Charli Wall has experienced so much of what life has to offer and much of it hasn’t been easy. She’s dealt with chronic anxiety, stress, C-PTSD, dysfunctional eating, devastating, debilitating loss, and much more. Her experiences also included tremendous success with a health and fitness business.
Then in 2017 she discovered the Three Principles and began taking the Clarity Coach training course with Jamie Smart. This exploration led her back to herself, and to her innate health and well-being. It also led to helping others discover theirs.
Charli Wall is an Experienced Transformation Coach having coached and counselled for some 20+ years and is a qualified Three Principles coach. She helps women reconnect to their inner wisdom, and their body’s innate wisdom, to let go of the internal shackles that weigh them down, so that they can live in the full power of their deeper knowing.
- Recovering from trauma and PTSD
- Having the life-changing insight that we are always safe
- Observing that our thinking is like stepping into a movie
- Seeing that our unwanted habits are a solution, not a problem
- Does ‘self-sabotage’ even exist or are we always trying to help ourselves?
Resources Mentioned in this Episode
Transcript of Interview with Charli Wall
Alexandra: Charlie Wall, welcome to Unbroken.
Charli: Thank you, Alexandra. It’s lovely to be here.
Alexandra: Lovely to meet you and to have you on the show.
Why don’t you give us a little bit of background on yourself and how you came across the three principles.
Charli: It’s quite a lengthy story. So I’ll try and keep it brief.
My father had just died in 2016. And I’d been looking after him for some 20 odd years by that point. And so it’s pretty significant loss. And what I decided to do was, I had my own business, I was running a very successful fitness business in Cambridge, where I’d been looking after him, my son was 16 at the time. And I’ve just got really stuck in this grief that I was in because it wasn’t just about my dad. My brother had been in the same accident in 1993. And that killed my brother. And then I subsequently looked after my father.
When he died, it was like a big explosion for me in my life. So I decided to sell everything, my house and my business. And at that point, I was looking to become a life coach, I’d been doing a nutritional therapist qualification alongside running a business. But I just saw, no, I have got so many skills, I wanted to put them all under one umbrella as a life coach. So I was looking for courses. I came across a course called Clarity Coaching. I was being interviewed by lots of different coaching companies. I spoke to the person that was doing clarity coaching, had no idea about the principles at all.
I spoke to this person, and I thought, right, if I see a squirrel, I’m going to take that on, like this is how my mind was kind of working at that point. And so I walked into town, but not via any parks or anything. I walked into the shopping center in Cambridge, and there was this massive squirrel, a cardboard one. I was like, Oh, right. Okay, I’ll do that course then. And it just so happened to be a three principles coach training course.
I was so anxious back then, that when I started in September 2017, I couldn’t even have my video on Zoom. I was just sort of on Zoom, but just the little black square. And they were all so happy. I was like, ‘What is this?’. I couldn’t understand what they was talking about.
That was my initial how I got into the principles. And then I started working with Jamie Smart one to one. And then I was a mentor in the second year of clarity coach training. And then I had some significant life changing insights, which propelled my journey into uncovering our innate wellness and seeing that really, truly deeply for myself. So that’s kind of it in a nutshell.
Alexandra: I’m sure there’s a lot more detail in there. I have a million questions. One of the things you said say on your website is that when you sold everything you went traveling for a while.
Can you tell us a little bit about that? I’m just curious about what that looked like.
Charli: Well, it didn’t look like traveling, like people do when they go all over the place. I went to India for five weeks to study to become a yoga teacher. I literally sold my house sold my business. And then I was on a flight on the next day to India, still with chronic PTSD.
Back then, at that point, I was still suffering with very, very bad PTSD, chronic anxiety. And so if you’ve got chronic anxiety and PTSD, India is the worst place you could go to; it’s noisy and full of people. And anyway, so I went to India for five weeks. And then I came back and I then went to Corfu for three weeks because my son was over there. So I was kind of exploring Corfu for a bit and then I went to a place in Spain and I was rewilding for a week and I was just I was with a guide. I do I run my retreats with him now actually in Spain, but I went there and he was teaching me about the land and the animals.
It was silent, but utterly beautiful, profound experience for me in my life. At that point again, I’m still sort of chronically anxious. But there was something that stripped everything back about that week. And then I went to Crete for three weeks now, that’s not really traveling for me, because I have a villa over there. But I did explore different parts of Crete. I was just on my own, apart from being in India, I was just literally on my own. So it wasn’t really traveling. But it was more like I was, I needed a rest.
