I was lucky enough to sit down and have a chat with Libby Rainger from The Wellness platform, she’s a wealth of knowledge when it comes to our mind and body. Libby shares her challenges, journey and tools she uses when it comes to running her business. I found it really inspiring chatting to her and hearing how she has developed such a powerful connection within herself, her ability to trust her intuition is so cool. Libby also shares some tips on how we as creative women can build our confidence and approach overwhelm with more awareness. I hope you enjoy this blog, it has some very valuable nuggets.
What is The Wellness Platform? Its purpose and your driving force behind it?
“I called it The Wellness Platform because I wanted something quite broad, it’s like I always knew it wasn’t going to be what it first started out as. It originally started out as a coaching business, where I was running short courses for people experiencing chronic illness. This year The Wellness Platform will be 5, so that was coming up 5 years ago. Around two years ago the business evolved into Wellness in the workplace, so presentations, workshops, keynote speaking at conferences. With a big focus on the mind and body connection, although I try to present it in quite a scientific way, so that it’s not this woo woo mind, body connection where people's eyes glaze over, it’s about getting people back in the driver's seat of how they feel everyday, starting in the mind and how that feels in the body. So the things we say to ourselves, the language we use, the things we think about, the stresses we feel, and also looking at our lives as a whole and seeing how in alignment we are. Some workplaces I go to, peoples careers and finances are thriving but they don’t sleep, or get time to spend with family. So what I aim to do is look at it all as one overarching approach to wellness.
The purpose is to spread my knowledge, that aligns with my values of reflection and awareness, so I want people to have awareness of how the brain and body works and then be able to reflect. A lot of the things I talk about are to do with the mind, and the subconscious mind. Which comes back to awareness, if we aren’t aware of things that are going on for us, that aren’t serving us, or unhelpful habits and ruminating negative thoughts from 20 years ago. If we aren’t aware of these then we can’t really do anything to make those changes. So the purpose in short, awareness, reflection and education”
What made you originally get into learning about mind, body connection?
“It was a bit of a combination, I had a family friend, their daughter who was nine had complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) in her leg, and they were told it would need to be amputated because there was nothing they could do. They couldn’t find the reason for the pain. She was in starship hospital and they took her to do this mind, body course, and she was better within like 3 days. She ran home after she was told her leg was going to have to be amputated. At the time I was heading off to uni here in Wellington and I just picked a generic course that I thought I should do, and I didn’t really care about it at all. So I heard about this course in London and I pivoted. I didn’t go to uni and instead worked at New World, saved for a year and then went over to London. I’d always had an interest in positivity and knowing how to get what you want out of life, but I didn’t know where to channel all of it, so when this course came up it was nice because it sounded different and interesting. It was me with 10 50 year old women, it wasn’t uni. I told everyone ‘I’m going to london, to go to uni’ but I got there and it really wasn’t what I expected, it was good though. It was that catalyst of what got me started and since then I've done lots of other relevant bits of study.”
Personally I fell into the trap of society’s expectation, you know finishing school, going to uni, getting a degree, and then getting a good job. The catalyst for me was mum's death and actually you don’t need to meet these expectations if you don’t want to. What sparked your confidence to pivot and turn down the uni lifestyle and pursue going for this course in London?
“For me it was just a deeper knowing, and I could just tell I was following a crowd when it came to uni, and the course kind of landed in my lap. I heard about it in September, we were meant to start uni in March, the intake for the course was the following September which meant I had exactly one year to get there, and I just listened to all the signs. It was just why not, it’s exciting. I’ve always been someone who goes against the grain.”
So essentially you listened to your intuition and went for it?
“Yeah, it’s like I think, you know when you're trying to buy a house and it's your dream house and then that one falls through and at the time you're like oh gosh why did this happen and the next year you find your dream house, it’s kinda that. I trusted that I’d heard about this for a reason and it lined up for a reason.”
Would you say that comes back to where your passion comes through with the mind, body connection?
“Yeah it was a mixture, I want to feel good, I want my family and friends to feel good. Everyone has stuff going on, a lot of my family and friends have things going on. But you feel extra helpless when everything you have going on is external. So if you're relying on vices, or even medication, which i’m not against. There's a time and a place. But lots of my clients for example have been on medication and don’t want to be but just don’t know anything else. So I just want people to know that you do have control over your body. It’s your body and it’s your mind. You can still have things going on but when you have the awareness and tools, you just feel confident.”
