Why Emotional Intelligence is Hot and Sexy

Last year, almost every one of my single friends attracted what appears to be the partner of their dreams. Being friends of mine, these people are very unique people, I mean you have to be if you’re going to be close friends with someone as ‘unique’ as me. Most of them are very academically accomplished, some have Masters Qualifications, from places like Yale and there are even some PhD’s in the mix too. They’re all good looking people – they take care of their bodies by eating well and doing exercise of sorts and they generally take pride in how they present themselves. They’ve also all done the personal development work to improve their emotional intelligence so they can work on being the best version of themselves. Thus they’ve created a life that serves them – one where they love their work, have passions outside of their work to keep them feeling fulfilled and put their energy into situations they enjoy. These people are happy people.

These people challenge themselves to be the best version of themselves every single day, even if it means crying on the phone to another friend because something has thrown them off the rails and they need to express that emotional energy so they can release it and move back towards happiness. Of course every single one of these people have helped me through some of the most intense emotional situations I’ve ever experienced and every single one of them has the emotional intelligence to hold space, speak their truth, act with compassion and have the self-awareness to maintain boundaries. These people are awesome, is it any wonder they’ve attracted their dream partners with this level of emotional intelligence which is ultimately hot and sexy?

So what is it about emotional intelligence that’s so damn hot and sexy? Seen as I love to analyse these kind of topics within our human behaviour, I’ve obviously got a few thoughts of my own.

As a strong independent woman who is used to being the one who is the strength that others lean on, having someone I can lean on once in a while is a desirable. I’m not talking about co-dependent relationships where we’re all validating off each other because we haven’t created our own sense of worth, nope. Gone are the days of co-dependent relationships full of mis-sold visions, unspoken truths, fancy job titles and the rest of the airbrushed life illusion.

I’m talking about being able to release, share and talk through a situation while someone listens, understands and maybe comforts (if appropriate), without trying to fix the situation and without thinking that the situation is about how they react. This in essence is holding emotional space. Anyone who can do that while holding boundaries, is hot and sexy in my eyes. All of my close friends have this, they’re basically super humans. People who work in positions of care often hold space, women do it often, especially mothers. The person who holds together a situation in crisis does it. To put it metaphorically, it’s like physically carrying weights a lot of the time – can you imagine how relieving it feels to have someone say “Let me take that off you for a minute while you relax?”. In fact, scrap relieving. It’s damn hot and sexy.

Next up, it’s passion. Passion is so damn hot and sexy it’s unreal. In order to have passion and use it to follow our dreams, there’s a few other things that need to be set in place too. Firstly, admitting what our dreams are, to ourselves and to others, even if they sound strange when they’re voiced in an outside world which might conflict with them. For example, someone who works in car sales that deep down wants to guide nature walks (you know who you are), when that person admits their truth and talks about guiding nature walks their face lights up and in turn it that passion shines through and lights up the room – that energy is hot and sexy! To maintain the hot and sexiness of said passion it’s imperative that a person do whatever it takes to get on the path of their dreams so they can continue to feel passionate, and radiate it out, thus becoming more hot and sexy – I mean seriously, when did you ever feel like that about the office guy who said “yeah working at my job is ok, sitting at this desk typing all day, it’s not too bad…”. Never. Never Ever.

Self-Awareness, Reflection and Humility. Oh My. To even write makes me smile! When someone has the self-awareness to reflect on their actions (unprompted) and then has the humility to rectify something which wasn’t aligned with the value system, like when someone apologises. Well, you guessed it, it’s damn hot and sexy. To me, it highlights that this human realises that they are a human. That sometimes they do dumb things (who doesn’t??) and that they have the humility to admit this and that they have the self-compassion and self-worth to know that said negative action does not mean that they are an unworthy human. It means that this human has a damn good value system which they are in tune with, reflect upon and correct their actions if they steer out of alignment of it. By acting in this manner it shows that this person has integrity, compassion, self-worth and respect to say the least! These are values I strive to live by myself and they’re the values of the people I want in my circle. You know what, these values are truly hot and sexy.

To find your hot and sexy, check out my Unstuck program to see how you can improve your emotional intelligence. It’s all there inside of you, just waiting for your permission to come out!

I’m on a mission to create a greater a super hot and sexy 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 in a hot and sexy manner, 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 Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash

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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

What Are You Focusing On For 2019?

