Getting your Message out into The World
Jane Evans is unafraid of hard work. A Trauma Parenting Specialist and Trainer, what you immediately notice about Jane is her enthusiasm, which flows over into the conversation from the outset. With over 20 years of experience in the field, she beams, ‘I have never been happier, every day is a workday.’
A mother, step-mother and step-nana, Jane has spent the last two decades working the front-line in Early Years and Child Services for a number of organisations including the NSPCC and Barnardo’s. Taking on the challenge of Respite Foster Carer with Wiltshire Council brought a yearning to truly understand the people she worked with. Trauma and anxiety are something that most of us experience at some point in life, but as Jane points out, it doesn’t always warrant a medical approach.
Honing her passion through an incessant occupation with self-study, Jane has become the expert she always longed to be, taking her findings and research to an ever-growing audience. With a wealth of workshops, public speaking, TV appearances and publications under the belt, she is making a name for herself and most importantly, her message.
Fresh from her recent TEDx Talk in Bristol, I caught up with her to talk about trauma, getting over yourself, and getting your message across.
Jane, you’ve been working in this industry for over 20 years. You’re a published author, provide training and workshops, been on TV, travelled across the world and spoken to thousands of people. What has been the best moment for you so far?
‘My TED Talk. Definitely. I am so desperate to get this message out wide and deep. Bring me the people, I want 100,000 people! For me to have that platform to share and move people in their hearts and minds, what a privilege. I loved it, the best thing I’ve ever done in my whole life. I spoke in front of 1800-2000 people. It wasn’t scary on the day, because I do public speaking, but the TED Talk was the biggest. I just wanted to do it so badly and I’m good at going in the zone. The bigger the audience the more I like it. It seems a bit surreal, so whilst I’m beyond humbled by the opportunity, mentally I’m just on to the next thing and forget to celebrate sometimes. ’
Always having a next step, a next goal, must keep you motivated when it leads to such great success, but where did everything start for you?
‘Through being a foster carer, I was encouraged to start reading. This was about 12 years ago and I immediately couldn’t stop because straight away, people I had misunderstood started to make sense, I started to make sense, through the science and the research. It’s become something I love so much, it’s a way to understand the whole of humanity but also to help the people I am working with to understand that this is mechanics, it isn’t that you’re a faulty person, and we can do something about it. Trying to make the complex accessible to everyone spurred me on in my studies.
When I started reading I was in employment and relating it to the families I was working with. About fours years ago, the funding came to an end for my post, working with domestic violence support. I was made redundant and I thought, I have built this bank of experience and knowledge and I’m going to get on and share it. I hadn’t done that much training but I knew I could do it. I just kept putting on events, and I used Twitter to raise my profile very effectively. I would tweet bits of knowledge… That’s also how I got my first publishing contract. The early years were lots of self reflection and learning by doing.’
You`ve released two specialist books so far; ‘How Are You Feeling Today Baby Bear?’ and ‘Kit Kitten and the Topsy Turvy Feelings’, with your next publication ‘Little Meerkats Big Panic’ poised for release on March 21st this year. Why did you want to focus on books for children?
‘How Are You Feeling Today Baby Bear?’ focuses on young children who have experienced domestic violence, whereas ‘Kit Kitten and the Topsy Turvy Feelings’ is aimed at children who have grown up around adults, who for whatever reason are not very emotionally available to the child. They might physically care for them, but not on a emotionally engaging level, which is what children need.’
They interrelate mental health issues but they come at it for different needs. ‘Little Meerkat`s Big Panic’ is of use to any child, or any adult for that matter. It doesn’t mention anxiety outright, but it’s a story about the three animals, the Meerkat, the Elephant and the Monkey. At the end I give a simple explanation that the three animals are parts of our brains. I also give exercises to teach the reader how to calm the body and relax.’
You speak about your passion for Neuroscience and Attachment Theory- something you’ve been studying for years, but also about starting to make the new research more accessible to everyone, not just children, but to get everyone interested. The topics you are dealing with are often very complex, how do you market them?
It’s interesting because I don’t get into the left and right brain stuff because it would just complicate it for people. So when we are very young, we are mostly right brain; emotional, more creative, less logical. When you start thinking of the other parts, it becomes really complex and I don’t think, for people to have a working understanding, it’s particularly helpful. I don’t want to scare people. That’s what everyone tells me, because there are meerkats, they are kind of relatable to people and everyone laughs when you share this idea. Because they immediately think “Oh my god that’s me!”. It’s knowing your audience and giving them something they can use.’
