Set Boundaries — Having boundaries is an act of respect for ourselves and others. Being true to our boundaries is an understanding and practical application of knowing what is ours to be involved in and what is another person’s responsibility. For example if somebody is already overwhelmed with work deadlines and parenting responsibilities, it would be helpful for them to set a boundary and say No when a colleague asks them to take on an extra piece of work outside of their usual load. Boundaries also impact what we disclose to other people about what we may be dealing with in times of change or loss. It is fine to only talk about what you are dealing with between a trusted few people, especially if you know that any people in your life are not empathic or compassionate. When I was recovering I became quite skilled in saying No more often and only doing things I felt ready to do. The world will not fall to pieces if you say No in times when you habitually say Yes.

Starting something new is scary. Learning to believe in yourself can be a critical precursor to starting a new initiative. Why is it so important to learn to believe in yourself? How can someone work on gaining these skills? In this interview series, we are talking to business leaders, authors, writers, coaches, medical professionals, teachers, to share empowering insights about “How To Learn To Believe In Yourself.” As a part of this series we had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Wheeler.

Sarah Wheeler is an advocate for women recovering from the wounds of Patriarchy. She has walked her own path to recovery from breaking free from a cult to experiencing sexual assault and rape, she is now passionate about empowering women to thrive rather than just survive.

A Reiki Teacher, Yoga Teacher, Author and founder of You’re Enough Yoga in Hove, East Sussex, she is in her greatest joy when empowering women to uncover the medicine of deep rest through Yoga and Reiki, revealing the truth of being enough; just as we are.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Hi, thank you for having me!

I grew up in Gloucestershire, which is in the UK. On the surface I had a normal childhood and went to a normal state school.

I found a school quite stressful, even though I was on paper always doing really well. I really struggled with Maths, which I found extremely hard. I was lucky in that my Dad, who was a teacher, was able to support me.

The first time I started to believe in myself was when I passed a major Maths exam at 16.

I learned to confront all the harsh and negative voices in my head telling me that there was just absolutely no way that I was going to pass the exam. I found different ways of helping myself study for it, including writing little stories and drawing pictures, to help myself remember Algebra and geometry. So when I sat in the classroom I could still find ways to understand and remember it.

Taking that approach as a teenager helped me to overcome other struggles.

I struggled with anorexia on and off; which was not diagnosed until I was 27. I went through periods of starvation, eating a little and over exercising… round and round on a loop until I got the help and support I needed. This, I also realized, was also deeply rooted in lack of self belief growing up.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

I am a yoga teacher now, and it was actually a really brilliant yoga teacher called Rosie, who inspired me to choose this path.

I visited her class when I first moved to Hove, Brighton in the UK, which is where I live now with my partner.

She happened to be running a yoga teacher training course with another teacher, starting a few months later in that same year. At the end of class she asked me if I had ever considered becoming a yoga teacher?

I of course answered No, but that wasn’t actually the whole truth because I had.

But again, the negative voices would tell me “there’s no way that you could do that. You’ll find it really hard to make money, you won’t know what you’re doing. You’re not “good enough” at the physical aspect of yoga. You’re just not good enough at that stuff. You know, you can’t stand on your head.”

For the record, I still can’t stand on my head. And that’s okay.

It just so happens that some people aren’t going to do that. But we can enjoy the journey of learning to practice, how to stand on our head and all the things we learn about ourselves, most importantly how to be kinder to ourselves when things are tough. And that’s Yoga.

It is not getting to the destination. It’s everything that you learn about yourself on that journey. This is what this work has shown me. It’s almost like a happy bonus if you get to ‘perfecting’ your Asana or yoga pose.

I don’t even believe that there is a perfect yoga pose because we’ve all got different bodies and some skeletons do different things than others!

We all work differently.

So it was Rosie, who had unearthed my hidden desire that maybe I could be a yoga teacher and share with people not just how to do yoga poses, but my love of this practice.

Over the years yoga has really helped me gain a better relationship with myself and deal with the stresses and strains of life in a much more healthy way.

That’s what I wanted to share with people; so I took the leap, and here I am today!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

My most exciting project at the moment is my second of two books that I have brought out.