I was asked recently from a friend who owns a marketing agency ‘What keeps you focused with your business?’ I ended up pondering on this question for a while, dissecting it in a few forms and seriously thinking deep about this – would you expect anything less from me??

Firstly I thought ‘focus’ and me in the same sentence? If anything, throughout my multiple business endeavours and careers, my work life has been anything but focused. In fact, I don’t think it’s a word many of my friends would typically associate with me.

However when I thought about this a little deeper, I realise that since overcoming PTSD I do have focus. It was actually something I crafted in the mist of trauma recovery to pull me out of such emotional turmoil. Back then my focus was to get back to my fearless, nomadic lifestyle. Recently I feel like I got that back – WIN – and proof that you can do anything you put your mind to.

One of the things that constantly beat me with a stick to stay focused and keep on moving was my tendency to think with foresight and compare it with what was happening in the present. I’ve been told that this can be a negative trait because ‘you’re not living in the present blah blah blah…’ but when living in the present means reliving trauma, well of course sometimes I didn’t want to live in it, I’m only human!

When I was able to project in the future that my current actions were not going to get me to where I wanted to be, it alerted me to change my focus. Sometimes this meant reassessing things in my life, questioning how I’d ended up so far away from my focus (usually fear and self-sabotage) and then I would make the relevant adjustments to get me back on track.

Having known what living such a fearless and adventurous nomadic lifestyle felt like, I focused on what those feelings felt like whenever I felt low.

I focused on the time that I arrived at the café in Indonesia, built by my future-to-be-boss and told him that he needed to hire me for his construction project. Back then, I had unchallengeable confidence in my ability.

I focused on the time I helped sail a boat across the Bay of Biscay in a force 9 with a crew of 3 men I’d never met before. Back then, I trusted that I was always safe and protected in life.

I focused on all the times that I went out dancing with travel buddies in Bangkok and Malaysia. When I danced on tables with yacht crew in Sardinia, singing our hearts out. When I laughed wholeheartedly across the streets of Monaco with my friend until my stomach ached so much I had to lie down!

Focusing in to these feelings made me realise that I could get back to them. All I needed to do was focus on unpicking the thought patterns that kept me living such a fear-driven restricted life. Obviously I had some short and sharp situations that drastically changed my life and created contrast. In a moment I went from living fearlessly to living fear driven. For most of us, I know that this isn’t the case. Some of us have picked up picked up negative thought patterns gradually throughout life and sometimes we aren’t even aware that we’re living in the restriction of them. However, the method for unpicking and releasing them is always the same and it’s empowering. If anything going through this process has taught me that we can all break free from these unconscious fears and live out our dreams. In fact, this is our birth right to do this, and the challenge of life is to figure out how.

With that, my question to you is – What are you focusing on this year?

For 2019 I’m focusing on inspiring you to be the best version of yourself, so you can move towards the life you’ve always dream of. To do the work necessary to break free from what unconsciously holds you back, so you can feel happier for longer and together we can create a more compassionate and connected society!

If you’re interested in how to do this then get in touch now to find out more about my emotional intelligence coaching and sign up to www.shereensoliman.com for free emotional intelligence tools, personal development book recommendations to get you started.

Sending motivating vibes,

Shereen x

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Christmas Eve. Three Insightful Years Later.

Today it’s three years since I first posted on this blog, and what an insightful three years it’s been.

At the time when I started writing this blog I didn’t have any ambition for what it might be. I didn’t know where I was going with it or where it might lead. All I knew, was that I’d been through some challenging life situations and that expressing them through writing somehow made me feel better. It was the start of releasing emotional expressions which had been bottled up for years because I didn’t have the knowledge of how to let these emotions out in a healthy way.

Three years on and I’ve learnt a lot.

I’m proud of the way I’ve addressed my trauma recovery, and I’m grateful to every single person who played their part to help me along the way. My aim three years back was to explore my inner world and see how I could grow from the situations I’d been presented with, even if it meant sinking down into an uncomfortable hole of darkness (which it often did). I knew deep down that all of it would be worth the journey and that by talking about it openly I’d help others along their struggles too.

As I write this, I’m back in Bali – one of the places I resonated to when I needed healing the most. This time, I’m back here on holiday enjoying the food, the sun and the massages. Before I left for Asia, a few things rolled into place and it was the moment that I looked back at the three years past and I realised none of this was in vein.

