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Sitting with Uncomfortableness – Sally Baker

Blog by Sally Baker – author of ‘The Getting of Resillience from the Inside Out’.

The Getting of Resilience from the Inside Out – disclosing my own story

My work as a therapist frequently involves disclosure. It’s not mine, though; it’s my clients sharing how they feel about what has happened to them and me bearing witness to their truth.

I’ve been around disclosure for so long that I mistakenly thought I was good at it. I am good at it when it comes to bearing witness, but I’m resistant to disclosing my own story, and no one has been more surprised to discover this than me. My resistance feels like the layers of an onion – I’ve become well-versed at telling my truth over the years in my therapy sessions or one-to-one conversations with friends or colleagues; I’ve also told my truth without hesitation to small groups, and even sometimes larger audiences. However, the writing down and potential publication of my truth has been a tough test and one that I’ve very nearly failed a number of times in the process of writing my latest book, ‘The Getting of Resilience from the Inside Out.’


Unavoidable discomfort

My disclosure felt unavoidable, though, as I wanted the keystone of the book to be an understanding that it’s not what happens to us in life that matters the most, but the enduring, often harsh judgements we make about ourselves and those events. The writer, Neil Gaiman, said something about this self-exposure that rang very true for me – something like it’s at the moment you feel you might be walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and mind, showing too much of yourself… that is the moment you might start to get it right.

I had no choice but to trust I might be starting to get it right and include my own story of how something terrible happened to me as a seven-year-old. In short, without giving too much away, I told my mother what had happened, and she said never to mention it again. My mistake was that I thought she was angry with me and that it was my fault when her thinking was actually quite different. That misunderstanding undermined how I thought and felt about myself for many years while she had been hoping I had forgotten the event because I had been so young.


Skin in the game

It’s popular these days for some therapists and counsellors to talk about their trauma and to disclose they have ‘skin in the game’. However, that’s not the whole story as far as I am concerned. I think it’s not enough to have experienced trauma. I believe people deserve to see that trauma can be resolved and that mental health professionals who have experienced trauma do not live constricted life-sentences dominated by the past.


Childhood hardships cast long shadows.

Growing up, we rely on others for safety and nurturing to help us survive and thrive in our early years. How we are cared for – or not cared for – profoundly shapes us as we grow. Some childhoods provide the nurturing protection that helps ensure the growth of resilience, while other upbringings fail to deliver the supportive family structure where this vital capacity can take root.

Life’s unavoidable hardships can overwhelm those who lack robust resilience. Without inner reserves of grit and determination, it becomes difficult to cope with losses, traumas, illnesses, pressures and unexpected changes that are inevitable over a lifetime. The shadow of past neglect continues to impact long into adulthood, making it hard to have faith in one’s ability to handle whatever curveballs may come.

Yet the beauty of the human spirit lies in its potential to heal, learn and grow – at any age. Just because resilience failed to develop during the early years does not mean the opportunity has passed. When given the proper support, our capacity to cultivate resilience remains within us for our whole lives. Uncovering your inner resolve and strengthening it daily is always possible. As signposted throughout ‘The Getting of Resilience from the Inside Out’, even small steps to change how you think and feel about yourself can gradually nurture the deep-rooted resilience that provides the fortitude we all need.


Feeling uncomfortable

I was anxious about having my story published in the book. It has made me feel uncomfortable. However, I’m learning to sit with my discomfort while balancing my trust in the rest of my book. The book is a practical, self-help guide with actionable steps based on how I work in my therapy practice. It uses my experiences and those of some of my clients to explore how to unravel the past and build self-worth and resilience in the present. Each chapter includes an easy-to-follow worksheet requiring around 30 minutes a week as you work through the book to help develop resilience from the inside out. It can equip you with practical tools to strengthen your intuition, overcome unhelpful thinking patterns, break free from self-sabotaging behaviours and, most importantly, learn to let go of the past.



This book took many iterations and more time than anyone would have wished. I know it’s not unusual to thank one’s publisher. However, I am still incredibly grateful to Georgina Bentliff of Hammersmith Health Books, who understood how difficult this process was and encouraged me to keep going! My resilience has strengthened throughout this whole process, and I will never again experience the depth of uncomfortable and sorrowful feelings that my story caused me for so many years. Although I’m still a work in progress, I am proud to continue to thrive, feel loved, and be loved out in the world.


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