Calling out the BS on Coaching

Last year I tried a few new things.

I put myself out there when it came to launching my emotional intelligence program and I paid for some different coaching programs to help me build this element of myself along the way.

What I realised is that while I adore the world of personal and professional development, it is just like any other industry. It’s got the good, the bad and the ugly, and I’m going to call it out by sharing an experience with you.

I’m not doing this to cast any kind of bad light on the industry, if anything I want you to create more discernment in yourself. So that even if you do buy a program or pay for a coach that you can see that they are only human too and at the end of the day it’s up to you to lead your personal and professional development and pay for what you want to. Rather than getting roped into paying for a service that you don’t want/isn’t right for you for the benefit of lining another persons pockets.

The experience I had was on a coaching program where I was pushed to do a variety of things that pushed me out of my comfort zone – doing lots of online videos, putting myself ‘out there’ and opening up my social media profiles. At the time I resisted this because, if like me, you’ve opened up your profile before, you’ll know that a load of random people start intruding in your life. It’s exposing and unpleasant.

However, I trusted this process and went ahead.

What happened was that an abundance of men started posting sleazy comments on my wall and sending me inappropriate and rude messages – I actually received a dick pic sketch, now that’s a first. I’d love to say that I didn’t let this get to me, but it did.

I felt dirty and I felt cheap.

There I was expressing my thoughts and talking about the emotional intelligence tools that had helped me and being openly vulnerable about myself and my experiences, and here were all these unconscious leachy men scouring the internet for a cheap hit, and I was it.

I mean, I get it. We’re at a state of world evolution where men have ruled until now and somehow a lot of guys think these kind of tactics are successful when it comes to getting laid or even getting a wife. (Note to men – self check on this, has it ever actually worked? Think about that.)

Anyho, this wasn’t actually my issue. In fact I expected this as I’ve opened my profile before and the exact same thing happened. What I didn’t expect was the reaction of my coach. A person who I had opened up to, allowed to hold my space while I grow and become vulnerable with.

This continued to happen and I was asked to continue to pursue and ‘trust the process’ even though every part of my instinct told me that it wasn’t right for me. And of ALL the things that I’ve learnt and that I teach it’s to listen to your instinct, but here I was ignoring mine because I thought that this coach clearly knew more than me.

After a while the coach approached me and asked me about the whole situation, and of course I got upset. I felt exposed, I’d been doing daily videos, receiving daily dick pics in my inbox and I felt like it was my fault.

This is the moment when I was pitched an expensive therapy session by the coach, that was suggested because it seemed like I needed it, rather that it being the methods of coaching that weren’t suiting me.

When I said I’d think about it because I wanted to talk to my boyfriend first I was told there wasn’t many slots available and that I should make the decision on my own.

The thing is that I very almost handed over my credit card details, because I was coming from a place of ‘I’m broken and I need to be fixed’ and ‘Obviously my subconscious is littered with more trauma that I’m not even aware of’. When the reality is that this whole thing was a perfectly scripted pitch that even the most aware of people get caught into – it’s the NLP push-pull technique of selling. I recognised this when I reflected on it because I know quite a lot about NLP, having had a father who was a practioner because he used it to help the grieving family members of his cancer patients (not to sell his own product, which is what I’m clearly against here). I also recognised it a second time when we were taught the very same technique in the ‘how to sell to clients session’ in the coaching program the following week.

I won’t go into all of it but there is a specific script and what it’s aimed to do is push and pull a client from one end of their emotional spectrum to the other, to the point where they’re a little disorientated. Then there’s a focus on creating urgency within the client after you’ve already pushed them into the undesired feeling of what their life will be like if ‘nothing ever changes’. Then it’s time to pitch your product or service which is clearly the only solution to this problem, and you ask them to hand over their credit card details.

Simples.

Manipulative.

And something I strongly disagree with when used by coaches or therapists.

The worst of it is that us coachees on this program were being told that we are here to serve these clients so it’s imperative that we ‘guide’ (what they actually meant was manipulate) the client through the purchasing journey. To me this is even worse because as trainee coaches we were being told that to do this was okay and justified because we’re ‘helping’ our client in the long run  – completely sidelining the fact that by pushing a sale we’re actually disempowering them because we’ve taken away their conscious choice.

Now if you are learning how to sell products and services, and this method feels authentic to you, great, continue doing it.

However, if you are learning this technique to sell a service that involves some kind of relationship element, like coaching or counselling I’d ask you to question your values on this.

Are we empowering our client if we use our greater awareness to ‘guide’ them into that relationship?

