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The only way is up


ACTION WOMAN Donna Kennedy, who was once given just one week to live, chose to take action and strive for happiness. Now wants to help others pull themselves back from the brink.

Westport woman Donna Kennedy is launching her third book, ‘The Confidence to Succeed’, in Dublin today. Ahead of her book signing in Duffy’s Bookshop, Westport, this Friday evening, the psychologist, life coach and professional speaker told the Mayo News about how her near-death experience with anorexia ultimately forced her to turn her life around and become, in her own words ‘happy, confident and successful’.

In my words
Donna Kennedy

When I was younger I went through some traumatic challenges and at the time I couldn’t deal with them. As a result, I spiralled into chaos. I was so unhappy that I starved myself almost to death, to the point where I was given one week to live. I am 5 foot 10 inches, and my weight plummeted to 5 stone.
It was a horrible time and nobody knew how to help me, even myself. I was afraid to walk across the road on my own, to speak to anyone, and nobody had any answers. Nobody understood. My family were hugely supportive, especially my wonderful mother and father, and Westport GP, Dr Deirdre Collins, was also a great support. However, my recovery was slow and painful. I now know that if I had the specific strategies I have today it could have been easier.
My full recovery happened not as a result of treatments so to speak; I really started to get results by learning from what you might call unexpected professionals – real-life doers from all walks of life, not people who operate from theory or psychological autopsies. I became happy, confident and successful, despite circumstance, because I learned from people who became happy, confident and successful despite circumstance.
I guess when you’re on the ground you only have two ways to go – under the daisies or up. I knew that dying would hurt everyone around me, so I had to find a way up! As I got physically stronger, I looked for ways to help myself.
One thing that stood out for me at the time was that the most confident, successful people on this planet are usually born out of bad circumstance. They are also not necessarily the smartest academically and they are not necessarily emotionally fit starting out. But they are the smartest on a real-life-results level – and they had the willingness to feel good and become successful.
That’s all I had: willingness (albeit feint). I figured it may be a good idea to find out how happy and successful people got results, despite bad circumstances. A bit like baking a cake; if you want to do it well find the best baker there is! I found the best of the best, and I copied what they were doing until I got the result I wanted.
At the beginning I read about them and listened to CDs, as I was too afraid to do anything else, but as I got a little bit stronger I did everything I could to meet them in person. Everyone knew I didn’t want anything other than to learn from them, so they were delighted to help me. Between them, they basically gave me the recipe I needed to get the results I have today. With that and family support I made it. I now want to share this information with others.
‘The Confidence to Succeed’ is written from a very real place, and it gives people answers. It gives the HOW, not just the why. No jargon, just honest straight talk. And, importantly, it includes exercises throughout the book so the reader gets results immediately.
Results are my focus, not just enlightenment. Life is too short to waste time analysing everything you already know you feel. You only get results by DOING things that have been shown to work in real life, even if at the beginning that is scary.
‘The Confidence to Succeed’ is designed for someone who doesn’t know how to take the steps – or maybe they do know how but are just afraid to take them. It gives clarity and focus towards happiness and peace of mind. It gives solutions and supports the reader in their ability to get results for themselves.
This book is for anyone who wants to feel better or perform better in life and business. It’s not just for people struggling emotionally. Yes, it includes strategies for happiness, confidence and success, but then I give specific strategies for socialising confidently, public speaking, relationships and business building too. The steps and supports are there. How high you want to go is entirely up to yourself.
What do I think holds people back from achieving their goals in life? I would say the notion that we aren’t good enough. We compare ourselves to others, to what they have and are. We focus on all the ‘failures’ and not our strengths.
People listen to what other people think of them far too much! The truth is, what other people think of you is none of your business. If we were to focus on a balanced life and making the most of everything that we are as unique individuals, we would be a lot happier … The book helps people get out of their own way. It goes beyond theory, inspiration and positive thinking. t gets results that work in real life.
I put my soul on the line in this book, but I am prepared to do that because it is the only way to truly help people: Honesty and specifics. People need specifics. I have lived through hell, and got the results despite it. I know what it really takes. I want to get this book into the hands of as many people as possible, and I know it will change lives, possibly save lives.

Donna Kennedy will signing copies of ‘The Confidence to Succeed’ in Duffy’s Bookshop at 5pm, on Friday, February 5. The book is available in Mayo in McLoughlin’s, Westport; Duffy’s Bookshop, Westport; Castlebooks, Castlebar; Newport Post Office; and Fahy’s Hardware Castlebar. For more information, contact or visit