Isabelle Brabant

Get to know me

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I am a well-being coach specialised in emotional and relational management. I accompany Highly Sensitive Person and codependents to reach a more stable emotional and relational balance.

My five character strengths are love, forgiveness, hope, gratitude and spirituality (discover yours on the VIA Institute Website – it’s free and a lot of fun).

My training and certificates:

  • De-Mystifying Mindfulness, online course, University of Leiden.
  • The Arts and Science of Relationships : Understanding Human Needs, online course, University of Toronto.
  • Training in Positive Psychology, Fédération Formation
  • The Science of Well-Being, online course, Yale University
  • Program MBSR, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
  • In 2005, I finish studying communications at the Université Libre de Bruxelles.
    I continue to work as a nanny while looking for work in the cultural sector.
  • In 2006, after a year of research, I find a job in a bank. Nothing to do with culture but my need of independence is stronger.
  • In 2012, in the midst of depression, I leave the bank and join the communication department of a college.
    I take the time to heal my psychological, physical and professional wounds/trauma.
  • In January 2016, I take a career break to explore a range of artistic activities …
  • In January 2017, I start giving theater lessons to children (from three to twelve years old, in schools, in the so-called classical and specialised education sectors), then French as a foreign language in different structures (for children, but also for adults).
  • In January 2019, that’s it, I am 100% free lance!
  • In 2020, confinement, complete cessation of my activity. A time for reflection!
    I then realised that mindfulness and all the learning I had done so far (training, conferences, readings, therapies, conversations) allowed me to be more attentive to my emotions and those of others, to feel strong about my identity (outside of my old beliefs and outside references) and to build healthy relationships.

That’s how, and why, I have built a programme in emotional and relational balance.

The rest is written every day since …

It came about very slowly … that’s why it looks like me 😉
My future profession wasn’t really a concern as a teenager. I was far too busy and preoccupied with my friendships and love affairs.

So when, at the end of high school, I was asked to project myself ten years later, I spoke of a career in the movie business, of becoming an actress … well more than an actress, A STAR. I was going to act with the greatest, I would have a lot of money and I would spend my free time sharing it with my friends.

In the meantime, I had decided that I absolutely wanted to be bilingual English-French and so I convinced my parents to let me go as an exchange student in the U.S.A for a year.
A dream year for me. The welcome I received there made me feel included, understood and loved. All of my Hollywood dreams seemed totally possible and were even encouraged.

When I came back, I applied for the entry test to a major acting school.
At the same time, my mom suggested that I should have a plan B in case that didn’t work.

I completely failed this entrance exam. I was told that I was not watchable on stage, that I did not know what theater was (which was totally true … my knowledge was exclusively cinematic and intuitive, I had no real experience).

Hurt by this failure, I accepted the plan B which was to study communication (advised to me by orientations’ tests). Actually, no, the plan was to do everything in my power to pass the entrance exam the following year. So I was going to go to the theater, take lessons and join an amateur troupe … and also, perhaps to reassure my parents, I enrolled at the university in communications.
And that’s exactly what I did … I gave myself every chance to get there.

So at the end of my first year of studies, with a better knowledge of what theater and drama was, I could represent myself at the IAD (Institut des Arts de Diffusion) and see if it would work this time. Or, having passed my exams and therefore being able to move on to the next year, continue my studies.
Still in shock of the first rejection I had experienced, clearly still in fear of the first failure, I gave up the idea of ​​making theater my profession. However, I continued to do it as a hobby.

Somehow, four years later, I left the university with a degree in communications, specialising in socio-cultural animation. Okay, I wouldn’t become a professional actress, but there was no chance I would give up cinema altogether. So I tried to work in the cultural world any way I could find. Cultural centers, production companies … I even worked for a small producer/director for a few weeks. The strangest of my professional collaborations to date.
After a year of research and especially because of a desire to be independent (I was still living with my parents), I accepted a fixed-term contract with a bank. YES, A BANK !!!
I was only supposed to stay there for six months to earn some professional experience (which  was inexistent … but how do you get a professional experience if no one gives you a chance?) and improve my knowledge of Dutch (Hum? Still in progress. Sorry).
I ended up staying there for six years and what made me leave is … love.

So I would like to tell you that it was the love of my life who saved me from this job that was the antithesis of who I was, but it was in fact the most painful breakup that I have ever experienced that made me move.
Again, a choice was offered to me, I stay in this bank and die slowly or I leave and give myself a chance to survive.