It seems so simple, that it's just rewiring and training your brain to think positively and that we do have control over that, but when you're in that space of ‘everything is happening to me, why does my life suck’ it’s hard
“Yeah it is, and this sort of work is becoming more and more into the mainstream and it’s not as sort of out the gate for our generation, like our friends, they go to therapy and it’s cool and you talk about it, and you talk about your struggles and things, but not everyones at the point where they are ready to hear that, you know it’s confronting if you've had a chronic illness for years, or like you said, lots of stuff is happening to you. To be told you can get back in the driver's seat, it can definitely be interpreted the wrong way, but even if you just have a little slither of understanding of what’s going on in your brain and body, your filtering system, your stress response, how that’s wired. Once you hear that you’re like oh ok, that awareness, that’s what opens up the possibilities.”
From your own perspective, what do you find the most challenging with being self employed, do you have a good support system or are you quite self motivated already?
“I think the most challenging thing is the ebbs and flows, if you work for someone else you have got the support system, direction, someone telling you what the goals are, where you're heading, what to do. I think there's just ebbs and flows, sometimes there's great weeks, sometimes slow weeks. But i think I struggle most with lack of interaction and connection with people like you would have in an office environment and i guess that there's no one there to push and motivate you. I find routine and structure really helpful, and blocking out things in my calendar is really good, it just means I don’t have whole days looming ahead of me. Because my work means I might be doing 3 presentations a week to 3 workplaces that’s 3 hours and there's content creation and marketing around that but it might be a rainy day in winter and I don’t want to go down to my home office, I might just stay in bed and watch married and first sight and that's when it's dangerous haha. So having routine and structure is what gets me through that. But to answer your question the most challenging thing is that it's just you doing it, and only you. Yes friends and family are there but they have their own jobs, they're not in your head.”
Do you find yourself comparing to your friends who are in corporate working 40 hour weeks and think you should be doing that same output to be productive?
“I think it’s about reminding myself often that the work is different, and that it's just a different league. You can compare one thing but you can't compare another thing. One of my values is freedom, which is why I love working for myself because I want to have the choice to do things in my day and I want to have financial freedom too, but they could make that comparison too. I can go to yoga in the middle of the day if I want to, so if I get into that headspace I am quite quick to correct myself, every now and again it may just be they have something fun going on at work or they have work perks, they have a colleagues wedding or something. You just don't get that, maybe one day once you build a team and everything but right now it’s just me.”
So for you it's about the socialisation? What I was trying to get at is that it’s not about productivity for you, feeling pressure to produce an output for 8 hours a day?
“No, for me it’s not, I think everyones would be different. For me it’s about the socialisation aspect and the interaction. With the productivity, I don’t know, i’m definitely not a perfectionist and i’m definitely not hustle hustle hustle, I can work hard but I can equally do a few hours work and then sit back and be like good job Libby and take the rest of the day off.”
Do you have a mentor?
“No not currently, I mainly talk to two other women who are in the same field as me, based in Christchurch. They're in the same position with similar businesses so we just catch up once a week, bounce ideas off each other and just give each other motivation. My boyfriend Matt is also quite good as he has a real business mindset, he comes in with lots of ideas and help. But I have been trying to seek someone as i think it would be quite good, just like they don’t know me, they've got that different perspective and there to just solely support me and the business.”
You mentioned you value financial freedom, what's your journey with that been? I know you made quite a considered decision to move into full time self employment after working part-time for a period?
“I think it was just time, well it was my boyfriend actually. If it wasn’t for him I’d say I’d probably still be working part time. I was doing two days a week and it was about a bit of those things I said earlier, the socialisation, it was being a part of a team, it was having activities and events on. Even though it was online it was something I just had to do and gave me that routine and structure that I like. But my boyfriend said, why? You're charging this amount to go into a business which is amazing for an hour but you're justifying working more for less and it just doesn't make sense, so he said just do it, and i was like yeah, it’s time. So I literally just quit the next day and had no fear, and I’d had so much fear in the past around it. So I think I just needed the time to get my head around it and now that I am, it's being more conscious, and I try to forecast the amount of money I want coming in for the next month. Some months will be slower than others, and others where workplace wellness really cranks towards the end of the year when people need a pick me up, but jan/feb there's still not really anyone in the office. So it’s just being aware of these ebbs and flows and having the targeted average income in my head that helps. So just taking the plunge really, I'm earning way more than what I would’ve been if I continued to stay working at my other job. It was that mindset of what's the worst that can happen, the worst that can happen is that I need to get a part time job again and I know that I can get one in an instant so what’s stopping me. And it's been good because it’s been an energy shift. The minute I decided I was done and going to quit, I got like 8 enquiries in 2 days. The universe rewards you for bravery.”
With the knowledge you have around the mind, body connection does that change the way you approach your day to day life?