The latest book I have published is called “Enough — Healing from Patriarchy’s Curse of Too Much and Not Enough”

I wrote this book to help anyone who has felt ‘not enough’. In today’s society that could be any one of us.

It’s for those people who feel like they live on a swinging pendulum of believing the voices that are indoctrinated into our heads. And on the flip side of that, believing that we’re way too much.

It’s something that I personally have identified with for most of my life; and I know I am not alone in that. It starts when we are young — school indoctrinates us into a not enough mindset, which is then compounded with things that our parents might say or do. There is a belief instilled in us at an early age, that makes us believe that we’re not enough or too much, you know, things get said, and that can have an impact on young people.

It can be to do with our first foray into intimate or romantic relationships. Particularly when that first relationship inevitably ends, you either do the dumping or you get dumped for the first time and, as a young person or as a teenager, the mind starts to go round and round.

Thoughts like “the only logical explanation for this person breaking up with me is because they’re going to be happier with someone else” which equates to meaning I’m not good enough.

Now with the wonder of hindsight, we get a little bit wordly and begin to understand that things are not black and white. That somebody else’s choice doesn’t have to impact or become a reflection on ourselves.

But in our younger years, we are designed to be a little bit egocentric, so when we are in our teens, it can feel like we are at the center of the problem.

The book is about breaking all that down, and how these ideas about being too much, or not enough really infiltrates into lots of different areas of our lives, particularly for women. I explore our patriarchal system, and how we got to where we are. How some women feel like they have to please and shape shift to make other people happy. Often at the expense of themselves, and therefore ending up in situations like ill health, burnout and chronic stress.

I also explore various different themes, including the abuse of power. I speak into my own experience of being in a couple of destructive high demand groups, also known as cults, and how those kinds of organizations operate through making a person believe that they’re not enough and how without them they cannot survive.

So it’s really important to me to share with women, if we choose to, that we can make little changes or even practice small acts of self compassion, to help things look a little bit different.

I’m a yoga teacher. I’m not a life coach. But my personal experience and wisdom, makes me believe we (all women) have something important to say or a story to tell and sharing our experiences makes things a little easier for us all.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to believe in yourself? Can you share a story or give some examples?

I’ve certainly had two pivotal times in my life, where I’ve had to really believe in myself.

The reason why I wrote my first book, was to offer a resource that supported women who have been victims of sexual violence. Anything from straightforward street harassment through to ongoing abuse, sexual assault and rape. I found resources on this subject to be taboo and limited, and so wanted to create something women could refer to as part of their healing journey.

Unfortunately the reason I know this, is because I needed this resource for myself.

In 2016, I was sexually and physically assaulted at a music festival. And in 2017, I was raped after a night out in London. Needless to say, this was a dark time in my life as I tried to come to terms why this happened not once but twice to me. I asked myself “Why me?” And the myths that are peddled to women, resulted in victim blaming, and self gaslighting. Luckily after receiving some amazing support and counseling I began to heal and decided I wanted to support others with the learnings I have found.

One thing I found is, our hormones and emotional state, have women questioning themselves and their decisions. “Oh, if I’d done this differently”, “if I hadn’t been there”, “if I hadn’t been so drunk”, “if I hadn’t I hadn’t been on drugs” — then maybe this thing wouldn’t have happened. Whereas actually, if we look at it logically, we have to shift that blame and the responsibility off of ourselves, back onto the perpetrator, who did not have to act out the way that they did.

They chose to do what they did.

Truthfully, a woman should be able to walk down the street wearing whatever she wants to wear, in whatever state she wants to be in, feeling safe in the knowledge that no man is going to do something bad to her. But, I’m a realist and I understand that there are some people who don’t have good intentions towards women or men when it comes to abuse.

I had to believe in myself, and unpick all the stories and mythology, about what it means to stand up for yourself and realize that this is not my problem. That it happened to me. That this is the other person’s problem.

If you found yourself in an abusive or toxic relationship, it is never your problem that you’re being abused. It’s the perpetrators responsibility and their behavior is the issue.

What the ‘victim’ can do, is to make choices for themselves and be responsible for their own journey. To begin to practically extract themselves out of their destructive situations at a time that is right for them, if they can even leave in the first place.

