Waking up to life

Sharon Eden has suffered what could be seen as a lot of knock backs in her life. Her childhood was difficult, she became a single parent balancing work and family, she has worked in a variety of jobs from secretary to marketing executive to entrepreneur and has suffered depression. She hasn’t gone under. Instead she is incredibly positive and views all of these experiences as leading her to where she is now.

Sharon Eden has suffered what could be seen as a lot of knock backs in her life. Her childhood was difficult, she became a single parent balancing work and family, she has worked in a variety of jobs from secretary to marketing executive to entrepreneur and has suffered depression. She hasn’t gone under. Instead she is incredibly positive and views all of these experiences as leading her to where she is now.

“There is value in everything,” she says, “and once I learned that life started changing for me. However bad things get I have a deep sense that there is something in there that I can learn.”

Now a psychotherapist, coach, trainer and author of Whack Around The Head, she says some of the choices she made when she was younger, such as to be a secretary, have given her skills which have been very useful in setting up her own business. She realised the value of her skills during the “whack around the head” experience of a failing marriage, her husband’s business failing, the threat that their home would be repossessed and treatment for depression. “It was like coming to my senses. I realised I had been behaving in a certain way because I had been taught to be a good girl. It’s how women brand themselves. We are taught to be receptive and quieter voiced. It puts us at a disadvantage.”

Eden, a mum of two who has set up the motivational website womenofcourage.co.uk to promote women rediscovering their passion in life, studied psychology intending to become a clinical psychologist, but soon became disillusioned. She feels that it is important to come at problems from a variety of ways, that one particular theory doesn’t fit all. As a coach, she herself has training in a range of different approaches. For instance, when neuro-linguistic programming was all the rage in the early 2000s she was keen to learn about what it had to offer. She found it fascinating. “I don’t just have one way of working,” she says. “People are individuals and different approaches suit different people.”

Her interest in psychology stems more from her curiosity in how people tick, but she only discovered what she calls “her passion and purpose” in her early 30s. She firmly believes that people often float along in jobs which they hate or which they don’t get the most out of because they have lost their “oomph” and don’t know why they are doing it. Her job is to help them rediscover the meaning in what they are doing. “I want to uncover what their unique talent is. Learning what your purpose is is linked to confidence, self esteem, self belief and to trusting yourself,” she says.

“We are so trained to think about things on a cerebral level rather than to trust our other intelligences such as emotional intelligence,” she adds. She cites the case of a working mum who was offered a job. She was in a quandary over whether to stay with the status quo or take a risk and take the job. Sharon worked with her to listen to what she calls “a deeper intelligence”. “She closed her eyes and suddenly an enormous beam came over her face. It was so clear to her after a while that she should just go for it and that overruled the arguments against taking the risk which were going on in her head. We then looked at the support she would need to get there,” says Sharon.

Sharon is no stranger herself to this approach. She says she would never have done her training if she had looked logically at her situation. “It was what I really wanted to do, but there was no way I could afford to pay the fees,” she said. “The thing is we have been trained to be risk averse. It’s a great shame. I think we can, however, have extraordinary lives if we follow our passions. That doesn’t mean we have to be big stars. We can have extraordinary lives being a working mum doing the job we are doing if we do it with passion.”

She says the recession could put people off changing their lives, but this would be a mistake. “Whenever you have a change of life you feel afraid,” she says. “But being scared is okay. All it means is that here is another learning opportunity. Losing your job could be the best thing that happens to you. It sounds paradoxical, but it gives you the opportunity to ask what you really want to do with your life.”

This doesn’t mean you will immediately get the job you desire, but at least if you know what you want to do you are half way there and any job you take en route is a means to getting there. Sharon, now 62, adds that you don’t have to leave your job to find your purpose. “You can create your own happiness in your job,” she says. Indeed part of her role as a coach is to work with companies and organisations to help people make their jobs more personally rewarding. “You can take what might seem to be a negative situation and turn it into an okay situation or even an enjoyable situation and all that boosts your self confidence and self belief,” she says.





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