“Yeah definitely, I'm really conscious of a lot of behaviours and I've done lots of work on myself and throughout my studies doing NLP, hypnotherapy and coaching, you often have to be the student to another person who’s learning. So I've had the benefit of having done lots of work around limiting beliefs, around money, and my childhood. That belief a lot of people have around not being enough, I've worked on. So maybe not everyday I am doing stuff but I have done significant work on myself. Then I basically just try to keep positive and do things that really help my mental health and therefore I stay really calm. I don’t ever want to promote toxic positivity though, I think it’s about finding that balance. We need to honour that we will get negative thoughts, not everything is going to be rainbows and unicorns. I know for me right now my balance is quite good, I'm 80% good but that 20% I know there's still going to be times where I'm human, where I'm thinking, this is hard and I'm tired etc. But as long as I use the tools I have to correct it when it's off then that’s where I benefit from knowing the mind, body connection.”
When you find yourself off balance, what tools do you typically use first?
“It depends on what situation it is, there's two things that come to mind. It’s my self care tools, and then my tough love kinda tools and they're probably both the same really but its like, if i was having a flat afternoon and it was a rare occasion id been doing lot of things, then it might be switching off my phone, not going on instagram, having a bath, cooking a nice dinner, essentially anything that really just switches me off. Doing this gives me a lot of clarity, but then sometimes I just need to snap out of it. I have a 2 step process which is basically saying STOP to a thought, then changing my state, so visualising a different memory and really getting that into my physiology. An example of this would be when I first started public speaking, I didn't really know what I was doing, I had one to 200 people. It was my biggest presentation and you know that feeling you get when you have something coming up. It was the week before and I started getting that pit in my stomach, and was thinking oh gosh i just want it to be over, what's going to happen, and so by saying STOP to those thoughts and then visualising to a time where i felt really confident, really tapping into how i felt. Like I'd think of how I feel when I am teaching someone something, or driving, or dancing or something. Bringing that feeling and energy into the body literally squashes the stress hormones. Basically your brain can’t tell the difference between what's real and what's not so by doing that process a lot you get good at already being in that state. I’ve rewired my thought process for public speaking so well that it's just automatic now.”
I learnt the tool around when you are uncertain about something that it's good to answer the thought or belief with the worst thing that can happen. Do you find you use that tool much?
“When I learnt a lot about how to help people with anxiety a few years ago, it was really about getting into what the thought or belief is, asking it, is this limiting me, is it true, is it destructive? When you start to pick it apart it is quite a powerful process. Our brains ask these what if questions all the time and once you actually answer the question and say it out loud it typically doesn’t feel or seem as bad as it’s worked up to be in your head. It takes the weight out of it. It’s that example of thinking ‘I don’t want to go to that party cause my social anxiety might get really bad’ - that’s us getting into that ‘what if?’ What if no one talks to me? What if I'm left alone? What if I say the wrong thing? Picking that all apart and being like, but what if? And flipping it. What if I go and have the best night? What if everyone else has this same mindset right now?”
What scares you about putting your business and offers out there?
“I find it scary because I hate the concept of cold calling, emailing, and approaching people first. People tell me I just need to get a directory and contact like 50 people a day and I just can't. So I've always done word of mouth. I think it's fear of being annoying, and fear of being everywhere. I’ve gotten better, you have to get over yourself, if you are going to run a business you need to sometimes do things that you don't really enjoy and put yourself out there. Instagram and word of mouth is how I go about it, it’s a slow game, but it’s good. You do need persistence though.”
Would you have any tips for creatives wanting to build their confidence and also ways to approach overwhelm?
“I think with confidence it doesn’t need to be that complicated, I would suggest writing down on a piece of paper all of the amazing things that you’ve done and you will see how amazing and powerful you are. Other people have this view of you, but we can’t often see it in ourselves and we don’t really reflect. Especially if we are pursuing business or going out on our own, it’s always like k cool i did that what's the next thing. I did this exercise last year and it gave me so much confidence. I felt really empowered and thought why have I never looked at my achievements (big and small) like this before and always felt like it’s not enough. When you do self work you build confidence, doing work on your mind, therapy, NLP, journaling, meditation, think about things you're really great at and spend time in those memories. It’s really about understanding yourself and being ok with your true self and who you are because that's where confidence comes from. Being authentic and happy with who you are, knowing who you are minimises that desire and need to compare and self sabotage.
To speak to the overwhelm, would be to delegate things, ask for help. Delegating the things that aren't your strengths and putting the time and energy into things that are. Also being aware of your time and time management is a really good skill to have and learn. Prioritising the things that will bring you revenue is important. Just having a good awareness of where you are spending your time is a good first step to getting on top of that overwhelm.”
You can find more of Libby and her work here or over on instagram here