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If you were to run into Brendan H Burns in an elevator and ask him the typical question of, “So Brendan, what do you do?”, he would tell you that he is a speaker, podcast show host (The Brendan Burns Show), and a high-performance business and life coach. Brendan has experience working with thousands of people across more than 50 different countries and 6 continents, is hosting a Costa Rica retreat alongside Amanda Huggins, and he is just getting started. But he didn’t just decide one day that this career path was where his life would take him.
The thing is, Brendan has a very unique and powerful story. We all have our own background story and something that led us and influenced us to become who we are today. I had the pleasure of chatting with him to learn more about his background, headspace, and the path that lead him to such an impactful life.
Brendan is very open about having struggled with being extremely verbally, physically, and emotionally abused in his childhood. Having been exposed to infidelity, drug abuse, and witnessing manipulation on a very intense level, I’m sure you can imagine how overwhelming it was to be growing up in such a highly tumultuous environment, living in a constant state of chaos; but, it’s something that quickly becomes your normal.
When I asked Brendan how he managed to cope with all he had gone through, he painted a picture for me of the exact moments that really pushed him to come face to face with his long-term denial of the severity and side effects of his childhood trauma.
He was 25 years old. Due to being a hyper overachiever in order to overcompensate for his denial, he received his undergraduate degree, MBA, and Law degree from Cornell University. He even landed a job on Wall Street as an investment banker. That career and level of success is one that is highly sought after by tons of young Americans trying to live the American Dream.
Brendan explained he was in “complete denial” and says he had “zero self-awareness”, thinking that his life was going great! It was exactly what it was supposed to be.
After coming home from work to his long-term girlfriend, with whom he had been living for quite some time, he arrived to see her absolutely livid, unhappy, and throwing all of his belongings into the hallway.
“I actually thought it must have been a joke.”
While searching for new apartments online at the cafe down the street because he realized she was not going to let him back in yet, he received an email notification from his boss, explaining that he wanted to schedule a meeting, pretty certain it was because he was going to be let go. He minimized the email, having already enough on his plate and instantly receives a voicemail on his cellphone. As it turns out, Brendan’s brother had a “psychotic break from reality”, was suicidal, and was admitted to a mental health ward for further testing.
After being incredibly overtaken with emotion and forced to face the denial of his childhood and his own actions as a side effect, he found himself spending hours on the floor of the self-help section in Barnes and Noble, right in Midtown Manhattan. After recalling seeing the word “abuse” that his now ex-girlfriend had either written down somewhere or maybe even mentioned, he took a quiz on his phone and realized that even though he had not been physically abusive to her, he had in truth, been quite emotionally abusive and at times even verbally. He put the fate of his happiness on her shoulders and it became incredibly overbearing for her to handle.
He read hundreds of Amazon reviews of every book on the shelf. Lots of the books had titles gearing towards women, empowering them to leave toxic relationships, but there weren’t many books geared to the other side of the spectrum.
Finally, at the very bottom of the shelf, with a thin film of dust and being the only single copy book of its kind, Brendan found “The Emotionally Abusive Relationship” by Beverly Engel. It had 4.8 stars on Amazon and was geared towards BOTH parties of the relationship in order to “stop being abused and stop abusing”.
As I am sure you can tell where this is going – the book changed his life. He immediately googled who the author was in hopes of finding some way to contact her directly. Brendan finally stumbled upon a website that he says was “much like a MySpace page. It was black, had very little information on it at all, and was overall just awful.” At the very bottom of the page, he found that the only way she allowed contact with her was to mail her a $65 check, include your email address in the memo section, and basically hope to hear back from her in the coming weeks.
I asked if he actually sent her the check, and Brendan very cheerfully said, “YEAH! Of course I did!” While he waited for Beverly’s response, he interviewed a plethora of different therapists, none of which felt as though they would be a good fit. Finally, he got a response from her. They got on the phone, and when she asked what he felt in his body, or when he cried last, Brendan, with very much pride, explained he had not cried in YEARS.
