As humans, our primary need is for connection. Tribal people are united by telling stories around the campfire and this is the way in which their wisdom and heritage is passed on from one generation to the next. It was this sense of needing to share my story that was the driving force behind my first book, Reset! A Blueprint for a Better Life, which was published two years ago.
I used to look like I had it all. In many material ways I did, with the big house and all the trappings, retiring to the Bahamas aged 40. But life had other plans; my world imploded over an 18-month period that started with my father having a stroke, then cancer for me, terminal cancer for my mum, massive financial loss, the breakdown of my marriage, freefall for my children, and more.
I ended up as a single unemployed mother. It was not easy but I navigated (with a lot of therapy) and grew from all the challenges. I became Head of Marketing & Communications at Leprosy Mission, an international charity helping some of the most marginalized and persecuted people in the world. Then synchronicity led to me being personally asked to train in the then new therapy of Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT) by its creator Marisa Peer. I attended the inaugural training and then went on to train in clinical hypnotherapy and become a trainer and mentor for several years.
Life continued — while coming through a second divorce, the death of my father and the onset of the menopause, I added coaching to my skill set and left my PR & marketing career behind. For nearly five years I have been a therapist and coach.
My PR background made me a natural spokesperson for my own life experiences. Eventually, my book was written. Yet the weekend before it was due to be published, I was in pieces. I felt raw and exposed about telling my truths and being judged. But I attended the launch party, smiled and signed books. I turned up for interviews but they were usually interested in the most traumatic experiences of my life and after recounting them repeatedly, I felt exhausted and didn’t want to share my story ever again.
A year later, I was invited to submit a chapter to a brand-new compilation, Ignite Your Life for Women, and did so. At the book launch I heard repeated stories from my co-authors about how they too had stepped up to the plate, written their story and now at the moment of publication, felt totally exposed. Many had nearly broken down in the process so I applied my RTT and coaching skills to help them through.
The help I offered them centers on this: our stories are our truth and in sharing them, we offer a signpost to others to help them find their path. Like cairn stones on a mountain path that are left by walkers to assist others in choosing the safest way forward, we serve that purpose with our stories. Being visible and going beyond the writing of your story to the sharing of it, is essential. The desire to share is proof positive of the best parts of our human nature. Like the elders sharing wisdom around the tribal campfire we are the voices to the next generation, to the next person.
We often don’t know how our story can help unless we receive feedback. Recently on Twitter I was contacted by a woman who told me that in reading my book she had faced up to her 15 years of bulimia and sought help (I had bulimia back in the days when I hid behind the perfect PR mask). I was so glad I pushed on through and shared my story that weekend before my book was published and I was in my PJs, wanting to hide. When you find your truth, your story, and articulate it, you then have a platform to share your voice with others.