Why I chose Thrive as a Career.
I have always enjoyed helping people and have a long history of doing so one way or another. When I was 21, I trained to be a primary school teacher as I wanted to make a difference to young people and be part of their journey to becoming the people that they wanted to be. After being in the teaching profession for 10 years, this was not something I felt like I was achieving. I felt that I was encouraged to put pressure on children to do well, I felt that I was constantly being told that what they were achieving was not good enough and I could see children’s self esteem crumbling around me, not just in my own classroom but in every classroom. Not only this but I could see my colleagues struggling and cracking under the pressure and the staff room, which was a place to ‘let off steam’, was just a place to talk about how stressed everyone was! This was not what I signed up for this was not a career where I could thrive! This is not why I wanted to teach! I started looking at alternative careers but knew that I would need to retrain. I was determined to make the difference to people’s lives that I had set out to make. What I didn’t expect was the difference my journey would make to me and my life!
My Own Experiences of Therapy.
Throughout my young adult life I had experienced counselling and cognitive behaviour therapy (C.B.T) myself after going through issues of my own. I went to see a counsellor when I was 19 due to depression and anxiety after the break down of a relationship. I remember quite distinctly feeling quite nervous about going to this counsellor’s home and that it was a bit extreme to be going in the first place. After all, there were people far worse off than me! I hadn’t suffered a trauma, my life was good, nothing to complain about…! So I arrived to my appointment very dubious about how helpful the experience would be. I remember being asked to talk a lot about my past, my family history and how I felt about things. I found this really quite difficult because the fact of the matter was that I felt quite indifferent about most of the things we were talking about. I felt that I was being pushed to say that I felt a certain way, but I honestly didn’t. I felt like the aim of the sessions were to make me cry to realise these feelings that weren’t there! I came away from my sessions feeling baffled about why I had been asked to do the activities I had done and about the benefit of the session. It backed up my belief that there was no point in going. The nail in the coffin came when I was asked to have a conversation with myself out loud. I had to pretend to ask a person a question and then move seats to respond to the question. I felt ridiculous and needless to say I didn’t go back.
My second experience of therapy came much later when I was 27. This time I felt like it was more serious. Again it was a relationship breakdown but this time followed by abuse, harassment and death threats that lead to me not sleep for a very long time! When I did sleep I was having nightmares and I was constantly on edge and avoided situations where I felt vulnerable. I had stopped going out with my friends and became quite isolated over the space of around 3 years. Initially I went to the doctors about my nightmares and sleep but he quickly put me on a six week waiting list to see a cognitive behaviour therapist (C.B.T) – the NHS’s ‘go to’ therapy. I went to C.B.T for 6 weeks and I found it very interesting. I learned a lot about myself and the therapist encouraged me to talk about my past and my childhood to see what beliefs I held that impacted my life today. I came away feeling like I understood how my beliefs were unhelpful, however, nothing had actually changed. Was being aware of these long standing beliefs enough to make me feel better? Initially for a short time, Yes. However, after less than six months I was back to where I started and booking into C.B.T again. I only went to one session as there was nothing else to learn. I already found out about my beliefs and why they were unhelpful so apart from revisit these, there was not much else to go back for and again I felt like there were people that needed the appointments much more than me.
Around the same time, I was also diagnosed with stress related I.B.S (irritable bowel syndrome) after many investigations over a few years into very painful bloating and stomach aches. I had scans, tests, keyhole surgery all with no significant findings which led to the I.B.S diagnosis. I accepted that this was something I was just going to have to live with and tried adapting my diet and dosing up on Buscopan every time I had a flare up.
I had resigned myself to these being things wrong with me that I was just going to have to live with them and get on with my life.
From Teaching to Thriving.