Is it empowering as a client to be pushed and pulled into a state of vulnerability so we make a decision that we might not have made otherwise?

Personally, I don’t agree with this method and I disengaged with my whole coaching program after that. I don’t believe that this kind of manipulation is okay and I don’t want to be part of it. That might mean that I never get my coaching business off the ground but I’ll take that chance to keep my values intact.

I told my coach what I thought directly. Clearly we disagreed and she assured me that she was acting in the best of intentions, and I believe that she was. She’s a kind hearted person who is genuinely trying to help people, and she does a great job of it too. But she was probably taught that this method is the way to build a business and never questioned it whereas I do.

This way of teaching coaches to start these relationships with vulnerable clients upsets me. It’s inauthentic, it’s disempowering and it’s creating flocks and flocks of sheep following the heard without questioning, the same way religion did and the same way new age spirituality does.

Whereas I want people to become empowered by becoming more descerning.

I want people to join my program if they believe it’s right one for them and it’s the right time for them.

I want them to call me out if they think I’m acting out of my ego – so I can become more aware and better as a coach, and they can start to trust their own instinct more.

I want us to be on a level playing field where I can hold space for them while they learn, because I don’t believe that anyone in life should be held on a pedestal.

Most of all I want us all to get to a state of empowerment where we are unmoved by these tricks of subtle manipulation.

I’m on a mission to create a greater sense wellbeing for ourselves and the planet that we live on. To teach others how to connect authentically with themselves, so they can connect authentically with others. It starts with learning self-awareness, maintaining a strong value system that serves us, and having the emotional intelligence to move through a whole spectrum of emotions so we can connect without attachment.

If you want the EQ tools to master your emotions and life an empowered life then, sign up to my newsletter for monthly insider tips on how to do this. My subscribers get access to free tutorials and are the first to know about exlusive offers on my Empower Yourself Program. If you’ll like to find out more about the workshops, training and tailored coaching packages I offer, head over to www.shereensoliman.com. 

With Absolutely No Bull Sh*t, Shereen x

Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

A Relationship with PTSD

2020 marks the 5 year anniversary since I went through my life threatening ordeal when a man tried to rape and kill me. Last year was a huge turning point for me because it was the first time since this event that I’ve managed to get into a healthy, loving and progressive relationship.

It was a milestone.

There have been many milestones in the last few years as I rebuilt my life, but this one has been (by far) the most cherished. Getting here hasn’t been easy, and even now, within the relationship there are some incredibly challenging parts. However, it is 100% worth it and I want to share my insights for anyone who is trying to pick their way through the ptsd minefield of trying to have a romantic relationship.

The biggest challenge I continue to face is that the fear within me presents itself in so many different ways, and sometimes I don’t recognise it. That’s nothing new. In fact, a main part of this journey has been about consistently opening up to others about what is going on in my brain – often extremely erratic fear induced stories that I was telling myself. Stories with no logical sense when compared to the reality, but in my ptsd brain I was convinced that it was ultimate truth and would definitely happen.

This fear crops up in so many ways and if my man hadn’t been very persistent when we were dating then we probably wouldn’t be together now, simply because I kept pushing him away.

I kept telling myself stories about him that weren’t true. I’d find excuses to be annoyed with him so that I could validate undesirable traits within him, traits which often weren’t there.  For example, if he was late I’d tell myself that it was because he was lazy, couldn’t keep time management and because of that, he wasn’t someone I should be with. I would focus on the superficial things and magnify them and make conclusions about his whole character because of them. When the reality was that I hadn’t yet found out who he was to even make those conclusions in the first place.

The thing was that regardless of all the negative self-chat in my head, deep down it felt good to be with him and throughout my whole healing journey it was following what felt good that lead me to heal so fast. That’s why I knew that I had to follow it this time too. When I made that commitment, I realised that all that was left was fear – a fear that brought me to tears because I was so scared of opening up and being vulnerable again. Time and time again I’d have to release those tears, put my big girl pants on and keep putting myself out there, date after date. It was hard, but I’m very glad I did.

Another huge challenge that I face is how easy it is to fall into old patterns of blaming, shaming and judgement. These strategies are ego defence mechanisms that crop up because of fear and stop someone from getting close to us or our heart. What I’ve found is that it’s very seductive to fall into these old patterns and that the attraction of ‘being right’ is a strong force of pull. That even when I am at my most mindful, this fear can still engulf me and cause me to act in a way which is destructive to the safe emotional space my partner and I have worked so hard to build. A space that takes such a long to create, and can be eroded in seconds with harsh words or careless actions.

