From struggle to peace
– A businesswoman’s story of resilience
“I run a social enterprise working with people in the criminal justice system with addictions and offending behaviour.”
I’m Jacqueline Hollows. I’m married and have a grown-up son and a kitten.
I run a social enterprise called Beyond Recovery CIC, which is a non-profit organisation that primarily works with people with addictions, mental health issues and offending behaviour. I work within the criminal justice system. And I deliver workshops about state of mind and resilience to those people. And I just absolutely love it.
How did you come to find out about these principles of the mind?
I had some big life changes and decided to do Super Coach, with Michael Neill in 2011. There was a module on the three principles — an Inside-out paradigm of the mind — within that training course. And that’s where I heard about it. It was George and Linda Pransky running it. And I really hated it. I was like, “I don’t even understand what this is,” and was very angry and angsty about it.
“Well, I’m really sorry George and I really appreciate your time, but I don’t like it.”
And then we had a Masterclass and George was leading the masterclass. They were all waxing lyrical about the three principles and about Sydney Banks, and all these things. And I was just working in the background, with it all on mute. Until eventually George Pransky said, “Well Jacqueline, what do you think?” And I thought, “Oh no.” So I didn’t want to be rude, but I said, “Well, I’m really sorry George — and I really appreciate your time, but I don’t like it.”
And then he really laughed. I was a bit surprised by his response. And then he was so intrigued. He was asking me about my experience, and what I didn’t like. And he was so light hearted and amused and intrigued that it made me think…
“I’m going to take another look at this, that’s not the response of somebody who’s running a cult. That’s the response of somebody who’s just interested in me.”
So I took another look. I saw that there was some merit in it. And at the time I was an executive coach. I was working with professionals. And if everything else didn’t work, I’d introduce this at the end. So it took me a really long time to see it. But also at the same time, I noticed things in my life got simpler and got easier. And that was unexpected as I was going through some really quite stressful circumstances myself.
What was going on for you, before you learned the principles?
I’d gone from a very high paying job with all the perks, to really not making very much money as an executive coach. I was getting further and further into financial difficulties. As well as the difficulties of building a practice. There were some family situations as well. I felt like I was ‘managing’,
“That’s just how it is. Life has to be a struggle”
I had a good life. A really good life. I was a very happy person. Very optimistic, but I always thought: “That’s just how it is, life has to be a struggle”. And I remember I worked with a coach a long time ago, who used to say, “Who makes it happen? You do.” And I had to keep telling myself that. And that’s how I lived.
When I had difficulties, I struggled through them or I was very driven. I’d had a sort of traumatic upbringing, so after I realised that I wasn’t completely stupid, I became driven to get the highest degree possible. But everything felt a struggle. And I did achieve. And it looked to me like the harder I struggled, the more I achieved — that was just the way life worked.
“It didn’t look like there was anything to change — ..although I self-medicated quite a bit…it just seemed normal.”
I honestly didn’t think I needed to do anything about that. It didn’t look to me that there was anything to change — although I self-medicated quite a bit. I had a big drinking habit and with food as well. I had a string of relationships. These were sort of my self-medication ways of calming down after the stress of the week. It didn’t look like to me that I had to change any of that. It just seemed normal. Life’s a struggle, and if you want to get anything, or if you want to be happy you have to struggle.
I remember that every single year from probably about 16 years old, my New Year’s Resolution was, “Be a better person.” So I was constantly fighting this and thinking: “I’m not good enough. Be a better person.” And I got really involved in personal development and all sorts of holistic treatments and energy things and so on. But they were aimed at me being a better person. And I usually failed my New Years Resolution by about the 12th of January, like one does. That meant that then I’d feel a failure for the rest of the year, as in — I wasn’t good enough still, and I had to try harder.
And really, I did that for about 35 years. So yeah, it’s interesting to look back. Because it was a struggle that I accepted as that’s just — that’s just the way it is.
