Don’t stop believing

December 23, 2022 Debbie Gilbert

Businesswomen UnLtd Christmas Party

Saira Hasan was awarded a Gold Award in our Shining Star Awards 2022 and here she shares her story with us.

I was humbled and delighted to receive the Businesswomen UnLtd Shining Star Gold Award in December 2022.

When I came to the UK in 2014, I left behind a thriving career as an IB Diploma teacher in Dubai. Coming to London,  I discovered that there were not many IB schools here and the ones that did offer IB Psychology were very far from where I lived.  I did some supply teaching at an international school in Central London but obviously my heart wasn’t in it. If anyone has been a supply teacher, they know the feeling of being on the peripheries. In the staffroom or with the students who don’t really care two figs about you. That made me sad because I missed my Dubai students who would drop in at lunchtimes or after school to talk about their problems or just to offload. At that time, I had wished subconsciously that I had the training to make their burdens lighter somehow as I was a Psychology teacher but not a counsellor. I kept on plugging away as a supply teacher on and off for a few years, my sense of self and identity in limbo ( if not in decline),and would probably have continued like this but the Universe had something else in mind. 

Making a change

An ad popped up in my Facebook feed about training to be a Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist.  I had heard of CBT and respected it but Hypnotherapy was something I was honestly scared of. Once I had booked an appointment with a Hypnotherapist who had come from the UK to Dubai (considered a celebrity just because he was from the UK), and I got cold feet minutes before I drove into his office building.  I made a U-turn and drove away, feeling relieved as if I had escaped from a prison.  ‘ God knows what he would have made me do!’ , I thought. Fast forward to this moment, and my bias against hypnosis notwithstanding,  I somehow knew I had to take this training! I remember sitting in the hall on the first day full of self doubt. We could opt out at the end of the day and get a refund if we wanted to. As I listened to the others who were already in the field and brimming with self confidence, I  thought:

What are you doing?

What will you even do after you have passed your exams? 

You don’t  have a community here! You have never run a business, have no clue how to set up one! You are an introvert and hate talking about yourself. How will you self promote? You are in your fifties now… why don’t you just retire and enjoy life?

As these things were going through my mind, they gave us an exercise to do: we were given little pendulums that we had to hold between our fingers, keeping them very still. Then we had to ‘speak’ to them silently,  telling them to move clockwise,  anticlockwise,  or just stop. When my pendulum started following my silent instructions,  I was fascinated… fascinated by the power of my subconscious mind. I was hooked!

And I kept on going.

After completing my Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy diploma and passing various exams, I did another one in Stress Management and Resilience building,  then separate courses to deal with issues like Insomnia,  Panic Attacks,  PTSD, Perfectionism, Self-esteem and Smoking cessation. The field was vast and wonderful. Trauma work really interested me so I trained to be an EMDR specialist as well. Studying wasn’t hard for me but setting up a business was. Insurance, business account, website, Facebook page, Instagram account, LinkedIn, registration with GHR and CNHC, DBS, even HMRC… who even paid taxes in Dubai? 

And then building a community? What do I do? Where do I go? I didn’t even have the school gates option as my adult ‘ children ‘ didn’t even live in the same country. 

Someone told me to go to a BNI meeting which was so daunting, I didn’t go again. You had to meet at 6.30 in the morning every Thursday and there was a points system and essentially,  it was just so not me. But luckily,  there was a lady there who scribbled a few names on a napkin for me: Athena, Mum’s Unlimited, Bizhelp and Recommend Asian Facebook group. 

Slowly,  I started making connections and I remember being ecstatic ( and somewhat scared)when the first client rang my doorbell. And then the queries started trickling in, not a deluge but slow and steady.  Even I was surprised to see how quickly clients found calm and freedom from the yokes of past trauma and present day stresses with the help of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy. After all, 95 percent of what we do is ruled by our subconscious mind. It made sense to talk to that part of our psyche. Referrals started coming in from women in the area and I was just getting into the swing of things, when Covid lockdowns started. 

Give up? Not in my dictionary.  I sent my credentials to the  Harley Street Hypnotherapy Clinic who were looking to create an online therapy panel of specialists and I was accepted.  Taking inspiration from there, I also took my existing clients online, the first one I remember, on Skype. But I quickly ditched it for Zoom as it was not only more efficient, it even did your makeup for you… oh and the filters!

The last couple of years have been years of expansion, internationally as well as locally. I am blessed to be part of networks consisting of wonderful and inspiring women who have coached me, guided me, taught me about marketing and business and have helped me  at every step of the way.Giving my clients peace gives me peace and I live in gratitude that God chose me to do this work.

Thus, to be acknowledged for this journey is a humbling experience and inspires me to be better… to keep growing… to keep helping…to keep believing in myself!

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