While it’s hard to catch this in the moment – whether you suffer from ptsd or not – it is imperative to acknowledge this behaviour and take responsibility for our own actions. It’s important to say sorry meaningfully and understand that it may take time and trust until full forgiveness is given. This is humbling and incurs a feeling of guilt, but it’s necessary to build up that foundation of trust again.

As well as that it’s necessary to understand why that behaviour cropped up in the first place, so we can start to break it down and become aware of how we can choose differently next time. All of this requires hard conversations, honest self-reflection and the commitment to becoming a better person every time we fall back into old patterns. Again, it’s humbling work but the rewards are worth it.

Another challenge on this part of the ptsd recovery journey is believing in the value of self, in yourself.

This is a lesson that I had to learn time and time again. I knew I’d finally learnt it when this man entered my life, because it was the first time in years that I’d romantically engaged with a person who actually valued me for who I was. Prior to this I was finding myself attracted to men who treated me in ways which devalued my sense of self-worth. Men who were aggressive towards me, men who belittled me, men who shamed me, dismissed my talents and left me feeling ashamed of being the ‘intense’, ‘questioning’, ‘demanding’ person that I am. The reason why I kept finding myself in these relationships was because I needed to fully heal within myself and get to a place where I felt complete acceptance and love for who I am. I knew that once I’d healed to that point, that I would naturally attract a person who mirrored that. As the old saying goes, you can’t love another until you love yourself. Another take on this is that when you value yourself highly you simple don’t entertain the option of getting involved with someone who doesn’t appreciate that value equally. Quite frankly once I got there, anyone who didn’t value me simply didn’t get a look in, let alone an opportunity to date me.

The romantic-relationship-with-ptsd journey is an interesting one. I’m sure it’s different for everyone but I hope my insights provide some guidance for anyone who’s struggling.

As with all this healing, know that you’ll get through it and stay curious to the lessons it presents. Life is after all a series of lessons along a journey, the trick is to enjoy the fun along the way.

I’m on a mission to create a greater sense wellbeing for ourselves and the planet that we live on. To teach others how to connect authentically with themselves, so they can connect authentically with others. It starts with learning self-awareness, maintaining a strong value system that serves us, and having the emotional intelligence to move through a whole spectrum of emotions so we can connect without attachment.

If you want the EQ tools to master your emotions and life an empowered life then, sign up to my newsletter for monthly insider tips on how to do this. My subscribers get access to free tutorials and are the first to know about exlusive offers on my Empower Yourself Program. If you’ll like to find out more about the workshops, training and tailored coaching packages I offer, head over to www.shereensoliman.com. 

Picture by me, of me and my man holidaying in Thailand.

Don’t Sucum to Analysis Paralysis

I often wonder about life.

Why we’re here. What it’s all about. What the point is… etc.

For the most part, I think it’s good to think deeply and enquire into these questions. If anything, going through the crazy trauma times I went through, thinking about these kind of questions gave me some kind of inner peace. As though there was a meaning to everything I went through, a purpose that I could attach it to. Something that meant that the pain was valid and useful.

What I’ve come to realise is that while there may have been some meaning to all of this, the self-questioning involved to enquire at this level isn’t always that helpful. In fact, it can actually paralyse me from moving forward and doing something because I’m caught in the analysis of what is ‘best’ thing to do.

I see this paralysis a lot. In fact, it’s something that comes up often with people who go through my empowerment program – do I want this, or do I want that? Is this the right way to fill out this exercise? What if I do it that way and I’ve done it wrong?

The thing is that it doesn’t really matter if it’s the ‘right’ way or the ‘wrong’ way, because life will always take us the way we’re meant to go, as long as we commit to making movement. The important thing is that we take action and choose something. To stop considering and make a move. To get out of our heads and into the real world by taking some form of action.

I think this case of analysis paralysis is something that affects many of us in my generation – the Millennials and younger. We’re the age of technology, information and choice. Too much choice.  The travesty in this is that life continues to go by while we’re stuck questioning a trivial decision.

What I have to remind myself of constantly is that I’m here to live. I’m here to make mistakes, embarrass myself, fall down, get hurt and accidentally hurt people too as I explore and experience life. There’s no right or wrong way to do it so we may as well accept it for the messy crazy process that it is.

On that note, take a break from the analysis and remind yourself that you have a 100% success rate of getting through life so far.

I think that deserves a cheers.

I’m on a mission to create a greater sense wellbeing for ourselves and the planet that we live on. To teach others how to connect authentically with themselves, so they can connect authentically with others. It starts with learning self-awareness, maintaining a strong value system that serves us, and having the emotional intelligence to move through a whole spectrum of emotions so we can connect without attachment.