I was asked to run a workshop on how to overcome ‘negative’ emotions, I called it the ‘Unstuck Yourself‘ workshop. This workshop had such a positive response that I ran a second and a third and I’m now running a coaching program helping others learn the emotional intelligence toolkit to get themselves out of any emotional rut. My aim is to set up initiatives which help people identify, unpick and release pent up emotions and gain a full emotional intelligence toolkit along the way. Eventually I’m going to build a luxury spa and trauma recovery centre (out of natural and sustainable materials of course) where anyone can come to process their emotions and traumatic situations.

I know all this sounds quite grand, and I’ve only just started on this new journey, but if I’ve learnt anything over the past few years, it’s that I can achieve anything I put my mind to. Knowing that is what’s going to make these Christmas wishes come true.

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.

Merry Christmas!

Shereen x

Photo by erin walker on Unsplash

Find Your Fun

One of the things I often get lost in when it comes to this whole healing process; is the analysis of what I’ve been going through. Looking inside myself, at my actions, questioning what my behaviour is being driven by etc, basically everything which I write about on this blog.

This isn’t such a bad thing because it’s one of the main things that’s helped me process those challenging events at the speed that I did. It also got me moving in the direction of where I want to go with my life. So of course this process was necessary. However, one of the things that wasn’t so necessary, was me losing all my fun along the way. I realised this recently when my friend’s husband made a comment that I seemed a lot more serious these days than I used to be. And he’s right.

When I think back to the time that all these events kicked off – the first one being me falling in love – it was when I was working in the yachting industry, travelling, dancing, drinking and hanging around with one of my carefree yachting friends who would make me laugh so much that I constantly had a serious case of face ache. Back then, nothing scared me. I often put myself in positions where I’d have to work stuff out and I had this unstoppable self belief that no matter what, I’d be ok. No matter if I quit a job in the middle of the season because the captain didn’t treat me like a human being. Or if I managed to blag myself on to a sail boat delivery when I couldn’t even sail. Or trusting that I could arrive somewhere in the middle of the busiest season yet be certain that I’d find the most perfect place to rent that would be exactly what I wanted. I had this undeniable trust in the universe that everything would work out just fine, and with that trust I flowed with whatever came my way. I went out dancing when I wanted, I radiated out a fun energy that everyone wanted to be part of and I was having an immense amount of fun along the way. To put it simply, I was loving living life and I didn’t worry about anything.

Recently I lost that.

I think it’s because I’ve done a lot of work to find out what my purpose is, and with the whole trauma/self care/personal development theme I’m pretty certain of my vision of what I’m here to create with my life. However I also feel like it’s not quite the time to move forward along that path just yet. It’s as though there’s a few more experiences to collect along the way. A period of time to relax, have fun and get myself back to the carefree, fearless, confident adventure seeker that I was before all these episodes happened. For me that means getting back into the industry that I’d discovered which pays me to be on the water. The industry that gives me the freedom to work how I want –seasonally in short and intense periods. The industry where I feel challenged like I’ve never been challenged before – physically and mentally – to grow as a person in so many different ways. This industry is yachting, something that has nothing to do with self care, personal development or any of my academic qualifications, it is however, the industry which I thoroughly enjoy working in and over the last three years have avoided because of fear.

This doesn’t mean that I’m giving up my mission to explore, heal and spread the word about these insights. It means that I’m taking the time to put the fun and happiness back in my step so when the time comes to walk that path I can do it with confidence, fearlessness and true happiness.

I mean after all, aren’t we here on this planet to have fun, enjoy this life and feel good from within?

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

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Emotional Intelligence is Nothing Without Awareness

I’m always chirping on about emotional intelligence. How understanding our emotions can be used as an opportunity to grow through life’s challenges. How it can help us better understand each other. How it can bring us together through compassion and help us lead more fulfilling lives. But something that I see often as this term gets tossed around is the lack of awareness in the people who are talking about it, and without personal awareness, it’s nothing.

