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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The Power of Personal Responsibility

One of the things I’ve come to learn and appreciate this year is the power of personal responsibility. Admittedly, it can be a challenge to maintain this daily, especially when we seem to be in a society that profits off the lack of it, however once realised and practised it’s one of the most empowering things along the journey of trauma recovery or a personal development journey.

When I first started to become aware of this, it seemed like we’ve been taught from a young age to look externally for the responsibility of our personal life circumstances, especially when something difficult takes place. I certainly see the tendency to blame and shame in my own Western culture, which regardless of whether it’s right or wrong, called for or not, the fact is that it’s a complete waste of energy. Worse yet, by starting the ‘who’s fault is it anyway’ process, we literally give over our power to another person, a situation or anything other than ourselves. While I agree with reflecting on a situation and considering how it could be done better, I recognise that act of blaming outward is a pointless exchange of negative energy.

That said, practising this is much easier said (or written) than done and it can be a very difficult pill to swallow when we’re in the mist of a situation that negatively impacts us, such as in the aftermath of a heart break, a trauma or a death. In fact it’s actually a lot easier to blame outwards, and look for something outwards to hold responsible which is why I think a lot of us become susceptible to this kind of pattern.

The thing is that if we don’t reach a point where we can reflect objectively on the situation and hold our hands up to what was completely within our control then we’re powerless to the event and therefore can’t let it go and move on. I’m not saying that this is the only approach to letting go of a painful event, and I’m certainly not saying that it should be implemented immediately after the event takes place either – the acceptance phase also takes it’s time and it’s important to remember that! Also, not every situation is within our control and sometimes there are incredibly shitty things that happen to us which we’re not personally responsibility for at all, and no matter what, we wouldn’t have been able to change the outcome. There’s no way I could stop my father having a heart attack for instance. However when I look at the years prior to me getting attacked and the way I aimlessly went about my life, it’s crystal clear to me that I created the path I walked along to create the right environment for that situation to occur. Also, regardless of the events, I am responsible for how I reacted in the aftermath of those events and I’m responsible for whether or not I learn from the situations after. As soon as I realised this, I was able to start forgive myself for certain choices I’d made prior to all these traumas and was then able start processing all these events which have since led me down a path of empowerment and growth.

I didn’t have to take personal responsibility for my situation. I could have blamed my attacker, friends who didn’t stop me acting so recklessly, or anyone who came near me in the aftermath for not understanding what I’d been through, and believe me I did do all of this when my emotions were so raw. What I soon realised though is that for every time I deflected some blame on to someone or something else or pulled out the ‘you have no idea what I’ve been through’ card that I literally gave my power away and became helpless to a situation in my past, again. And you know what, this soon got boring for myself and those close around me, and I certainly don’t want to be that person.  So what I tend to do now when I feel my ego come up at an opportunity to blame someone else for a challenging situation that I’m facing is take a breath and let it go. Then, I reflect and look for the choices I made to get me in that situation, so I can take responsibility, forgive myself if necessary and recognise the power of my actions. By taking this approach it’s means that we’re always responsible for something, which in turn this means that we can then recognise our personal power in any given situation, no matter how painful it is. Now isn’t that empowering?

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 Dương Trần Quốc 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

If You Wouldn’t Say It To Her Face, Don’t Type It

I get it, Sex sells. At least that’s what we’re told right? And if you want to go anywhere in life, you’d better make sure you’re damn sexy otherwise you won’t be getting far! At least, that’s the message we’re given as women, and from a very young age too.

I remember this attitude back when I used to work in the Construction industry. When the pretty girls would get sent to the important sales meetings if we weren’t hitting our customers KPI’s (Key performance indicators) so we could at least distract our male customers from the fact that our company was performing poorly. It always worked, but it got tiring after a while, having to work in a community of men who never saw me as an equal. Regardless of the projects that I completed or the targets that I met, my value within the company was mostly determined by how I looked. I was 23 at the time, young, bright eyed and apparently pleasing on the eye. So the sales men would invite me to meetings to soften customer deals and the women of power in my company disliked me and would make sure I knew it. It was quite an eye opener to go into my first graduate job in an industry that based all my competencies on my aesthetics and I was reminded of that kind of treatment recently when I saw a motivational post by an inspirational women on my Linked in news feed.

