A Woman Breaking Barriers in Leadership and in Healing Generational Trauma Through Self-Awareness

Judy Stella’s personal life and career are centered around changing the narrative. Despite facing numerous adversities as a child, she overcame challenges with the help of wonderful teachers, counselors, and leaders who added value to her life. Now, she sees it as her opportunity to pay it forward and be that person for someone else by adding value, encouragement, and inspiration. 

Judy’s experiences in her life inspired her to break the cycle of generational curses and pursue a career dedicated to helping individuals around the world. With her selfless, caring, wise, and empathetic personality, she stands out in her field, as a Leadership Development Coach. 

As a co-founder of Stella Health Insurance, along with her husband, her objective is to provide clients with expert guidance and education on their healthcare choices, all from the convenience of their home or office and at no cost. Judy shares, 

“I found myself needing a new sense of purpose within the organization beyond just growth. From the beginning, I enjoyed working with the senior community and helping them, but as time passed, I wanted to expand my impact and find new ways to make a difference.

I want to encourage everyone who hears this message to embrace setbacks and challenges as opportunities for growth. It’s important to remember that seeking guidance and advice from those who have already walked the path you want to follow is not a weakness, but a strength. Learning from others can inspire and motivate us to become the best version of ourselves. And while it’s important to focus on our inner selves, seeking outside help is also important to achieve our goals. Remember that setbacks are just stepping stones to get you to the next level, so keep pushing forward and don’t give up.”

Her unwavering passion for helping others, combined with her welcoming personality, creates a safe space for those seeking advice in business, health, and life. 

L.A. STYLE: When did you decide you wanted to pursue a career that entailed helping others?

Judy Stella: At a later stage in life, I stumbled upon my first profession as a social worker, almost by coincidence. It was a college counselor at my university who guided me. Initially, I had signed up for nursing, thinking it would be a suitable profession for helping and caring for others. However, I soon realized it wasn’t the right fit for me.The counselor asked me what I wanted to study, and my response was that I didn’t know, I just wanted to help others and make a difference. When I expressed my interest in making a difference and helping others, he introduced me to the social work profession, which I had limited knowledge of. I began educating myself about the profession’s core values of advocacy and its potential to bring about change in people’s lives. I owe him a lot for being my first guide, and we remain close friends even today.

L.A. STYLE: When did you realize there was generational trauma you experienced that you had to heal from in order to break the cycle?

Judy Stella: As I reflect on my past, I’ve come to realize that my upbringing involved a significant amount of trauma. Consequently, I made the decision later in life to prioritize my healing and recovery. Initially, I thought that it was the norm, and that every family had a similar upbringing. It wasn’t until I took some courses in college that I realized not everyone had the same experiences. Looking back, as an adult and a mother, I was able to recognize the strengths that my mother possessed, and how our family was able to be resilient and persevere through many adversities. This new perspective allowed me to have empathy and compassion for my mother, as she also experienced trauma in her own upbringing. I believe that there needs to be more awareness and discussion about generational trauma and how it can be passed down from one generation to the next, until someone has the self-awareness and access to resources and support to break the cycle. This type of norm is not healthy, and we need to learn what resources and support we need to change this narrative and make a positive difference for the next generation.

After being a mental health professional myself and undergoing therapy for many years, I was able to heal many of the wounds and pains that I experienced as a child and young adolescent. Through this process, I came to realize that my mother’s own trauma had never been dealt with or processed due to limited coping skills and support systems as a single mother, along with financial poverty circumstances and her own traumas and losses that she never had the opportunity to process. For her, it was just about survival – making sure she had a place for herself and her child to sleep in, or ensuring she had milk and something to eat the next day. When you’re focused on survival, there’s often no room for thoughts of self-care or bettering oneself.

L.A. STYLE: What would you say is the first step to healing?

Judy Stella: Self-awareness is crucial in recognizing and acknowledging the pain we carry within us, which we may have suppressed for years. We tend to keep ourselves busy with self-medicating activities like binge-watching shows or having a glass of wine to distract ourselves. It’s important to have psycho-education and be curious and open to understanding how certain events may have impacted our emotional well-being. Self-love and self-compassion play a significant role in our healing journey. Personally, I used to be very critical of myself, but I learned the importance of being self-compassionate. Vulnerability is also essential in this process, and having a support system can help us go through the pain and learn that we can withstand it. The only way to get to the other end is by going through it.