I needed a deep rest from the trauma of the past from the age of 21 to 44, it was very traumatic was a lot going on. I was running a business looking out for my son looking after my dad. I just needed some time, but I didn’t really know that. That’s what I wanted. So it was after that, that I joined clarity coach training. So traveling sounds very, you know, exotic, and like I’m moving about I didn’t really move about I stayed still but in apart from the yoga, which obviously I didn’t test it at all. But Corfu, Spain, in Crete, I was still and I was on my own.
I just couldn’t, at that point really even think about talking to anyone; it was quite extraordinary. And then I came back and just happened to land in a place in England called Norfolk. And ex client said she had a house that I could rent, which was another kind of weird synchronicity. And I isolated myself in Norfolk for a good few months before I started to come out of this dark night of the soul. So yeah, I wouldn’t I don’t know if I call it traveling, and maybe I need to change it on my website. But I think it was just, I couldn’t be at home and I didn’t have a home anymore. And I didn’t know where to go what to do.
Alexandra: You mentioned both anxiety and PTSD there.
When did you begin to see those things as something different than you had seen them previously?
Charli: I started the training in September. And it wasn’t until February of 2019 that I had my first insight around anxiety. I was walking my dog. And, as I said, I’d been working one to one with Jamie and I’d been doing the coach training and I was really studying it, making notes and studying and trying to understand it. And all of a sudden, I was walking along and I just got this new thought is very difficult to articulate, isn’t it?, when you have an insight to someone else, but I literally got this new thought.
The new thought said, You’ve been doing all of those things because you didn’t know you were safe.
What I mean by all those things for me was like I used to have to have all the labels out of clothes. I used to have to feed my son at the same time every day, drink from the same cup. That’s just a very, very small example. I picked my face, my hair was falling out, I bit my nails, I was doing all sorts of kind of compensatory behaviors. So that was the thought. ‘You’ve been doing all these things because you didn’t know you were safe.’
In that moment, and I suddenly saw all along, I’d been okay, all along, I’d been safe. And actually those behaviors and thoughts that I believed were actually making the anxiety worse, because if I didn’t have my cup, I was like, Oh, if I didn’t have my 1pm sleep I was, you know, so it was very interesting. And then literally about a month later, I was driving to see a friend and a motorbike pass me. Now for all of those years from my being 21 to that point, every time I saw motorbike, I’d gone into this flashback. And the flashback was around all of the stuff around the night of the accident and then subsequent events happened afterwards. So every time I drove a car or a bike this would happen. You can imagine how actually dangerous that is because you understand thought like your literally in a movie, aren’t you?
So this motorbike went past and this automatic response started and I suddenly again, this new thought popped in it was like, you don’t have to follow that. And that was that. It literally changed it.
And then there was another experience. If you don’t mind me telling this story. My son was still living here. He’d just got his first car. So now we’re in 2020 is lock down time. And he went out for the first time in his car, and I started to think, Oh, my God, he’s going to have a crash. What if he doesn’t get back in time? I started to feel this anxiety.
Then just before the time he was do home, I felt myself go into this movie, right? And then he walked through the door, and I was able to snap out of it. And then I realized, again, flashbacks are same as a flash forward, they’re sort of the same. It’s a movie. It’s thought that we get caught up in that we then experience in our body as real. There’s been so many kinds of insights, but the PTSD and anxiety were the two that had the biggest impact on my experience of life, for sure.
Alexandra: I sense that, from what you’ve described, taking yoga teacher training and being interested in life coaching before you knew about the principles that you’ve always been interested in health and wellness and those sorts of things. Is that true?
Charli: It is true. But I’ll caveat that by saying I now walk the walk and talk the talk. But I used to talk the talk and not walk the walk.
I was an addiction specialist after the accident and prior to that I was doing teacher training as in children. And then I went into psychiatric nursing, then I specialized and became an addiction specialist. And then I got into fitness, and started a fitness business that then exploded. But all the while I was drinking smoking. I had a very bad relationship with food. I was binge eating, I was starving. I was over exercising sometimes four or five hours a day. And still running this business which was growing and growing and growing.
So yes, I had a really strong interest in being different. Like I wanted to be different. Prior to that, as an addiction specialist, my real name is Charlotte. And I was like, I’m going to be different. I’m going to do this fitness training. I had had a breakdown, but it doesn’t really matter because I was just thinking I was broken. So if I change my name, I’m going to be okay. So then I created this sort of double personality where I was this successful business owner, well known in my town, fitness business owner, teaching fitness to hundreds of women every day.