If someone had spoken to me about emotional intelligence a few years back I probably would have nodded and said I’d got it, because I would have thought I had got it. I would have logically processed it in my mind and thought ‘yeah, I know how I feel most of the time, I’m in tune with my body and my emotions’, but in reality I wasn’t. In fact I didn’t even know what I didn’t know back then, and this is something which I see around me often these days. That so many of us think how we feel, rather than feel how we feel. In fact, some of us have made an art out of it to the point where we’ve even convinced ourselves that we are actually feeling, when the truth is that we’ve completely blocked off our senses all together. It’s no one’s fault that we’re doing this, we’re simply doing the best we can with the knowledge that we have, and unfortunately the majority of us in the west have been taught through social conditioning that this is how we find out how we feel.

This could be due to many factors such as the post war generation children learning to lock down emotions from their parents who would have experienced horrific traumas. This then being passed on to future generations as ‘the norm’. The introduction of industry and the desire to maximise production through robotic behaviour, slowly omitting any kind of emotional expression within the work place. The Victorian school system favouring science and maths over arts and music (mind over heart, or logic over feeling), seen as creativity is physically expressive form of emotion. The reinforced perceptions that this is the norm, seen as to question it might risk the consequence to be ousted from the community. I could go in to many more theories of how and why I think we’ve arrived at this point in the western society but I’ll reserve that for another time.

So what does it mean to become aware? To me, it means to gain an understanding of what our body, mind and heart are trying to tell us through signs.

It means to check in with our physical senses – touch, taste, sound, sight and smell, and understand what each sense is experiencing in the present moment.

It’s understanding what our mind is telling us through our judgements, commentary and instructions on how to behave.

It’s noticing what our emotions are telling us through our creative outputs and expressive behaviour.

At first, when we start paying attention to our body, mind and emotions it can be overwhelming, especially if we’ve been living a life which is in-congruent (with conflict between the head and the heart). For me, inner conflict was something that I’d lived with for a long time, especially as I strove more towards what I thought society wanted of me, rather than what I wanted for me. It was like opening my eyes in a room which had a whole load of mess in that needed clearing up. I felt exhausted just knowing about the mess, a mess which I had unconsciously been adding to for years. Part of me wanted to bury my head in the sand and pretend that I hadn’t seen it, but the problem was that I couldn’t un-see it and deep down I knew that the only way to feel better about the situation was to start clearing up the mess that I had created. That’s when I made a conscious effort to increase my awareness, learn the best techniques on how to tune into to my mind, body and emotions, and ultimately start to live a life that was true to me, no matter how ‘emotional’ or messy it seems on the outside. It’s the moment when I finally embodied the words my Mum had told me all my life and thought ‘Fuck what people think, I’m doing this my way’.

There are plenty of tools you can use to start becoming more aware. Mindfulness is one of the most spoken about tools to practice, but questioning ourselves and reflecting on our behaviour are also important too. I also find that journaling, and talking things through with friends is an important process to practice because sometimes I’m still not sure how I feel and it helps to have a little feedback.

The truth is that without inquiring into these areas of ourselves and really becoming a-tuned to what is going on inside us, emotional intelligence just becomes another subject matter to give lip service to. We may as well be talking about the weather, and it’s this disconnection to ourselves that is stopping us connect with others, with our inspiration and with greater fulfilment.

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

Photo credit: Kelly Searle

Physical Abuse – Could Lack of Emotional Validation Be The Cause?

I know the news isn’t the most unbiased picture of what’s going on in the World (especially not in the UK at least). However, the most recent headlines are ones causing me to wonder why certain events seem to be happening on mass. One if of wide spread sexual abuse in the UK Football Association and the other is the rise in self harm cases in children and young adults in the UK. Both abusive acts on the body, either towards the self or another person’s body. Both violent, abusive and harmful acts against the body. When I take a step back and look at these acts, I wonder if they’re both physical expressions of pent-up negative emotional energy? Possibly committed because of inner turmoil that hasn’t been addressed for whatever reason.

I can relate to inner turmoil because of my own challenging life events. When I was in my most destroyed state, I was pretty toxic to those around me. Angry, reactive, sometimes out of control as I spun around firing out a whirlpool of negativity. Blaming and shaming anyone who came in the vicinity of my pain. I’ve also been on the receiving end of this toxic behaviour because life has a tendency to offer us mirrors of our state, so when I was in my most destructive state I happened to meet people who treated me very negatively. And in true irony of the Universe, I’ve also been on the listening end of this behaviour as many people have sought counsel from me as they confess to their own pain and how they express it. (I mean what did I expect when I named my blog ‘Trauma on Tour’).