FORTUNATELY I still had enough love for life (in the midst of a depression, it was unexpected) to choose option two.
So I thank the person who broke my heart (yes, I do) for waking me up. Thanks to this I had the courage to get out of the prison I had built for myself.

I hadn’t quite found my voice and my path at that point, but I had found a job that allowed me to remain independent, take the time to rebuild myself and, ultimately, dare to create the life I’d always wanted three and a half years later.

While rebuilding myself professionally, I also rebuilt myself physically (at the end of my experience at the bank, I was only 54kg for 1.75m, which is not healthy for me) and psychologically (it is at this time that I started therapies, read more and more literature on personal development but also on wounds and trauma, attended conferences and talked a lot with many people about self-development).
It was also at that time that I got back into the cinema. I went to New Yooooooooooooooork for six weeks, for an acting workshop, at the New York Film Academy.

When I came back, I could not go back to my working life as it was before. I found the strength to ask for a carrier break… and got it. YAY!!

In January 2016, I officially started as a PROFESSIONAL actress.

In the meantime, the stars had lined up (I didn’t check … so I don’t really know) to allow me to live in my brother’s house while he lived in the south of France and therefore to have only a small, very small, rent to pay; to receive a very nice sum of money from my mom who had saved for years for my wedding (for me it was more important to use that money to make this dream come true … I don’t think I have ever dreamed of getting married) and therefore have the money to meet my needs while not having financial pressure.
How lucky I am !

For three and a half years I have once again given myself all the means to make it happen. I took lessons with very good coaches. I did all the small and large projects in which I was offered to participate in. I took acting lessons, but also in scriptwriting and directing, I signed up with all the casting agencies and did my best to network.
I also made more practical decisions so that I could continue to explore this profession. That is to say that I started to give theater lessons to children, I definitively left my job at the Haute Ecole where I still had a contract …

I quickly started to write. In the business, they often tell you « if you can’t find a role that suits you or that directors want to give you, write it ». So that’s what I did.
In 2018, I wrote and directed my first short film. I am proud of it because it looks like me. The attention to detail that I put into it, the team behind to make this possible, the faith that the team and the people who funded the project must have had, the ease with which I went from one stage to the next to get the project off the ground.
It has become my model … I am building my job as a coach as I built that short-film, with ease, serenity and quiet confidence.

So my business was born in 2020 … when COVID forced us to take a break. At that time I was giving French lessons (an activity that filled my financial gaps) and theatre 100%, I told myself that it was a very good opportunity to review my priorities.
I thought I would go back to writing, but my ideas all seemed to quickly weaken … That’s when online courses magically appeared. I took a first course, « The Science of Well-Being » from Yale University … then a second, « The Arts and Science of Relationships: Understanding Human Needs » from the University of Toronto … and finally a third, « De-mystifying Mindfulness » from the University of Leiden.
All these trainings provided confirmations, additional information, other perspectives, other approaches and other points of view on a work that I had already started in May 2019 with a MBSR program (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction).

Little by little the pieces of the puzzle fitted together without me having anything else to do but follow the invitations which presented themselves to me (accept them or decline them).

So I took the time to let this activity emerge from me. I let it grow. Firstly by reconciling myself with the term coach. I had seen too much this profession being practised by people with whom I did not identify at all. It allowed me to know which coach I didn’t want to be … then, over the course of a conversation with a friend, to find the one I wanted to be, that is to say a coach who allows her clients to take their time, to give themselves time (as I had needed to do).

Once I knew what kind of coach I was, I had to find my area of ​​expertise. This is where my hypersensitivity and my emotional dependence, but especially my journey with them, came back to me.
I then realised that mindfulness and all the learning (trainings, conferences, readings, conversations, therapies) that I had done over the past nine years (since my depression in 2011), allowed me to free myself from toxic relational mechanisms and to reconcile myself with my hypersensitivity to the point of recognising its strength … its magic 🙂

From there, thanks to people offering me their services and skills, I was able to build the program that I now offer my clients. A program in emotional and relational balance.

My journey may seem chaotic, indecisive, but I’m happy about it. I am happy to have given myself the chance to experiment these different paths. It is all of this, all of my discoveries and adventures that brought me here, on this path.