Behind the scenes, Charlotte was not taking care of herself in any way shape or form. So this is really interesting dichotomy in my life. As an addiction specialist, I was drinking heavily. I was a workaholic. The accident changed me. My brother’s death changed me. And the way that I compensated for my grief was to overwork, drink heavily, smoke, be a drama queen, but be very successful. In front house, you wouldn’t have known there was anything wrong with me. And it’s only now when I talk about it because I’m 51 you can see it on my face that you know that I’ve smoked that I that I haven’t taken care of myself.
The principles opened it up for me in a way to be able to understand the depths of my wisdom. It was all wisdom that I just didn’t think I could cope unless I had these things in place. They were keeping me in a state of anxiety that anyway, now I’m very, very honest about all of it. I don’t have anything to hide anymore. Charlotte is Charli; we’re the same. It’s brought me here to this point in my life. And I feel very blessed that I’m not dead basically. Because there could have been many times where I’ve put myself in very risky situations over the years.
Everyone has a bit of a nightmare, don’t they, when they get to 50? And I was like, I made it. I’ve lived a lot of lives in my 51 years. To speak to your original question, yes, I’ve always had a real interest in it. I’ve studied it, I’ve learned it, I’m qualified in so many things I can’t even mention because it was another addiction. But now I really do live by that. And my body is thankful for. Because I’m post menopause now. A lot of women I meet now are my age or older and are postmenopausal and are really, really struggling because the stress has a huge impact on your body. I felt again, so blessed because I haven’t taken care of my body didn’t for many years, and I think that the impact of no stress, or very little stress in my life has had a profound effect on my body. I’m very lucky.
Alexandra: I’d like to go a little deeper than into those unwanted habits that you had, if you’ll indulge me
We talk about on unwanted habits a lot on this show in my work, that’s what I tend to focus on. So this is kind of a vague question.
What can you see now about over drinking, over eating, maybe over smoking, that you couldn’t see at the time?
Charli: That it was a solution.
Charli: That [the habit] was quietening me down in some way, it served me. Smoking, for sure you’re breathing in, and then you have a longer exhale. So there’s calming of the parasympathetic nervous system.
The drinking, I was always drinking because I couldn’t handle my grief, I couldn’t handle the trauma of what I was having to deal with, with my dad for so many years. For the drinking. I was drinking to blackout often. And so I slept. So there’s even wisdom in that because it was a solution to a lot of heavy grief and trauma that I didn’t know I had, I didn’t know how to process I didn’t even know I was anxious, like, all I knew is that I had been diagnosed with PTSD, no one said the symptoms of anxiety.
I even see the suicidal ideation, which I suffered a lot with, as a solution. It was a solution that my brain was coming up with. And of course, over the years, you build up this neurological patterning, which is then the thought comes in, or I’m going to do it, I don’t even think about it. And then you go into the judgment. So then you’re in this sort of familiar repetitive cycle of self-loathing and doing the behavior and self-loathing, not understanding neuroscience and not understanding thought, not understanding the nervous system and trauma and the shutdown and free state that I was sort of perpetually in.
I see that it was a solution to things I didn’t understand very well. And my main habit was probably being horrible to myself.
Alexandra: I can really relate to that and to the dawning realization that these things are solutions. We’re doing the very best we can in the moment with the thinking that we have.
There really is no such thing as self-sabotage, is what I want to say too. We’re always trying to help ourselves.
Charli: I say exactly the same thing. It’s not self-sabotage. It’s a solution and if you can turn it around and see the gifts in it, and that your body is taking care of you. And these things are rooted in strength, not weakness. Because the hardest thing for people is that they beat themselves up and they feel shame and shame becomes secretive, and it becomes like a knife in your heart. And you’re going to do it anyway. It was always something that was protecting me from my own pain. But it always comes out in the end.
Alexandra: Is there anything else that you that you see about what we would call addictions that you didn’t see in the past?
Charli: I think because I’ve studied and worked in addictions for 30 years now, I never bought into the whole ‘you’re born with it’. I never bought into it’s a disease. So I’m not sure, I think the only thing I do see differently is that people are stuck in freeze response. And we’ll do what they can to get out of it. So there’s wisdom in it. And it’s been a solution to years of either trauma, or just grief or pain in some form, which is of course, individual and subjective to the human experiencing it. These things are not to be punished.
