Episode 131

Mpumi Nobiva

We become the stories we tell ourselves

August 9, 2020

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Episode Overview

“We become the stories we tell ourselves. So whatever story you’re telling yourself is the story you recreate for yourself.” – Mpumi Nobiva

This week we have the privilege of welcoming back Mpumi Nobiva. Our first NDINI interview with Mpumi was a little over 2 years ago. A lot has happened in her life since then, so she came back to give us an update.

When we last spoke to Mpumi, she was living her dream working for a prestigious company in Los Angeles, and living in a gorgeous high rise apartment.  She was on a plane almost every weekend travelling across the globe to speak on stages in front of thousands of people.  Mpumi talks about how she was so focused on being a “success” without realizing why she was so driven.

“Because I was so fixated on this idea of success, and because I was so driven, what I wasn’t realizing is that the motivating force of my success was fear.” – Mpumi Nobiva

But it all came at a very heavy price.  Mpumi opened up about the weight of success, and the toll it took on her mental health. She talks about the challenges of trying to reconcile the dream life she was living, with the very real poverty that her family was still living in.  She also talks about the ‘black tax’ – the burden of being the one who “made it”, and the burden that brings with it.

“There’s real weight when you encounter something. It impacts your energy level in such a real way I wish we knew how to express so that we can relieve ourselves from that.” – Mpumi Nobiva

Mpumi talks about the weight of carrying other people’s suffering, the feelings of guilt about her success, and the societal pressures.  At the peak of her success, Mpumi had a physical and mental breakdown.

“I needed to step away from all of this because I needed love. I needed to love myself.” – Mpumi Nobiva

Mpumi realized she needed time to heal, and to find her true self.  This included taking time away from social media, and to surround herself with real relationships and support. This included seeking help through therapy.  Therapy helped her start to understand more about herself, and the reasons behind her suffering.  This included what she came to know was generational unprocessed trauma.

“Solitude means you’re able to exist independently and be of your own independent essence and have your own stature… and that takes real work for an African girl who grew up not knowing how to love herself.” – Mpumi Nobiva

Telling her story to the world has inspired many.  Mpumi’s story is one of being born in poverty, a mother who sacrificed her life to provide for her family, being raised by her grandmother; and then being given the opportunity of a lifetime through The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.

Through hard work, determination, and to keep a promise she made to her grandmother, Mpumi has become an Award-Winning International Speaker and Communication Strategist. She has spoken at the White House, congressional fundraisers, corporate functions and nonprofit initiatives in several countries.

Mpumi is now on a new journey with a fresh perspective in her life.  She has always been very vocal in speaking about HIV/AIDS awareness, and has expanded her work to support other causes impacting women and children in South Africa. In particular she is choosing to focus on supporting mental wellness.

“We need to deconstruct what success means for the African. We need to deconstruct what religion is for the African. We need to deconstruct what spirituality is, what mental health is for the African.” – Mpumi Nobiva

what you’ll learn in this episode

  • How Mpumi’s pursuit of success took a toll on her mental health
  • What she learned about the motivating factor for her pursuit of success
  • Why Mpumi struggled with the guilt of being successful, especially since her family and friends were still in poverty
  • What she had learned about ‘unprocessed trauma’
  • Why her definition of success has changed
  • Mpumi’s journey to recovery through therapy and healing
  • Why Mpumi thinks it’s important for us to start having more conversations about mental health
  • What she is working on now, and how she’s using her experience to help other people
  • Her “I am…”


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