INTERVIEW WITH ERICA E OPARE
Erica Opare is a tri-transformation coach, pharmacist, and co-founder of Liria Digital Health, a tech startup based in Leeds, UK. Erica radiates the wisdom and openness exemplary for a transformation and mindset coach and A New of Africa had the pleasure of interviewing her:
How has the journey been for you as a transformation coach?
I’ve been on this journey for about 20 years. However, it stood out when my mom passed away 4 years ago. Since then, I’ve always been into self-development, self-actualization, or whatever you want to call it. I’ve always been interested in personal growth. There’s so much more we can do, though not in terms of material but in terms of your impact on people. Humans are connected in many ways. We are all one. It was unfortunate for me when my mom passed away. It’s something I will deal with for the rest of my life because we were very close. That event made me wake up. It made me question everything that for me was the major turning point. I wanted to accomplish a legacy, impact people.
At what point exactly did you realized you were cut out for this, helping people to transform?
I would say earlier in life even if when I was younger. I’ve always love to speak with people and find out what they wanted to do, and what their purpose was. Purpose is something we always tend to think of as something that is related to our career. I thought about this for many years, and obviously, everybody has their viewpoint. But for me, the purpose is a lot deeper than that. Purpose is something that doesn’t change whereby you know the divinity in you. You know who you really are. The purpose awakes you to identify that we are physical beings but also we are spiritual beings as well, considering my Christian Faith and how I was raised. When I meet people, I’ve always asked about their happiness and relationships. Everything in our lives is an extension of who we are. We need to look into our lives and ask ourselves what is it we need to change, to transform. Because when we transform, everything in the outer world transforms. That is the power we all have.
Do you think your clients really transform positively at the end of the day?
Transformation is not always pretty. It’s not always happy. It’s quite dark. To transform means to let go of the old and embrace the new. So to let go would mean you have to die to your old self and you have to keep on doing that. I was speaking with someone recently discussing the transformation process. Using a butterfly transformation level from a caterpillar to an actual butterfly. There is some level of disintegration in transformation in order to form again. You need the strength to let go of your weakness to embrace the new. I have a 3-month process with my clients or a month with three sessions, one hour a week. And what I say to them is that it’s a lifelong process. The transformation doesn’t take place in that single session. You have to want, to be able to die to yourself and to embrace the new. You have to want to change. You must commit to being consistent and intentional about wanting to level up. It doesn’t just end there when we complete our sessions. They recognize it is a continuous process unless you want to remain stagnant which is quite sad. I believe it is a process until the day we leave the Earth.
What was your story like growing up as a child with your parents, your experiences?
I was born in England, but originally I’m African from Ghana. When I was about 6 years old, my parents decided to sell everything and migrate to Ghana. I lived in Ghana for a couple of years and then there was a change of plan and we returned back to the UK. I grew up in a two-pen household, and lots of love. We never went to nannies. My mom really stayed at home and sacrificed her time. She was very maternal. She put a lot of love into us. That is why her passing really affects me. She treated us equally and I’m the eldest. We had a strict upbringing, whereby self-discipline, consistency, hard work doesn’t kill. We are a very close family. We understood the value of love and togetherness. I was very close to my father, daddy’s girl you would say. I recognized other people didn’t grow in a two-pen household with such closeness, but interestingly the people I work with, come for a reason and some of our experiences are similar. We are all connected. I use these similar experiences to help, to encourage, empower, and coach them.
What did you enjoy doing most as a child?
I loved going out to play but by my nature, I’m an introvert. I like to think, quiet concentration, reflect, and ponder. Yes, I like to play with friends but also I really enjoy solitude. I enjoy connecting with deeper meanings in life, and I also like to draw and write.
What’s your best and worst experience as a child?
I will start with the worst. The worst is actually trying to fit but I think it’s best not to fit in because we are not designed to fit in. We are all unique in our ways. So many friendships were quite kind of difficult. I always thought I wasn’t understood. I was always very empathetic, very kind-natured, and giving but unfortunately, people take advantage of them. That was quite painful.
In your book, 5 Steps to Personal Transformation to Create the Life you Desire, you talked about your kids.
How has motherhood transformed you? How do you see life compared to when you were single?
To me, motherhood has been another outlet to give love. You give so much of yourself but there’s no much left. Ultimately, it’s about knowing who you really are in the first place. I was born into this world with the heart of a mother, a wife, a sister, and a friend but I will definitely leave someday. Motherhood is amazing because you get to see a part of you, your nature, and your characteristics in your children. But also you get to give them the opportunity to also identify and discover who they are, their gifts and talents but not to be so restrictive. For me, is maybe more insightful. Yes, they’re my children but I also don’t just see them as my children. I tend to see my role as a caretaker to provide a loving environment, wisdom, and direction. And of course, there would be boundaries where they can also grow up and be independent and discover who they really are. Because we all come knowing who we really are. It takes time and the grace to really kind of tune in. It is important to support and harness their gifts when you spot them. One of my children, the youngest, loves to pick up books ‘mommy can you read to me…’
Therefore, I harness that. Motherhood expands your vision. It expands your breath.
How would you compare your parenting to the way you were parented?
There are quite some similarities. In each generation, we learn and we adapt. We put some ways aside and make more improvements. For me, self-reliance is very important and I think the earlier the better. In the West African culture, it is more like children don’t know much. You keep quiet let adults express their opinion. What I teach my children is to really articulate their point but respectfully. As a parent, you reduce the impact to enable the child to articulate their own unique voice. So, when they grow up and they are conversing with their colleagues, they’re able to express themselves better because it’s a habit and a skill that needs to be harnessed. It’s always best to reason with the child.
How do you handle your child telling you he’s gay?
We can look into this, sexuality, as well as a career choice. In the African culture, it’s usually about being a doctor or a lawyer. And if your child comes forward saying he wants to be an artist, it’s always rejected. I think parents can have dialogues with children. For me, sexuality is a very sensitive situation and should be addressed with love and consideration of posterity.
As an entrepreneur in the UK, do you consider expanding your project to Africa?
I have a tech start-up. My plans and dreams is to make impact down to my root, Africa.
Thank you so much Erica. It’s been a great honor talking to you.
By Elijah Christopher,