It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do in life. After a few false starts, I decided to conquer my shyness by becoming a software trainer. (Speaking in front of people terrified me. If I did it for a living, I figured I would have to get over my fear pretty quickly!) For 3 years I designed and delivered IT training courses for a large blue chip company. I discovered that whilst I loved teaching people, IT didn’t exactly set my pants on fire. (I also discovered that my fear of public speaking went away… but only when I was teaching IT. In every other arena, I was still a quivering wreck.)
So I decided to change tack and follow my passion for health and fitness. I qualified as a personal trainer and spent the next 12 years training private clients and writing articles on health and wellbeing for companies such as PricewaterhouseCoopers and Legal & General. I wrote health copy for advertising agencies and the NHS, and I assisted on wellbeing programmes for Sony executives. Because I was fascinated by the mind-body link, I also qualified as a cognitive hypnotherapist for good measure.
This is where things get interesting. During my hypnotherapy training we did an exercise to help us overcome the mental blocks holding us back. In my case, it worked a little too well. Ironically, I realised I didn’t want to be a hypnotherapist! Or a personal trainer. Or a copywriter for that matter. What I wanted to do was move to the coast and write books. (Okaay.)
So that’s what I did. I now live a few minutes’ walk from the sea. My first health book Oh Sugar! was published in 2015, my children’s novel was shortlisted for the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 2017, and I’ve started drawing again and turning my illustrations into greetings cards and prints. Happy days! But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Far from it. And that’s where TRE (tension and trauma release) comes in. If you’re interested, read on to hear how I discovered TRE and how it changed my life.
My Story: Discovering TRE
By the time I hit my 40s, like many people, I had a few obstacles to overcome.
Firstly, I was the picture of health until I turned 40, and then my body decided it would be nice to give me daily heart palpitations and random stomach pains.
Secondly, I had suffered with the social anxiety since I was a teenager, which meant I hated any sort of public speaking or being in large groups (result: I steered clear of both).
And thirdly, I was creatively blocked. I would only write if I was frogmarched to the computer by a truly horrendous deadline. And as for art or illustration. Um. Nope.
I tried everything I could think of to help myself – meditation, mindfulness, yoga, Tai Chi, Reiki, counselling… I even gave up caffeine, dairy and alcohol for 3 long months!
Everything helped a bit. But nothing helped a lot, until I stumbled across TRE.
I read The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, which explained how stress and trauma is stored in the body, creating physical and emotional symptoms. I googled ‘how to release trauma from the body’ and it came up with something called ‘TRE’.
I booked myself on a ‘Tension and Trauma Release’ workshop in Brighton and started practising TRE three times a week. Little by little, amazing things started to happen:
My stomach pains disappeared.
My daily palpitations went down to once or twice a week.
My anxiety started to fade. Not only was I calmer and less bothered by the stresses of everyday life but, to my surprise, I felt more connected to people and less worried about what they were thinking!
And wonder of wonders, I started to feel creative in a new way. I realised I wanted to create for the joy of it rather than an end result (like being published, making millions, or gaining anyone’s approval). I started writing, dancing and drawing in a much more playful way.
Of course, this didn’t happen overnight. And I’m still a work in progress (whilst I now enjoy teaching TRE to small groups – something I would have run a mile from in the past – I won’t be announcing my new career as a public speaker anytime soon!).
Still, my life has changed in so many ways and it’s all down to TRE.
When you switch off the stress response and re-balance the nervous system, you start to heal physically and emotionally. And then magical things start to happen.
If we ever get the chance to work together, I hope the journey is as amazing for you as it has been for me.
P.S. Click here to hear how TRE has changed the lives of some of the people I’ve worked with.