He pointed out to me that now he knows that was because, often times, people who have been abused tend to disconnect from certain emotions.
Brendan went on to work with Beverly directly for five years and says she truly transformed his life. He then went on to travel the world, gaining life experience, working with addiction coaches, relationship coaches, and learning everything he could; which in turn lead him to sharing his transformations with the world and anyone willing to listen and learn – in hopes of helping people wake up when they are younger and act sooner.
Much of Brendan’s story, while being very intense and emotional, can be very relatable to many people in all walks of life. I was very excited to be able to speak to him one on one about all of this and truly appreciated how honest and open he was. Something that was surprising, though, was how calm and natural it appeared for him to rehash all these events.
One of the questions I had for him was if it was difficult for him to be so open and honest about his life story, especially considering the family members involved were bound to catch wind of what he was doing and how transparent he was in his sharing.
“YES. It was definitely VERY hard to be so raw and open.”
Brendan explained that he made the decision when he was on Wall Street that he had to get out of there. He had no choice at this point. Brendan then attempted to focus on being a travel blogger and influencer on Instagram. Seeing the world, sharing his experiences and foods and cultures – in hopes that he wouldn’t need to get emotions involved in the mix but still make a substantial income.
While he was attending a Tony Robbins event, surrounded by so many people having such drastic and powerful life realizations, he had a realization of his own. He wasn’t supposed to be blogging about hamburgers, but about his life. That was the only way he was going to make REAL waves in other people’s lives.
When he first started out, in fear of judgement, Brendan actually blocked everyone on social media that he assumed would be unsupportive of what he was deciding to do – but his parents were completely behind it all. But, ya know that saying, “You are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with”? Brendan quickly realized that he had to create a little distance in his relationship with his family in order to fully recover from his childhood trauma.
When I asked Brendan how he was feeling at the time of our conversation, and if he was happy with his life now, his answer wasn’t just a simple,
“I’m the happiest I’ve ever been!”
Here’s what he had to say:
“I’m in a place I’ve never been in my whole life. For me, happiness really comes from how emotions come up and how I respond to them. I met with a karmic worker once and we were discussing my goals. I looked at my income and said I would like to double it. But then I thought about it and said I wanted my goal to be a healthy relationship. But I wanted more than that. It was much bigger. My true, ultimate goal, would be to have the ability to stay in touch with my own emotions, be able to process and manage them better and not let them get in front of me. Life doesn’t always get EASIER. It can easily become more stressful with more success, bigger families, and so on. People who are doing life right aren’t looking for easier, but how to manage it better. What I want to do is always be in front of my emotions, express them, and continue my inner work – staying true to the process.”
We wrapped up our chat with two closing questions.
What is one question you would like the people reading this to ask themselves?
“It’s kind of dark, but I use this to really wake people up and it works. Put your hand on your heart, feel it beating, and ask yourself how much time you have left.”
What is one last note or word you would like to leave people with?
“Know that you are fully supported and you are not alone in whatever you’re going through. Nobody takes out their phone when life is bad; they do it only when it’s going well. In a world of filters and inauthenticity, know that I have suffered a lot of my life, and there are tons of people in the world who are suffering still. You’re not alone and you don’t have to stay in that space. Acknowledge it, find tools, and get help to get through them, whether that’s me or any other coach.”
He has tons of free content you can access, like his “60 Seconds of Truths” videos, which are highly raved about on Instagram.
While he does offer one-on-one private coaching sessions, his biggest offering at the moment is his Mastery Academy, which includes all of his online courses, a free coaching call, small group calls every two weeks, and access to a community of other people like yourself, who are willing to invest in themselves and think alike.
Finally, this May 4th through the 9th, he and Amanda Huggins are hosting a powerhouse retreat in Costa Rica that will be a transformational experience and a hybrid of entrepreneurial mindset work to pull you out of the “9-5 grind” but also dig deep to work on mindfulness. To find more about the retreat, as it’s filling up quickly, you can explore the details on www.revampretreats.com.