It is exciting to bring to you yet another of our fantastic experts that have partnerned with us for the WTMH? Series and competition. Today we are talking to Gillian McMichael about a bit of everything. Most importantly we explore her journey, mental health and take a look at her fabulous book Coming Home. Don’t forget there are also more chance to win in our HUGE competition today, so keep reading!
Please can you introduce yourself to our readers.
I have Coached over 10,000 clients and trained over 8,000 students to become coaches. My work takes me arounf the world, delivering transformational workshops, wellness retreats and events. I live in Edinburgh, UK with my second husband and have one child.. The areas in which I am qualified are an ICF Master Coach, Chopra Centre Meditation Teacher, Ayurvedic & Perfect Health Teacher, Restorative Yoga Teacher and Reiki Master.
I know what it feels like to rebuild your life from nothing. In 2010 I lost nearly everything I had. I was left to build my life from the ground up. Holding my 6-year-old’s hand, with only a few suitcases and a mountain of debt.
Today, I have turned my life around. I am a successful businesswoman and internationally renowned motivational and wellness speaker, podcaster, certified wellness coach and author.
I have transformed my own life, and my purpose is to help you do the same.
Coming Home is a book to help others, using your own experiences. Can you tell us a little about your journey?
From being 8 years old to my late 30’s I was bullied so much that I wanted to change my appearance and had a nose job in my adolescence. In my early adult life I had become so accustomed to playing roles because I desperately wanted to fit in and belong and didn’t know who I was.
After being sexually assaulted by my boss, I was losing myself even more through shame and a great deal of pain. I buried all of my trauma and ignored it. I married, had a son, set up a successful coaching business. In 2008/9 the recession hit and alongside this I realised something was shifting within me. I didn’t want to keep up with the Joneses anymore and pretend to be somebody I wasn’t.
Why did you decide to write Coming Home?
In 2010 I lost nearly everything. My marriage, my home, car and business literally was gone. I held my 6 years old son’s hand, a few suitcases and a debt of £97 to pay off. Alongside that I had lost myself. I started to journal to help me overcome the trauma of it all and to help me learn from the experience.
It was at the start of 2020. I was due to go to India to train as a yoga teacher in the month of March but because of lockdown I couldn’t go. So instead of packing my diary with work, I decided to give myself the time to sit down and write. At the end of the month I had the first draft of the book.
I don’t know how to really explain this, but I felt compelled to share my story. To share the process I went through. Over the 10 years from 2010-2020 I literally walked myself back home to my true self. My aim was simply to share my experience so I could in some way help others.
It is so important for our mental health to be, as you say ‘your true self.’ What does that phrase mean to you?
It means that I show up everyday as me. Meaning I see me, hear me, honour me and love me. It’s taken quite a number of years to be able to do all of this. Giving myself permission to express myself and honour my desires, to speak up and share myself openly and not pretend. Oscar Wilde Said, ‘be you, everyone else is taken.’ So this is what it means to me.
Coming Home is a truly easy read, with well explained sections, examples and exercises for the reader to complete. How important was it for you to make the book approachable and accessible for everyone?
I wanted to be honest and more than anything show up as my true self – walk the talk… so in essence I wanted the reader to know who I was by hearing my voice as I write and speak.
As a person I’m very down to earth and approachable. I wanted the reader to feel that I am with them every step of the way grounding the concepts and exercises to make it easy for them to follow. Not give up halfway through! It was important to be honest and show my vulnerability and to show that you are not alone. I suppose I just wanted people to meet the real me.
Which of the exercises in the book do you enjoy the most? Why is that?
I like them all but I do have 2 – being true to yourself and answering those questions. Even though they are very thought-provoking and at times hard to answer. I do this at least once a year as a check in for me. When I answered these for myself, after I had lost nearly everything in 2010, the answers started me on my journey back home to my true self as I realised how lost I was.
The second one is setting your affirmation. I still sit down even now, every new year’s eve and write down my affirmation for the future and every year I am still blown away by how much I achieve when I review it the year later – this for me sets your inner compass and when you write it down, say it out loud, believe it will happen and then show gratitude, when it does – it’s pure magic.
Why do you feel self-care is vital to mental health?
I have this conversation all the time with my clients and remind them that self-care is not selfish, it is life supporting. To do anything in life we have to function well, we have to be well within and to do that self-care is essential.
Most of us don’t prioritise ourselves and what I’ve learned is that if you don’t, how can you show up in your world in the way you need to if you don’t take care of yourself? We are told to put our oxygen mask on first before helping others with theirs. The same applies – if you can’t be good for yourself how can you be good for others?
Coming Home is very much about connecting with yourself and who you want to be. What is the one thing our readers can do to start this journey?
1) Read my book and follow each chapter making sure to do the exercises at the end of each. Apart from that I would suggest you grab a blank piece of paper and a pen, sit somewhere where you feel comfortable, ideally in front of a mirror, and ask yourself the following questions:
Who am I? (ask yourself this 12 times)
Allow any thought, feelings or images to arise. If nothing comes it’s ok, just go back to the question the next day. Try not to force or judge your answers.
It will take time but the more you ask this question the more you will strip away the labels or roles that are attached to you. Good examples of this are I am a mum, a daughter a good friend. Eventually you will start to see your inner self, such as I am love, I am compassionate, I am joy, I am truth.
For me it took months to not judge or criticise myself, especially the first few times I sat and asked the question to myself when looking in the mirror because all I could find were the negatives but over time you truly see yourself for who you are. It can be quite emotional but well worth doing. Remember to be kind to yourself as you go along with this exercise.
What is the biggest set back, from your experience, that people face when beginning their journey to be their true self?
It’s hard work. I hear people talking a lot about being true to themselves – the Kardashians, Love Island and many more reality programmes speak about it – but talking about it and really truly knowing what it means to you is very different.
This journey requires you to go beyond your mind and the ego, and invites you to have a very different conversation with yourself. You strip back the illusion of the life you are living and you get real. So many people don’t know how to answer the question: what does being true you yourself mean? I also couldn’t answer it for a long time. People tend to give up when the answer doesn’t arrive in a nano second – so it’s important you stick with it.
At the end of the day this is what we are here for. The reason we are here is to live a life that is true to our soul’s purpose. So don’t give up at the first hurdle because when you climb over that hurdle you will realise this is the best decision you have ever made – being true to yourself.
You talk about being thankful for the good that you have experienced, including having Coming Home published. How vital is that gratitude and reflection when thinking about our mental health journeys?
Having gratitude or being thankful for your experiences, what you have, who you are with, are essential to your wellbeing. I think it’s easy to fall into the trap of a scarcity mindset, where you compare and contrast yourself to others, what they have, what they have achieved, and you can very quickly get disappointed and even disillusioned with life.
What I have done is focus on acceptance and being grateful – I’ve had quite a bit of trauma in my life, and even though it was tough, painful and it really sucked I have learned to be grateful for those experiences as they have shaped who I have become. Leaning into the simple things in life, nature, connection, and gratitude are essential for us to live a vibrant life and it releases us from the scarcity mindset into one of abundance.
Finally, do you feel you have truly come home?
Yes I do most of the time, but every now and again the universe will throw me a challenge – sometimes I catch it and other times I find it can knock me off balance. It may show up as me slipping into a role or me accommodating rather than me being clear about my intentions and wishes – so this is a constant challenge. I am a work in progress and each time I notice I am not true to myself, it gives me the opportunity to learn more about myself. But when I am in that space of true alignment, it feels awesome and life flows so much more! The challenge will always be remaining at home.
The Wonder Self-Care Journal! We believe self-care is vital to great mental health. What is your go to self-care activity and why?
Every morning I meditate. Without this in my life I would be stressed and on high alert all the time. I take 20 mins each morning to sit, breathe and be with myself. I set my intention, turn my attention inwards and just be. This is my time and I love it!
The Wonder Mix Tape! What song/artist do you find uplifting and listening to it/them boosts your mood?
When I’m feeling flat or need something to pick me up I always go to Candy Stanton & The Source – You got the love. It’s my all time fave, I pop it on and dance around my living room.
The Wonder Bookshelf! Can you recommend a book to our readers. Fiction, non-fiction, feel good or advice giving. Why did you choose this book?
The Four Agreements by Dom Miguel Ruiz. I love the simplicity yet depth of this book. The book reveals the source of our limiting beliefs, that stops us from living a joyful and blissful life. The book shares Toltec wisdom and introduces you to Four Agreements – principles on how we should live our life. I have read this book over 8 times and will continue to delve back into it when having a wobble or a crisis of confidence.
You can find out more about Gillian and her work on her website or LinkdIn. If you would like to purchase a copy of Coming Home, it is available on Amazon right now. Remember you can enter below to win a copy too!
Are the Prizes Coming Home with You?
Our wonderful guest Gillian McMichael has added another fabulous prize to our bundle. Gillian has kindly given us a copy of Coming Home and it could be yours along with all the other prizes in the bundle worth £1800!!
As with our previous WTMH? article, entries can be gained with each one, so make sure you have checked out the What The Mental Health series to maximise your chances of winning BIG!! You can find them all in our Competitions section!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Remember to listen to WTMH? What The Mental Health? Our brand new podcast available over on Apple. Our first Episode ‘Introductions’ is available now and we will have new episodes each week!