Portrait: Samantha M
I thought I was doing everything correctly – working out, maintaining a slim, trim body, yoga, etc. but aged 44, I had 2 Trans Ischaemic Attacks (‘TIAs’) and a more severe stroke.
A little bit about Samantha
At 44 years old, I had two Trans Ischaemic Attacks (‘TIAs’) and a more severe stroke – cause unknown - 22nd July 2010. I thought I was doing everything correctly – working out, maintaining a slim, trim body, yoga, etc.
It goes to show that no one is immune.
My stay in hospital lasted six weeks. I then spent another six weeks in rehab where I re-learnt to talk and walk. I had aphasia, a lame right leg, arm, and hand. They gave me exercises to strengthen my failing hand. Nothing for cognitive issues though…
I did the exercises, but my right hand did not get better. In fact, it got worse! Each time I had a meeting with my physio, I said ‘…my hand is not getting any better…’ She said ‘…you must do your exercises…’ I did, year after year after year for nine years.
In 2019, I went for a final meeting with my Consultant Neurologist. He was not there. The replacement consultant treated me as if I was a new patient. He immediately said, ‘…you were given wrong exercises for nine years for your failing hand…’. … WHAT? He then referred me to the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery to attend a 3-week focused and intense course. Of course, by that time, nine years on, it was difficult for me to correct my failing hand, but I still continued to try, and never gave up.
Coaching for brain injury survivors
To help support my recovery further, my Occupational Therapist (‘OT’) placed me into the National Health Service (NHS) on a part-time (15 hours/week), work experience basis. That is where, by chance, I first encountered coaching by volunteering to learn about it. I have never looked back since.
I believe that everyone needs a coach to steer them into fulfilling their true potential.
Moreover, stroke survivors, as I did, can get caught up in feeling sorry for themselves and I believe that’s where life coaching showed me that there was another option. Feeling sorry for oneself is a valid feeling option, but that is not the only one. Neuro Linguistic Programming (‘NLP’) gets you out of it and onto something better. Seeing the progress experienced, I went on to attend a separate NLP Practitioner course that changed my life.
My experience of Perceptual Positions
One example of NLP coaching and how it changed my life is Perceptual Positions (‘PP’). PP describes the way we perceive the world, be it through our own eyes, from another’s, or a fly on the wall perspective. I gained a newfound sense of balance, increased experiences, and options.
Consider how it would look, feel, and sound for another person. How does this all appear to them?
I thought it was all about ME and my struggles, but I hadn’t considered how it looked from the perspective of my friends and family. You don’t need to agree with them, you just need to appreciate their map of the world. It showed me that there was another way of considering the world – not from an ‘I’ perspective but from the other persons perspective or a fly on the wall perspective.
That is why so many friends – even some family members - sadly just disappear after having had a stroke. They are just doing their best to cope and to try to understand you - with limited tools available to them at the time. PP gives a new sense and understanding of the struggles they are going through - identifying with and supporting the new you. I know so well how challenging the road to recovery is, and the importance of support.
Coaching and NLP as part of recovery
Since my partial recovery, I am now combining Coaching and NLP skills, learnt since my strokes, together with actual stroke experiences to coach survivors.
Medical professionals like Speech and Language Therapists (‘SLTs’), OTs, and Physiotherapists provide enormous help, but they often offer support with physical disabilities - not mental, cognitive, emotional, or spiritual!
Coaching and NLP can help support you in all aspects of your life:
- Dealing with your friends/family - and strangers.
- Helping manage your exercises.
- Instilling confidence in you - necessary for coping with anything life throws at you.
… as well as many other matters and concerns.
How NLP works
NLP is a behavioural method that uses the power of reframing to help people overcome their limiting beliefs. By reframing a situation, or taking on a new perspective, you can help adjust those patterns, and break them over time, leaving you feeling healthier and more in control of your own mind.
We can change the way we think, feel and behave by changing our focus – because where focus goes, energy flows.
I also consider the other person’s true meaning and context such as why they would do this or that.
NLP coaching can help you with an ethos of excellence in mind. It is training your mind to think positively and differently. It is truly transformative. Survivors just need a little push in the right direction - and support. NLP gives you models and approaches to help you achieve what you want by increasing how strong you can be – to yourself as well as to others.
Benefits I experienced from coaching and NLP
Coaching has not been at the forefront of stroke survivor recovery but the following benefits from my personal experience have shown me how valuable it can be. Perhaps NLP and coaching should be at the vanguard of recovery.
- It stopped me from thinking only about myself and allowed me to start thinking about how others were affected by my stroke.
- It lead me to forgiveness for seeing people move on after I had my stroke.
- By reframing a situation, I can see how it is viewed from another person’s perspective and it helps make sense of the overall journey we are facing.
Every stroke is completely different and there isn’t a cookie cutter approach that works when it comes to recovery. This is also where coaching can add value.
Thank you for letting me write to you about an approach which I am personally so committed to. I implement it daily in my life. It works for me, and it works for many survivors that I have had the pleasure to work with.
To find out more about Samantha’s Coaching programme: https://masterstrokecoaching.com/about-samantha/