And connection is key. I always had that way of thinking anyway. And it’s actually one of the reasons why I left, one of the many reasons why I left the NHS, was because I just didn’t believe in the medical model anymore. I didn’t believe in these things being medicated pharmaceutically. I wanted to go out there and explore different ways of being with the client who often were seen as below the doctor or the nurse or whatever. There’s huge stereotyping and all that stuff.
So I’ve kind of been blazing my own trail for the last 20 years, in my own business and doing this work privately. But the principles gave me a deeper understanding of the nature of that solution. That all of them are just looking for peace of mind. And they don’t realize that it’s within them, because we live in a conditioning that says something outside of you can make you feel better. So where I might have gone into with clients the pain or you know, because I’ve done all of it, psychotherapy, CBT all the things, I’ve trained in all the things and now what I see about that is like, I was really traumatizing myself when I was being a therapist, and I was reached for re-traumatizing others so that there’s that’s different.
But I think I’ve always known on some level that it was not for me, I was my biggest critic, but for everyone else, I could see that it was a solution. But for me, I couldn’t. I was being too judgmental on myself.
Alexandra: So interesting, what you say about re traumatizing. So by going into the past, that’s what you mean by that?
Charli: Yeah, because I don’t know how many therapists I had over the years many one of whom said I was fu CK Ed. And wanted me to relive it and of course, every time I’d come out of that session, I would be utterly exhausted and bereft and I’d go and smoke and drink
Of course I was doing that innocently to the people that were in my care with the NHS and then as a private counselor. But with the two principles, I can see that that is literally bringing it up in the moment again and asking someone to relive it in the present moment, which that’s not helpful. It’s just not helpful to anyone. I can’t remember what you asked now.
Alexandra: We were touching on re traumatizing and going into the past.
Charli: I think it’s important for people to make a connection between their nervous system responses as children and then their behaviors that come up or whatever the behavior is. It doesn’t matter to me the thing, and I’ve done, basically all of them. Because that’s not what it is. It’s about people going into chronic state of activation, a nervous state, and then story gets created.
So if we think about the principles as we’re feeling our thinking with the nervous system was built in utero. So actually, sometimes that response could have been from when we were in our mom’s womb, which means that the thoughts weren’t necessarily conscious thoughts. So sometimes we have to roll around and help people join the dots, but not in a re traumatizing way in a way that has them understand their nervous system, how it can get activated, and how they’ve innocently been trying to get them out of getting themselves out of that, then they have all this judgment and conditioning. And who am I in the world?
It’s complex, isn’t it? But I do it in a very gentle, careful way that has the person not get you traumatized. Because I wouldn’t want to do that to anyone anymore.
Alexandra: You’ve mentioned the freeze state a couple of times. I’m guessing that has to do with the nervous system as well.
Tell us a little bit more about that. And about if someone is in that state, coming out of it.
Charli: The freeze state; if you think about the nervous system as being part of your autonomic nervous system, so everything, all the things that are going on in your body, which your body is very wise and very brilliant. And if anyone needs to look at their health, and you have to go and go inside, my food is being digested. And my heart is beating, and there’s blood going around in my veins. But the autonomic nervous system is you’ll have heard of like the maybe have you heard of the parasympathetic? And the sympathetic?
Alexandra: Probably a million years ago in like grade nine.
Charli: It’s kind of moved on from when we learned about it in biology. And they’re talking about there’s three states.
There’s the social nervous system. That’s you and I connecting now giving each other eye contact, facial expressions, the whole thing.
And then there’s the commonly known fight or flight, which we’re going then into the sympathetic nervous system.
And then the third one is freeze or shutdown. So it’s like a deer caught in headlights, for example. And they freeze.
These are evolutionary survival responses for every human. When you’re a baby, or you’re very small, and the social nervous system, you’re not getting attuned to, you’re not getting your needs met. As a child, you’ll go down to the next one, which is fight and flight.
Now if that doesn’t work, small children can’t fight and they can’t run away. So then their system if they’re in a space that they perceive to be unsafe in some way, they will shut down. Now over many years, if you’ve been in shutdown and then in flight or fright, and then shut down, you’re going to be in this state of constant either anxiety or confusion, disorientation, apathy, tiredness.
When people don’t understand that they think there’s something wrong with them, so then they drink and then they smoke and then they take drugs and then they might go gambling to feel something to get them out of the out of the shutdown and the freeze. And if people could just understand that, even that because what we point to in the principles, right is it’s universal, like what’s doing the heavy lifting thoughts, the mind consciousness. The body is also often very wise and the body holds that score literally.
