The final episode of the Snippets of Genius series is out November 18th, when I will share my own emotionally traumatic experience that occurred at the end of summer 2021. The impact of this event haunted me. I lost sleep, I was overthinking. Jumpy and highly sensitive to noise and light. Explosive towards my partner and unable to focus on work.
What occurred, seemed unimaginable to me. I never thought it would happen so I never thought I’d need a plan to recover.
It was through my own coach training and practice 4 years ago that I learnt to recognise my own patterns. I learnt to develop an awareness of the way I acted when under stress and what situations triggered a coping mechanism, which I established as a response to a deep and emotional trauma from when I was 21. Having an awareness of your patterns allows you to decide if they will help or hinder you.
I going to get vulnerable now and tell you something I’m not proud of but perhaps some of you may relate to. My immediate reaction to trauma is to bury it deep inside. Not talk about it. Even carry on as if nothing has happened. I avoid quiet times, so I don’t stop and think. I stay busy, rise early and push through; this is my coping mechanism. And for a long time I believed it helped me..a voice in my head would say “why dwell on something you can’t change?” the moment I realised this no longer served me and recognised the unhealthy habits I had adopted, was the moment my life changed for the better.
I’ve learnt a lot over the years, but like everyone I’m still learning and most of all from my wonderful podcast guests.
Here are my top lessons from Series 3:
- Why figuring out your superpowers will help you stay a good human and build business standout. Social Commentator May King Tsang shares the secrets to rising to the top is taking steps to care for yourself and letting others build you back up.
- What’s needed to become a thriving digital tech startup. CEO and founder of Lately AI, Kate Bradley Chernis shares how the raising game can really take it’s toll on your energy. Coaching your team to lead is the number 1 to help you recover and the business thrive.
- Why you need self-belief above all to be a High performer. Life and Performance Coach, Mills Gray shares why belief is the number one tool in your toolbox and that external support and feedback are the keys to activate it.
- How to achieve Self Mastery through awareness and reflection. Wellness consultant and life coach Victoria Sardain shares the power of reframing your thinking to do what you want is to focus on what you have now to get you to where you want to be.
- How you can deprogram yourself from the bad work lessons and return to your true essence. The unlearning lady, Jennifer Tarjanyi teaches us the steps to be more creative, compassionate and connected. You can work in alignment by choosing differently. Understanding where your own beliefs, patterns and behaviours come from is the start.
- Why the power of decision to combat stress is essential and how you can start your own self care practice now. Pamela Stathoulopoulou, a Pilates teacher and Psychotherapist and creator of the Integrative Approach; a holistic approach to well-being shares her powerful techniques to add to your morning practice.
After speaking to these 6 wonderful women, who openly shared their journeys, it inspired me to be brave and tell you all a personal story too. I hope by sharing this, you too will find the strength to get support when you need it so nothing holds you back to make the impact you were born to make.
This summer, my partner and I took a mini-break to Southern Italy. Nico is an archeologist so he loves all things history. My passion for the sea and adventure meant we found the perfect excursion to see awesome underwater treasures.
We found a guide to take us kayaking and snorkelling to explore a Roman underwater city in Baia (Not far from Naples)… Excitement levels were high!
On Friday, we set the alarms early and headed off down the motorway. 3 hours later in 30 degree heat we arrived at our Airbnb in Pozzuoli. We had a superhost, who clearly loved her beautiful home and her area. She sent us to a restaurant nearby and told us to enjoy.
The first bad omen.
Let’s just say the restaurant, nor the area was our style. Instead of lake side, it reminded me of swamp side. I’ll say no more on this.
We walked back up the hill, grabbed the car and went exploring. We found a hillside cafe overlooking the sea.. Beer in hand. Things were looking up.
Until, the second bad omen.
We joined a tour, possibly the most boring thing I had ever had the displeasure of attending. All in Italian I understood a little, he kept saying how the walls and floors were ”Sempre Pulire” “Always Clean” You get the idea this was not a master storyteller. He kept moving the group at a snail’s pace, standing and talking about the walls and floors, with nothing to see. It was time I’d never get back and I was resenting him more and more by the second.
Moving swiftly on, later that night we found a fabulous Trattoria for seafood and feasted like kings. We rolled in to our Airbnb later that evening, full and happy..but we all know everything happens in threes.
The nightmare began.
It was still dark outside when I awoke, the fan was on but the air was hardly moving. It felt like I was suffocating. I needed to get out. When I opened the door to the hallway and was greeted by fresh cool air, which I inhaled greedily. I tiptoed down the hall to the bathroom using my phone as a light, as I still hadn’t got my bearings, then returned to my room a minute later. Stepping in the room was like the feeling when you get off the plane to start a holiday. 10 degrees hotter and still no fricking air. I decided to leave the door open to our room so some of the hallway air could filter through.
