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

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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

Is My Freedom The Same As Your Freedom?

Bali is a place known for it’s magic and I knew the minute I stepped foot on Balinese soil that I’d instantly feel happy. I never doubted that I’d feel this way, in fact I was craving to come back here, and I knew I needed this holiday more than anything else in my life. The past three years have been emotional, testing and thoroughly insightful. Every single moment has been completely worth it, even if it meant tears, fears and embarrassing moments. All of it was worth it because it’s brought me back here – to a feeling of freedom. I think this feeling is different for everyone, because it comes down to knowing who you are and how you truly want to live your life. Then it takes courage to follow through with that desire despite what the outside world tells you.

Dr Jenn once said to me “Bravery is the root of happiness. It takes courage to reach into the World and put your mark on it”. I remember at the time thinking how profound it sounded to me, and it was during a time when it seemed like following through with what I wanted to do with my life seemed to go against any plan of ‘normality’ I’d ever known. As I get more comfortable with my own desires, I find myself not caring about what other people think and most importantly not being swayed by what other people want me to do.

To me, freedom is living in a way where I can change my situation if something doesn’t feel good, like leaving Mallorca for Bali in winter because I feel more nourished here during this season. It means building up my skill set so that I can flitter between freelance jobs because I enjoy and am capable of practising multiple professions at once. It means making new friends, and starting them with deeply connecting conversations so I know I can feel connected anywhere, anytime.

I’ve recently been fighting with my desire to feel freedom, as though it was wrong, or that I was running away from commitment. Back in Mallorca I was trying to push various areas of my life into commitment, as if to prove to myself that I could commit to something and break this whole freedom thing. I even booked a return flight… that I almost changed. What I’ve realised since getting to Bali is that travel and freedom is ultimately a part of who I am, it makes me feel alive and anyone who wants to play an important part in my life must accept that. It’s the reason why I’m building up a business where I can work from my laptop anywhere. It’s the reason why the majority of my friend are or have been very nomadic.

Since getting here I feel relaxed, open and positive. My body feels tension free and I don’t feel conflicted with decisions of ‘what should I do next’. I know that everything will just work out one way or another. I mean, in comparison to where I was at emotionally three years ago, I really have nothing to worry about. I also know that the new venture I’m starting is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing with my life – helping others.

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, 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 Victor Rodriguez on Unsplash

3 Values to Live Your Life by. From my Father, a Good Man

Nothing can quite prepare you for the phone call you’ve always dreaded. The panicked voice from a parent, relaying direct information down the phone.

“There are three paramedics resuscitating your Dad”

It was all my Mum had to say.

I got up from the cafe I was sitting in and heading down the escalators with the phone to my ear.

“Ok. I’m leaving now. I’ll be home in 3 hours”

“Ok” She replied and hung up.

I called my brother, he was on his way home too. It would take him 1 and ½ hours to get to our family home and in the space in between my Mum would sit and wait. Luckily a neighbour and friend went round to comfort her. The ambulance outside giving something away.

It took me 3 and a ½ hours to get home. Straight up the motorway from the bottom of England to the middle. I have no recollection of the actual drive apart from the vague feeling of the rush I had within me to get there and get there fast.

As I pulled up, there was a silver van outside my house. There were two men sitting in the front seats wearing black suits. Men from the morgue. I knew. I’d known all along. I’d known he’d had died before I got in my car and drove, but I hadn’t allowed myself to entertain those thoughts in case they sent me off the road spinning.

The rest of the evening was a blur. Each one took our turn to say goodbye to him before the men from the morgue took him away. Some family friends came round, someone made us food, and then all of a sudden it was dark and it was just the three of us. My Mum, my brother and me. Standing outside the house in silence.

I remember the night clearly. The moon was a waxing crescent and the sky was clear, the stars shining through sharply.  We all paused there, outside the back door, my Mum lighting up a cigarette. We stood in silence at first, no one really knowing what to say about the loss of someone so great. Not just for us, but the world. To lose a man of such good values, a local hero. Before long we were talking about what my brother and I had learnt from him, values which had been installed in us to live through a legacy. Values demonstrated without words and through actions. Values that will stay with us forever.

