The first co-authored book I contributed to was circa 2011/12, there wasn’t a personal story to be seen. My chapter was very practical and about CRM – customer relationship management. I’d been persuaded to write this because this was a speciality from my corporate days, and this was a business book – it seemed to make sense. I enjoyed writing it because I knew that it would be useful in the context of the book, and it was for a good reason – raising money for a great cause. However, I did feel conflicted as I was all about the healing story and writing to heal.
As with many projects I have collaborated with, it was simply writing and editing your chapter by a specified date. The idea that anyone would have any fears about writing was overlooked. And beyond coming together for a launch that was that…
Later, I was given the opportunity to work on two other co-authored collaborative books. One was for a dynamic group of leaders for a female members-only network. They were vibrant and excited and could see the value in doing this project to boost membership and use the book to help members understand the leaders and the ethos.
My priority was that these wonderful women would have a safe space to explore their story and would have support to write their story so that it reflected who they were and their values.
The next was a group of 13 women, all writing their own 30,000-word book. This was an amazing experience when everyone launched their books at the same time. It was at a time when people came into the same room for workshops, and people from afar stayed over. Hence, it was easier for everyone to get to know each other. Lots of friendships were formed and everyone knew that the team was rooting for them and the success of their book. There was a wonderful community atmosphere, and lots of collaborations were formed.
Time passes, and I have learned a lot since those early days.
One of the biggest things for me outside of community building, marketing and brand building was having the right mindset and space to safely explore your story.
Mindset and feeling safe to explore your story
Mindset is about creating an environment where good habits become an intrinsic part of us. Forming good habits is about creating conditions for something to thrive. We are evolving, learning, and experiencing creatures. Our life is about learning how to make the best conditions for us to experience life. When we create the best conditions on the inside, we are setting ourselves up for success. Words like can’t and fail, will no longer be in your vocabulary.
Feeling positive about yourself will result in successful outcomes. Where you focus your thoughts, actions will follow, and consistent actions lead to great habits. You are continually broadcasting who you are through your actions, so it would make sense to stop and think about how your thoughts and story shape your world.
Forcing yourself to think positively is not always a good thing. If you are pushing away something that needs to be experienced, then look inside and take the opportunity to explore, feel and learn.
When anyone has been through tough times, there can be a battle between the need to heal and the desire to help others to heal while not being judged for what happened to you. This battle is often the first thing that has to be overcome.
Most authors go through the lack of confidence stage and ask that eternal question, who am I to be doing this? Now imagine that you have healed from some kind of trauma that has seriously impacted your life. If you are like me, you will have worked hard to hide your emotional scars, and now you are asking yourself to share these scars and the story of how you became you.
Having the right mindset to begin with will be the difference between publishing success and remaining hidden away and your story never reaching the right ears.
Discover your voice and the right story in a safe space
When considering a co-authored collaborative book, one of the most important things is that you have a safe space to discover your voice and speak your truth within the context of the right story.
Some people may feel confident voicing their opinions and speaking their truth under any circumstances. But, for many, there’s often a certain amount of anxiety — or even dread — that comes from articulating points of view and sharing stories we suspect will be unpopular among family, friends and peers.
As a result, you may find yourself biting back the words you want to speak and remaining in a nervous silence when such opportunities present themselves, then later having regrets.
When you don’t speak out, you are re-inforcing a pattern that will continue to contribute to you not feeling confident or when you do not knowing how to express yourself assertively. This fear comes from a deep desire to be wanted and accepted.
I know this only too well after being shut up and put down most of my life.
The key to being able to start your story comes from finding ways to build your confidence, trusting yourself, knowing how to express yourself in the way you want to and standing in your power.
When we created the Healing Book Project Wendy and I knew that we wanted our fellow writers to feel respected and cared for.
Questions for exploration
- What does having a safe space to explore your voice mean to you and for you?
- What does the phrase speaking your truth mean to you?
- Bring to mind someone you may have met recently who you have felt has not been speaking with an authentic voice. How did you know? Was it a feeling, or was there something else that alerted you? How did it make you feel?
- How does that make you feel when you think about not being afraid of what others think? If this is something you already do, when did you realise that this worked for you? How might you share this with someone else who is feeling stuck?