So something that happened to me for is still being held in my body. Now if I haven’t completed that stress cycle, like animals shake it out, it’s stuck. It’s stuck in my body. And people don’t know that and they go from freeze to flight or flight to freeze.
I can tell in people’s language where they are in their nervous system. If people come to me with anxiety, it’s because they’ve been in chronic activation for many, many, many years, they’ve become hyper vigilant. There’s all of those things that happen too, so if you think about me and you are here, and there’s a lion coming for us, we are going to be hyper vigilant, and we’re going to try and run away. So then people turn it inwards, because I find need to know when my body is in space and time to be running away. And that’s not actually happening.
It’s coming from my thinking, I’m going to go inwards and think my body is shit. What am I going to do about my body, I hate my body. So there’s loads of signs that I can see that someone’s been in chronic activation. But I talk about, obviously, the principles and I go a layer deeper with the body with people just to give them an understanding of that universality as well, because these inner systems are 500 million years old; they all work the same.
But when we lack understanding of our brilliance, we think there’s something wrong with us. And there just isn’t just a misunderstanding of a body and mind, which are just working beautifully.
Alexandra: I love that. And with my guests, we circle so often come around to the wisdom of the body. Tania Elfersy works with people with menopause. And I had Stephanie Wood on recently, and she was doing kind of a nervous system reset program after the trauma of the pandemic that we’ve all been through. So yeah, I love hearing that. That’s great.
I want to touch on your podcast and your what you offer to people. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Charli: My podcast is called Courage Dear Heart, and I have guests on there like I’ve had Tania on and Michael Neill and different people and sometimes I’ll do solo episodes. It started when I first started this life coaching business and the name came to me and because I really believe most people don’t know how much courage they’ve got. And there’s so many wonderful people out there with courageous stories and they will shut it down or poopoo it away.
But that’s what I kind of work with people on is their courage their heart, their brilliant, their uniqueness. I have a Facebook group as well, a ladies only Facebook group, although I do work with some men but my work would appear femme centric. My website’s very female driven. I have a wonderful free community on Facebook where I do lives like this and I sometimes my podcasts live in that group and then I have a membership a circle membership, that’s again, female only. And we do lots of different things in there.
And because of my experience, there’s yoga videos in there, there’s fitness videos in there, there’s recipes, it’s Hormonal Health, and then I’ll do group coaching and a theme of the month so that’s kind of how I work with people spreading myself as much as I can to share this message as many places as I can.
Alexandra: One of the things I love about your podcast is that sometimes you’ll broadcast a coach a live coaching session.
Charli: They’re live in my free group. All of my stuff is usually live in my free group and then I usually upload it and so I’ll ask the ladies in the group, ‘Anyone up for free coaching, if you don’t mind it being recorded?’ They are brilliant.
They’re my favorite thing to do, actually. Because in my experience on those live coaching people genuinely hear something. I don’t know if it’s because it’s live that they’re a bit more quiet within or I don’t know what it is, but they really do. You hear something in it. And then it gives people an opportunity to relate. And then other people hear things. Thank you. I’d forgotten about that. Thank you for mentioning that.
Alexandra: They’re really powerful, I find, and there’s something about, of course, being coached that is so powerful. But I totally agree that even hearing somebody else be coached, it puts me anyway, in a really nice space of openness to insight. I just I love those ones. They’re great.
Charli: Thank you. I love the group coaching as well, for that very reason. And my circle group has its own, like Secret Circle podcasts. And I get that feedback a lot as well from them that you know, they heard something in so and so being coached. And that’s the wonderful thing about hearing other people being coached because you’re out of your own story.
Alexandra: Yes, absolutely.
Where can we find all this juicy stuff?
Charli: I have a website: I am Charli Wall. And then on Facebook, I’m Charli Wall. It’s Charli with an I. And so on my website, you’ll find my group you know, this links to my free group of links to my YouTube my podcast, my retreats, because so it’s kind of all on my website. But if you want to add me on Facebook at Charli wall, and I’m really public. I have a public profile. So you can pretty much see everything and find my groups from there as well.
Alexandra: Great. Okay. I will, as ever, put links in the show notes, so people can find that. Thank you so much for being with me here today, Charli. I really appreciate it.
Charli: It’s been really, really lovely. Alexandra, thank you very much.
Alexandra: All right. Take care. Bye bye.
Charli: Bye bye.