  1. Have integrity. No matter what the circumstances, my Dad would always come through on his word. Even in the most difficult situations, and trust me if you’re a community Doctor there are many difficult situations. Integrity was something that was installed in him and he expected of those around him, his children included. It was practised daily in our family life, something that my brother and I thought was the norm of society. It’s only now, as adults that we realise that it’s somewhat of a rarity in the world these days.
  1. Be compassionate to others. I never truly understood what compassion was until my Dad passed away but looking back I know that he completely embodied it. There was the time that a grief stricken family tried to sue him for an error that wasn’t his, only for him to say that “People act in unusual ways because of grief”. There’s also the time when a patient with psychiatric problems waited in his surgery car park to attack him, by slapping him across the face with a belt. All he would say is that it wasn’t the patient’s fault, and that they just needed some help to get on back on the right track. At the time I felt puzzled with him and angry at the people trying to do him harm but I can hear his voice clearly respond to me “You never know what someone else has been through, and maybe if you did, you might see things differently”.
  1. Have courage to stand up for what you believe in. The most admirable thing about my father was that he always stood up for what he believed in, no matter who he was up against. Amongst many strong and positive beliefs, he believed in providing the best health care possible for his patients, a value that would often come up against boards of directors when discussing health care budgets. My Dad would never compromise his values and he wouldn’t sell out on his patients, even if it meant losing his job over it. It took a tremendous amount of courage for Muslim Egyptian man to exercise these values in predominantly White, Catholic, ‘old boys school’ type environments but my Dad didn’t see the differences on the surface that many of us do. He just focused on what was important at the time – ‘what’s the best for the patients?’ Then he stood by it and fought for it.

The death of a parent, a spouse or any family member is always a difficult part of life, but what got us through the darkest parts was the reflection that we had such a decent man in our lives. Of course I would have loved to have my Dad around for another 30 years, and I miss him every day. But in the 30 years that he shared with me he gave me some of the best gifts I could have ever wish for – good values, and for that I’m grateful.

I want to create a world of greater wellbeing for ourselves and the planet that we live on. That’s why I’m starting an honest conversation about wellbeing; encompassing self care, emotional intelligence, body and mind awareness, personal development, and authenticity. If you want to learn more about these subjects then then head over to www.shereensoliman.com to find out more about the packages I offer.

Sending self care vibes,

Shereen x

Follow Your Intuition, Have Intention and Find Courage

I’m on my way home now (via Jakarta, Bangkok and London) but I’m heading in that general direction. Home. The place I went to when I first felt the pang of heartbreak, the place I flew straight back to after the attack and the place where I said my last goodbye to my Dad. It feels good to be heading back and I’m looking forward to seeing my family, friends and the cats. Mostly I’m looking forward to starting a new chapter of my life. I came to Asia with the intention of working on myself and the emotions that came up following these traumatic events, in the hope that I could somewhat heal the brokenness that I felt inside. I made sure to follow my intuition to steer me on my path along the way and it’s not been without its challenges. Although I know that I’ve always had a lot of courage, there have been times when I’ve had to search every bit of me to find what it’s taken to get through the toughest bits but I feel much better for doing so.

I really believe that each person ultimately knows themselves better than anyone else on this planet so by listening to what ‘feels’ right should be the best guide for healing, but without a real intention this intuition can often go unheard or ignored and without the courage to act, then both are useless anyway.

The events are still relatively fresh for me but I find that I’ve reached a turning point where I’m ready to drop the trauma story. I’m not quite sure what that means for this blog yet, I guess I’ll write for as long as it feels right, or maybe I’ll change it or develop it into something new (suggestions very welcome: traumaontour@hotmail.com), but I know that for now I’m ready to change the trauma record. I reached this point in the last week or so and something that I feel sped it up somewhat, was having some intense Traditional Chinese Acupuncture (a therapy that I’ve always respond to very well). I was lucky enough to find an intuitive therapist in Bali, who worked with me to push my limits as much as I could emotionally and physically handle and within the safety of the practice – based on both our intuition and his expertise and knowledge. This application of intuition and knowledge was applied with awareness, then sense checked, reflected upon and evaluated to really measure progress and I reinforce this kind of evaluation in my learning experiences in life, be it for personal development, therapy or learning a new skill. I mean this is commonly done in work environments, why wouldn’t we apply it to our own personal development, growth and healing?