Through expressing, receiving and witnessing these emotional expressions of inner pain I’ve come to wonder if our lack of basic emotional expression in the Western society could be the cause of this abuse. That due to the lack of expressing the lightest of emotion that we’re now starting to witness a pressure cooker effect? That what might have been a little bit of pain from shame or blame, has been held on to, suppressed and refuelled in the mind as it churns over again and again and again.

With the fear and the shame that cloaks our society it’s difficult for someone to come forward with any emotional expression. God forbid someone might be overly happy in the office. Or that they might cry in public. Or get passionate about a project they’re working on. I don’t know about you but I’ve spent most of my life trying to find acceptance in the fact that I’m naturally very emotionally expressive. It’s difficult because it means that I get attacked or rejected often, regardless of the emotion. From “what are you so happy about?” to awkwardness from friends when I spent a few days in bed depressively grieving my Dad’s death. For some it was such a shock to see such depth of emotion that our friendship never got over it. Could it be that some of us have got into the habit of naturally suppressing daily emotions that the build up is now starting to splurge out? That the level of toxicity in the physical act reflects the darkness of the wound inside? Could the epidemic of male on male abuse in the 80’s be the result of suppressed pain that was experienced in the earlier years of these men – as women’s empowerment took hold of the mothers of those abusers – omitting them of the love or attention they required as children? Could the self harm in young adults be the result of emotional vents which aren’t getting validated in a world of technology? Could this lack of validation be causing a pressure cooker effect on a conservative culture that’s on the brink of exploding?

I certainly don’t have the answers, but I think it’s about time that we got over the shock of emotional expression and instead started asking why. Otherwise we’re never even going to get close to the answers and we’re never going to figure out how to proactively avoid such behaviour. We can start today by checking in with how we feel right now. For me, that’s scared. I’m scared about publishing this article because I’m worried it will rustle features, causing people who also feel scared to attack out at me for opening up this subject. The thing is that I know that those attacks are just opinions that come from other people’s pain, not mine, and besides words don’t hurt me. Emotional acknowledged and  validated, lesson understood, reflection made and compassion developed. But what happens when we suppress that emotional energy? Where does the pain go if we don’t let it out?

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

Photo Credit – Buzz Andersen

Three Life Lessons From Growing Out of Trauma

  1. Life is precious.

One day you are going to die.

I am going to die.

It could be tomorrow by getting hit by a bus, it could be in 20 years time with a horrible illness but the truth of the matter is that one day I will be a lifeless, cold, corpse and everything will be over.

Yes, this is pretty morbid, especially as most of my posts are bringing messages of ‘yes you can conquer anything, love life to the full etc’ but that joyful message doesn’t hit home as hard as the realisation that we are all going to die someday, life is short. Embrace it.

While thinking about that, ask yourself these questions:

  1. If you dropped dead right now would you be happy with how you’ve spent your life?
  2. Did you chase your dreams?
  3. Did you tell the people you love often enough?
  4. Were you happy with what you achieved?

If the answer to any of these questions is no then I seriously insist that you explore these questions more and ask yourself what the hell are you doing with your life?

We can often get wrapped up in the nitty gritty of life, and I get it, we’ve all got our things to do, got to pay the bills right? When you’ve come through a life threatening situation though, you see things a little differently and it’s as though you really see what matters.

I remember when I experienced this mindset change quite vividly. There was a poignant moment during the attack that I seriously thought “I am going to be raped, murdered and then left here to rot”. This was the exact moment that I seemed to spring into life. As though something inside me said “No fucking way”. It was the moment that I pulled out all the stops to get out of that situation, and I did get out of it. I survived and I’m here writing about it today. That situation was the scariest thing that has happened to me in my entire life and it has brought me a whole load of uninvited emotions that I otherwise wouldn’t have experienced. They weren’t pleasant and I would never wish for someone to go through something as horrific as having to literally fight for their survival or to experience the rickershay of emotions that pop up at every trigger in the aftermath – the panic, the fear, the depression, the shame, the guilt, I could go on. However, without this experience I wouldn’t have the perspective I do now, so I’m passing this message on to you. We only have one life, don’t take it for granted.

