is mostly women who are fed up with the way their lives and relationships have turned out, they are done with feeling powerless and with feeling yuk about themselves. They know instinctively that there is more to life and relationships and just need some help getting there. I have also had quite a few men join Selfie School over the years, and they’ve loved it.


Selfie School is also for Tutors and Coaches who want to help children to feel comfortable being themselves, to teach children how to develop their Emotional Intelligence and build their Mental Strength.

What are your current goals for your business?


To keep growing steadily. I’ve always dreamt of having at least 10 000 students on a global basis graduate from Selfie School. It has been said that each of us will impact at least 10 000 people in our lives, so can you imagine having 10 000 people who truly love themselves, who are empowered with actual life skills to deal with the ups and downs of life each impacting 10 000 people? It would create an enormous ripple effect which would ultimately create a much better world. No more anxiety, bullying, abuse or mental health issues! Wouldn’t that be incredible? 😊

What would you like to achieve for yourself and your business in the future?


Besides my wish for my intention to have 10 000 students graduate from Selfie School come true, I would love ‘The Bears of Blueberry Forest’ to be turned into a TV series that will reach children all over the world so they can effortlessly learn how to develop their Emotional Intelligence and Mental Strength, become self-empowered and grow up with the skills they need to navigate their own lives being equipped to deal with all of life’s ups and downs.

Who inspires you to be the best that you can be?


I would say that my children and grandchildren are my biggest inspirers. I know first-hand the profound effect unconscious parenting can have on you so when I became aware of how my own parenting was negatively affecting my own children, it immediately stopped in my tracks. I didn’t want my children to have to spend years recovering from their childhood, so I made it my purpose to become the best possible parent I could become to give them the best possible chance in life. When my grandchildren came along, I learnt even more from them and when we got a puppy last year, he too taught me to be more mindful and more present. In recent years my husband has inspired me to fully stand in my own power. He is incredibly supportive and has taught me what it truly feels like to be loved completely and unconditionally.

What is your work inspired by?

As a child I always felt incredibly out of control, I detested not being in charge of my own life, not being able to make decisions for myself and having to comply to someone else’s rules and beliefs. I felt held back, what I wanted didn’t seem important, like I never had a voice! I also blamed myself for other people’s bad behaviour, I believed that people treated me badly because there was something wrong with me, that it was my fault. It never felt safe to be me. Today I am me, unapologetically me and I love it. I want everyone to experience just how freeing and wonderful it is to live your life as yourself. To not have to hide behind a mask, nor having to comply or live up to someone else’s expectation or idea of who you should be or how you should live your life.

Tell us about your greatest career achievement so far.


Becoming the very first Commercial Trainer of Emotional Intelligence in South Africa in 2003 and winning a gold award in London for one of the children’s books I wrote – ‘Abby and The Gaggle of Geese’ which helps children to recognise, recover from and prevent bullying.

If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be and why?


I would make it compulsory to teach actual Life Skills in schools that help children to navigate life. A curriculum that teaches them to develop their Emotional Intelligence, build their mental strength, which shows them how to love themselves, to manage money, to be themselves, to develop confidence, to communicate effectively and to be able to express themselves in life and in their relationships. I would also take the ridiculous pressure off of them having to achieve grades in subjects that are irrelevant and defunct. A schooling system that embraces individuality and makes learning fun and inclusive.

Tell us about a pivotal moment in your life that brought you to where you are today.


In 1991 I was diagnosed with having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome after struggling with a very long list of bizarre symptoms which included the most excruciating fatigue. Having a name for the condition brought a semblance of relief but there was no cure for it. The next 7 years for me, and my children, was ‘hell on earth’. Every day took tremendous effort for me to stay awake so I could earn a living, so much so, that I became addicted to diet pills as they were the only thing that kept me awake! It truly was an awful time as I was a single mom, and I had no choice but to work. There were no benefits in South Africa where I grew up and the maintenance I sporadically received for my children, was not enough to sustain them, let alone all three of us. One day I was visiting my mom and I saw a book lying on her coffee table. It was about a man who had healed his stomach cancer by changing his diet. I was astounded as never before had I heard about, or read about, anyone healing their bodies without the help of doctors and traditional meds. I asked my mom if I could borrow the book, took it home and read it from cover to cover. For the first time in my life, I felt hope. There and then I decided if this man could heal his body from cancer, I could heal my body from CFS. I followed his protocol and two weeks later, for the first time in more than 7 years I had the most incredible energy and felt a sense of wellbeing that I had never experienced before. I wanted to shout about my healing from the rooftops. I wanted everyone to know that they could heal themselves, that they did not have to depend on traditional Doctors to do it for them.


I wanted to learn more so within a few months I signed up to attend a course in America led by the author himself, I quit my job and I sold my car to pay for it all. Healing my body myself without the help of doctors or their meds not only gave me back my life, it also made me wake up! I became conscious, aware of the fact that we all have incredible power within ourselves, that we do not have to live our lives as victims. That we can make the changes we want to make and that we are not dependent on others to do it for us. This whole experience was my catalyst for becoming the person I am today - fully Self-Empowered, in charge of and enjoying my life and my relationships to the fullest. It also awakened my passion and drive to help others to do the same so they too can have lives, and relationships, they love and enjoy.





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