It’s important to note that I know victims are not staying in those bad situations because they actually want those things to be happening. Nobody attracts her own abuse.

It becomes everything to do with ourselves, and our belief in ourselves. That we deserve to live a good life. We get to know ourselves as survivors and not just someone who just gets by day to day — which by the way — is completely enough.

It could be that on that journey through recovery and healing, you start to find ways that actually will help you thrive. That you want to live well, and choose not to be defined by the things that have happened to you.

That choosing you — with the help and the tools from other skilled professionals in whatever field it might be — will help you come back into a good relationship with yourself.

What exactly does it mean to believe in yourself? Can I believe that I can be a great artist even though I’m not very talented? Can I believe I can be a gold medal Olympic even if I’m not athletic? Can you please explain what you mean?

I think believing in yourself, is actually, really believing that genuinely you are enough. Believing in yourself completely, means you cease trying to prove yourself to other people.

Maybe you really want to be an Olympic athlete, and you are training hard. But you realize that it isn’t for you, it isn’t really working out. If you believe you are enough, you can step out of that situation with nothing to prove.

I don’t think that believing in yourself means that you have to suddenly become amazing at everything. It’s being secure enough in yourself to say, I tried this thing and it didn’t turn out.

It doesn’t mean that I’m bad. It doesn’t mean I’m not enough, it doesn’t mean like I suddenly have to berate myself and try to understand every single thing about why it didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. It becomes ‘Okay, well, that was interesting. It’s just all learning experience. I can move away from that onto something else.”

Believing in yourself isn’t about trying to make yourself deluded or live in some kind of illusion as if you’re amazing at everything because truthfully, you’re not going to be.

I believe in the personal development and wellness industry, there’s a lot of talk about like, give everything 150%, 150% of the time and like, smash this and have this goal.

Having goals is really important because they can help us kind of navigate and try new things in life. But it doesn’t mean that we have to believe in ourselves so hard, that we end up missing an opportunity to get out of something if it isn’t right for us, you know.

To sum that one up, trying something new, failing at it, and then applying yourself to something else, is a really healthy attitude to life and does not diminish your ‘enoughness”.

Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?

There have definitely been a lot of times when I didn’t believe in myself, but particularly it makes me think about when I ended up really being hooked into a psychologically abusive relationship.

In my mid to late 20s. I didn’t understand that my partner was using abusive tactics. I just thought that he was being harsh, or undermining me. I fell completely under his spell, and now I look back and see his narcissistic abuse tactics. Which began with love bombing at the start, which resulted in me being completely hooked by him. He would gaslight me and withdraw his affections as punishment. I didn’t understand that the way that he was treating me was not okay, that it wasn’t my fault. And I didn’t understand, or didn’t believe at the time that I deserved better.

This filtered into other areas of life, I was at around the same time; involved in a cult, so my sense of self was being chipped away at through that, my relationship and in my workplace.

At what point did you realize that in order to get to the next level, it would be necessary to build up your belief in yourself? Can you share the story with us?

I think truthfully, this speaks most to when I was in recovery from being sexually assaulted and raped back in 2017. I understood, with the help of trained professionals, in order to move forward and begin my full recovery, meant I needed to get into a better relationship with myself. Around that time, I was receiving weekly therapy in the women’s Recovery Centre –

I was having a type of therapy called Eye Movement, desensitization and reprocessing, which is really effective for helping not just the brain but the entire body and nervous system to process trauma.

I remember sitting with the therapist and her consistent and overarching message just all the time, was that you deserve better. You deserve better, you’re a good person, you deserve better.

I don’t really think that up until that point, I’d really considered that I actually did deserve better, that perhaps I didn’t deserve some of the things that happened to me. So reprogramming my thoughts and feelings about myself helped me to see that I did deserve better.

It was a hard time. But I think that from there, life has been sort of steadily on an upward trajectory.

The way that I used to talk to myself then was very, very different to how I talk to myself now. Now I like to create a kinder, more compassionate narrative; rather than just fear and anger towards myself — and in that in turn that helps create a better relationship with other people.

What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves?

