Costa Women Meet … Marléne Rose Shaw

Meet Marléne Rose Shaw, therapist and self-help author. Marléne helps people gain confidence and learn how to be more assertive, especially in relationships with partners, friends and family. She works with individual clients and with couples.


Marléne where did your personal story start and your journey to Spain?

I was brought up in the UK but I’ve always travelled. I’ve always felt as though I live on planet Earth, rather than just belonging to one country.

Spain was somewhere I visited a lot with friends and I wanted to live in the sun. 

Then I discovered Costa Women and that made the whole process so much easier. For me Costa Women has been like a bridge to cross from the UK to Spain with you Ali as the gentle guide.


Did you create your business from an experience you had had?  If so, tell us more about it?

Carl Jung said that therapists are wounded healers. It means that many of us have overcome some adversity which has led us to want to help others do the same. I didn’t have an easy start in life which quite naturally led me to take an interest in psychology and how relationships work.

I didn’t do particularly well at school, but later, I picked up my education and I went on to study at the University of Sussex. I took a degree in Applied Psychology

It was while I was at Sussex that I realised I was being drawn to all the courses that involved therapy and how relationships work.

So after my degree, I went on to train as a counsellor, then took a number of post-graduate qualifications in various therapeutic models. I trained as a couples therapist too.

Back in the day, I worked in a whole range of different settings from homelessness to bereavement, to domestic violence, to rehab and a whole lot of different areas and I got a lot of experience. 

I’ve been in private practice for several years now and I absolutely love it. So I guess I can be grateful to my difficult start in life because it led me down this path.


Who is your business role model and why?

I follow a number of people. If I have to pick one, I would say it’s Natalie Sisson. I’ve been listening to her since her early podcast – The Suitcase Entrepreneur. In fact, it was discovering Natalie that gave me the final inspiration to pursue my dream of living in Spain.

I like Natalie because she gives good straightforward advice, and I find her very inspiring.

I like that she doesn’t preach or make big promises. She’s very natural and encouraging.

I think I relate to her because we both have this sort of ‘gentle nudge’ approach but also strive to make sure that people have the right tools and encourage them to put in the work. 



“How Kind People Get Tough” – tell us why you wrote the book and what we can find in its pages?

“How Kind People Get Tough” is based on many years helping people gain confidence and have better relationships. Many of my clients over the years have told me that they want to be more assertive but they worry that it will make them mean or cause conflict or that they’ll be rejected.

That’s become my main focus now: teaching people how to be assertive and have more secure and happier relationships. It’s all about communication skills, and boundaries letting go of limiting beliefs and overwhelming emotions.

I wanted to take all this from beyond the therapy room and reach more people

I truly believe that when we set better boundaries and communicate well, we encourage others to do the same, and they encourage others to do the same,  so the whole world becomes a happier and more secure place. 

It’s like a ripple effect.



The book begins with understanding what assertiveness really means and why we all struggle with it. It’s not that some people are good at being assertive and others aren’t – it’s innate in all human beings to struggle with it. It’s because we’re social beings, we don’t want to invite conflict or be rejected, so we get conditioned into trying to fit in with each other.

We make the mistake of thinking that assertiveness is about power struggles. It’s not about power, it’s about empowerment for all. Once we understand what true assertiveness is it makes it so much easier to put it into practice.


People often make the mistake of thinking being assertive means trying to fend off disrespect. That’s understandable. If you feel disrespected by someone, you feel disempowered so the natural inclination is to try to tip the scales and get your power back.

But true assertiveness lifts everyone up to the same high level. It’s a way of seeking a win-win outcome, not a winner and loser.



It’s also about being intentional rather than reacting to situations. 

I like to say that being assertive means letting people know ahead of time how you want to be treated, instead of reacting when they let you down.

We can do this by setting good boundaries and having clear communication.



The key is in understanding the difference between misguided kindness and conscious kindness.

When we smooth things over and try not to rock the boat – that’s what I call Misguided kindness. It comes from fear  – it’s not really kindness at all because nothing ever gets resolved, no one feels good for long and no one learns anything.

Conscious kindness comes from a place of love. It’s about thinking ahead and considering the long term outcome for everyone in a situation. It’s asking how can I make sure I am respecting and loving me, and doing the same for this other person? 



The book goes on to teach the reader how to actually put assertiveness skills into practice in various scenarios 

  • How to be heard and how to be acknowledged 
  • How to reclaim your time
  • How to speak up: for example how to say ‘no’, how to say ‘enough now’, and also how to properly say I’m angry in healthy ways
  • It also looks at how to stop people pleasing and rescuing people
  • How to attract the right relationships and how to know where you stand in your relationships


It’s packed full of case studies, I think if I remember rightly there are 26 cases studies. 

I made a point of putting in the case studies because I wanted people to be able to relate it to their own life and their own relationships.



Also the free online course where readers can download worksheets to help them apply the techniques to their own life. 

Plus a template for readers to create their own Intentional Life Plan

It’s a way for the reader to pre-plan how they will approach various situations in life, such as how they will say No, or ask for their needs to be met. It makes life so much easier when we have things planned ahead of time. When we’re in stressful situations we can’t always think straight.

I’m getting amazing feedback on this book. People email me every week thanking me for the help it’s given them. I’m so happy to have written it.


What are your three top tips for creating a boost of confidence?

1. Speak kindly to your inner child

2. Take small steps each day

If you find it hard to say no to people – there’s a lot of small steps you can take to get better at that – in fact I’ve got a free guide on How to Say No at the website which you can get straight away 

3. Practice Conscious Kindness

Checklist is part of the free course when you buy the book

What book did you read recently which made a difference to your life and why?

I revisited Wayne Dyer’s Power of Intention and also Wishes Fulfilled as a way of reminding me that we need to align ourselves with what we want to achieve. 


What is your superpower? 

People tell me that they feel heard and accepted by me, but that I also make sure they do the work and get the results. I think it’s very important that people can offload their worries and be properly heard but it’s equally important that they are given the guidance and tools to move on from that

I’m told my strength is that I blend both acceptance and practical guidance.


Something you will achieve in 2020?

I’m putting together an online program where people can come together and work on the core concepts in the book


Such as setting better boundaries – and maintaining them


Finding courage to speak up and be more authentic


And pre planning being more intentional about their relationships


What would be your advice to the younger you?


Relax, don’t take life so seriously and don’t believe the negative people who criticise you – they are simply projecting their own fears. At the end of the day we are all doing the best we can. 


No one is better or worse than anyone else.


How can we best connect with you?

Go to

And you can get your free ‘How to Say No’ guide there too


Thank you Marléne!