  1. Fear is a signpost for growth

Fear is a funny thing, sometimes I know it’s there and I can really feel the terror, the butterflies, the anxiety – like I’m going to physically vomit  because of it, and then sometimes I can’t feel it at all but it’s there lingering in the background controlling my thoughts and actions behind my subconscious state. The second type of fear is the most debilitating, it’s the unconscious state of fear that causes us to disengage in a relationship, cause arguments to create distance and generally provoke negative actions in a way to protect ourselves.

What I’ve come to realise as I unpick the triggers in my post trauma state is that every negative reaction we have usually comes from fear. That means any judgment or blame towards others, the avoidance of a particular subject/person, numbness, suppression or outright anger – all of these deflection techniques are the ego’s way of protecting us when we’re in a state of fear. When we become aware of this and we can see the ego’s behaviour it becomes easier to question it and find out why the fear is there in the first place and from my own experience I’ve found that underneath fear are almost always signposts for growth.

In a recent situation where I was starting to become vulnerable with a man I found myself judging, blaming and becoming angry with him, I didn’t even realise that I was doing it until a friend pointed this out to me. So I decided to address it like all my other triggers. When I did this, at first I found myself in tears. I was terrified. I was scared that if I let someone into that vulnerable emotional space that something awful was going to happen to me and that I would experience all the emotions from heartbreak, attempted rape and the death of someone close all over again. I desperately did not want to feel all those emotions in that intensity again and I was terrified that this situation was headed that way. Having got to know my triggers very well, I know that they create a whole world of illogical scenarios in my head based on a couple of situations in my life and during those moments of fear I remember what those scenarios feel like which causes me to back out fast. The reality though, is very different because the past doesn’t determine the future and the trick is to remind myself of this reality when I’m experiencing what feel like very real occurrences. Practising that continuously is what has allowed me to grow out of trauma in to a more authentic and stronger person than I was before. The next time you find yourself bearing way from something, as yourself why? If it comes down to fear then it could be an opportunity for growth too.

  1. Communicating that we don’t know how to feel is the first step to connecting

Anyone who knows about Brene Brown’s research on shame and vulnerability will already know that vulnerability is where human connections thrive. I’ve watched her TED talks, I’d read the books but what I hadn’t done is really practiced what she preached when it came to vulnerability and to be honest it’s because I wasn’t aware that I didn’t know how to be vulnerable. To be completely honest, I thought I knew all about vulnerability before I experienced my traumas but in reality I was running away from all negative feelings in my very privileged and somewhat entitled life, without the awareness that I was running. So when I was faced with so many difficult situations I got to experience first-hand what she meant in The Power of Vulnerability, especially when she explains about those vulnerable moments:

  • Making that phone call to the relative who just lost someone, even though you have no idea what to say
  • Telling someone you love them, without knowing if they feel the same
  • Admitting to someone you care about that you did something wrong and that you’re sorry

What all these situations do is communicate our feelings at the times when it’s the hardest because those are the times when it matters the most. When I was on the receiving end of these situations I appreciated the friends who called me and said “I don’t know what to say”, over those who just avoided me altogether because we could at least converse over the fact that neither of us knew how to deal with the situation which meant we were in it together. I also did this with the vulnerable situation where I acted reactively with the guy I previously mentioned, after I had become vulnerable. I explained that I was terrified and that I didn’t know how to handle the situation and because of that I had pushed him away. In both these situations I found that communicating the very observation of the feeling led to me becoming a lot closer with these people and that is the start of practicing vulnerability.

All our life experiences give us a choice. The choice to deal with them, learn and grow from them or the choice to shut off, avoid and live in a life of safe guards. For me, the latter meant that I would give up the nomadic lifestyle which was the very thing that made me feel alive, so I had to find away to grow out of it or I knew that I faced a life locked in silent misery, clouded by apathy and an inability to connect with other people. Urgh, no thanks.

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

Are Empowered Women Empowering Men? Or Are we Suppressing Them? 

I originally wrote this piece for the Good Men Project but I think it has a lot of relevance to trauma emotions like fear, vulnerability and compassion, so I’m sharing it here too. It also broaches the subject of masculinity and femininity in the changing times of these roles. Enjoy…

I grew up as a Tom boy. I was the only girl in the Boy Scouts, spent my days climbing trees and wore jeans and baseball caps. I grew up feeling empowered to do anything that my heart desired and I did just that, especially when it meant beating the guys at their own game. In fact, I took pride in beating the guys. Whether it was swimming in the Scouts, showing my boyfriend how to build a campfire after watching him fail miserably or outsmarting boys on tests. Anything they could do, I could do better and I was sure to let them know.