If you want the EQ tools to master your emotions and life an empowered life thensign up to my newsletter for monthly insider tips on how to do this. My subscribers get access to free tutorials and are the first to know about exlusive offers on my Empower Yourself Program. If you’ll like to find out more about the workshops, training and tailored coaching packages I offer, head over to www.shereensoliman.com. 

With Compassion, Shereen x

Photo by Brendan Church on Unsplash

Never Give Up

When I look back at my trauma recovery journey, my goal was always to get back to an adventurous, fearless and nomadic lifestyle with a clear and calm mindset. There was no plan B, or second best option because I knew that if I couldn’t get back to being ‘me’ (or a better version of ‘me’) then quite frankly I didn’t want to live at all. I’m not being dramatic when I write this, because there was a very real point throughout this journey when I went down that dark road and considered ending my life all together. I never wrote about it back then and I don’t talk about much now (apart from the public speech I did about it earlier this year to 150 people… which wasn’t daunting at all!!)

I got to that point of hopelessness when I wasn’t sure if I could overcome what had happened and I didn’t see the point of living my life through the cage of fear and not getting to achieve my dreams. In my eyes, the thought of existing through fear rather than living fearlessly wasn’t a life worth living to me. That’s when leaving the planet all together seemed like a viable option. Luckily, I have the kind of psychologically educated support network who steered me away from these thoughts and believed in me even when I lost belief in myself. I owe my life to these people and for that I’m forever grateful.

So with plan B not being an option, I focused on challenging myself to overcome every single trigger and every single fear to secure my goal of living fearlessly no matter what.

That means I’ve overcome panic attacks.

That I’m back to travelling solo, and talking to random people (inc men) in hostels again like they’re new friends, because they are.

That I’ve got the energy to work long hours that the yachting industry demands, while making sure that I put in the right boundaries and self care routines to take care of myself during the season.

That I am living nomadically, adventurously and with the full freedom to be curious about the world like I used to be.

That I have finally managed to be in a healthy romantic relationship with a man who is emotionally intelligent, kind and has the same goals and values as me.

That I am finally working as a life coach, public speaking and spreading my motivational message, because this is what I was put on this planet to do!

However, there are still many more steps for me to take until I reach my goal because although these accomplishments have got me back to living a ‘normal’ life, a ‘normal life’ is not one that I ever lived and it’s not one that I aspire to live moving forward either. I want to live an extraordinary life.

I want to travel to new places, try new activities and feel the freedom to put myself in new situations on a daily basis – rather than have the fear occasionally stop me in my tracks and pull me back from a new experience.

I want to be so open and vulnerable in my relationship that my partner and I feel connected like a team no matter what is thrown at us – rather than pushing away and closing off because the simple fact that he’s a man triggers the living daylights out of me

I want to have my solid sense of self-assuredness back constantly. That feeling that I used to have, that knowing that I can create anything I dream up, that the world is an abundance of limitless possibility that is open for my exploration and pleasure.

I want to experience all my dreams and goals as real life experiences so that I can look back with no regrets when I finally leave this planet. That I can look back at a legacy that I’ve create and know that I used my energy to contribute to a greater good that the planet needs.

This is why I’m not giving up. This is WHY I continue to challenge myself and reflect, and grow!

Even when a setback plummets me back to ground zero and I’m upset and exhausted and disorientated from the triggers and the thoughts. And when I’m not sure what thoughts in my head are reflective of the actual reality or the ptsd version that my brain likes to create. Or when I’m in so much heartache and pain and guilt at my own ptsdy reactive behaviour that I feel ashamed to face the people who witnessed it.

Because to give up would mean to create an easy life, that’s comfortable and ‘normal’, and for me, that’s not a life worth living.

I’m on a mission to create a greater sense wellbeing for ourselves and the planet that we live on. To teach others how to connect authentically with themselves, so they can connect authentically with others. It starts with learning self-awareness, maintaining a strong value system that serves us, and having the emotional intelligence to move through a whole spectrum of emotions so we can connect without attachment.

If you want the EQ tools to master your emotions and life an empowered life thensign up to my newsletter for monthly insider tips on how to do this. My subscribers get access to free tutorials and are the first to know about exlusive offers on my Empower Yourself Program. If you’ll like to find out more about the workshops, training and tailored coaching packages I offer, head over to www.shereensoliman.com. 