I remember my son who had clinical depression asking me: “But what is the purpose of life?” And I said, “There isn’t one. There’s no purpose to life. And I’m really sorry to tell you that. But we just have to keep going.” And wow, what advice to give a 15 year old with clinical depression. But that’s what it looked like to me. That there really was no purpose to life. You just had to do what you had to do, and then you died.
So what changed for you?
I fell in love with life. I met this person who I was totally inspired by. Someone who’d struggled with addiction all of his life. He’d been in prison several times. And he was 3 years straight and sober. And he was amazing. I just thought he was completely amazing. I started volunteering for him. And through him, I met lots of other people with addictions. And I discovered this community of recovery. I’d never knew anything about all of the resources when me and my son and my parents were alcoholics. When we all were suffering,
“I fell in love with life and I learnt how to serve.”
And what’s really interesting to me now — when I look back at that, what actually happened was I just fell in love with life and learnt how to serve. I’d been using serving as a tool in coaching and I understood the concept of it, and had the heart for it. But the financial issues were always at the back of my mind, so I was never completely being in service.
I had an epiphany moment in the park, when I fell in love with these people in recovery, with addictions and with all sorts of mental health issues. I just wanted to serve, I would do anything — and I did. I sat on his board of directors. I helped him at university. Nothing to do with what I thought was going to be my business. Just getting out there and serving.
I literally took part time jobs, I worked in an estate agent. I worked packing folders in the evening. I did anything to pay my bills. Because it didn’t matter to me anymore. I reduced my outgoings completely. Because money didn’t matter anymore. What mattered was, I needed to get out there and serve these people. I also started to realize that when I had the conversation about the inside-out nature of life — that it was quite helpful to these people.
Tell us about the moment in the park, the epiphany?
I was volunteering for the chap that I’d met. He was making a film about the UK Recovery Walk in Birmingham. It was a really beautiful sunny day. And I was interviewing people for his film. And I went ahead of the walk and walked into the park. There were all these stalls, and all these people sitting on the grass.
“I don’t care about how… I’m going to do it.”
They were all people from all walks of life, but all have struggled with addictions and been in prison and all sorts of thing. And I was just suddenly filled with love. Like totally overwhelmed with a feeling of love and compassion. And all I knew — in that moment — that I had to work with them. And I remember thinking, “I don’t care what that looks like. I don’t care about how it’s going to be a business. I don’t care about how I’m going to do it.” ’Cause I had very little understanding at the time. I just knew I had to work with them.
More and more I noticed that I was talking to them about the inside out nature of life. I was talking about how we’re all connected. I was talking about how experience is created through thought, even though I didn’t really understand it myself. I was just talking from what I knew in that moment, which wasn’t very much.
And I just loved doing it. They say, don’t they? What would you do if you had all the money in the world, and you’d just do it for love? Well this is it.
How would you describe your understanding of the principles?
Our total experience is literally created moment by moment through thought. Through the power of thought. And not the thoughts in my head — which are often random and just completely crazy sometimes. But the power of thought. The power of thought is constantly supplying fresh thought to us. Each moment is actually a fresh moment and can come with a fresh thought.
“I don’t have to worry about the experience I am having right now.”
We as human beings often don’t live in that what you could call the flow of life. But we often live in, in our stale thinking — and what we think is going to happen, and our conceptual idea of the world. It’s completely normal and completely fine to do that. But having the realization that that’s not just it. That behind that, is an infinite amount of fresh thought available in every single moment. This means that I don’t have to think about anything. I don’t have to worry about the experience I’m having right now. I don’t have to wait for a better experience. I’m just in that experience. As fresh thought follows through, a fresh experience will come.
That is the inside out nature of life. It’s an understanding that life is both a spiritual understanding ie, there’s a power that we don’t understand that is flowing through us, and there’s also there’s a connection between all of — that’s not something that we can ever really put our finger on — but it is also a really logical understanding.
