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.

More Honesty, Less BS Please

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shereen x

Photo by Andre Guerra on Unsplash

Confessions Of A Truth Speaking Human

I feel lost with the world these days. I’m not sure if it’s just me or if we’re in some kind of illusion where no one ever speaks their truth. It’s annoying because if no one ever speaks their truth then no one ever gets vulnerable, and without vulnerability we don’t have connections. We also don’t have feedback so we never improve as people. We don’t get better at communication, we never face up to take responsibility for how we act based on our emotions and we’re losing high moral standards like honest, loyalty and respect. We start to become some half scraped version of what we think the world wants us to be because rather than being true to ourselves most of us think we have to go around being politically correct and trying to please others.

Well I’m here to throw a spanner in the works and admit to being human.

I’m going to start with my confessions. Apt, as I’ve never done a confession before, at least not in a church to a minister… something about it just doesn’t seem right – “come here and let me judge thee for thy sins oh wicked one”, erm no thanks. Instead here they are for the World Wide Web to view, I mean why have one person’s judgement when the whole word can have a go? Here’s to hoping your feeling forgiving today, dear reader.

  1. I do not have my shit figured out

I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to figure stuff out and for the most part I mastered it. I’ve got a knack for digging deep to find out how things work, how we work and the general patterns that link the two. Paired with my tenacity, it’s what has helped me get the things I wanted in life – how to travel with hardly any money, how to get a distinction in an science masters without anything more than a C grade science GCSE (lowest of passing high school qualifications, for you American folk), and mostly how to positively influence people and myself to get the best out of a situation. I enjoy figuring stuff out and finding the best way to do things because it means efficiency and progress and that’s something I’m passionate about. The thing is that I can’t figure everything out, even though I strive to and usually figure more stuff out than most people, I will never be able to figure everything out, and that’s ok. In fact, it’s the way it’s meant to be. It’s the reason I like to sail and volunteer with young adults. Two things baffle me because they can’t be completely figured out. Instead I have to go with the flow and hope I’m prepared for what comes next. To quote an old friend “The true aspiration isn’t having shit figured out, it’s to be ok with the shit not being figured out, ever.” Some stuff has just got to be, and the more I’m ok with that the easier my life will be. Shit is definitely not figured out today.

  1.  I avoid, I judge, I blame

I really try not to. When I do I try to notice it and when I’m aware of it I always dig deep to find what the root cause is so I can learn something more about myself and work to improve it if I don’t like it. My ego still comes up when I feel fear or pain and with it there’s sometimes a verbal attack to whoever is unlucky enough to be near. Usually it’s an arrogant comment or a rant but if I really let it get me then I can shout. It’s not nice, it’s shitty, and I always feel the guilt and shame afterwards for not being the better person I strive to be. Those feelings are necessary as they remind me that I continuously aim to be the best version of myself. So I fully feel the guilt and the shame and in there I find the information that directs me what to do next. It’s usually an apology or a recognition, followed by an inquisition into why it happened (because I’m always trying to figure shit out remember), then I can finally learn from what happened and reach the self compassion and forgiveness for being completely me. Sometimes ego, sometimes heart, sometimes somewhere in between.

  1. I’m scared of a lot of things

I’m not scared of things that are ‘conventional’ to be scared of, the likes of mice or spiders – which to me, seems kind of silly because they’re tiny in comparison to humans but then there goes that less compassionate logical side of me speaking and realistically I know that these thing are caused by associations in the brain, probably in early childhood, and I’ll stop now while I begin to sound like I’ve figured that one out because I definitely haven’t. I’m scared of even sillier things. I’m scared of falling in love for the fear of getting hurt. I’m scared of trying, in case I fail. Mostly I’m scared that I won’t get done what I’ve been put on this planet to do, even though I’m not sure what that even is yet. I’m still not sure how I feel about fear, I just know that it exists within me and still quite prominently. Especially at the moment as I venture back into the dating world and I’m finally moving forward with publishing my books. I recognise it because it’s a squirmy kind of feeling. It’s like being squeezed from top to bottom in a vice that starts in an open 90 degree angle and closes into about 30 degrees, literally squishing me in between. It’s like being compressed under force until there is only one way to squeeze – backwards out of the vice. But if I do that, and the vice closes then that opportunity closes with it. Instead I’m trying to master staying put and holding the vice open no matter how hard I’m squeezed. Eventually the vice will give way and through the experience I’ll become stronger. It’s hard, and there is a minefield of vices in front of me but the horizon on the other side is bright and sunny so I’m committed to crossing the field.

I’m starting to feel comfortable to be my authentic self, even though I get a lot of funny looks when I talk about real topics, you know emotions, life, dreams and progression. When what I say is ‘too heavy’ or ‘too in depth’ or when people ‘can’t handle that (the truth) right now’. I’m hoping that eventually this mirage will dissipate and people will see it for the truth that it is. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes ugly. But I’ll take the truth any day, over something which isn’t even real.

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: Ben White

Introducing the BS card

After experiencing such raw and heavy emotions as anyone who has dealt with a major trauma in their life can empathise, I reached a point where being authentic became really important for me. It called for me to become brutally honest with myself and those around me in order for me to progress with my recovery journey and create the authenticity in the friendships so that a space was created where anything can be talked about.

This meant that there were some uncomfortable conversations to be had that I might not have otherwise invited into my life. Conversations that created challenges and opportunities and took courage to approach. It’s not easy being completely honest and when you’re as direct as I am, you don’t always get the most receptive response (delivery is a challenge that I am constantly working on). Regardless of the difficulty of having these conversations, it’s really important that difficult subjects are aired between people if we want to create honesty in our friendships because that’s the firm foundation that all deep relationships are based upon.

The lesson that I’ve had to learn is how to approach these conversations with compassion when I’m delivering honest feedback to a friend, because even though I can take direct feedback I know that this isn’t the norm. Instead I’ve learnt that feedback must be delivered from a standpoint of ‘I care about you and that is why I’m pointing this out’, rather than ‘you did x, y and z and I don’t think you should have done that’. Hopefully, you can see the difference between compassionate honesty and judgemental spotlighting in those two sentences.

A recent example is a good friend of mine who avoids conversations when she knows there’s going to be something that she doesn’t want to hear, even if she knows that she needs to hear it. However, that’s pretty difficult when you’re friends with me because as all of my friends know, I call them out on this kind of avoidance like I expect to be called out when I’m in my own avoidance. This friend of mine wasn’t being malicious and the avoidance wasn’t about me, it was about a lot of things going on in her life and she just didn’t need to know about another thing to work on at that time, so it was easier for her (subconsciously) to avoid those conversations all together. The frustrating thing for me was that it meant that I lost one of my best friends to have any kind conversation with, even just an easy chat on whatsapp. When we did finally chat I brought up the situation in the most compassionate way I could, by telling this friend I was upset that I was losing my friend but I needed to voice something that was going to be difficult to hear because I think it could be in her best interest to know. By putting it like this she was open to listening to what I said because it came from the heart. It was the same when I started feeling a certain way towards an ex-boyfriend of mine and considered that I might want to try and patch things up with him, when a friend bluntly pointed out that I was probably only feeling that way because I felt vulnerable and that I didn’t actually want to be with the guy in question. She went on to point out that when we were together and I had my chance to be with him, I wasn’t that bothered about being with him anyway. “Oh yeah,” I said. Funny how our emotions can cloud our thought patterns, which is why we need such honest friends to point out the obvious when we’re unable to see it!

As I was in my car a few days later, talking to another friend about these reflections I joked about how it would just be easier if we could shout out “BULLSH*T” when we thought someone was blindsided by their emotions. She laughed and asked “Then why don’t we?” as she picked up a handy business card that was lying around in the front of the car, only the psychologist Dr Jenn’s business card (how appropriate for my psychologist friend to be the BS card when she has called me out on multiple BS’s this year)! Thus the concept of the BS card was born.

The thing about using a card to call out someone’s BS is that it can be used really objectively, and is thus less likely to be taken personally. However delivery here is still key and with my friends, I request for the use of a BS card before delving into the reason for using it. I still find though, by actually using a card and by approaching the situation in this way that it creates an objective space where two people can observe and dicect a situation without getting too emotionally involved. This creates more honesty and an objective learning opportunity based on the feedback received, bypassing any pain received through pervied judgement or blame that may have otherwise surfaced.

Getting to this level of authenticity in my friendships has strengthened the bonds between us and I know that anything and everything, no matter how shameful or tragic, can be aired in this space. It’s also helping me create the kind of authentic compassion that I want my post trauma life to be centered around, and the kind that I want to spread out into the World.

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