Photo by x ) on Unsplash

No More Excuses

Last year I made the intention that I was over all this trauma recovery stuff. That I was now healed and confident and back to the fearless nomad I once was. In reality it took a little while before that intention actually manifested into reality and at first there was definitely some ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ going on, but a year later and I can definitely see that the intention of ‘already being there’ definitely gave me the kick up the ass I needed to finally be here and be completely me, unapologetically.

First off, I got myself back on the boats, because it’s the job I love and I no longer want to miss out on a career I enjoy because I’m living in fear of what might (or might not) happen.

Second to that I made a deal with myself that I was putting me and my objectives first this year – get back into full time work, get financially stable and get back to fearless living.

Thirdly, I started honouring my gut feelings over anything else, regardless of what, or who, I’m up against.

What I’ve found is that as soon as I made the intentions, things in my life started shifting. I started thinking about myself in a different perspective and that resulted in different opportunities showing up. To put it bluntly, I stopped giving myself excuses. It’s not that the excuses were with bad, in fact they started out with good intentions – to give myself the time and self-care to recover fully from what had been some earth shattering events. But they’d become crutches that weren’t aiding me anymore and in order to grow it was time to shed what was no longer necessary – that being the BS that held me back from being the fullest version of me.

I remember becoming aware of this very early on in my ptsd recovery journey when I was asked by the twitter group #iamnotshamed to pin up a picture of me and a board stating “#iamnotashamed to have ptsd”. I wrote back telling them no because I didn’t think it was a positive move to encourage people to pin their identity to an experience that they’ll eventually want to move through. At the time I was aware that I had to process what I went through but I also understood the danger of pinning an experience to my identity, and I was worried at the time about becoming ‘the trauma chick’ – not the identity that I dreamed up for my life to be honest. Personally, I want to be known for my positive attributes, the way I live my life, my strong values and how I make people feel. I don’t want to be known as the traumatised ptsd victim who everyone needs to pity. I mean, what good does that bring to the world anyway? It keeps me in victim mentality and it creates further validation for a wider sense of victim mentality for people to use their personal experience as something to hold them back in life. And I won’t contribute to that kind of lack mentality.

I don’t want to be known as a victim. Yes what I went through was tough and there were times when I needed to lick my wounds but life goes on and if this blog demonstrates anything, it’s that we have the potential to overcome the most challenging things. I think the trick is that we need to create a life worth living for ourselves, so that no matter what, we have something to strive for. For me that was living a life of nomadic adventure, for you it might be something completely different. The point is that it’s up to you to find out what that this, and then up to you to hold yourself accountable to making it happen. That might be doing some personal development courses, going to see a therapist, asking your friends for some honest feedback or maybe all of the above.

Whatever it is, you owe it to yourself to figure it out, and start holding yourself accountable and move forward with it.

Photo by Fab Lentz on Unsplash

Validate Good Behaviour Over Bad Behaviour

Another corner feels like it’s been turned recently, as I find myself working back on the boats, starting to feel like my old self again. For bad or for worse, this person I’m getting back to is cheeky, speaks her truth and acts out her free will with conviction. I’ve always been told that I’m a strong character. ‘Intense’ is a word that’s often used to describe me. Mostly with a negative connotation, as though to be fully expressive is a bad thing. However, as I feel more and more confident becoming the person that I truly am, I realise that these comments say more about another person’s fear than it does about my personality. I remember that I didn’t used to see it this way. I used to feel ashamed for being ‘too much’, for speaking ‘too honestly’ and especially for acting with integrity in a world where it seems so uncommon.

I’m not alone in this, and I find myself constantly reminding my friends, colleagues and good people in my life to embrace their unique differences completely. To be the best, fullest, strongest version of themselves that they can be. No matter what judgements they face. The thing is that in a world full of systems where most of us have been moulded into conformity, it’s difficult to break free from this. To do so creates a fear in others because it highlights the change that they are avoiding in themselves. This fear is what creates the judgements, the negative connotations, the knockdowns and then the shame.

After years of listening to these comments, we can take them on as our own internal voice, and use them to beat our self-worth into a pulp with the stick we were so often handed. As I finally stop doing this myself, I see the effects of this action all around me. I see colleagues who create the most exquisite and dynamic food you’ve ever seen, yet beat themselves down with words of ‘it can be better’. I see friends who continue to hit impossible sales targets, against all odds, yet tell themselves that it wasn’t good enough, and stay in situations where they’re not valued. I see family members who shine out creative talents, yet tell themselves that they’ll never make it because that’s what they’re being led to believe by others who didn’t have the courage to follow their own dreams.