It’s the logic that I often go to when I’m working with people. It’s just how the human system works. “I’m feeling bad.” Well, “I’m having bad thoughts.” Or, “I’m feeling great. I’m having good thoughts. I’ve fallen in love with life.” Then there’s thoughts in my head about falling in love with life.
Coming from a computer science background, and a scientific background myself, I see that that’s just the system of life. Once you see how it works, it is easy to explain it to other people.
What is possible for you now that you have this understanding?
Absolutely anything. Literally. I know I have the confidence, the resilience, the resources to do anything that I can come up with. What I’ve come to realise is, it’s the wanting part. If you have an idea or a thought, or a desire — you can achieve it. That’s it. As soon as you’ve brought that, it’s in the form already. So we have a thought — something will come to mind, “I want to do this.” And I’ve come to realise is, I almost don’t have to do anything else about that. I’ve had that thought, it’s already formed because it’s come from the form, it’s into the form. It exists now out there.
“I have the confidence, resilience and resources to do anything I can come up with.”
The next thing that happens is, potentially an opportunity to take that further. I don’t have to struggle to make that happen, because I had that idea. I just have to see when the opportunity arises, and then follow that. And it could be that the opportunity arises to take it a little bit further — and then it goes dormant for a little while. And 6 months, 12 months down the line — that comes alive in a different way that I hadn’t even thought about.
I now know that as soon as I’ve had that thought — it’s possible. I no longer feel that I’m bigger than my boots. I no longer feel that, “I’ve had an idea, and who am I to think of that? How will that happen?” I just think, “Wow, I’ve had this idea, I wonder how that’s going to get created?”
I don’t have to run around achieving things, exhaust myself and get frustrated with things. Things will occur, when we tap into this incredible creativity that we all have.
As I go deeper into what I love, what really impacts me and how I can serve. There’s no end to the depth of that well, so I don’t have to be chasing around the world and following things and struggling. I no longer have to struggle.
What measurable impact has this made in your life?
“If you could measure happiness, contentment and peacefulness.”
You could look at the material. I had lots of material things. You could look at finances. You could look at what I was doing in the world. And you could look now, and maybe you’d see that there is a difference. I don’t know.
But if you could measure happiness, contentment and peacefulness? Then you could definitely see the difference between how it was before for me, and how it was afterwards. I am very busy — as you know — so even down to being able to say “I just need to start now and take some time out, and not have any thinking about that.” Just go, “I need to take some time out and down tools.” Whether that’s for a minute, or a week.
If you had to sum up the essence of your personal story as a headline
“It all comes from the heart.”
What do you see is possible for the world with an understanding of these principles?
Two things really. One is that as we start to really understand the mind more, how it really works, that has personal impact. We start to have less stress and struggle in our own lives, and therefore be less stressful and struggling — and have less conflict in our own lives. That has a massive ripple effect on society as a whole.
“All the people that aren’t being heard — the untapped potential of their minds.”
The other possibility is that — and this came to me through one of the guys I was working with. Just imagine when conflict stops and we stop having refugees and war zones and places where people aren’t being heard. The untapped potential of their minds — not only will the world be free of conflict in the main. But all these people that are not heard right now. Wow. When they get unleashed. That’s like virgin ground for what they can bring to life, and how they can change the world. So, I don’t know what that would look like, but I see that there’s massive potential for that.
If people want to find out more, how can they do that?
I am very active on Social media — Facebook, Twitter. Beyond Recovery Twitter and Facebook and Website. I love collaborating, and I love helping other people who are starting. I’m very open to having conversations with people if they think, “How do I do this?” I will point them back to themselves, but I’m very open to those conversations.
Meet the storyteller: Jacqueline Hollows
Jacqueline Hollows — Beyond Recovery C.I.C
Jacqueline Hollows (@beyond_recovery) | Twitter
The latest Tweets from Jacqueline Hollows (@beyond_recovery). Social Entrepreneur. International Speaker. Reforming…
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