Ignite your creativity
The more you write, the more you’ll see how things fit together. You will start to see patterns and pictures and get wonderful aha moments. When you start the exploration with your story with a what-if… or I wonder you will make big creative leaps, leading you into fresh, new territory waiting to be explored. Encouraging your creativity to come out to play is invaluable in life and in business.
Some of my best ideas have shown up when I am more relaxed with my pen poised over my journal.
We all have our inner child’s playground, a place of creativity, magic and wonder. Unfortunately, this is also the place where our inner child was left crushed, unheard and often unloved. Being in a safe space where you can explore your creativity will let your inner child explore a neglected part of them and be able to move into a place of imagination and ideas.
These ideas and the confidence that comes from sparking your creativity means that you will heal more and be able to see clearly how you can use your story creatively to support yourself, your business and others.
Questions for exploration
Trust yourself and your story
There are so many reasons why we don’t trust ourselves. Trust is about belief, and it is how you act when you either trust yourself and others or not. It is also tied to confidence. When you do not trust yourself or others, you naturally become fearful of what you might do or say.
And this is when your story stops. You simply do not trust yourself to write even one word.
Have you noticed that when someone does something to you that breaks your trust that this becomes difficult to shake off when you find yourself in a similar situation? This can be particularly true of relationships where perhaps your partner has been unfaithful or where you have been shut up each time you have tried to speak. Subsequently, it is difficult to trust them or others not to do this to you again.
The same thing happens with you and your ability to trust that your story is worth writing and that others will find comfort and inspiration in it.
The problem is that this lack of trust is operating at a level that you are not even aware of. Therefore, the first place to address this is to become aware of your behaviour. Do not judge it, simply acknowledge that this is what you have been doing. Tracing the roots will help you understand where and when this first started, and from there, you can decide that you want to learn to trust again.
Self-trust is like anything. It needs the practice to get into the muscle.
Make a decision that you will commit to trusting again. You might affirm that you are always on the right path. Trust that your goal of sharing your story will lead you somewhere magical and that the right way is continually unfolding.
Look at all of the things you do trust and all of the great decisions you have made, and do more of them. In this way, you will build your trust muscle. For example, consider relationships you ended because of broken trust or things you tried and succeeded at. What does that tell you? What else can you look at – career, financial, health or friendships? All of this is a great reminder that you are in tune with yourself.
Forgive and let go. Holding onto what happened is not healthy. In addition to forgiveness, allow yourself to grieve any losses. You may be mourning the end of a relationship that wasn’t healthy or a life you knew that wasn’t serving you.
Grief is the heart chakra’s emotion. This is where working with your heart on self-love, trust, kindness and compassion is essential to your healing and creating the right conditions to let your story flow and flourish. Allow yourself to feel these emotions and use your journal to help you to process them.
Finally, leave the past behind and set your expectations for a life where you trust, respect and honour yourself. Then write your story knowing that it comes from a great space and a safe space.
Questions for exploration
- What does trust mean to you?
- How much do you trust others? Do you trust everyone, some people or no one? Can you pinpoint why?
- Do you have issues relying on others and believe that you can only trust yourself?
- Do you feel vulnerable around others so that you don’t trust yourself to commit to something? When this happens, what are you thinking or feeling? How can you reframe this?
- How can you forgive yourself for decisions and choices that didn’t support you?
Find strength in your vulnerability
The dictionary defines vulnerability as the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally, which sounds quite scary. There is no doubt it can be hard to be vulnerable, especially if you didn’t have positive experiences with it as a child. However, while it can feel scary to open up and be vulnerable, it is something to embrace.
Vulnerability is a part of life for all of us. Feeling vulnerable is normal. It is not a sign of weakness; instead, it is a sign of courage. It requires work, self-examination and lots of self-love. But, it is what makes you beautiful and human.
Being vulnerable starts with being honest with yourself. How can you be your best self if you don’t share what makes you feel exposed? When you find people with whom you can trust and be open, you will create deeper heart connections. Having these trusted friends in your life, who do not judge you will help you to be able to share what scares you.
Writing and sharing your story means that you will have moments of feeling unguarded, which will arouse all kinds of emotions. You will possibly go back into the story. Acknowledge that this happened, you have been healing and this is another opportunity to heal some more.