Listening to my intuition resulted in me to staying in Ubud for over six weeks, surrounded by great people, including my inspirational roommate CJ, an awesome self-built entrepreneur, who’s been like a sister to me. Deepi was the third member of our crew, a lively Canadian/Indian chick who speaks her mind and takes no shit. These two women have been an influential part of my healing because we created an environment where it was safe to talk about everything, and I mean everything including difficult personal feedback about vulnerable situations, upfront truths that needed to be heard and all our emotions in all their colourful shapes and intensities. All without judgement and with wholehearted compassion in the hope that we would learn about ourselves and grow more in the process. I certainly feel like I did. Maybe if everyone had an environment like this, where they could talk so freely without fear of being judged or ridiculed then the World would be a much better place. I can imagine that traumas might be processed faster at least, especially because talking so openly and frequently about them would eradicate the taboo and discomfort that so often comes with this kind of sharing.

Now, following your intuition is one thing but it’s not just a case of landing in Bali and expecting to be healed, even if your intuition is screaming “Go to Bali”! No, because nothing really matters unless it’s done with intention, and the right intention at that. I came here with the intention of healing because I wanted to get back to living the nomadic, adventurous, fun filled life that I used to and nothing was going stop me getting there. I knew that I would have to sit through some uncomfortable challenges, that I would have to experience all the darkness of my traumas and the emotions that came with them to process them and get through to a more positive and stable state of mind and it’s not been easy getting here. I knew there would be anger, tears, confusion, embarrassment, shame, blame, apologies, confessions, panic attacks and a whole host of ‘break down’ type moments in front of a variety of audiences (I’m totally cool with public crying now). The thing is that I was ready to look all these moments in the eye and crawl through the sludge of them because I also knew that I had the grit, humility and endurance to do it, I knew that I had courage. Sometimes that meant reaching out and asking for help, regardless of how weak this made me feel at the time. As if I’d somehow failed at life because I was having to ask someone to be there for me or that I was lesser of a person because I couldn’t help but break down at certain situations that ‘normal people’ wouldn’t be phased by. It’s the overcoming of this shame and breaking the silence to speak that took a huge amount of inner courage, especially when to even voice my traumas brought out reactions in others that made me feel outright rejected, unsupported and unwelcome for sharing. I know this comes down to other people’s discomfort at not wanting to deal with these situations but overcoming these rejections (that’s what they felt like) when I expressed myself was a hard thing to keep overcoming. I actually remember a captain friend of mine stopping me on a walk back from the pub to tell me how brave I was to seek counselling straight after the attack. I guess I didn’t quite realise it back then because being from a medical type family going to counselling made sense to me – experience a psychological trauma, go and see a psychological expert – but looking back I don’t think that’s what he meant. I think he meant overcoming the stigma of opening up about my vulnerabilities, and having the courage to speak out. He was right, it was brave.

What I realised is that speaking out takes a different kind of courage. It’s not the courage that you need to live the life of a nomad without financial stability or the security of a fixed base, it’s not the courage you need to jump out of a plane even though your heart is thumping in your throat and it’s not the courage you need before enduring a hike to Everest Base Camp – trust me I’ve done all those thing and they were easy in comparison. Speaking out took a deeper level of courage that I wasn’t even sure I had, the courage to go somewhere that no one wants to go. The kind that makes you feel like you’ve exposed your deepest darkest secrets in front of the whole World and its judgement. Like you’re the helpless child in the playground, being humiliated, alone, being pointed at while the whole school laughs at you. I’m sure you know the feeling, it’s the stuff of nightmares. It’s often the fear of this feeling that silences us while we continue to tear up inside, telling everyone on the outside that we’re “fine” while we sink into a pit of loneliness which gets heavier and heavier until it’s almost unbearable. Having the courage to break that silence is real courage, and as with all things that involve hardship, it pays off, at least it did for me. By communicating and sharing as much as I have I’ve created stronger bonds with people because deep down we all have our trauma secrets, by sharing them it brings us closer together. It’s made me stronger too because I’ve got to know myself well through all these events and I’m sure that I’ll push myself even further with this new depth courage that found.

So I’ll leave you with a thought today. Tap into your intuition about a situation that feels vulnerable for you, see what feels like the right thing to do. It’s most likely the hard thing, that you subconsciously make excuses to avoid without realising. If you do realise what it is, find the courage to do something about it, with intent and see where it leads you. It might be saying sorry for your part of an argument, telling someone how you feel about them or just admitting that you need some help right now.

I want to create a world of greater wellbeing for ourselves and the planet that we live on. That’s why I’m starting an honest conversation about wellbeing; encompassing self care, emotional intelligence, body and mind awareness, personal development, and authenticity. If you want to learn more about these subjects then then head over to www.shereensoliman.com to find out more about the packages I offer.

Sending self care vibes,