In terms of the success of her products, Jane goes on to illustrate how the real product is herself, stating; ‘None of the products I have are how I make money. I make money speaking and delivering training. When you write books like those you get a very tiny percentage from the publishers. I make my money by going out and delivering training to professionals, they might be people that work in early years, teachers, family support workers, social workers, mental health workers. Generally they still do the old school, the old psychology, and unless you’ve gone and been curious about trauma and neuroscience over the last 20 years or so you won’t know this information.’
With so much going on, you must be very busy. How do you feel about your work-life balance?
‘I have very happy, long days. Somedays I might go out with my family for a few hours but I will have worked at some point during the day. I don’t like administration but it has to be done, so I know in order to be well enough to do that I need to look after myself every day. It’s a maintenance. I do yoga, and short guided meditations on youtube help for 5 minutes every evening.’
Only recently have you started getting help with your career, but up until this point you had to build up your brand, your message, entirely by yourself. What have been some of your biggest challenges so far?
‘I think my biggest challenge initially was getting over being terrified of not having an income. That derailed me for a very long time, I was just used to having a salary and it was a big distraction in my life. That meant I put the wrong energy into my work because you have that desperation. Money, until recently, was hard. You give people a quote for services and they reply “That’s too much, we don’t want you.”, not even a negotiation. To charge what I am worth has taken a while. I’m not a money person, it’s just a transfer of energy. If I get paid well for what I do, I can do good with that money.
A lot of it was also getting over myself. Things like people saying to me “How can you do this, you’re not a Psychologist or a Paediatrician” was feeding into my insecurities. The first 2 years were hard, trying to get a reputation and getting known was difficult. I don’t have a PhD or anything to automatically show people that I know my stuff and to reassure them. But maybe that’s what you have to go through, getting to the point of such self-belief was part of the journey. The worst moments are when you think something is going to lead to some work, you know you have something that will really be helpful, but for whatever reason it doesn’t work out. That’s difficult to overcome. But the harder something is, the more I like it.’
So, how did you overcome the criticism?
‘Well, I don’t give out feedback forms anymore, but when I did, one bad form would destroy me. You have to get a mechanism in place to allow yourself time to wallow but not let it feed into your anxieties, then focus on why the other person might feel the need to say something like that.
What drives me crazy in terms of my message is that the science is readily available. If we know better, and we do know better, then we must do. You can’t say you don’t know anymore, the information is there. Most parents honestly don’t know about brains and nobody is going to tell them. Curious parents who want a different type of parenting, no time-outs, no shouting, will go looking and find the information. You will just do a version of what’s been done to you if you don’t. But it’s fuel for my rocket, to keep going.’
What has helped you most in your journey?
‘Now I have a coach, which is the best thing I ever did. That’s what really got me to the next level. I was doing really well last year, I was on a Channel 5 Programme, My Violent Child, and I got flown out to India to talk. Things were going good but the better I got and the more success I had made me realise that I needed someone to bring out more from me. Not long after we started working together, I did the Ted Talk. He believed that I would do a Ted Talk, so he said OK, go and watch one, and experience it. I bought a ticket and thought maybe I’ll just apply…I’m actually a coach myself now.’
For people out there who have an idea, or a concept that they want to share with the world, what advice would you give them to getting their messages across?
‘My advice would be firstly, get a coach. I spent so much time crashing around, and wasting so much money and energy and emotions, whereas if I had gotten a coach earlier they would get me on the road to eliminate what I didn’t need. Athletes, Actors and Singers get nowhere without a coach.’
You have achieved so much over the last few years alone, what are the next steps for you?
‘My next goal is to have a TV Series, where we look at how we are raising children and how we were raised, and how that is playing out for individuals and society. A massive problem is that TV channels are only interested if they can see children having a meltdown, so even when I did My Violent Child, I got criticised that I was in a programme that was showing children, and “how could they consent to this.” It’s very difficult because in a perfect world I wouldn’t want any of that on screen. I had to realise that it would be on the screen, and that I would rather be there putting out the message that these children need compassion and why.’
Do you feel TV is the best way to get your message out?
‘Yeah I think so, that’s how most people access their information. I don’t have a burning desire to be on TV, I don’t want to be a celebrity but I will take any opportunity I can…if it means people get access to the science and knowledge and understanding.’
TEDx Talks are independent events, part of a global set of conferences under the TED Organisation – Technology, Entertainment, Design. TED is a non-profit Association whose past speakers include Richard Dawkins, Bill Gates and many Nobel Prize winners.
Jane worked with us at Elevate Training and Development to produce a Webinar for 2000 Locum Social Workers. Elevate Training and Development helps to get your brand or service off the ground using years of expertise and knowledge gained in the field. We work with a number of clients who have decided to take the leap and start their own companies. If you are looking to get your message across- get in touch.
You can contact Jane via her website- http://www.parentingposttrauma.co.uk/