To all of these people, I’ve found myself stopping them in their tracks and asking them to have a look at what they’ve created. To value their effort, their creativity, their grit and determination. To congratulate themselves, and bask in the glory of their achievement. To add credit to a self-worth that is so often starved of this positive feedback in a world where judgements outweigh compliments at a rate of  10 to 1.

I’ve also found myself putting in firm boundaries when I’m called to validate the worst behaviour in those around me. The drink drivers who off load their problems on strangers. The ‘friends’ who act without integrity and consume friendships with drama. The acquaintances in my life who act without accountability and in a way that is disrespectful towards others because they’re not willing to own the pain that they hold within. Firm boundaries because I don’t want to keep quiet and pretend like I’m okay with that kind of destructive behaviour. I’m not. So I won’t validate it with a silent smile while it continues on, spreading out further waves of negativity while a lack of personal responsibility takes place.

It’s not as though there is a group of ‘good’ people beaten down, and a group of ‘bad’ people beating them. There is no ‘them vs us’, and to see it that way only engages you in the internal battle that you keep firing up within yourself. The ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ lies in every one of us, and it’s up to us to decide in every moment which one we choose to fuel our behaviour.

For me, this whole journey has been about that and I haven’t found this easy. It’s been a constant exercise of stop, reflect and question. It’s been exercises of feeling into my body senses and my intuition to feel what feels good and what doesn’t. To reflect and ask myself, do my actions serve my values right now? To create the honesty in my friendships for feedback that isn’t nice to receive but will help me become the best version of myself. To tell people what I value about them, even if it makes me feel vulnerable. To call them out authentically, even if it means that I get caught up in the cross fire.

I wonder how the world would change if all of us tried to do this, or even if we do it just once, today. To ask a friend not to beat themselves up, and instead to tell them the value that you see in them and ask them to see it too? Or to call out a friend when they’re acting in a way which is hurting others? Isn’t it about time we started validating the best of each other and calling out our worst behaviour so we can all get on our way to being the best versions of ourselves?

Photo by MARK ADRIANE on Unsplash

You Always Have A Choice

One of the things that I found to be the most powerful in my recovery journey was realising that I always have choice. For example, I can choose to let my emotions control my behaviour and not take any responsibility for my actions, or I can choose to learn how to master my emotions and process all challenging emotions in a healthy way. I can choose to delve into substance abuse and drink away my problems. Only to find that they’re still there in the morning, or I can choose to speak to a therapist and find a way to process my problems in a healthy manner. All of this is a choice but often if someone is in the mist of emotional turmoil that hasn’t been dealt with then often they’re not aware that they have choice.

You probably know how this sounds “It’s not my fault”, “I’m not that bad”, “But you don’t know what I’ve been through” etc etc.

The thing is that everyone goes through ‘stuff’ and when it’s at it’s rawest, then so are our emotions, and it’s incredibly difficult to see that we have a choice with our behaviour. But we always do.

  1. Start a Reflective Practice

To help cultivate the awareness of choice the first step is to start a reflective practice such as journaling, and to ask yourself ‘Was I the best version of myself today?’ If not, maybe there some things you’re not proud of – what are they and what would you have done differently? By understanding this thought process in hindsight, it demonstrates that you choose that action, and therefore you can choose differently. The trick is to move this reflection into the present moment so that you can catch yourself before you make your choice.

  1. Provide the Opportunity to Receive Feedback

I realise that many friendships aren’t built on brutal honesty, and mine weren’t until I was faced with some raw emotions that took us all into some open honesty. I realised quite early on that I hadn’t created situations where my friends could give me honest feedback and this was mainly because I didn’t want to hear the truth. I’ve since realised that feedback from an outsider who knows you well is extremely valuable to keep you on track to becoming the best version of you.  To create this channel of reflection from my friends I used a trick called the BS card… click on the link to find out more. We don’t use this anymore because we’re accustomed to calling each other out bluntly, but at the start when we weren’t used to this the BS card helped a lot!

  1. Check into How You Feel, and Get Honest About It

Making bad choices that don’t serve us typically doesn’t feel good. Things like excessive drinking, or constantly feeling ashamed of your behaviour, or living in false hope that something will change. If something doesn’t feel good then there is always a reason for that, and it’s up to you to find out what that reason is. This isn’t as easy as it sounds because we’ve been told by society how we ‘should’ feel for years upon years, and sometimes it can be difficult to find out what those answers are. However, after practicing reflection and self-questioning this becomes easier because it’s literally like developing a muscle in the gym – you work on it and it gets stronger.

