Today, I interview Ann Hince whose story certainly has a unique beginning. She was adopted as a newborn into a family who had just had to give up a foster daughter, so in some ways she started her life by filling in another one’s shoes.
There was a lot of moving and traveling when Ann was a child, and somehow her birth mother kept track of her location all along. Ann experienced some traumatic experiences as a young child. She told her parents her room was on fire and they didn’t believe her. So from day one her voice was quieted.
Among many places they’d lived was Hong Kong, and while her family lived there she was sent away to England to attend her brother’s boarding school– a boys-only institution– which would be yet another confusing and scary experience on a list of many that had suppressed her voice. Through the years her dad also tormented her. He made her record herself speaking on cassette, something to be mailed to the grandparents, but would also chime in, mocking and ridiculing her for how her voice sounded. He also repeated the same teasing that Ann said she was receiving from the boys at her school. So her fear grew and she continued to hide within herself, tired of the constant humiliation.
When she reached 21, she left that life behind and headed for California, where she had a family and pursued a career in software engineering. She was confronted by some disagreement from some fellow coworkers and it absolutely tormented her. A few days later, she’d processed the incident and realized that she shouldn’t have had such a strong reaction– that there was unresolved trauma and she could do something about it. So she did.
Ann went on an amazing journey and found emotional freedom. Today, she encourages others to allow themselves to fully experience what they’re feeling and work through it, rather than suppressing it. She helps them to be present and acknowledge the moment so they can move past their fear and pain.
When Ann was 19, she woke one morning to find her mother dead in her bathroom. Twenty years later the tears from that trauma were still just under the surface. Ann found a simple technique that helped her release these emotions – but she went further and can now put her awareness inside her body – and has changed the bone structure of her skull and grown ½ an inch at age 55. Ann has found that seeking out our truth, what we truly feel, and accepting those feelings, is the key to inner peace.
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Transcript of Interview
Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast
Podcast Host: Dr. Doreen Downing
Free Guide to Fearless Speaking: Doreen7steps.com
Episode #63 Ann Hince
“Inner Peace & Accepting Our Feelings”
(00:35) Dr. Doreen Downing
Hello, this is Dr. Doreen Downing. And I’m a psychologist and host of the Find Your Voice, Change Your Life podcast. What I do here is interview people who have had some kind of struggle with speaking up. And I might say speaking up in public, but most conversations are in public anyway, right? It’s not just about being on a stage, being a public speaker. It’s about being yourself out in the world. And today, I get to interview Ann Hince and she is brand new to me. But she’s written a book. And I just want to mention that right up front. It’s a “Pathway to Insight.” Is that the title of it, Ann?
(01:20) Ann Hince
(01:21) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, welcome. I’m really excited. I’ll say a few more things. But I just wanted to say hello first.
(01:27) Ann Hince
Hi, thank you. It’s lovely to be here. I’m looking forward to this.
(01:31) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, well, I’m sure we’ll go in to more depth than a lot of times I’ve been able to do because you seem to be somebody who’s already opened up. In fact, what you shared with me on the bio is this, you were 19 when you woke up one morning to find your mother dead in her bathroom, right? 20 years later, the tears from that trauma were still just under the surface. Ann found a simple technique that helped her release these emotions.
But she went further and can now put her awareness inside her body and has changed the bone structure of her skull and grown half inch at age 55. And has found that seeking out our truth, what we what we truly feel, and accepting those feelings is the key to inner peace. I just wanted to take a breath there because I love that phrase, the inner peace and accepting our feelings. And it feels like you’ve come into some deep, deep wisdom.
(02:43) Ann Hince
Well, finding my inner peace was my goal the whole time. I just happened to have these other things happen along the way, like my bone, skull structure changing and growing half an inch that was just a result of this search for inner peace. So, it’s kind of nice results to have but the inner peace as definitely the best thing.
(03:06) Dr. Doreen Downing
Okay, well, because it does seem like life is a journey. If we could start back as far back as you can remember when you found your mom, or maybe I’d like to start a little bit earlier. What was life like for you? And where did you grow up?
