The Reasons Why I Didn’t Die

It’s been so long now since the night I got attacked that I forgot sometimes how shocking it is for people to hear it for the first time. I guess I’ve done so much therapy and processing in the last few years that to me it’s just become a thing that happened. Life. A little blimp in the tapestry of my journey.

One of the things that I see often (other than the gasp at the horrificness of what is being told) is the surprise in people’s eyes that I actually came out alive and unharmed, well un-raped is I think what they mean. To be honest, I don’t know, nor have I heard of anyone who was in a one-on-one attack like that who managed to get out alive and unscathed. So I want to shed some light on to why I think my situation ended the way it did, and why I’m still here to tell the story.

  1. I am, and was extremely aware when I got attacked

Self-awareness is something I’ve always practiced naturally. Who am I? What do I stand for? Am I doing the right thing by me? Those are questions I’ve always asked myself, I think because my Dad installed such a strong sense of values within me. This kind of questioning obviously lit my interest in human behaviour and how I work as a person. I guess I’ve always seen myself as a kind of science experiment as I challenge myself throughout life – changing careers, changing countries, challenging and changing my beliefs. Practising this curiositymeant that I had already built up a strong sense of self-awareness and awareness of others so of course I was aware that night I got attacked. Being aware of him and his potential motives meant that I had already prepared myself subconsciously for something to happen. That’s the only reason that my survival response wasn’t ‘freeze’ like so many unfortunate women before me.

  1. I will fight to the death for what I believe in

Having the awareness to be prepared for a fight, I was then met with the worst case scenario – I had to fight. I did try to run which was my instant response, but obviously the guy grabbed me and he was a lot bigger and stronger than me so my next instinct was to fight. The memory here is lost, and I can only piece together what happened through my injuries and visiting the scene the next day. What I do know is that I was pinned down but managed to somehow get him off me. That I was able to break free and run away.

Again, I think this is because I had built up something internally that I’d been working on for years – that I stand up for what I believe in. This internal strength has sometimes proved annoying to others in my life, especially when it comes to hierarchy because I question any lack of integrity that I see. I do this because I believe that we should be questioning each other’s motives to make sure that we are acting out of self and not out of ego. This strength within me manifested as a fight that night, and there was no way in hell that I was going to go out without a fight, if not just for me then for every person who has suffered the sexual injustice to the hand of a another.

  1. Luck, faith and something higher than myself

I’ve always believed in something higher than myself, but I have always been strongly opposed to religion – can you blame me when it’s become so corrupt in the world? I mean, I stand for integrity yet I struggle to see it in religion these days.

I’ve always taken note of those synchronicities in life when it feels like someone else if pulling the strings and I’ve always prayed thanks for the gifts I’ve received – love, friendship, compassion and joy. I do this on a personal level, and I feel a non-judgemental type of spirituality that doesn’t subscribe to one ‘God’ or one deity. I just believe that there is something bigger out there at play, and I pay respects to it as and when it feels right. I (jokingly) call it Shereenism but I think that this is what true religion is – something private that stems from integrity and values, something that feels right and connected, and is individual for each of us.

The night I got attacked there were a few weird things that happened that strengthened my faith in some kind of guidance system. And you can take this or leave it, but this is my truth and all outside opinions are void of it.

When the man had walked past me, I heard a voice that said ‘Turn Around’, which I did. Had I not then the turn of events would have happened drastically different.

I felt as though I had assistance when I came to protecting myself. There is no way that a small figure like me could have fought off such a huge man, call it adrenalin but I physically felt like I was being aided.

When it came to someone finally offering refuge and opening their front door towards me for somewhere to run, it was a universal symbol of safety – the silhouette of a woman holding a new born baby. I’ll never forgot this image which has been seared into my brain. Apart from the fact that it seems so weird when I look back, I can’t begin to imagine what the woman herself must have been thinking. What compelled her to open the door when she heard my screams, because no one else in that neighbourhood even dared.

I’m not saying that by adopting these methods that you’ll become infallible to life or death scenarios that might get thrown at you. What I am saying though is that when you truly know yourself inside and out, and you stand strong for what you believe in that you live life a certain way. You live life consciously, and with courage, and that courage brings you freedom.

The irony in all of this is that these traumatic experiences took me back down to base level where I questioned myself completely. Through my journey of recovery I had to build myself up again, one block at a time. I had to carve out my new value system consciously so I could get back to this level of courage and internal freedom. This journey in itself is what has put me back on the right path – one that helps people and inspires people to find their own sense of internal freedom too.

The truth is that in learning why I didn’t die, it taught me how we should live.

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 FREE EQ tools to master your emotions and live 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, book previews 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 love, life and freedom, Shereen x

Photo by my dear friend James Duncan, of me, sitting by a tree.

What Really Matters, When It Comes to The Crunch.

I recently posted about what it’s like to have a relationship after having PTSD, and I think I covered quite a lot of things that everyone goes through when it comes to relationships, ptsd or not. Mainly I spoke about the fear that surrounds my decisions, the worry of whether or not this is the ‘right’ person to be with. Should I commit further or bail out now while there is still time?

The funny thing is that, prior to posting the blog article I found myself talking to a friend about her relationship. One which is entwined with her work, and her identity. A couple so close that they’re almost one. They’re at the point where there are lots of changes happening and the fear was cropping up big time.

She told me of her worries for the future. That she would find superficial things to focus in on and use it as was evidence to start an argument with her partner. Using one small insignificant thing to question the whole relationship.

I couldn’t help but think of the irony of this whole situation as I told her about the blog post I’d written but not yet posted, and that I was experiencing exactly the same thoughts too. We discussed these fears and we picked them apart – one of the things I’m known for throughout my friends, allowing the space to express these fears, unravel them and come back to earth with two feet on the ground. I’ve done it so often for myself over the past few years that I’m happy to share this art form with others, such a weird, unique yet valuable skill.

The thing is that when it comes to big vulnerable life choices like ‘who should I spend my life with?’ we have to ask ourselves what really matters when it comes to it?

Does it really matter that our significant other does stuff that sometimes annoys us, or is it more important that they show love and care towards us when we’re vulnerable?

Does it really matter that we don’t agree with the style of clothing that they choose to wear, or is it more important that they show values like respect towards themselves and others?

Does it really matter that they might be quite a ‘bit older’ or in a ‘different social class’, or even from a different country, or is it more important that they honour diversity and equality in people.

Quite often our ego will give us excuses to push someone away because deep down we’re scared of being vulnerable.

But underneath all this noise of the ego, are the real things that we need to look out for.

The values that someone demonstrates in their actions over time.

The actions that show the values they’re made of.

Like when our significant other forgives us when we’ve been out of line, and shows us compassion when we express the pain underneath our actions.

Like when they take care of us when we’re ill or when they’re present for us when we’re upset, showing that love, care and presence.

Like when they listen to what we have to say, whether it pleases them or not because it’s the truth and they appreciate the honesty.

It’s the values that we see over time that show us who that person really is at their core, and it’s the values that really matter when it comes to choosing who we should spend our time with.

So if you too have fears coming up like so many of us do, ask yourself if those things are the things that really matter? Or if they’re superficial excuses that your ego is bringing up through fear of vulnerability, commitment or the future?

Strong values are always worth the fighting through the fears.

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. 

Sending you integrity and strength, Shereen x

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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.