Realising I had choice was a lightbulb moment to me because it meant that I could steer my life in any way I wanted. Although, it also brought up some feelings of upset and regret as I became aware of the bad choices I’d made before I became aware of choice. I worked on processing the feelings connected to the bad choices, forgave myself and made a commitment to learn and do things differently. I hope now you realise you have choice that you can do the same thing too.

I’m on a mission to create a greater sense wellbeing for ourselves and the planet that we live on. To teach others how to connect authentically with themselves, so they can connect authentically with others. It starts with learning self-awareness, maintaining a strong value system that serves us, and having the emotional intelligence to move through a whole spectrum of emotions so we can connect without attachment.

If you want the EQ tools to connect authentically with your values and the values of your fellow humans, then contact me directly to see how I can help you. Find out more about workshops, training and tailored coaching packages at www.shereensoliman.com. 

Shereen x

Photo by Robert Anasch on Unsplash

More Honesty, Less BS Please

Quite often, friends come to me for advice. And quite often I tell them what I see, which to me is usually pretty obvious. However as I know myself, when you’re consumed in your own emotional whirlwind it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees. I’m quite happy to share my observations – note, I try to not give advice on experiences that I haven’t had so I’ll always only offer up what I can see from an outsider’s perspective. Something that I find time and time again is that most people don’t like the truth. Sometimes it even angers them. But if you’re a friend of mine and you’re coming to me for advice then you know what you’re in for – the hard honest truth. I’ve even picked up the nickname ‘No shit Shereen’ from some friends, and I actually quite like the ring if it.

To some reading this, it may sound like I go around offending people, telling them ‘home truths’ that they’re not quite ready for (even though they came to me for advice – I don’t hand these insights out freely… at least not anymore anyway… far too many blow ups from people who adore living in an illusion)! My question here though is why are we all getting so offended by the truth these days? And second to that, if you don’t want to hear the truth then why are you asking someone else for advice?? Thirdly, why do most of us reply with polite half truths’ rather than being uncomfortably honest?

In my opinion this lack of uncomfortable honesty is what leads to resentment in relationships, and eventually that tears them apart. Whereas I’ve found that with tactile honesty (and sometimes the disclaimer of ‘I’d like to offer an observation but I’m not sure you’re going to like it, so I can keep quiet if you’re not ready to hear it?’) has become the mortar that’s bound so many of my deeply connected, authentic friendships. Although I’ve sometimes had to deal with some close friends getting ‘techy’ when they hear the ‘advice’ the result has usually been action that’s served them well. Over the last few weeks alone one friend has increased their circle, another has quit their job and landed their dream role and one more is making big changes in a relationship with a family member – all huge positive changes. All changes that came about because of some uncomfortable-to-hear, honest advice.

I sincerely think that if we all started to lean into this discomfort and share our honest observations with each other then the world itself would be a happier place. For certain it would be a ‘no shit Shereen’ kinda place.

I’m on a mission to create a greater sense wellbeing for ourselves and the planet that we live on. To teach others how to connect authentically with themselves, so they can connect authentically with others. It starts with learning self-awareness, maintaining a strong value system that serves us, and having the emotional intelligence to move through a whole spectrum of emotions so we can connect without attachment, and of course being HONEST!

If you want  the EQ tools to connect authentically with your values and the values of your fellow humans, then contact me directly to see how I can help you. Find out more about workshops, training and tailored coaching packages at www.shereensoliman.com. 

Shereen x

Photo by Andre Guerra on Unsplash

Who The Hell Are You Anyway?

When we speak of loss and grief, we’re usually referring to a person or a connection at least, like grieving the loss (or end of) a relationship. But for me one I the things I struggled the most throughout these last few years was the loss of who I was, my identity, and crafting out a new one can be quite confusing at times.

For most people who go through PTSD I think there’s a bit of an identity crisis of ‘who am I now that I’ve experienced this’, of course that’s usually mixed in with a lot of guilt, blame and other murky emotions from the negativity pit. I’ve also spoke to people who have lost a parent and they’ve said the same thing too, and I know I felt this too but it was hard to distinguish which event was causing those feelings. The heartache also contributed, because it was the first time I’d been rejected which obviously I couldn’t understand in my late-twenties arrogance.