As I grew older I did start to dabble in some more feminine activities but when I found myself working in the construction industry for my first graduate job, I fell back into my old patterns of showing the guys that I was better than them at everything. In that industry, I felt it was the only way to become successful and sometimes the only way to survive. The thing is that I actually loved being in this environment and I took pride in the fact that these guys got shown up when they got outsmarted by a girl. It was as though I was fighting some kind of war for all the women who had been suppressed throughout history and I was taking no prisoners.

When this approach starting to seep into other areas of my life, especially in my relationships it turned out to be more toxic than successful. I started to notice this when my boyfriend of three years started to experience depression. I didn’t really understand it and after becoming so estranged from any kind of vulnerability within myself I simply didn’t know how to handle this situation. For the next year and a half, I stayed with him out of loyalty but couldn’t help getting frustrated with his situation and watching all his family and friends pander to him when my response was much less sympathetic. As much as I feel ashamed to write this, at the time I saw his depression as a weakness.

I didn’t know at the time but the reality was that I was scared. Scared of admitting those vulnerabilities within myself and scared that I might be the problem. When I couldn’t take it any longer I took an opportunity to do an internship abroad for a few months to give both of us some space. Those months away allowed him to empower himself and work on his depression, without me there to take his empowerment away he managed to pull himself out of that negative space. Needless to say, this lead to us breaking up as I was part of the problem.

At the time I didn’t learn from this experience and spent the next couple of years travelling, running away from any deep connection and any other opportunity to be vulnerable. That was until I fell in love again.

This time, however, I fell in love with a guy who wouldn’t open up because he was so vulnerable after experiencing a variety of traumas in his childhood and adult life. He was like a closed nut with a magical light shining from the inside and I desperately wanted to see more.

My response? To try and prize the nut open.

Back then this was my response to most things. Fight with determination and win, after all, I was empowered. I was strong and vulnerability (weakness as I saw it) wasn’t something that existed in my world. Despite all my efforts, this strategy backfired.

We broke up and the following year I learnt what real vulnerability was, through experiencing my own series of traumas that invited intensely vulnerable emotions into my consciousness from depths that I never knew existed inside me. I learnt that my ’empowerment’ had silenced the men in my life and highlighted them as weak against my own strength of will. I had shamed them for having vulnerable emotions, and my “being soft is weakness” attitude didn’t allow them to show vulnerability in my presence, so instead they suppressed it. For the guys that stuck around, family, friends and romantic partners, these suppressions slowly crept towards depression as these men were frequently rejected by the empowered women in their lives who paraded the same message as me.

What I’ve come to realise since is that as an empowered woman I can suppress men if I don’t show my vulnerabilities as well as my strengths. As women, it’s socially acceptable for us to be emotional as much as it is now for us to fight our corner and as empowered women, it is important that we do this to break down the shame that surrounds vulnerabilities. If we don’t acknowledge those vulnerable emotions then we don’t create the safe emotional space for men to do so either. That’s when our empowerment silences men, rather than empowers them.

In order to help empower the men in my life, I’ve taken it upon myself to make the first move and show them my vulnerability. It’s not easy and there is a lot of work to do, especially after the way I’ve acted for such a long time. Sometimes it leaves me feeling quite exposed and awkward but mostly it leads to an emotionally safe space where we can both talk about how we feel and release the silent loads that have weighed us down.

Since I’ve started this approach I’ve seen the men in my life grow and build closer connections in their own relationships and friendships. I’ve seen them become more confident, dynamic and authentic in their way of addressing life. I’ve watched them become more empowered with me, rather than opposed to me. The only thing that needed to change, was my attitude.

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

Are We Living in a State of International Apathy?

In a World where we are constantly told how we feel, how we should feel and that if we buy ‘x’ product then we’ll feel better, I fear that we’re starting to lose touch with how we really feel in replacement of how we think we feel. On the surface I guess it doesn’t appear to be too much of a problem, everyone seems quite happy, life is progressive and generally, all is ok, isn’t it? Or are we unconsciously in a state of apathy?

For example, when was the last time that you truly felt like you were alive? For me, it’s those moments dinghy sailing when I’ve caught the wind and my crew and I are heeling over balancing ourselves on the edge of the wind, carefully adjusting our movements to get the maximum speed we can without making the boat capsize. Even if we do capsize, it’s exhilarating to know that we found a boundary and pushed it. Without pushing it, we wouldn’t have known where it had ended. So even if we’re in the water, wet, and with a boat to right, we’d at least learnt something. The opposite of this approach is living in the fear of capsizing. This results in reactive thinking and quickly jumping about the boat without communicating to the other crew member what’s happening, resulting in no one being in control of the boat, inevitably causing it to capsize anyway. There is also a lesson to be learnt by the second capsize but it’s never as fun, in fact, it usually ends up in two stressed out crew members blaming each other. The thing is with sailing is that the wind changes and no one can control that, and sometimes that can be scary but we all have a choice as to whether we let the fear control us or not. To me, this situation is reflective of a lot of life scenarios, there’s the option to feel the fear and do it anyway, go through the experience whilst reacting to the fear or to not go through the experience at all because of the fear itself.

I wonder how many of us sit on the shore with certain activities, disengaging because of unconscious fear? Disengaging with relationships, jobs, even just speaking our own mind in fear of being judged, criticised and shamed? I know that I used to be one of those people and I would completely back out of any situation that would cause me to be vulnerable and I would do that by firing out judgments, criticisms and blame towards others because that is the ego’s way of defending us. Ironic isn’t it, that the very thing we fear the most is usually the thing we are unconsciously doing in order to protect ourselves.

I see this more often since I’ve practiced mindfulness and after having gone through so many difficult emotions in the last 18 months, so now I always try to put myself in other’s shoes and empathise with others situations rather than judge them. I do still slip up from time to time and it can take me a couple of days to get out of my ego and reflect upon a situation but I make a conscious effort to reflect and question my thoughts and behaviour and I ask why I did a certain thing. This reflection is the starting point of change because it always presents an opportunity for growth, but it’s this step that I see unconsciously avoided by most people. I guess it’s because if we ask ourselves why then we might find a difficult answer and then we have the dilemma of dealing with it or ignoring it and knowing that we’ve ignored it. When I ask myself why I’ve jumped to a conclusion or why I’ve judged someone without knowing the whole story or why I find myself backing away from something/someone, it always comes back to fear, usually the fear of being vulnerable. This isn’t surprising, considering that we live in a society where shame is so prevalent, the shame that creates the very fear that makes those judgments, and if we are unconsciously aware of this then we can start unconsciously shutting off, and this is when things start to get a little dangerous.

If we constantly bear away from things that fear us and we never face them, then we never grow. What we do instead is safeguard. We safeguard from anything that could scare us, and ultimately by doing this we starve ourselves from life. We starve ourselves from the same intensity of positive emotions as we do negative ones because you cannot have the good without the bad simply because without one the other doesn’t exist. Instead what happens is that we numb out, eventually leaving us in a state of apathy; the lack of feeling anything much at all. This is when the connection between humans starts to breakdown, in relationships, in friendships and day to day occurrences. It’s where the compassion dissipates because we fear those feelings of pain so much that we can’t be there for others when they’re experiencing it, because the very acknowledgement of that vulnerability in others, means acknowledging it in ourselves. This would bring us back to the dilemma of deal with it or ignore it. So instead a road that many of us walk down is where we numb out and disengage. I know this because this was the reaction from some people when my Dad died and it resonated with me because when a friend of mine lost her sister when I was 19, I remembered that I had done exactly the same thing and I’m not proud of it, but I can have compassion for myself and my friends in knowing that we are products of the culture we live in and unfortunately at the moment that appears to be in a state of unconscious apathy.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though, and you certainly don’t need to go through the trauma of being in a life-threatening situation or losing someone close to you to snap out of it. You do however need to start paying attention to your actions because they hold the clue to your thoughts, and how you feel, and it’s only when you feel that fear that you can become aware of it.

So next time you find yourself distancing from a situation, judging someone’s actions or getting angry at the way a situation is unfolding, stop and ask yourself what is it that you’re scared of? Then why not go ahead and do it anyway? You might find that you learn something by facing that fear, or that voicing it might bring you that little bit closer to the person you voice it to. These emotions are part of our being and by denying them we deny part of ourselves, so whether good or bad I implore you to fully feel those emotions and challenge why they’re there.

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