  1. Create a basic and accessible self care routine — Self care does not have to be a spa day, as I refer to in my book, although spa treatments are very lovely! Self care can be as simple as experimenting with taking half an hour to do nothing, or having a walk outdoors, resting, doing something creative, chatting with a friend, moving in a mindful way like yoga or qi gong, eating nutrient dense foods or having a couple less rum and cokes in the week.
  2. Notice if you are being your own worst enemy — The struggle with the inner judgemental critic is real! This was a big one for me. I mentioned earlier that I would get tangled up in rumination and negative self chatter. I actually needed to be speaking more neutrally or compassionately to myself about my situation. Keeping a journal of the internal dialogue can help to pinpoint the patterns of what harsh things we say about ourselves. Therapy can be really useful for unpicking what triggers this negative inner voice , recalling when we first began criticizing ourselves and gradually healing from the wounds that bring about this nasty inner critic.
  3. Acknowledge Progress — It is super important to resource ourselves with recognition. It may take a lot of time and you may need support but you are capable of recovering. In your journal you can note down one (or more) things each day or week that have been helpful and what you can acknowledge yourself for.
  4. Ask for Help — As a woman I notice that I grew up soaking up so much societal messaging that we should be Super Woman, that we need to be all things to all people while being strong and independent ALL the time. I often felt that asking for help when emotional support (or practical support) is needed is viewed by society as a weakness and something to feel ashamed of. Let’s remember that SuperWoman is an exaggerated fictional character, and my hunch is that this character was designed to make women feel like crap if we are anything less than bold, brave, perfect, happy and pristine-even when dramatic changes or loss occurs. When I asked for help from my supervisor to reduce my hours when I made a very gradual return to work after being attacked, I knew by then that this was not a weakness but a compassionate act of self care.
  5. Set Boundaries — Having boundaries is an act of respect for ourselves and others. Being true to our boundaries is an understanding and practical application of knowing what is ours to be involved in and what is another person’s responsibility. For example if somebody is already overwhelmed with work deadlines and parenting responsibilities, it would be helpful for them to set a boundary and say No when a colleague asks them to take on an extra piece of work outside of their usual load. Boundaries also impact what we disclose to other people about what we may be dealing with in times of change or loss. It is fine to only talk about what you are dealing with between a trusted few people, especially if you know that any people in your life are not empathic or compassionate. When I was recovering I became quite skilled in saying No more often and only doing things I felt ready to do. The world will not fall to pieces if you say No in times when you habitually say Yes.

What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?

The pain of the words which were said to us when we were young can run deep.

That pain can spill over into our adult lives impacting our self esteem, resulting in a lack of compassion offered to ourselves, when we make totally acceptable human mistakes or when proverbial sh*t hits the fan.

We can release the repetitive drone of negative self talk and imposter syndrome initially by becoming aware of how we speak to ourselves. We can recognise in what scenarios we speak particularly harshly to ourselves.

You might ask yourself, would I be saying this same unkind thing to a friend if they shared their upset with me? If the answer is no, then why am I saying it to myself?

Sometimes it helps to put all our self-inflicted bad press down on paper by scribbling what is on our minds so it does not stay pent up in our bodies. I like to burn the paper that I’ve scribbled on.

We can offer ourselves solace by trying some meditation. Contrary to popular belief, meditation is not meant to stop our thoughts but instead gives us a chance to notice our inner dialogue without getting tangled up in our negative thoughts.

Mindful,calming yoga can also help to give the overly busy mind a break.

Taking a break from social media — often when we scroll looking for that dopamine hit, we pick up other energies and thoughts, which makes it even harder to find that hit and so ensues a vicious cycle.

Therapy can help to acknowledge and release the wounds of childhood which keep us speaking unkindly to ourselves in adulthood.

Take care of your inner little child and speak sweetly to her.

Whether your inner critic buys it or not, you are enough. I promise.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I would love to inspire more women to wake up to the realization that they are enough just as they are.

I love the fact that my book is landing at the same time of major shifts around the patriarchy. The movie Barbie has contributed massively to how women are viewed, and it is my intention that my book may spark the interest of those seeking to change the narrative.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can either purchase my books which are available in all good online bookshops. Or you can find me or on instagram@reikirengebysarahwheeler/

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.