Quite a few years have passed since all those things happened in my life and what’s coming up now, as I continue on this personal development highway is that I find myself grieving the loss of old Shereen. Don’t get me wrong, there are some parts of old Shereen which I’m happy to wave goodbye to, the unawareness, the lack of compassion and definitely the pig-headedness that were not my most virtuous of traits. However, there were also a lot of parts of me which I miss dearly and I’m having to re-craft them back into my life. Traits like – complete and utter belief in myself when it came to doing anything new. This may have mascaraed as arrogance to some but most of the time I pulled off whatever was in question so I truly believed that I could achieve anything. There was also a sense of complete fearlessness that I carried around with me too, and this gave me the freedom to travel, switch careers, be adventurous and completely go for my dreams. The thing that I miss most of all was my carefree positive attitude. I could literally find joy and laughter in anything and I would joke about all the time, and a lot of that went when I got all serious with this healing journey.

What I’ve come to learn recently is that once going through an experience like this, and putting the energy into recover and heal fully, we then have a clean slate in front of us. An identity that we can build up based on the traits we want to have, rather than those we accidentally adopt because that’s what we believe we should be. A flexible identity even, if that’s what we want. Multiple identities that fit different situations if that’s your bag. There’s so much choice, and it’s recognising that you have a choice which makes all the difference. The choice to choose a new you, whoever you desire to be, whenever you want to be it. I think that’s the best way to deal with any kind of loss – recreate, and get creative. Explore you. Flex to your edge and come back to a comfortable mid-point.

I’m on a mission to create a greater sense wellbeing for ourselves and the planet that we live on. That’s why I’m starting an honest conversation about wellbeing – including values, emotional intelligence, self-care, personal development, and body and mind awareness.

If you feel stuck and you want the EQ tools to move forward again, then contact me directly to see how I can help. Find out more about workshops, training and tailored coaching packages at www.shereensoliman.com.

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Pick Connection Over Convenience

There’s a lot of things I’ve experienced in my 33 years of existence. I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the world to exotic and remote locations. I’ve worked in a variety of industries from superyachts to office work, through to holding my own workshops. Throughout it all I’ve made a lot of amazing connections and not necessarily in the most convenience circumstances. Most recently I’ve found myself making those in depth connections in the most subtle of moments. From a passing smile exchanged with a stranger that turns into a drink, then a friendly local tour guide. All the way through to a an open first chat with someone which has then created a foundation for a friendship much stronger. All these situations have caught me slightly off guard and if I’m honest I was looking for these friendships, but not in the right places. I’d actually been working in quite a toxic situation at the time where the people around me were guarded, aggressive and became defensive whenever I tried to connect. This left me feeling disheartened until I’ve recognised what I already knew – good connections aren’t born through convenience situations, they’re born through connecting authentically with someone in a moment. They’re strengthened by both parties honouring that connection with respect, honesty and an equal time and energy commitment.

What I mean by this is that just because you spend a lot of time with someone at school, or work, etc it doesn’t mean that you can create an authentic friendship. Likewise a random conversation with a stranger can sometimes turn into a deep friendship very quickly if we’re open to it and it’s this that I’ve been practising now that I’m immersing myself back in the ‘real world’. It’s the openness to smile at a stranger, even though the PTSD part of me is telling me to look away. The openness to offer up the real version of myself and the values that I hold dear, regardless of the fear of rejection that makes me want to keep them locked up tightly. Sometimes I don’t find this so easy and of course anyone who has any kind of emotional wound can relate to this – once bitten twice shy right?

What I’m finding though, is that those moments when I’m open and true to myself are the moments when I’m connecting with the world again and that’s when I’m bringing the right people to me at exactly the right moment. I’ve literally found comfort and friendship in the most random moments when I’ve otherwise been in work/living situations where I’ve felt isolated and alone. What I’ve also realised is when I reflect on my current authentic friendships, the ones which have held strong through the most turbulent moments, I’ve recognised that almost every single connection was made through open and honest first conversations. Interactions where we speak our truth, become vulnerable and share that part of us that connects with another.

While I sit and reflect on this, I wonder how many of us honour the conventional connections which might not serve us? The ones built on old loyalties, empty promises and ease of situation, that deep down don’t feel good but we continue to keep them anyway. Rather than investing in the connections that feel good, challenge us to be the best versions of ourselves but might take a little but more effort to maintain? I’ll take connection over convenience every time thanks.

I’m on a mission to create a greater sense wellbeing for ourselves and the planet that we live on. To teach others how to connect authentically with themselves, so they can connect authentically with others. It starts with learning self-awareness, maintaining a strong value system that serves us, and having the emotional intelligence to move through a whole spectrum of emotions so we can connect without attachment. 

If you want  the EQ tools to connect authentically with your values and the values of your fellow humans, then contact me directly to see how I can help you. Find out more about workshops, training and tailored coaching packages at www.shereensoliman.com. 

Shereen x

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash