Debbie Wiltshire interviewed by Natalie Dekel.
Natalie Dekel: what is this change that we are talking about?
Debbie Wiltshire: This change, for me, is a process of waking up to and acknowledging our true selves. I have come to understand that I have been sleepwalking through life, and creating many difficulties for myself through my lack of awareness. I have been living the life that people expected me to, that people told me was for me, and trying to be the person that I thought people wanted me to be.
All the time I was aware that something wasn’t quite as it should be, that I wasn’t living life being true to myself. In fact I wasn’t even sure by the time I got to my late 30’s who I actually was anymore! So the change for me has been a process of stripping away all the pretence, all the roles that I was playing and the masks that I was wearing and seeing what was left. It has been a process too of rediscovery, of coming to know myself again.
I have also been clearing many of the old programmes from my past, and as I release the toxicity of past experiences, so my vibration has begun to rise and I have become more connected to source and to my intuitive self.
You mentioned that you have been creating difficulties in your life through lack of self awareness. What does it mean being self- aware and what kind of difficulties have you created with lack of it?
To me being self-aware means being aware of my actions and my thoughts and the impact they have on my life. So I am more aware of whether I am blaming others for something that I’m unhappy with rather than taking responsibility for dealing with whatever I’m happy with. I’m more aware of what recurring thoughts I have, so if I notice that I am having very negative thoughts about something such as work, I will stop and switch my thinking so that I can offer a more positive vibration around that area. I’m also more aware of lessons that life has to teach and more aware of the anger, pain or resentments that I have held on to for many years.
The main way that a lack of self-awareness has led to difficulties is that I had tended to blame others for everything that had happened. So I blamed partners for the destructive relationships that I’d had, I blamed employers for my lack of fulfilment in my jobs, and so on and so on. The problem of course with that, is that blaming others prevents us from taking responsibility for our own actions, for our own part in the situation. And sometimes what we have to take responsibility for is not that in these situations we did something ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ but that we did nothing. This was very much the case in my life.
What are those old programmes that you mentioned above? And can you please further elaborate on what you see as ‘toxicity of past experiences’?
So, this programme of blaming others rather than taking responsibility has been one such programme that I have worked on clearing. This has really been such a pivotal moment in the early stages of my journey. It was a painful realisation, but it has started a process of change that has been breath-taking. By facing up to the realisation that I had made the choice to stay in relationships that were damaging, I came to realise that I was not a powerless victim. In fact I was consistently giving away my power to others, in my relationships, my jobs, and in many other areas of my life. When you realise that you are in part the architect of your pain, yes it’s painful but only then can you become the architect of your happiness. And then you reclaim your own power.
Another programme that I have been working on changing is the behaviour of trying to make others happy, to try to solve their problems or to carry their pain for them all the while causing myself pain. This has been quite a tough nut to crack for me! But I’ve learned that I am not responsible for others happiness – they have their own path to follow after all, I am only responsible for my own. That is truly liberating. Of course, all of this is work in progress, when we identify one programme & shift that, often we then notice another one hiding behind it!
What I mean by ‘toxicity of past experiences’ is that I feel when we hold on to resentments, anger, pain or another other negative emotions, we hold these in our bodies as negative energy. If we do not release this negative energy, this stagnates and becomes toxic. In time this becomes damaging to our emotional and physical health.
What has triggered in you the wish to change?
My desire for change has been there for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t understand what I wanted to change or what I could change. So the trigger or the breaking point came for me in 2009. I was in an unhappy marriage and was suffering from depression. I put so much energy into maintaining the perfect pretence of everything being fine, I was studying full-time and on the surface everything was ok. But behind closed doors I was desperately unhappy and one day I sat down and decided that I’d had enough. I decided that change must happen because remaining the same was no longer an option.
How did you set on that task of changing?
I prayed for help and for change and of course the universe delivered! I had some time before looked at a website offering spiritual counselling but wasn’t sure it was for me. Then out of the blue I got a phone call from that same person offering to help. I started to see her regularly for a combination of reiki and soul retrieval. I found it all rather odd at first as I had little experience of spirituality at this point and had not yet awoken to my spiritual connection. As an academic trained to be critical I could not understand what I was getting myself into and many times I vowed not to ‘waste any more money on this nonsense’. And yet I felt drawn to keep going and over time I started to feel the weight of my depression, past memories and pain lift. I started to hope again.
What has made you choose this particular type of help or counselling as opposed to psychotherapy or just plain psychologist or nhs advisor?