L.A. STYLE: Have you come across any essential parenting advice that has helped you in raising your children?

Judy Stella: Due to my upbringing and experiences during childhood, one of my passions is parenting. I wanted to create a different experience for my child by nurturing them, building their self-esteem and self-worth, having open communication, and everything that I missed growing up. I also wanted to normalize mental health in my family. For me, it’s about being curious and seeking resources to educate myself on parenting. Sometimes, we start something and don’t follow through, and people might make fun of it. However, the goal is not to be 100% prepared and ready for parenting, but to continuously learn and improve. Seeking wise counsel and learning from others who have greater knowledge, wisdom, or experience than us is important. I am not an expert, but I always strive to learn every day.

L.A. STYLE: Do you have any helpful tips for parents on how to handle feelings of frustration when dealing with their children?

Judy Stella: Taking a pause has been a powerful practice for me. It’s something I work on every day, and I’ve seen how it can help me respond calmly and appropriately in challenging situations. When I feel triggered or frustrated, I take a few deep breaths and wait for a few seconds before responding. This has helped me avoid explosive reactions that can be scary for children. It’s important for me to be a safe haven for my children and provide them with emotional support, and that’s why I’m motivated to continue practicing pausing.

L.A. STYLE: Could you share any advice on how to effectively communicate with your spouse or how to seek support from them when needed?

Judy Stella: Personally, I feel very fortunate to have a husband who has been supportive and receptive of my journey towards better mental health and parenting. I know that not everyone has the same experience, because I do have friends who reached out to me with the same question, “What do you do? What can I do to have my spouse be on the same page?”. –– My advice to them is to lead by example and focus on making positive changes themselves. While it may be challenging to change someone else’s behavior, they can still make a difference by being the best parent they can be and setting a good example for their children.

I believe in creating an open and accepting environment at home where we acknowledge and embrace all kinds of emotions without labeling them as good or bad. This includes our children who may have their own moments of emotional releases. When I’m feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, I communicate that to them by saying “I’m feeling frustrated right now, and I need some time to myself to calm down. I’ll go to my room or take a break for a few minutes.” This way, they learn that it’s okay to feel what they’re feeling and that it’s healthy to take a step back and take care of themselves. If my husband is around and I feel triggered by my children’s cries or distress, I will ask him for support and say, “I need a break, can you please step in and help our children with whatever they need?” It can be difficult for me to manage my emotions in those moments because I didn’t have that kind of support when I was growing up. I acknowledge that it’s a continuous effort to work on my emotional regulation, and in the beginning, I struggled to contain myself at times. But what’s important for me is to accept my mistakes and limitations, and commit to improving every day. That’s why I try to reset that button every morning and strive to be the best mother I can be for my children.

L.A. STYLE: Could you share the key factors that have contributed to the success of your organization?

Judy Stella: I remember the day my husband came home and he asked me, “What do you think about starting our own agency?” This was when we were newly married and had just bought our first home. Taking the risk of starting our own business was something I never doubted, and I knew we would succeed. Years later, after my children were a little older, I joined the family business. Now, as we expand our agency, it’s important to me that we attract people who are aligned with our core values. I want to equip them, add value to their lives and support them in their journey, so they can have successful careers or professions and improve their quality of life. Together, we can work as a collective whole to give back to the communities we serve. I feel incredibly proud of our organization (Stella Health Insurance) and the positive impact we are making.

L.A. STYLE: Who is someone who has served as a mentor to you?

Judy Stella: One person who has had a profound impact on my life is John Maxwell. He has been like a father figure to me, especially since I didn’t have a father growing up. I am grateful for him and his team for all the value they have added to my life. One of the things he says that resonates with me is, “Anything worthwhile is uphill.” It’s true because anything that is truly valuable or meaningful in life never comes easy. It takes effort, determination, and perseverance to achieve it. Along the way, we may need to take moments to rest, recharge, and seek counsel, but we must keep pushing forward on our journey towards our goals.


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