I was a 20-year-old aspiring entrepreneur looking to become a millionaire through my latest company. Sitting in a seminar run by Peter Sage called The Millionaire Business School, which seemed appropriate for my aspirations. During this three-day course, we were led through an exercise intended to uncover our gift to the world. As I went through this exercise the lights were turned down and calming music was played in the background. Two hundred people in a room, all with our eyes shut. We filled out six cards one by one with different sentences on them. All I could think was, ‘This is way too woo-woo for me’. But I am open to new experiences so I trusted our guide and leaned into the experience. Once it was completed we were invited to take one of the cards and on this card it would say the thing we felt we were deprived of as a child. My card read “Didn’t get emotional support from parents”. Meaning my gift to the world should be to give emotional support. The problem was, I didn’t even have enough emotional intelligence to understand this statement or believe my card. Why, you ask? Because when my mum Lisa died of alcoholism I was 10 and it was hard for me to deal with the amount of pain I felt. So the only way I knew to get rid of the pain was to rip out anything that connected my head to my heart.
Being so young and having to go through such a traumatic experience caused me to shut down all my emotions. I just buried any feelings deep in the valley of my soul never to be found again. This was assisted by my social surrounding. Growing up with two older brothers and a dad who didn’t show his emotions didn’t set a good example. I was surrounded by three men and all I saw was being angry and fighting made me a man but crying made me weak. If I cried I would get picked on more by my brothers and the cycle would repeat itself. Does my card make sense yet?
When I was sitting in the Millionaire Business School as an emotionless ‘ruthless business-man’ I had so many poorly programmed, limiting beliefs that I just rejected the truth of the card. I used to say to my business partner if you want a friend, get a dog. I didn’t see being vulnerable as an option and believed to get to the ‘top’ I needed to be strong, never showing weakness. I left The Millionaire Business school still in this mindset, having a perfect map to get the top of success mountain. I just couldn’t see it was the wrong mountain.
”Success is cultivated in the mind while happiness is manufactured in the heartPhilip McKernan
It wasn’t until a while after when I was watching London Real, an interview show with amazing guests who speak about personal development and how to become your best self. On the show, I came across a guest called Philip McKernan. He spoke about the importance of living an authentic and meaningful life suggesting success is cultivated in the heart while happiness is manufactured in the mind. This gave me a level of awareness I wasn’t quite ready for. It taught me that with awareness comes great responsibility.
I suddenly felt this overwhelming need to become authentic and stop hiding from the shame around the parts of myself I had hidden from. It takes a moment to change and make a shift in your life, but it may take years for that moment to appear. This was the moment I decided to make a commitment to myself to achieve authenticity. To make everything around me an extension of myself, not just another mask to wear.
One thing I know that helps me commit to something is taking action while I am in the mood. So I paused the interview, hopped onto Google and searched around for a local therapist and booked a session. Pull the trigger…
Walking into my first therapy session I really believed I could die from bringing back up the pain I felt from my mum’s death. I had suppressed so much of my emotions I did not know what I would find and, that scared the shit out of me!
”It felt like I was about to start poking a sleeping lion
I quickly developed the courage needed to embrace the uncertainty and anxiety of this journey of self-discovery. I was in this for the long haul and If I wasn’t going to hide then I was going to fight. As the days turned into months every couple of weeks I would go back to therapy and untangle the mess of my emotions. Despite all my hard work I still had the critic in the back of my mind saying, You’re not good enough and You’ll never make it. Plus the hardest label of all, You’re too broken!
Still, I persisted and kept my head up, a smile on my face. As this journey continued, I started to understand the impact of mum’s actions on my traumatic development and how my broken child was living inside me as an adult. Gaining an understanding of the ripples of addiction throughout my life and how they affected every subconscious decision I made.
To aid my healing I started attending Al-Anon, a group of relatives and friends of alcoholics who believe that changed attitudes can aid the recovery of not only ourselves but of the addicts we love so dearly.
This is when I remembered the card from The Millionaire Business School. It was hidden in a cardboard box, completely alone, rejected, suppressed like my emotions once were. But now I was ready to understand and process what this statement meant. I had found the group of people I could give emotional support to through Al-Anon. I could now help people like I had helped myself, I could give them understanding and emotional support so they don’t feel isolated on their journey.
The only problem was that in my mind I had a vision of a mountain and I felt like I was standing at the base. At Al-Anon the numbers would range from two of us one week to six or seven the next. Which was nice because we all got so much value from engaging and listening to each others story. This feeling of being understood is just invaluable. But I couldn’t bear to think of the number of people who needed help and didn’t even know it existed.
The fact we couldn’t promote Alanon or engage in any marketing was just foreign to me. Growing up in the 21st century with Facebook marketing being second nature I just couldn’t settle. I felt like a 5-year old that just drank a can of coke, with a sugar rush just about to hit me. I decided to do interviews with people affected by addiction and then distribute them to the world. Ultimately taking this feeling of understanding we all felt in Al-Anon global.
However, I haven’t stop there! I have been training over the past 3 years to become a counsellor. To develop the high-level skills to help addicts and people affected by addiction just like me. Now I continue my mission to help clients beat their addiction and lessen the pain caused by it.