The post read like this:

“Do you know the power of appreciation? 85% of people are unhappy with their career. We all have goals and we are always trying to keep up with the Jones’. Goals are great to have but don’t let life pass you by without enjoying the journey you are on. Count your blessings not your problems. Don’t regret not appreciating what you had when you had it including the people in your life. We get so focused on where we are headed we forget where we’re at and what we have now. The purpose of life is to find your purpose and to value those who supported you on the way up. Life is not a race, pump the brakes and slow down.”

It’s such a great message and in my opinion perfectly placed as a post about the workplace, on a social media platform for the workplace. It could have been written by the likes of Tony Robbins, or Richard Branson but this one was written by Shannon Bunn. A marine veteran turned legal assistant, who is a young, intelligent and attractive. She posted this statement with a picture of herself in the front seat of a car (see pic) and the popularity of the post, and the comments that followed interested me. I’m glad to reveal that most of them were about the insightful and motivational statement she made, but some highlighted the attitude that the modern workplace still refuses to outgrow. One that values people by their appearance, not their work.

There were sleazy comments that made reference to how she looked:

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Comments from people saying that they would have ‘loved one night with her’:

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There were negative comments, mostly from women such as ‘Trite BS’

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One that pointed out that it was not the appropriate platform for ‘beauty selfies’ and one comment that actually calls out the post as ‘passive-aggressive sexualisation’. I found these statements interesting because almost every motivational post I see from Richard Branson has a picture of him attached but I never see any comments like this on his posts…

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It goes without saying that we live in a visual world and because of this aesthetics seem important, but are we missing the point when it comes to the workplace?

The fact is that the very popularity of the post and the comments below it show that we are still not appreciating people for who they are and what they do in the workplace. Instead some of us still objectify and then judge each other based on looks, especially when it comes to women. Isn’t it about time we started to see each other as human beings, and respect each other as such? I mean regardless of how Shannon looks and the endless judgements that could be made about her appearance it’s her words and what she stands for that should be remembered.

I could write about the state of our society, and how unaware we are of our emotions that are ruling our thoughts and behaviour, especially when it comes to making judgements about others etc etc… but I figured that these three pre-comment posting questions would be more helpful:

  1. Would you say that to their face?

It’s so easy in the realm of the ‘behind the screen’ society to forget that there is a human being on the other side of the screen, receiving the words so easily typed onto the keyboard. A real person, just like you. A person with feelings, fears, aspirations and insecurities. Have a think about the words you’re typing to another human being and ask yourself – if he or she was here, in front of you right now, would you say that to their face? Would you say it in the tone you mean it and face the consequences of your comments? I think most of the leery men and snipey women probably wouldn’t say some of the things that they typed if they were in a face to face conversation with Shannon.

  1. How would you feel if someone said that to your sister/brother/daughter/son/mother/father?

We often forget that these ‘beautiful’ women and ‘hot’ guys are people’s family members. They are real people, not objects for our desire or attack just because we can’t control our egos. Before you write, stop and imagine how you would feel if someone said what you are about to write to your sister, brother, daughter, son, mother or father. Does it arise a feeling of anger inside you? Are you outraged that someone would act in such a disrespectful way to one of your family members? If so, don’t write it. Remember that the person who you are firing your words at is a human begin too, just like your family, and just like you.

  1. Why do you feel the need to comment at all?

When it comes to commenting on a post, how many of us stop and question why we are commenting and what we hope to achieve out of it? We can start with asking ourselves if our comment is positive, negative or neutral. If it’s negative, think twice about spreading that negativity across a visual platform that thousands of people are going to see because, frankly, the world could do with less negativity in it.

Then, ask yourself this: ‘What is it about this post that rustles up negativity inside me?’

It’s times like this that we should remember that we are responsible for our own emotions and that we have a choice of how we react upon them. If something from the outside brings up a judgement of negativity within you, then there’s something inside you that you need to investigate.

Hopefully if we start asking ourselves these questions more often then we can start becoming more conscious, compassionate and respectful in the workplace, whether it’s in the online community or the office. Now doesn’t that sound like a more pleasant world to work in?

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: Shannon Bunn on Linked In.

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

Why You Should Question Your Motives Often

I’ve never agreed with the answer “I don’t know” to explain our own actions. Maybe it’s my drive to try and figure the world out or maybe it’s because I was brought up to think about what I had done if I had misbehaved and then was expected to reflect and fully apologise for it. I remember that my Dad would emphasise that there was a lesson in everything. Like the time I was 15 and wrote “Mr Brown is Gay” in the middle of my exercise book. And Mr Brown found it. He spent the whole lesson giving us a shouty lecture on the three meanings of ‘gay’ (homosexual, happy and the plain old offensive use of the word) then demanded from me which one I meant. “Happy gay, Sir” I replied with a smirk. At which he barked for me to get out of his class. I was a fairly rebellious teenager and usually spoke my mind which got me into trouble often, especially with Mr Brown. The offensive pages from my exercise book were ripped out and given to my father at the next parents evening. and I remember it like it was yesterday. The heavy lump drop from my throat into my stomach as I felt so ashamed that my proud Dad had to hear about how much of a little brat his princess daughter was. He took the paper and later on when we stopped at a pub for dinner he took it out of his pocket, unfolded it and put it on the table in between us.

“Why did you write this Shereen?” He asked me

“I don’t know” I said with a ‘please don’t hate me, I’m so sorry, I love you look on my face

“You must know” He said “You wrote it”. “Do you think he is gay?”

“I don’t think so. I think he’s got a wife” I replied in my ‘I don’t’ know what you want me to say’ voice

“And if he was, why do you need to write it on paper?” He challenged me

“I didn’t think he was going to see it. I wrote it when I was with my friends at the back” I confessed

“So you were showing off?” My dad asked, looking at me with a half but sympathetic smile

“Yeah.  I’m sorry I forgot to rip it out of my book” I pleaded

“Ok”. He said, taking the paper and folding it back up to put back in his pocket. “And what’s the lesson here Shereen?” He asked as he leant forward and stared into my adolescent eyes

“Next time rip it out of my book?” I questioned, again trying to say the right thing and not really knowing what that was

“Don’t write down bad things about people” He said “When you say something in the moment, you can apologise and take it back, but writing it on black and white is more permanent. And showing off is not a good characteristic to have Shereen”

I went silent at that point and then the memory fades. I know that what he said was so poignant that it made me think about my behaviour and why I’d decided to act that way.  I wasn’t homophobic, in fact my best friend at the time was homosexual but I hadn’t thought about the words I was using in the moment. I was just trying to be the funny kid who was showing off to impress my friends.

From an early age my parents started to get me thinking about my behaviour and expected me to self-police. When I messed up they would give me the time to think about why I did what I did and then evaluate whether or not I was proud of those values I was living by. Not only did this strengthen the moral compass of myself and my brother but it made me realise that if we question ourselves then we can find out why we behave the way we do, leaving “I don’t know” as an unacceptable answer. I realise that this is not a common parenting method these days and sometimes I wonder if my parents would find it amusing to play little experiments on my brother and I, in order to enforce critical thinking. We’re both well behaved citizens so it can’t have gone too wrong.

I used this skill when I had post traumatic stress and my hyperviligant ego would cause me to react in all sorts of crazy ways. Sometimes I couldn’t reflect and question straight away but over time I started to do this quicker and when I acted in a way which may have accidentally hurt someone I would dig deep to find out why. When we act upon our fears we can attack people, often blaming them for the way we feel when really that feeling is our own to be responsible for. The more we reflect and question our behaviour, the sooner we can get to the route of it, take responsibility for it and learn the lesson from the event. The final step is the apology. Not some half-arsed ‘I’m sorry’ in a whatsapp message after you’ve cheated on someone but a real apology that adds up to the weight of the action. One that expresses remorse and is honest. One that isn’t scared to feel the shame which identifies that our behaviour conflicted with our morals. One that acknowledges the action fully and accepts all the pain caused by it.

I’m 31 now but I recently got the chance to apologise to Mr Brown. It turns out that he owns the allotment across from my Mum’s and one day last summer we bumped into him. He didn’t remember my name but recognised me face and knew that he’d taught me somewhere in his 40 year career.

“I’m sorry for being a little shit and causing you so much grief in science class” I said

“I don’t really remember that” He said back with a bemused look on his face

“Well in case it comes back to you, I’m really sorry in advance” I told him

It goes to show that no-one’s perfect and as humans we’ve always got the potential to mess up in the moment. We also always have the potential to reflect, learn and apologise too.

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: Jonathan Simcoe

What Is Integrity And Why Should We Care?

The word integrity gets flashed around a lot these days, but I wonder how many of us understand what it means and really know what it means to practice it?
To me, it’s like a constant questioning of my intention. A questioning that gets increasingly harder to answer as I delve into the various layers of emotional depth. The stronger my fear is, the more it’s running the show and often it’s only after that I can reflect and say ‘that wasn’t the best version of myself and it’s not who I want to be’. That necessary reflection is usually kicked in by a feeling of shame. A necessary feeling. If you read my word often you’ll know that I’m a huge admirer of Brene Brown and her work on shame, vulnerability and emotions in general and something that I think that is often overlooked in her work is the necessity of shame and how important it is that we feel it. It’s literally our signpost to align us back with our moral, our integrity.
I feel like there’s a convoluted message in society these days, as though we’re all striving for perfection to be the best human that we ‘should’ be. Appear to have integrity. Look good. Make money. Say the right things to please people. But along the way have we forgotten that we’re human? That the trick isn’t to act how we ‘should’ constantly, and thus avoid ever feeling shame. But instead, to look out for that feeling of shame (or guilt which it sometimes can be), acknowledge what it that’s triggered that emotion and reconcile what wasn’t aligned with our values.
The thing is that this constant awareness is actually a daily struggle and it takes a whole lot of self policing to stay on top of it. Was that me or my ego? Am I sabotaging or acting intentionally? Am I happy with the person I am right now?
It’s difficult for me. I’m still very much run by fear somedays. The fear that I’ll get hurt emotionally or physically and the stronger the fear, the more conflicted my emotions. At least with the questioning and reflecting I can look back and decide which version of Shereen I like best and make reconsiliations if necessary. To me that’s the real meaning of integrity. But as always I’m open to comment, call outs and debate. After all, I’m still only learning.

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: Massimo Mancini

3 Habits To Drop In The Quest For More Meaningful Relationships

I often get funny looks when I talk about personal development, human behaviour or emotional intelligence. As though these subjects are some kind of taboo, when really it’s the study of what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and most importantly, how we can do better. In fact, it boggles my mind that so many people go about their lives with a lack of awareness of their behaviour and how they can improve it. I mean discussing these are the things actually help us engage in more authentic and meaningful relationships. Why wouldn’t we discuss them? Craziness. Well, it’s probably because acknowledging these subjects would highlight the amount of work each of us needs to do on ourselves, which in an instant gratification society isn’t the most pleasing scenario. In fact, we’ve run away from it for so long that now that there are some common bad habits that stop us engaging in meaningful relationships all together. Here are 3 habits to become aware of (and limit) if you want to move towards engaging with more meaningful relationships.

  1. Watching TV for the sake of watching TV

Personally I’m not much of a TV watcher, in fact it’s very rare for me to sit in front of the TV unless I intentionally want to watch something. I mean, of course I get watching TV for inspirational films, or documentaries, or even just to chill out for an evening every once in a while. But to watch it unnecessary every evening, just to flick through the channels rather than engage in conversation or go out and do something meaningful is eventually destructive to our social skills. TV itself isn’t bad, but the overuse of it has lead to a lack of engagement between people to the point where we are losing the skills to communication. Skills that are necessary for us to successfully progress in our personal and professional life. Aside from that, I think the whole concept of mindlessly watching TV is kind of bizarre. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. But I can’t help wonder why would I pay to sit inside and watch people pretend to be other people in fictional situations when I can go into a crowded place and watch real life unfold for free? Or when I can talk at length and in depth to people and reflect with them about our own crazy-ass situations. Analysing, debriefing and picking up the lessons we learn from our own lives. Mind-boggling.

  1. Getting drunk into the abyss, frequently.

I realise that this is predominantly an English, American and Australian trait as I’ve found that many European and Asian cultures drink for taste rather than effect. It may be relevant to other cultures too – I haven’t travelled everywhere so I wouldn’t know. My question is – why do we do this? Could it be to escape the mind? To numb the mind from particular thoughts? Negative thoughts, inquisitive thoughts or just an overload of pecking thoughts. I think drinking is often used as a subconscious coping strategy to escape ourselves, under the rouse of excuses such as ‘I just drink to have fun’ or ‘but everyone else does’. When people tell me that they don’t drink to escape themselves and that they could stop at any moment, I ask them to challenge themselves to stop drinking for a month, cold-turkey. I mean stopping anything for a month is surely a personal challenge worth taking to watch our progress in life isn’t it? At least to make sure that we’re not being controlled by the mental addiction to a substance that’s messing up the body in the meantime. The thing is that the thoughts we avoid talking about are the thoughts that many of us have, and admitting them is what can help create the connections between us. These thoughts can be what bridge together our vulnerabilities which is where deep and meaningful relationships are connected. Avoiding them literally builds barriers between us, but you don’t have to take this from me Brené Brown did 13 years of PhD research on this very subject which is pretty credible evidence in my opinion.

  1. Not saying exactly what we mean.

What is this about? When did talking so honestly become so offensive? I get told all the time that I’m too direct – really? Or is it that I’m just pointing out the obvious which no one else wants to because they’re cloaked in subconscious fear of not getting validation from the people they’re talking to? I find it really strange that people are so scared of speaking the truth, their truth. Sometimes it even gets to the point where families, friendships and whole organisations can swim around in so much bullsh*t that everyone sees yet no one points out. Then when an honest person does come about everyone gets offended when they’re told the truth. This is a hilarious observation that I make often and it makes me feel like I’m watching a sitcom from the 80’s – with the overacting facial expressions from the audience because it seems that obscene to me. The thing is that when the truth is spoken, it provides feedback. This feedback causes a reflection on the current situation, the opportunity to view problems, talk about solutions and allows for a discussion of how things can be done better. It’s necessary for our human progression and, yes, you guessed it, meaningful relationships because the truth often lies within our vulnerabilities. Or we can keep swimming in the bullsh*t, never actually saying anything meaningful and looking clueless when something goes wrong. Strange human behaviour if you ask me.

Personally I believe that something deeper lies beneath these actions and the clues are in our subconscious emotions. We need to ask why are we escaping through the TV rather than engaging with each other? Why are we choosing to drink ourselves into the abyss so regularly? And why do we avoid speaking the truth, even when we know it’s right? The sooner we start finding out the better, because in the meantime our meaningful relationships are at stake.

The real knack is being able to catch out your own behaviour in your emotion and have the awareness to choose your reaction in a mindful way.  Kind of sounds like something out of the matrix right? Apart from it’s not, it’s just awareness and emotional intelligence. The very tools that help us take control of the steering wheel of our life, surely isn’t that motivation enough to at least question our habits?

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 Michael Ramey

A Call To Re-Brand ‘Mental Health’

I’m all up for ‘frazzled cafes’, talking openly about our emotions and any intervention available to help people process their emotions in an open, authentic and non-judgemental fashion. However, this is when the marketing personality inside me intervenes and points out an obvious flaw that a lot of support groups (with great intentions) seems to overlook: the words ‘mental health’ are so shameful in our western society that many of these support services don’t reach the people who need their services the most.

To talk openly about mental health means first acknowledging that we need help and in our society this is one of the most shameful things you can admit.

The term ‘mental health’ holds a strong association with being weak, broken or out right crazy. So with all that predetermined stigma are you really going to admit that you have a ‘mental health’ issue? I mean, are you freaking crazy?!??!? Of course you’re not.

The most common belief is that asking for help means admitting failure or a weakness – because through mass marketing we’ve been sold the idea that in order to be a ‘successful’ member of society we should be able to deal with everything life throws at us independently. Also, for any little problem we have, we are told we can buy a solution for it.

Thanks consumerism, big Pharma, and all the top dogs in corporations who are creaming the profits off this dysfunctional belief. I hope the Superyachts and sports cars fill the gaping void of thriving emotional connections. 

However, we’re starting to realise that this idea we were sold was an illusion. In fact, there isn’t a quick fix for emotional situations. We can take a pill to lessen the blow temporarily. We can avoid through substance abuse, temporarily. We can even project our pain out in ways to deflect attention from ourselves, until we are eventually held responsible for this. But the truth is that to resolve these emotional whirlwinds and be authentically happy we must validate, own and process our emotions. And guess what the real beauty in all this is – it’s a fundamental part of the beautiful human experience that we are all living. If this kind of personal development and emotional intelligence was marketed this way then we might not have the mental health, depression and suicide rates that we do.

If I’ve not yet won you over with my argument then let me give you some examples. Any one who is familiar with the work of Brene Brown, her TED talks and audio book will understand the concepts I’ve explained above but I wonder if you know why this knowledge reached you?

Brene Brown’s TED talk exploded over the internet (currently more than 6.5 million you tube hits). While her research is ground breaking, I believe much of the success was the way it was branded – authentically, vulnerable and in a way that aspires people to jump on board. Brene Brown’s work is all about emotions, specifically the emotion of shame, how we avoid it and that by doing so stifles our abilities to connect as humans. Brene Brown didn’t call her first talk ‘Shame – the emotion stifling our wholeheartedness’, instead she framed it in a way us marketeers are told to market: Sell the benefits, not the features. Instead her flagship talk was titled ‘The Power of Vulnerability’, and her whole approach draws you in and inspires you to live more openly and vulnerably, like she does.

Another brand that does this very well is motivational life coach Tony Robbins.

‘Want to be more successful in your personal and business life?‘ -Tony Robbins.

Well, yeah of course. Who doesn’t want that?

‘Want to come on a 5 day immersive course and face the demons you hide inside and expose them in a safe and none judgemental environment to overcome and develop as a fully authentic human being?’ – My interpretation of what happens from watching the Netflix documentary and lots of his YouTube videos (I haven’t yet gone to one of his workshops but will soon, I hope).

Urgh, no thank you. I’ll stay put pretending like I’m fine and everything in my life is as perfect as I’m led to believe it should be while I slowly crack under the pressure of this illusion.

The difference between this marketing and that of mental health awareness charities is that one lifts it’s market out of the shame and fear cloud without them realising, while the other one points it out for all to see. Not cool if you’re the person underneath it. This is why I believe so many mental health charities fall short of reaching their audience. I mean, they’re literally selling the opportunity to admit failure and weakness openly in a society which will judge and shame a person for ‘coming out’ and admitting that they have these normal human emotions. Or at least that’s how many of the market might see it. (If you don’t believe me, try suggesting counselling or therapy to any British person and see how you offering fairs – I’ve heard it’s different in the States but I’m writing from and for the UK so my observation is from here).

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be talking openly about difficult life situations or that help shouldn’t be advertised. I am however saying that there is a call for marketing these services in the language of the market listens to, and that is one of aspiration. The marketing these services needs to be done with the same psychological marketing approaches that many corporate companies have been using for years. In fact, it’s about time that we used these tools for good intentions, rather than solely that of quick fix consumerism. Maybe it’s time to start selling the authentic human experience rather than an illusion which only a few people benefit from. I don’t know, they’re my thoughts. I’ll leave the the conclusion for you to decide.

If you like it, please share it. Share the emotional intelligence!

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 Edu Lauton

Some Valentines Day Positivity For Singletons

Oh Valentine’s Day. The one day of the year where singletons are cast out of the societal structure as we know it, even though for  the other 364 days we relish in our freedom while most of the couples complain about their other half and the downsides to being in a relationship. Well it doesn’t have to be all misery around this time of year and hopefully by moving through these next few questions you can come to some authentic happiness with your singledom, and own it like the awesome human you truly are.

Let’s start with some honest truths:

  1. Why are you single on Valentine’s Day?

Yes, it’s a toughie and probably something you wouldn’t willingly ask yourself but let’s put all those self deflating beliefs to one side and just extract the information. Why is it? Have you not met someone who you like enough to commit to a relationship yet? Maybe you broke up with someone because they weren’t treating you how you wanted to be? Maybe someone broke up with you? Or maybe, like me you have a massive fear of vulnerability because of some crazy life situation so you removed yourself from the dating scene altogether and now here we are in singletown on Valentine’s Day? Find the real reason and admit it to yourself. Whether it’s your fault or not, just get the reason, come to terms with it and move on to question number two.

  1. How do you feel about this?

If you’re reading this article you’re probably not feeling too positive about it, but what is the actual feeling there? FYI – ‘shitty’ and ‘bad’ are not actual feelings, and if you’re struggling to identify them, check out the Non-violent communication feeling directory to distinguish what it really is. Our feeling are there to give us information so we can learn from life situations and make an effort not to re-create them. Don’t get wrapped up in the unhappiness, guilt, shame or fear, just acknowledge it, feel it and release it.

  1. Why do you feel like this?

Let’s get straight on this one – we are each responsible for our own emotions. No one made you feel a certain way and only you are responsible for your happiness – the sooner you admit this the better. I mean, it’s up to you, you can spin around in circles blaming Tom, Dick and Harry for how he/she/they made you feel, but ultimately you put yourself in that situation and you are responsible for your emotional attachment to the situation. So let’s dig deep with this one and without blaming anyone else answer why you feel like this. Maybe you’re upset that you let someone cross your boundaries without stopping them? Maybe you feel guilty for pushing someone away or self sabotaging a relationship? Maybe you’re fearful of getting hurt because of something that happened in the past? The answer might not come straight away but ask those questions and eventually it’ll come to you.

  1. What could have you done differently to prevent this situation?

This is where you need to get your pen and paper out and write down all the options. There are always a tonne of different options but we seem to get tunnel vision with our behaviour and convince ourselves that we could have only done what we did to get here when that isn’t the case at all. For example, I’m single on Valentine’s Day because I haven’t quite come to terms with something scary in my past so I’ve avoided putting myself back on the dating scene. I didn’t have to do that, I could’ve gone out and met guys on online dating, or tinder. I could have gone out on the weekend and chatted up men until I bagged a date. I could have asked women out on dates. I could have asked my male friends if they wanted to go on a valentines date and see what blossomed. I could have sold the opportunity to date me on ebay (like James Blunt kind of did for his sister). I could’ve settled dating someone who I didn’t like just so I wouldn’t be single on Valentine ’s Day. I literally could have done a thousand things to not end up in this situation, however I didn’t choose to and there is often a reason for that (personally I’d rather be single and honest to myself on any day of the year, rather than compromising my values or being in some bullshit situation that I’m not 100% authentically happy with while me and my respective other comply to the obligation of a day which only corporations cash in on). Either way I chose to be here, and my actions of choice got me here.

  1. Can you accept that you made the best decisions you did with the resources you had at the time?

Ok, so maybe you’re still not completely content with the idea that you’re on your tod on Valentine’s Day but can you at least accept that you made the best decisions that you could have at the time that resulted in you being here? They might not have been the most logical, clear minded or even favourable decision but can you give yourself the compassion and love that you need to accept them? We all have egos and we all make regrettable decisions but that’s because we’re human and it’s our prerogative to make mistakes and learn from them. Cast that self blame, judgement and guilt aside and accept that you are what you are for good and bad, and that because of that you are fully human. You’re real, own it!

  1. What can you do to give yourself love today?

If you haven’t got a date, that doesn’t mean that you have to go without love. It also doesn’t mean that you have to scowl at all the happy couples roaming around all snugly in each other’s arms – in fact you definitely shouldn’t do this because the Law of Attraction states that by resenting what you want, you only push it away anyway and the future you doesn’t want that! So what can you do to give yourself love and make yourself happy on Valentine’s day? Let’s start with what you enjoy and what would make you feel good right now? For me that’s usually going out for a walk around my favourite lake and listening to an audio book, taking myself out somewhere nice for a coffee or hanging out with a friend and talking about silly little things. Whatever it is, fill your day with it so you can spend the majority of your day in positivity, that way you’re more than likely to attract next year’s date. I mean, who doesn’t want to be around a positive beam of singledom on the one day of the year that it’s not allowed? Rebel and let your happiness shine through you beautiful authentic being.

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: Shereen Soliman