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Women In Wellness: Author Aisha Gordon-Hiles On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Find time for silence — silence is really underrated. It is something we often try to avoid, but in actual fact, it’s the one thing we should try not to avoid. Silence helps us connect with ourselves. Connect with our wants, and our needs. Which in turn helps us manage the challenges life throws at us.

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Aisha Gordon-Hiles.

Aisha Gordon-Hiles is an internationally sold author and accredited counselor, and life coach with extensive experience working with adults, children, and young people. Her counseling work is trauma informed and heavily influenced by psychodynamic and humanistic principles. Through the sales of her book and her counseling work, she has helped thousands of individuals learn the tools they need to love and accept themselves, and she is on a mission to help thousands more.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

Sure! Well, I grew up in London, and from a very young age I knew I wanted to help people. It always shocks people when I say that I knew I wanted to be a counselor from the age of six years old, but it’s true. I wasn’t great at handling my emotions (not that I should have been, I was six) and life had thrown me some difficult cards. I felt alone, and I knew I didn’t want anyone else to have to feel the way I did. Fast forward to the age of eleven, and I started entering agony aunt competitions, and not long after that I was making business cards that invited people to come and talk to me about their worries. I still remember them to this day. They were printed on baby blue card, I cut them out and I hand laminated them with sticky back plastic. I even offered people a free lip gloss to come and talk to me, as my mum had bought me a lip gloss maker for my birthday one year. It’s funny, because back then I was offering a free ear to listen, and free lip gloss, and no one took me up on it! I bet it would be very different if I offered that today.

Fast forward to today, and I’m knee deep in degrees, life experience and client hours. I am constantly looking for new ways to expand my professional expertise, so that I can adapt my practice to all who come through my (virtual) doors.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

I can, and I really wish I could say more about this, but I can’t just yet!

However, what I will say is this… A few years ago, one of my friends took a new career path. I was fascinated by the concept, because I had always known I wanted to be a counselor. I never even dreamed of being anything else. Anyway, I made a random comment one day, after hearing about all the opportunities in her new field, that I would like to get into that field one day. I was mostly joking. But to be honest, that was probably because I didn’t have the confidence to believe it would be possible back then.

Anyway, a good few years later, I signed up for job alerts in that industry, and to this day (it’s probably been about 3 years) I have never seen a job alert connected to wellness in that field. To be honest, when I signed up for job alerts, I didn’t think I would see any. I just thought I had nothing to lose.

A few months ago, I got an email from someone claiming to be in the industry that my friend worked in, and I thought it was a scam. I asked them how they found me, and they told me on Instagram! I couldn’t believe it! At the time, everything was so exciting that I didn’t even remember I had asked for this all those years ago. But once I had completed the job and the dust had settled, I realized that there were points in my life that were significant to me manifesting this role, and I had to laugh. It was so scary!

I will be able to say more on this in a couple of months, and if you want to find out what it was, give me a follow on Instagram @selfforhelp. I’ll be sure to give you a follow back!

What I can tell you though is this:

Allow yourself to dream big, even if it is just for a split second. What is meant to be for you will always be for you, no matter how many people in the world are doing what you do. Put yourself out there in the spaces where you are likely to attract those dreams and stay there. Your dreams can’t find you if you are hiding and not taking any action.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Honestly, the biggest mistake I made when I first started was not believing in myself enough. After qualifying, I fell victim to the talks about how many counsellors there were in the world; how there were not enough clients; not enough jobs. I took these lies and I went into a different career for a few years. One that would give me stability, was easy to get, and would help me hit a few financial goals that I wanted to hit.

I was bullied by my manager while in that role. And thinking about it now, I am sure that was the universe’s way of telling me I wasn’t supposed to be there. But, my self-awareness hadn’t got to uncovering that part of my journey yet, so I stayed and it was really damaging for my mental health.

Anyway, a day came when I broke down and I couldn’t take it anymore. I had been applying for jobs for ages without success. I decided I was going to resign whether I had a new job or not, and I kid you not. The week before I was due to resign, I got a call and was offered my first salaried counseling job.

Now, I don’t regret it, because for me, I look back and I am happy that life forced me out of that situation, and that I have taken more risks since then. This was an important part of my journey. I am now a coach, author and consultant, as well as a counselor. But I do sometimes reflect on what life would have been like had I just remembered that this was my calling (I had known since the age of six, after all), and what was meant for me would be for me.

Yes, there are loads of counselors in the world. Yes, funding can be scarce, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t space for you in wellness. The world is abundant.

Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

Recently, one of my clients told me they had convinced two of their friends and their ex-partner to start counselling off the back of her experience working with me. Another told me that she feels like she is walking around life wearing HD goggles after a couple of sessions, because of the clarity she now has, that she had been struggling to gain for over 5 years.

Nearly every client I have ever worked with has made a reference to how working with me has helped them feel more comfortable in themselves. And since we live in a society that is hell bent on making us uncomfortable with who we are, I would say my work is helping to make a massively positive impact on the world.

It’s helping to undo so much of the damage that society does to us. Helping to heal wounds. Helping to inspire people and give them confidence to achieve their wildest dreams. Every time I end with a client, I smile, because not only has the work changed their life, but it’s changed the lives of those around them and those they bring into this world, too. Even if they don’t realise it yet. The impact is not just for now. It’s generational.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

  1. Find time for silence — silence is really underrated. It is something we often try to avoid, but in actual fact, it’s the one thing we should try not to avoid. Silence helps us connect with ourselves. Connect with our wants, and our needs. Which in turn helps us manage the challenges life throws at us.
  2. Declutter your space — our physical space is a reflection of our inner minds, but it is also the thing that has the biggest negative impact on our minds. Kind of like a chicken and egg thing. Either way, taking the time to de clutter and organise your space will help you declutter and organise your mind, which in turn helps the way you think about and navigate life.
  3. Do regular body scans — a body scan is where you bring your attention inwards, starting at the top of your head and making your way down your body, visualising each part of it and spending a moment checking in with each part to see how it feels. Regular body scans help us understand the physiological reactions our bodies have to the events in our daily lives. They help us to identify tension stored up in our bodies from stressors during the day, and when you notice those pockets of tension, take a moment to relax that part of your body, to help the tension of the day melt away.
  4. Practice mini moments of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a bit of a buzz word at the moment, and that can make it difficult to have faith in, but it really does help. It helps to ground us in our experiences and regulate our emotions. Now, you don’t have to make a grand gesture. You don’t have to sit cross legged on the floor, spending ages in silence. In fact, if you are a newbie, it’s better to keep it simple. An example of this would be to practice while you are washing the dishes. Pay attention to the pattern the soap suds make on the dish, the way they feel on your hands, their smell, their movements, the sound they make as they pop.
  5. Bring nature in. Whether it’s ensuring that you have something living in your house (other than humans), like plants or animals, for example, or going outside for a walk, it is imperative to bring nature into your life. We are all connected to nature, and nature recharges us because of our connection with it. And best of all… It’s free!

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I think I’d have to say the movement I am currently working on! Helping people understand themselves and others. I genuinely believe that 90% of the world’s problems come from people not understanding themselves, and people not understanding others.

In fact, I would also add to that and say that it is also people not understanding themselves in relation to others. We (human beings) have had an issue with both ourselves and difference since the dawn of time. The need to control others, the need to scapegoat others, the need to pretend to be something that we are not.

This coupled with the fact that our society is so geared towards us ignoring our pain, and the things that make us uncomfortable, instead of processing them and understanding them, means that society is essentially setting us all up for failure. I am going to do my best to reverse that!

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

Oooh, this is a great question!

I think the first would have to be that you never stop learning. I think when I first started out, I didn’t consider the life-long learning that it takes to be a successful woman in wellness. In fact, I chose to go down the counseling route because I didn’t want to go down the psychiatry route. I thought training to be a doctor would take too long! Little did I know that in training to be a counselor, my learning would never stop. Everyone I work with is unique, and that means I need to keep myself on top of tools, techniques, research, training and developments to ensure I can support the needs of everyone I work with.

The second would be that my degree wasn’t going to fully prepare me for the world of work as a woman in wellness. This one is kind of related to the point above. My first and second degree (in particular) taught me what I needed to do to work safely and ethically with my clients, but what it didn’t teach me is how to work for myself, which is typical for my line of work. It didn’t teach me marketing, finance, the legalities of being self-employed, for example. When taking the plunge to work for yourself, it’s not knowing these things that really catch you off guard. And if you don’t have a mentor or someone who can share this information with you, it can be a very costly, and time-consuming process.

Next, I think I will refer to the story I told earlier. My biggest mistake. I wish someone had told me that the world was abundant. I had so much around me telling me otherwise, and now it’s the one thing I believe with all my heart. That phrase provides me with so much comfort and direction… Who knows where I would be right now had someone said it to me back then.

The fourth thing would be that your friends aren’t always going to be your biggest fans, and that’s okay. Whilst the world is abundant, when you are working with things like social media, it can be easy to forget and get demotivated. Get bogged down on things like “likes”, “saves”, and “shares”. There is a tendency to look at those closest to you and expect them to be doing all they can to promote your work. But oftentimes it doesn’t work like that. Some of my biggest supporters are people I have never once met in real life. Never even had a video chat with. And that is okay. In fact, it’s great. I don’t feel pressure to make my friends like or promote my stuff, because again, the world is abundant and what is meant for me will be for me. That pressure comes from fear. From scarcity. And it can ruin wonderful relationships — don’t let it.

Finally, I would have to say make sure you write down every idea you have, no matter how little or silly you think it is. Ideas have an interesting way of coming back around to surprise you when you least expect it. Take my story of the most interesting thing that’s happened to me. I think it’s a great example of that. In a lifetime, you will have millions of ideas, and oftentimes it’s a right place, wrong time situation with these ideas. Keep them around you, because you never know when an opportunity will present itself for you to materialise an idea you have, or even develop it to make it more than you ever expected it to be!

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Oooh, well I would obviously have to say mental health. As I mentioned earlier, this has been a passion dear to my heart since I was six years old. I grew up and went through some really difficult experiences. Back then, I didn’t feel like I had anyone I could turn to, and so I tried to cope the best that I could, but a lot of those ways ended up being quite harmful to me. I really struggled with the pain I felt, and there was a burning fire in me that never wanted anyone else to feel the way I did, or to struggle and feel like they had no one they could turn to. I have spent my life dedicated to this cause, and I always will.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

Thanks for asking! I am mainly on Instagram (@selfforhelp), but they can also follow me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aisha-gordon-hiles-bsc-msc-pgdip-mbacp-accred-1888b7aa/

Thank you for these fantastic insights!

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.

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