I have received help at three separate points in my life from psychotherapists and psychologists. Each time I found amazing support from these people and am very grateful for their help. Each time they helped me to get through whatever issues I was struggling with at the time so I don’t want to take away from the amazing job that they do. However in my experience, this type of counselling or treatment felt like a temporary ‘fix’. Whilst it gave me the support to get through a particular period of time, I felt that I kept returning to a place of pain, my depression would be recurring and I always seemed to be finding myself in difficult or painful situations. For example, I had received counselling as a teenager for an eating disorder. It helped me to get that disorder over control, but in times of stress it would always seem to reoccur, and for 25 years it was a behaviour pattern that I had to maintain an iron control over. So there seemed to me to be some underlying ‘problem’ that wasn’t being dealt with. So when I found myself back in a period of deep unhappiness and depression, I felt I needed to find a different approach. I wanted to find a ‘miracle cure’ I suppose!
What experiences drew you to return to the spiritual type of treatment? Or maybe better to ask what did you feel when going to these sessions that made you go back again and again despite ‘ not wanting to waste money’ on such stuff?
Well if you’d have asked me that at the time the answer would have been ‘I don’t know’, because at the time I couldn’t really put my finger on why I felt I had to keep going back. I didn’t really understand what was happening during these sessions, to me a reiki or soul retrieval session was just a nice relaxing experience, chance to take some quality ‘me’ time. At the time I was in extreme financial difficulty and was struggling to find money even for food so I couldn’t afford the weekly sessions I was having at the time. And yet at the same time I felt that I couldn’t afford NOT to have them. It was as if I felt this way my last chance, my only hope of getting out of the dark place that I was in. Of course in time I started to feel the benefits. Week by week I could feel the incredible weight on my shoulders lifting. I started to feel stronger, more confident, and more hopeful and so my determination to continue on this journey got stronger.
I also became more comfortable with the idea of spirit, or source – something which I have been very sceptical about. As a social scientist I was unable to accept the idea of people seeing beyond the physical world or communicating with spirits or guides, despite experiences as a child of seeing spirit. But one experience changed that for me. After a soul retrieval session, the lady I was working with asked me if I wanted to know what she’d seen during the session. Ever curious I said yes, not expecting very much. She described seeing me standing alone at a bus stop one cold dark evening, screaming in my head “I can’t take this anymore!”. This was a pivotal moment as some weeks before I had been standing at a bus stop waiting for the bus home. It was dark and cold and I was really struggling to cope and I remembered silently screaming those exact words to myself. For that moment, I began the process of opening myself back up to source.
Does it matter how one goes about the process of change or is there a strict procedure that one needs to follow?
I believe that it doesn’t matter at all how one goes about the process of change, it just matters that you do. We are all different and we are all experiencing different paths through life. And so we will all follow our own unique pathways through this change. There is no right or wrong because our path will be exactly as we need it to be, if we will just allow it to unfold in its own way & its own time.
Since those early, sceptical steps I have had the privilege of working with several teachers. Each person brings their own perspective and has something valuable to teach. So I firmly believe that it is beneficial to explore many approaches. I love to attend talks and workshops that I hear about, I’m infinitely curious about spirituality and awakening processes and I always hear at least one thing that has a meaningful and profound effect on me.
They say that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear and I have experienced this many times in my own journey. As I progress through my journey and I shift to higher levels of understanding and awakening I become ready for the next stage of my journey. And so without fail, a new teacher, book, workshop or website appears. Always just at the perfect time and always delivering the one new piece of the puzzle that I need to push myself further forwards.
I would say that each individual has their own journey, that they all have their own unique lessons that they have come here to learn, their own new knowledge to integrate into their consciousness. What is right for one person may not be right for another. So my guidance would be to always follow what feels right in your heart. If you feel a connection with a teacher or guide, or a philosophy then it is right for you. And if it has appeared before you it has something to teach you, even in rejecting an idea we can learn valuable lessons.
So do you feel this change that you underwent – is it going to happen to other people or is it just something that happens rarely to certain individuals?
We are in a time of great change right now so I feel that everyone is going to be undergoing some process of change if they are not already. But I feel that not everyone will experience the same magnitude of change. Much of our social identity is built on stability, permanence and of unchanging structures and so many people are afraid or resistant to change, especially if we feel this change might put us ‘at odds’ with those around us. But change will come to all of us to some degree whether we are ready or no matter how hard we try to resist it. It has to. Much of the behaviours or tools we have developed in our lives are no longer working for us so aspects of our live seem not to be working or to be causing discomfort. So some change is very much needed and should not be feared. Much of the pain that change causes is due to the fear and resistance we have around change. So much better to relax into the process and allow change to happen.