I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t worked in a bank for six years because this experience taught me what I didn’t want (a financially secure job in which I have no place, no desire).
A breakup that actually showed me that what I believed to be love was just the fear of being alone and not being able to make it on my own.
A job in a Haute Ecole where I learned that I needed to put my skills at the service of a field that resembles me, that I am passionate about.
Acting allowed me to free myself from an old fantasy, an old dream … I did not know what it was to be an actress and I can say today in all honesty that I wasn’t looking for the right things with that job.
I wasn’t passionate about acting, I just wanted to « make it », to be recognised as an actress. But this job also allowed me to realise that what I was looking for on stage or in front of the cameras were emotions, and at that time it was easier for me to live those of a character than mine.
Once I understood that I could live my emotions safely (thanks to mindfulness) I gave up this job.
From my cinematographic experience, I keep the writing. I like to tell stories. I still intend to write a book, a story … a love story, my love story.
Teaching drama and French as a Second Language has shown me how creative, flexible, patient and curious I am and to always find appropriate ways to share my knowledge with my students and create the best possible environment for them to want to learn.
It is ultimately this job, which I did in order to be able to feed myself, that taught me the job of coach as I see it, in real collaboration. Without my students I have no material to give. Without my students I am not a teacher. Without my students, I don’t improve, I don’t change.
This is how I experience being a coach in emotional and relational balance.

Emotions? Did you say emotions?

As far as I can remember, I have always had a conflicting relationship with my emotions.

Whether by idolising them … and therefore by clinging to them with all my strength.
I had this relationship mainly with sadness …

Already in my early childhood, when I was sad, I would run to the mirror to look at myself crying. I found myself fascinating when I had those beautiful big tears rolling down my face.

And this attachment to sadness transmuted in a fairly harmless way into a pronounced taste for dramatic films… but in a much more harmful way it also inspired the choice of my relationships. Systematically refusing relationships that were peaceful and smooth in favour of relationships which were going to hurt me and had no chance of leading to a « happy ending ».

I liked to create drama. Why? Because the child that I was, the injured child that I was, associated drama with attention. If I was not well (whether it was an illness, a boo-boo or a deep sorrow) I was taken care of, but if I was well (and therefore if I had nothing to talk about) I wasn’t even looked at.

Since then, I have obviously observed that while I was getting attention with this drama, it was doing me more harm than good.
Worse I realised that people were getting  tired of my drama and therefore rejecting me even more. What I was desperately seeking with drama (attention) was denied to me even more because of it.

I then clung to joy. The drama wasn’t working as well as I wanted it to or for a too short period of time, so I decided I was going to disguise myself as a happy person 24/7.

But again I wasn’t authentic … it was a reaction to an injury, to a fear of rejection. I had transformed myself into a person who despite her depression, despite her enormous sadness and pain, had a beautiful big smile, who was even capable of making « good jokes » to make the audience laugh … and reassure everyone. « I swear to you, I’m fine! »

 

There were also emotions that I was running away from …

Quite typically, it was fear and anger … intimately linked emotions. It is often the people who are the most afraid who are the most angry.

God, I was so scared to be afraid. And the more I was afraid to be afraid, the more I was scared. Do you feel the vicious circle? Because the fear that feeds on fear creates anxiety.

I remember my anxiety attacks very clearly … it is quite a striking experience.
Feeling completely overwhelmed by fear (the fear of disappointing, the fear of making a mistake, the fear of being rejected, the fear of not succeeding …). Feeling the negative thoughts accumulate, the ball in my belly getting bigger and bigger, my breath getting shorter and shorter … Feeling more and more paralysed. I think in all of this that was what scared me the most … this feeling of not knowing how to get out of it, of not being able to do anything to keep moving forward.
I remember walking around in circles in my apartment in the middle of the night begging for someone to do something to make it stop.
I still feel for the pain of the woman I was then.

After all that, and not finding a « middle ground » with my emotions, clinging to them or running away from them, I simply decided to reject them. I shut down so I couldn’t feel anything and it’s surprisingly easy when you’ve been through an emotional trauma.

For five years, yes FIVE YEARS, I conditioned myself not to feel anything. How did I do this? I refused all relationships (friendly, professional, family and especially love). I lived my relationships superficially. So I wasn’t asocial, quite the opposite, but I kept everyone at a sufficient distance so that I didn’t feel anything too strongly.

