Alison Middleton, Managing Director, AM1 Health and Health Nation Hong Kong
Alison Middleton has overcome many challenges in her life, including family illness, loss, and uprooting her life to move to a new country. She uses her experiences of these and her training as a Wellness Practitioner to help others live the life of their dreams.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I have always loved interacting with people. My background was in senior HR roles for international law firms, and in 2010 I went on secondment to Hong Kong (for 6 months) and ended up staying for 9 years.
I moved from law into international education, which was a very demanding global role, but a burst appendix in 2014 was a massive wake up call. I wasn't sure what the lesson was when an email landed in my inbox that talked about being a survivor. The email had an image of a solitary tree standing in a field - its purpose being a place of rest, recharge and refuge for people /animals and I knew instantly that I wanted to be this for people. I plotted my escape and, whilst working full time, I retrained in various health modalities to be a Transformational Integrated Wellness Practitioner so that I could help others find balance, health and ultimately happiness and the life of their dreams.
What kind of work does your role involve?
I work with individual clients who are stuck in an area of their life, be it a career, relationship, or behaviour pattern or way of thinking that they want to change — deep personal transformation.
I specialise in stress/anxiety for teens and adults and also work with cancer survivors. We look at the root cause of their issue, and the aim is for them to become the best version of themselves and find happiness in life no matter what is going on. My approach is an integrated one, using all the therapies I am trained in; my primary modality is working with the subconscious mind through clinical hypnotherapy. I also design and deliver corporate well-being programmes and talks, which is very much an arena I resonate with after my corporate life and training roles.
What gets you excited about your industry?
I love the fact that there is now so much acknowledgement of how powerful our mind, thoughts and beliefs are and how we think is crucial not only to our emotional and mental health but also to our physical health. With the right mindset and the right tools, we can achieve anything we want to.
I am always blown away by the results clients achieve. The other day a young man I had been working with told me he has a note on his wall that said "Be the person you imagine you want to be" and he said that he now was that person.
How does it get better than that?
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
When a door shuts, don't see it as a knock or failure. Instead, see it as a gift where perhaps that opportunity wasn't meant for me at that time. With this philosophy, I've found there is usually a better opportunity on its way to me and it has helped me move on when I've not got a job I wanted or an idea I had my heart set on has not happened.
Last year, I intended to open a retreat in Spain and even found my dream property, but COVID plus some family issues meant it couldn't go ahead. I've had to regroup and, with hindsight, I now know the universe was actually doing me a favour - now wouldn't have been the right time!
You have to trust and surrender sometimes and know there is a bigger picture and I now get this! I love nothing more than sharing these thoughts with my clients.
What, or who inspires you?
I have to mention mum, who sadly passed away before Christmas. For the last 10 years, she had so many health issues and had to go for dialysis 3x a week as she had no kidneys. She never gave up and continued fighting to the very last moment of her life as she wheeled and helped other patients into the ward when she could hardly walk herself. Her determination to carry on through and shine a light for others was extraordinary. It really taught me that if you want something in life, you have to fight and no matter what is going on in your world, you can still help others.
With the right mindset, you can achieve anything.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in the industry?
One of my main passions is for self-development. I am a life long learner; always on a course or podcast and see it as a way of adding to my toolkit of resources. I actively build this into my schedule and love nothing more than teaching what I have learned or passing it on to a client. The knowledge I gain is really to help empower myself and, more importantly, a wider audience.
I see teaching and educating as part of my purpose. I've just delivered a free webinar on Staying Grounded in your Own Energy during COVID. This was an example of bringing together the tools and techniques I'd amassed from my continuous learning.
What was the most challenging project or assignment you've worked on?
The biggest challenge I've had in my personal transformation over the years is transforming from a shy teenager to a global corporate executive. I had to push through my fears and insecurities, and I honestly believe if I can do it, anyone can.
After that, my second transformation to becoming an entrepreneur and carving out a career out of my passion, finding that work-life balance. It is still a work in progress.
These challenges are framed against a backdrop of having a husband who had a serious illness and had to medically retire during my maternity, leave leaving me to be the main breadwinner. Navigating a successful a move to another country, dealing with my dear mum's illness and then the end of my 20-year marriage but coming out stronger and being the architect of the life that I really want has been one big challenge. But lessons from this journey are what I offer my clients - if I can do it, they can too!
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
I love my work and cannot ever see my giving that up. That said I would go on a wonderful holiday to the Maldives. I've always wanted to go there and not yet made it!
I would ensure my immediate family have everything they want too. My dad in particular - I'd love to put a smile on his face again after my mum's death and take him on a holiday of a lifetime. I'd then love to set up a charity to help support families with mental health challenges. I've had a family member who has suffered from severe depression, and there has been little support for her family, and I'd like to do something to bridge that gap.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
I love nothing more than spending time with my son, Alex. He is usually away at boarding school, but I'm relishing him being home during lockdown. I love baking with him or taking our puppy, Rosie for a walk. Having him home has been a silver lining for me in the pandemic. I also cannot get enough of walking out in nature (I live near the forest and that is my safe place), sitting in the sunshine, unwinding with a good book, and meeting up with friends over a meal when we can.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
That people come to understand the power of the mind and that hypnotherapy becomes more mainstream and is not confused with stage hypnosis which is not what we, as therapists, do. We all enter a hypnotic state several times a day, just before we fall asleep, as we're waking up and when we are in the flow engrossed in a project or a movie. When our subconscious mind is aligned with our conscious rational mind, then anything is possible!
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers. When I went off to Hong Kong and everything was new and scary, this got me through. I really do feel that if we can identify our fears and then meet them, they lose their power over us and we can achieve whatever we want!
How should people connect with you?
You can connect with me via:
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