Some people believe it is impossible to change the past or the way a person is or has become, do you believe it is true?
Well it is my belief that that past is the past, nothing more nothing less. I have not sought to change it and I don’t believe that the physical facts of the past are to be changed. Our past experiences are after all are our greatest teachers and what we have agreed to come here to experience. They form part of our journey and our growth so I believe they are to be respected as that. What I believe we can change, and what I have been working on changing, is the way the past influences our lives today and the emotional charge we feel about it.
To explain what I mean more, I have experienced rape in the past on more than one occasion. I cannot change or deny that, it is a part of my physical journey. I cannot erase it, nor would I now want to. For nearly twenty years, those events have made me feel powerless, unclean, unworthy of happiness or love. So for years I have made decisions based on that view of myself and have led myself into a spiral of self-destructive behaviour and poor decision-making. And it is that which I have been changing. So I feel worthy of happiness and love, I feel clean and am regaining a sense of my own power – despite and because of those past experiences.
So I believe whole-heartedly that each and every person has the ability to change the effect of their pasts and how they live their lives and to return to their own true selves, if that is what they truly desire.
Where would this change lead you do you think?
This change can only lead to a greater self-acceptance and awareness. Then this change will trigger a greater sense of peace and contentment, a greater sense of faith that all is well and a greater sense of being safe and protected in our journey. From here, these changes spread out like ripples on a pond. When we truly accept and love ourselves, we can open our hearts to truly accepting and loving others. And how wonderful would life be if we could all be in that space of loving acceptance!
In truth, there are no limitations to where this change can lead. When we learn to stop resisting, then we can allow that which we desire into our lives. When we truly surrender to who we are, then we allow life to flow naturally as it is meant to with all its twists and turns.
So does it mean this change will just make one feel secure and happy or will it have more ‘practical’ implications such as better material circumstances, better jobs, more money in one’s life, better relationships etc?
No, not at all. It will also bring all of the physical or material improvements that we desire, but I believe that we have to start with raising our vibration so that we live with a sense of peace and faith in the process of life. Many times we wish to draw more money into our lives, for example, but this desire for more money is underpinned by a fear that we don’t have enough or will never have enough. So often we say “I don’t have enough to pay the bills” or “if I had more money I would be happy”, so we are actually focusing on a lack of money or a lack of security or happiness. And what we focus on is what we tend to attract into our lives. So even if we sit and say affirmations about gaining more money, if we have a fear of a lack of money then that is what the universe hears. The same goes for anything that we want to bring more of into our lives. And also when we feel a need for something, often that need is based on fear so our need becomes the thing that blocks these things from manifesting.
So what if we felt that sense of peace, that inner knowing that we are always taken care of, that life will unfold in the way that is for our highest good? The desperate need for a relationship, for more money, for a better house is replaced with a gratitude for what we have and a desire for more. Then the barriers that we put in between ourselves and what we want disappear.
Why do you need to change at all?
Simply because I want to be at peace and to be happy. Not the illusion of happiness that I have had in the past, but the true peace of knowing that I am always in the perfect place at the perfect time, that nothing is ‘missing’ and nothing is ‘wrong’, that each and every challenge I face is here for my highest good and has something to teach me, that at moments when I feel alone or down I know I am loved and protected, and that I am always taken care of.
I see so many people around who are unhappy or angry at life, who are suffering and it reminds me that our world needs this change!
Which aspects of yourself have not changed? And which ones you do not wish to change?
Winston Churchill once said that “Personally I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught” and I think this sums up one aspect of myself that has not yet changed fully. I am working on being more open to being taught, but my ego’s need to control still kicks in sometimes so that’s a work in progress! Sometimes the lessons can be painful as we face up and release our past, and I am working on keeping my faith that all is as it’s meant to be in those moments. So there are always aspects of myself that are changing and that will change in the future.
There are two things that I really do not wish to change and do not intend to change. The first is my thirst for new knowledge and learning. I have always been curious and have always loved to learn about new things and I hope to always be that way. The second thing I do not wish to change is my ability to relax in nature without any guilt of what I ‘should’ be doing! I gain so much pleasure from being outside, and a walk by the waterfront or through the park gives me such a lift when I’m out of sorts.
17 March 2013.
© Debbie Wiltshire, Natalie Dekel and Gil Dekel.
Exclusive publishing rights © Natalie and Gil Dekel.
Interview conducted via email correspondence 6 March 2013 – 13 March 2013.
Debbie and Natalie are based in Southampton, UK.