This vulnerability will remind you of what it felt like and create a deeper connection with others who need to hear your story. Writing your story must include the ability to be vulnerable enough to trust another with your heart.
It, of course, feels risky, but when you dip your toe into the pool of vulnerability, you will have more meaningful interactions with others and increase your resilience. Being in a community with others that feel the same will give you the strength and support to get your story out. And it will create an emotional connection with others who need to know that it’s ok to be vulnerable with their story.
Questions for exploration
- What does being vulnerable mean to you?
- Bring to mind your most vulnerable moment and reflect on the feelings and what you learned
- How would it feel to take a risk and confess how helpless you feel with sharing your story?
- How would it feel to know that your vulnerability helped to change another life?
Discover the wonder in your story
When was the last time you were really excited about something? Unfortunately, these exciting times are few and far between when you’re busy living day-to-day life. You have so many stresses and worries that it can seem impossible to feel any sense of excitement or wonder at all.
Now think back to when you were a child. Close your eyes and think about the excitement of counting down to Christmas or your birthday. What kind of things excited you? I bet there was a sparkle in your eye, and it was really all you could think about.
It wasn’t just big events that excited you, either — you found joy in things as simple as finding a new, interesting rock. You got excited about seeing a friend. Your favourite comfort foods and an ice cream cone excited you. I loved to delve into my weekly Lucky Bag.
There’s a lot to be learned from children. The excitement and wonder you felt back then don’t have to stay lost. You can get back to that. Of course, you probably won’t be excited about the same things that really excited you back then, but there are new things to be excited about.
For one thing, you can get really excited about this journey with your story. Every time you share something about yourself, you are delving into what-if and wonder. Then, think of all the wonderful changes you have already made and the others coming your way when you get amazing has.
When I first started to explore the big things I used to wonder WTF! And now I smile and look at these things with new eyes because although the horrible things were not exciting, what is exciting is uncovering things to heal so that I can enjoy my life more, without their weight.
What about the little things? You can also get excited about these. Discovering the title of a chapter or knowing how to introduce or end your story can be as thrilling as writing a single sentence. If you know what your story is about, that’s something to celebrate!
I wonder what the opening sentence to your story is? Got it? Go and celebrate!
Notice with wonder everything that’s all around you. You created that because you allowed your story to help you to heal. Think about the things you used to do that brought you great joy. Seek those things out again as you put pen to paper. Schedule time to sit, wonder and enjoy life again. Then close your eyes right now and let your mind wander into wonder. Ask I wonder what it will be like when I am a published author and helping others to heal?
Questions for exploration
- When was the last time you were really excited? Explore what it would be like to feel that excited again
- When you were a child, what excited you the most? Why?
- If you could be a superhero, I wonder who you would be and who you would be helping. Explore the furthest reaches of your imagination
- Think of something that happened recently and write; I wonder why? Allow your pen to wander
Did I ever tell you the story of my rock-star days?
As a child, I dreamed of being a rock star. I yearned to be on the centre stage with a guitar in hand, clad in some wild clothes, holding up two fingers (the nice way) and saying thank you, Wembley.
The trouble was that I couldn’t sing and when I blasted out my rendition of some loud rock song, I was often told once again to shut up. It was harmless fun, but nonetheless, it hurt to be told to shut up again and again.
On reflection, the thing that I wanted was what I perceived as the rock-star experience – feeling safe to explore my dreams, the freedom to be me, loved for who I was, inspiring others, happy that I’d found my purpose and telling stories through my words.
Of course, I never did become a rock star strutting my stuff because I lacked the confidence and belief that sharing my words would matter.
I have gone through all of what I described above, and by using the power of self-love, I unravelled and found myself lurking beneath the debris. I learned how to be happy to be me and that my stories and words help others heal.
Believe and trust in your story will help you to heal some more and support others healing, and this is the right time. People need hope, so get out there and rock the world in the way that only you know how to.
The teacher is within you; journaling will help you to find your wisdom. Writing your story means that your wisdom will reach the right people and help you build a brand built on trust.
The Healing Book Project is more than a book and the things described above are some of what we do to ensure that our authors feel safe to share what can be a very traumatic story. No matter how much healing you have done, when you explore it again through a story for your reader it will invariably bring the story back to you for some more healing.
It is imperative that you have a safe and sacred space to write in. When you are ready, come and join us.