 

And then one fine day … after having gone back in the « game » of dating and having become a teacher (and therefore confronted with children’s emotions every day… they don’t take a glove to share them so it’s impossible to do without) and above all feeling that I was missing out on my life (well…yes, the life of a highly sensitive person without emotion is like a racing car without a circuit, it’s useless and boring ; -)) … I started a program teaching Mindfulness.

Today, I can say that I truly live ALL my emotions (joy, fear, sadness, anger, surprise and disgust) without having to create/seek them, without having to run away from them, without having to ignore them.
I simply decided to listen to them.
An emotion is just a signal that our body sends to let us know that something is going on and that we need to take it into account … like a child pulling your sleeve to tell you he needs to go to the bathroom. If you don’t listen to him, he will show up agan and again … until he finds THE way to get your undivided attention (in this example, a pee in the middle of the living room, the classroom, the shop).

If you want to meet your emotions (and therefore ease your relationships in general), do not hesitate to contact me.
It is a hazardous path, which will require patience and courage. The more patience and courage you give yourself, the more you will have.

What needs hide behind your emotions?

An emotion, the signal your body sends you, corresponds to a need that IS or IS NOT being met.
For instance :

  • Joy is when an external element (a person, a job, a relationship, …) corresponds to what you need (or think you need).
  • Fear kicks in when your need to feel safe is compromised (whether it’s because you really are in danger … or just because you feel you are).
  • Anger happens when your need for things to turn out a certain way is frustrated.

The problem is that, due to our education, the behaviors of those around us (family, friends, colleagues, representatives, etc.), bad experiences, false beliefs, we have not learned to respond in a HEALTHY way to our needs. We think we respond to them, automatically and without really realising it, by changing relationships or by constantly looking for new ones, by buying/consuming more and more substances (sugar, fat, alcohol, drugs, entertainment) or material goods (clothes, beauty products, decoration, etc.).

When we are capable to trust ourselves to truly and genuinely meet our needs, we are able to:

  • set healthy limits (to ourselvesand to others),
  • respect oneself and others,
  • take care of yourself and others,
  • have healthy and satisfying relationships
  • achieve a more stable and lasting well-being.

This is what I offer you to discover in sessions with me :

  1. Listening to your emotions
  2. What is hiding in it?
  3. How do I meet my needs?
  4. How can I make my relationships rewarding, satisfying and peaceful?

Tempted?

What I offer you ...

A program to reach a more stable emotional and relational well-being.

This program is for you if

… you feel like you struggle with your emotions, that they paralyse and scare you or feel too heavy.
… at the end of the day you feel exhausted and a good night sleep doesn’t seem to help.
… you feel paralysed by your past mistakes
… you struggle to love yourself and love others
… you feel alone and without any support.

With this program you will learn to

… better express what you feel, think or what you need,
… welcome, listen and respond better to your emotions,
… have more satisfying relationships, facilitate and / or soothe them.

It looks like this:

The first part, emotional balance, lasts a minimum of eight sessions:

  • Six sessions (one session / week) on basic emotions: at each session we focus on one emotion in particular (fear, joy, anger, …).

Three week break

  • Two sessions (one session / week): After three weeks without a session, where you will make your own experiences / discoveries, we check together that the basics have been acquired and that we can move on …

The second part, relational balance, lasts a minimum of six sessions:

In this part we explore

… your loyalty (two sessions, one per week: what are your limits ?, what is your relational profile?, etc.)

One week without session

… your reciprocity (two sessions, one per week: how to actively listen?, how to get to know the other?, etc.)

One week without session

… your creativity (two sessions, one per week: how to make decisions together ?, what are your strengths and weaknesses as a partner?, etc.)

At each session, we will work in three stages:

  1. Conversation: to share your experiences.
  2. Mindfulness exercises: meditation, body scan, yoga, etc.
  3. Practical exercises: inspired by my training and my experience.

Each session can be doubled or tripled to deepen one of the subject.

Each session are one-on-one and lasts for an hour and a half.

The first part, emotional balance, costs 600 EUR  for the eight basic sessions, each added session is charged 75 EUR.

The second part, relational balance, costs 450 EUR for the six basic sessions, each added session is charged 75 EUR.

The full program (fourteen sessions) costs 1000 EUR.

The first part can be done independently of the second. The reverse is not possible.

It is possible to pay in two (a down payment representing half of the amount at the beginning of the program and the rest at the end of the program).

Get in touch

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