In 1992 something happened to me that striped away the fabric of what I knew to be my reality. I was in a siege where a gunman had taken me and 11 others hostage. Now I won’t go into the details here, in short, I committed an act of bravery, by disarming the gunman and in doing so, I was told, I had not just saved all of our lives but also the life of the gunman. This may seem very glamorous and prompts the question, what would I ever have to go into personal development for? Well, while this was an extraordinary act of courage, it also came with severe PTSD and a complete unravelling of my psyche. In order to understand the impact, this ordeal had on my mind I now had to learn who this new person was that was being revealed to me and what the fudge had just happened to my life. I could not function the same way anymore, my senses were strangely heightened, I had memories of lifetimes, sensory skills that defied normal logic, a sense of purpose and a thirst for change. This was not me, who was this person? it felt as if my mind and my body had been hijacked and I was becoming this new improved version. I didn’t know a lot back then, what I did know is that in order for me to keep myself moving forward I had to commit to this new continued growth. Now, this was just the beginning of my self-improvement journey. So began my very long journey into understanding what PTSD had delivered for me I no longer did my life as a public servant, I went into human service of a more humbling kind, working as a personal carer and saving for and attending workshop after workshop, each workshop I committed to going even deeper into the trenches of my mind, cracking open my heart to the anger and grief that had been keeping my soul hostage.
For years I continued, I got involved in Men’s Work to give back to the community that has been my savour. I became schooled with dynamic techniques from expert facilitation training. This adding to my repertoire of skills. I felt this was having a positive influence on my life, I had such a greater self-awareness and a sense of belonging. I could show up and run Men’s Health events when it was lights camera action however in my domestic home life I felt like a complete fraud. My family were getting the shadow side of me, I was readily available for my peers in my Men’s groups yet sadly lacked the drive and commitment with my family at home. A greater part inside of me was screaming out for congruency and connection within my family, I wanted to understand that part of me that was afraid to let my family in. I prided myself on being the best man and friend and therapist for my peers around me and yet I kept falling short in my application at home. This nagging feeling churned at the pit of my stomach. How could I continue to operate this way when the people I am supposed to love the most get the worst of me. I had to face the ugly truth.
I discovered, that I had been hiding in my self-development. I hadn’t really applied any of what I was teaching to my personal life. All the fantastic healings and breakthroughs, I had experienced in my workshops and training, felt liberating at the time, yet did little except prop up my ego and add to my arsenal of theories & qualifications. I had become so proficient in facilitation yet I lacked the basic living skills to be really present and functioning in my mentor role of Father and Husband.
So I did the bravest thing that I had done in a long time. I quit facilitation and even left the safety of my Men’s Group. I bowed out of the spotlight and submerged myself in the nuts and bolts of my life I had created with my beloved. I fell hard into life. I moved into a new job, I moved house and got focused on the things I wanted to do better as father and husband. I felt immensely isolated from the support network I had created and at times I felt suicidal. I searched for books that could give me a basic road map, hoping to find a How to do Life edition of “Family for Dummies” and alas there was no such guide anywhere.
I fumbled along picking up books that called to me, while also enjoying bike rides with my kids and gardening with my wife. Pretty soon I started to realise that while I had been spending so much of my free time planning workshops for my Men’s Community events in the past my family were moving on without me. I was now, deliberately getting to know my family all over again. I was falling in love again with my life.
I no longer started to see my family in the same light, I could start to open up and let them see my vulnerability and give them more of me. I learned so much about myself in my intimate relationships far more than I ever had done in any of my workshops. It occurred to me that the real and most important workshop was in my family. What a gift to give myself, a gift I had resisted most of my married life. Ironically, the thing I feared losing the most was also the thing I would run away from, every chance I got.
Now, I didn’t want to run away anymore, instead, I wanted to know more about my family, I wanted to be the best Husband and Father for them that I could possibly be. I wanted to understand myself and where I would go missing in action when triggered. I felt a profound healing was occurring, not just for my family but for the little boy inside me. I realised that I could change an old pathology, my childhood tapes that caused so many of the reactions and conflicts I was afraid of. With new awareness, I was able to track old patterns of relating to my traumas in my childhood. These were my unhealed trauma loops that would get triggered in my daily life. By my wife, my kids, my boss.
I could identify exactly, where I go in those heated moments and why. I developed a curiosity for my little boy inside of me and focused on understanding what he was trying to do for me, I realised that all my little boy was trying to do was heal an old trauma event. Without the present awareness of me the adult (Parent to be exact) this could never really be achieved. So it was apparent to me that I needed to lean into a new edge and really listen with compassion to what was really being said as irrational as it may be. This was the voice of my inner child.
Meaning– Inner child In popular psychology and analytical psychology, the inner child is an individual’s childlike aspect. It includes what a person learned as a child, before puberty. The inner child is often conceived as a semi-independent subpersonality subordinate to the waking conscious mind.
I began documenting a list of tools and flow charts that I found helpful for building a relationship with my child. I was able to draw some parallels with my tools I was using in conflict, with new free attention in my mind. For example, when I was able to respond to old triggers with new awareness and loving support for my child the event ceased to be a trigger. I had old memories return to me that filled me with joy and happiness in replace of the trauma filled events. My mind became more accessible, I had more free attention. I would describe it like defrag on a computer. I felt like for every small win, my mind was slowly defragging.
Meaning– Defragging rearranges the layout of files on your hard disk for faster access.
I made sure I debriefed the healing events with my little boy, I celebrated through voice dialogue and small rewards. Each new experience, each healing moment at a time. As I understood my relationship with my emotions and my mind I could easily describe the process to my family. I was able to teach them the tools I was using to look after their inner children by staying present even through stressful and turbulent situations. We all agree it’s a lifetime of learning thing and not just some course you take once. No destination just an amazing and exciting Journey.
Over the last decade, I have dedicated my life to personal growth of a different kind. I am still learning and growing everyday because every day is an opportunity to heal just by being present. I have learned a great deal from exposure therapy in my own life, my gratitude comes from accepting and understanding that my greatest teachers have been my wife and my children.
When I started to slowly venture back to working as a therapist, I decided that I would infuse my own documented self-discoveries into my work practice. This collected wisdom grew to become my guide for students, It has since grown and evolved into what we now know today as my guide for Emotional Fitness Personal Training™