In my working life I had decided that there must be something better for me out there than teaching. I thought long and hard and looked at lots of options. I loved working with children and still wanted to do so in the future. I decided that a psychology Masters might open new doors for me within Education or within some kind of C.B.T role (after all, I did enjoy it!). So I undertook a full time Masters degree whilst teaching full time (you can imagine how my stress related I.B.S and sleep issues dealt with that…..). I found this incredibly difficult and decided to leave my full time teaching job and do supply work while I completed my course, all at the same time as planning my wedding. After an incredibly stressful year I passed my Masters course, got married and took another full time teaching job. Now what? I still had no idea where to head and after the financial impact of the last year, it was nice to be in a steady regular job again while I decided what to do. I wanted something where I still had the option to work with children (but I had decided against education by this time) and I would like to do something psychology based as I had loved many aspects of my new learning. It was nearly another year before I realised that I was back to square one! Luckily, I came across The Thrive Programme on a teaching training day about pupil and staff mental health. I started looking into it and felt like it was exactly what I had been looking for!
My Thrive Journey.
I started to train as a consultant and there were two parts to my training. Firstly, I had to undertake the learning aspects of the programme, it was like taking on a new degree! Alongside this I also had to undergo the programme myself with a consultant. This was eye opening for me! I thought that it would just add to my learning and understanding but along the way I realised all of the reasons for my previous anxiety, depression and other symptoms! I finally had the skills now not to just recognise my unhelpful beliefs but to change them! I not only understood what I was feeling but WHY I was feeling it and what I could do about it! I felt that I had understood myself inside out – good, bad and ugly and this knowledge enabled me to actually do something about it! Not wait for somebody else to “fix” me or just be resigned to “this is just who I am and the way things are”. For the first time in my life I felt in complete control of my thoughts and emotions. I felt empowered to make choices and change things for the better. In all honesty I felt amazing!
Five Unexpected Benefits.
It wasn’t until a couple of months after I had qualified as a consultant that I started to notice the finer details in my Thriving. Here are the top 5 and the list keeps growing!
1- I was no longer scared of heights! I discovered this by accident whilst on holiday with my husband two months after I had completed my training. I had never been keen on heights, but I considered this normal and the dizziness and tingly feeling a way of my body alerting me to danger even at the smallest of heights. I managed this feeling by not going anywhere high up. Simple! However, when we arrived at our hotel I walked straight out onto the balcony and leaned over the edge! It took me a minute or two to realise what I had actually done! I couldn’t believe it! As the week progressed I tested my new found ‘unfear’ out – I walked across a piece of glass floor in a fort, I walked along the fort wall and looked down, I walked over a bridge with gaps so you could see the ground and sea below! I was amazed!
2- My I.B.S had gone! It took me a further couple of months to notice this, but I suddenly realised that I hadn’t had a single bout of I.B.S since completing the programme! Something that was causing me regular misery and discomfort had completely gone (and still has) and I hadn’t even noticed!
3- I wasn’t sweating at the dentist. I would never have considered myself ‘scared’ of the dentist, however, I can’t deny that I would become quite sweaty and light headed as I sat in the chair. I have now been several times and although I it’s not one of my favourite pastimes, I walked in confidently and walked out again without feeling any level of stress at all!
4- Sleep. This was a big one for me. After years of struggling with insomnia and terrifying nightmares it all just stopped. I was going to bed feeling tired, nodding off pretty much straight away without thoughts going around and around and I was waking up after a full night’s sleep feeling alert and refreshed! This was something I had not experienced for such a long time and I now absolutely love bedtime! I actually look forward to climbing into bed and curling up to go to sleep!
5- I don’t really get stressed or anxious. In experiences that are out of my control I have learned to how have a more helpful perspective and how to control how I feel about them. I have learned that it is not the things that happen that are responsible for how I feel – I am. It is me that makes me feel angry, stressed, worried. Once I learned that, I learned that I could chose how to feel. It’s the most empowering feeling you can experience.
So there you have it! My Thrive journey was more life changing that I ever expected it to be and it’s so wonderful to see the same impact that it has on my clients. I know what they can expect even when it is way beyond their imagination and they are as blown away as I was when they realise! And I am finally making the difference that I always wanted to make to people’s lives. Adults and children alike! Next step……. To get into schools to spread the skills and good news far and wide to as many people as possible, so that they don’t have to spend a long time thinking that there is no other way. There is! Everyone deserves to Thrive.
To find out more and book your free 60 minute consultation go to the home page at www.thrivinginlife.co.uk