Feeling a little uncomfortable with this, as we were on the ground floor of a house, and I knew other guests were upstairs who also shared the downstairs bathroom. I kept myself awake hoping to give the room time to cool down. Nico was asleep next to me. Dead to the world. I lied down… I could feel my eyes closing.. When I saw a light in the corridor dancing around the walls.
I imagined one of the other guests with this phone light repeating the same steps I had to find the bathroom. My eyes started to close.
I felt a presence.
My eyes opened slowly to see the light now in our room coming closer towards us.
I looked closer and could see a dark figure…, all in black… tiptoeing into the room, the face covered and a baseball cap under a black hood.. I sat bolt upright. He froze. Then he looked right at me.
I jumped up out of the bed and held the frame, shaking.. I let out the loudest scream I could muster. He turned on a sixpence and ran. I continued to scream. I was consumed with terror, bending at my knees to summon more breath and scream louder. Tears began to stream down my face. The light in the hall flicked on. The owners started to descend the stairs. Nico awoke. He moved towards me, half asleep trying to comprehend what was happening. I continued to scream then found the words. “Someone” “There was someone” Nico tried to soothe me… it’s ok he said… (Clearly thinking I had a bad dream)… “No!” I shook.. Trying to find the words in Italian “ Qualcuno” “ Qui” C’era qualcuno qui.
The owners gasped. “Qualcuno”… They began moving quickly around the house searching for the intruder.
Shaking and sobbing I sat on the bed.
They were all speaking in Italian now. The bathroom window was open. The metal netting, designed to stop the cat entering and exiting, had been pulled back and rolled up. The curtain hung over the top, the shutter wide open. This was the intruders’ entry point and fast exit.
The owner brought me a cup of tea and told me the police were on their way. I sat on the bead, white as a sheet and still shaking. I kept thinking…. Did that really happen?
It was like a movie. I mean…you hear about burglars… about robberies but you don’t hear about them in your room, with you in it. A sleepless night ensued, thoughts going over and over it in my mind. What if, what if?
I awoke the next day with a resolve not to ‘let the bastards keep me down’ (classic Dad saying). I refused to feel small, fearful, and I was certainly not packing up and going home. We had tickets, plans, and an adventure awaited us.
Tired but determined, we set off and I’m so glad we did. The next few days were amazing. Everything we could have wished for and more.
I lay awake in my bed and struggled to close my eyes. The slightest sound made me tense, stories of what if.. raced through my mind.
I awoke the next day unsettled and went for a walk. That’s when I felt the tears fill my eyes. I wasn’t ok. The emotion of the intruder in our room had not left me. I had simply pushed it down and buried it deep so we could have a great weekend, but it was there. The fear, the tension, the anxiety. I needed to let it out and deal with what had happened.
Picking up my phone, I called my sister who listened with wide eyes and shock clearly flashing across her face. When I finished… she simply asked what I needed. I explained I needed my partner to listen to me. The worst feeling was not being heard, not being able to communicate in my own language. I need to feel understood, without tension or arguments.
With this clarity I went home and explained my feelings and needs. We discussed ways to tackle this together.
I later called a good friend, also a fellow coach, who explained to me the importance of letting the tension out.
I took the day. Sat in the quiet and I let the emotions flow but it wasn’t over for me.
On the first of September, I joined Found a Flourish; a community of female entrepreneurs. On the first of every month they have a mental health check in. I never appreciated the full value of this until now.
Now I know, everybody needs this! I want this to be in schools, in cafe’s. I want the world to have access to mental first-aid and for all of us to learn the vital skills to get ourselves back on track.
To my surprise, the tools and techniques not only helped be recover from my ordeal they got me back to firing on all cylinders within days. The mental health first aiders have helped me release underlying stress that I wasn’t even aware of. I feel calmer, happier, and more focused than I have for as long as I can remember.
The lessons I learnt:
- Talk about it. You need to come to terms with what’s happened/what’s happening in your life. Start with a friend or family member and if needed seek out a professional – this is a sign of strength not weakness.
- Give yourself time and permission to release the tension and emotion: scream, cry, shake and let it out. Accept it. (seriously cathartic exercise)!
- Take the time to review all the stressors and dig deeper into why they are troubling you. Join a community, talk to friends. Find your way through, it will make you stronger and happier.
- Keep checking in – trauma trapped keeps you trapped. So build in more self care everyday until you feel stronger, for instance.
Allow the magic to happen
I truly believe that building up your resilience in life and entrepreneurship is what allows the magic to happen. I hope you are safe and well wherever you are, and when something unexpected happens that you take the steps to first, centre yourself, and if needed, seek out support. More over, build the positive habits that will serve you for life.
Let me know if you’ve tried any of the above techniques or what your own go-to self care habits are in the comments below.