(03:25) Ann Hince
Yes, it was way before that probably at birth, actually, I was conceived in New Zealand and born in England. And I was born with my right foot up against my right shin. So, my first six weeks of life, I had physical therapy. And then I was adopted into a family that had just suffered a trauma, because they had a boy, a two-year-old boy who they had adopted as a baby. And then they adopted a little girl and they had her for six months. And then the birth mother changed her mind, which you weren’t allowed to do back then. And up to six months they had to give this little girl back again to her birth mother. And I was the replacement into the family for that.
(04:03) Dr. Doreen Downing
What an entry. That’s pretty dramatic. Hello, world. Here I am.
(04:09) Ann Hince
Yes, yes. And then another weird part of the story is that my birth mother actually got the wrong adoption papers for a moment, for an instant and found out our family name and the place we lived. And so, she worked out what company my dad worked for. And she followed us around the world through the company magazine to find out where we were so she found me when I was 17.
I met her when I was 17. And then my mother died when I was 19. But going back, we did actually start moving around the world. When I was six months, we went to Barbados, then we moved to Sierra Leone in West Africa. When I was around two, we had a house fire when we were there and I was the one who saw the flames coming in through my bedroom wall in the morning when I woke up. So, I know that was a trauma and one of the things that happened there is actually when I went to the top of the stairs, I told my dad that there’s a fire in my bedroom, in our bedroom because my brother was in there too. And he said, “No, that can’t be.”
So as a young person, like a child, when something that’s important is not believed. That was part of where I stopped speaking my truth, because there was no point. My Truth was never believed. It wasn’t important. So anyway, time went on, we then move to Hong Kong. And when we’re in Hong Kong, I was sent to boarding school in England, which is halfway across the world. And I was sent to my brother’s boarding school, which was a boy’s boarding school. And I was the first girl border of that boy’s boarding school. And I was teased mercilessly by all those boys for two years. And that really shut me down.
My dad had already teased my voice, he used to tease my voice when I was younger. Because it was back in those olden days where we didn’t have phones, and we lived across the world from his parents. So, we would record things on a cassette tape, and then he would send the cassette tape to his parents. And he would make me speak into the cassette tape. But he would tease my voice. So, I never wanted to say anything. And then he would try and make me speak. And it was just this awful experience of tears and shouting, and it’s like, yeah, I don’t want to say anything out loud. Of course.
(06:39) Dr. Doreen Downing
So, what kinds of things would he say?
(06:42) Ann Hince
Well, he would tease me with something like, “You’re talking in this little squeaky voice. I don’t want you to be talking in this little squeaky voice.” But that was my voice. And the more he said that, the more I held back, and probably the squeakier it was.
(06:58) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yeah, that’s what fear does, it contracts the vocal cords, so does the sound of your voice, which he seems to be mimicking and making you feel ashamed of having what you had, which seemed kind of natural to you.
(07:17) Ann Hince
One time I told him about the teasing that was happening at the boy’s school, because he’d asked me about it. And I told him, and he then teased me in exactly the same way that the boys teased me. Blew my mind at the time. It’s like, really? Really?
(07:37) Dr. Doreen Downing
Oh my. It’s like he led the charge. But did the boys also mimic your voice? Or was it…
(07:44) Ann Hince
No, I have really bad teeth my whole life. So, they were teasing me about my teeth. And so, he just did the same thing. Not quite sure what his intention was in that regard. But it absolutely shut me down. Okay, I’m never going to talk to you about anything important to me again, because I don’t want to be humiliated like that again.
(08:07) Dr. Doreen Downing
Right. I understand that a lot of stories I’ve heard here, what you’re describing is the category of being bullied and, other kids ganging up on you. And that’s got to feel so powerless. And then of course, it being the gender roles, you being female, and surrounded by that particular kind of male energy anyway, just feels like you got, you got it on steroids.
(08:36) Ann Hince
And my dad had anger issues. Anyway. So, we’re very much we’re walking on eggshells in our household. Yeah, I didn’t want to say my opinion at all, because it was always wrong. So, there was no point. So, I did almost consciously just stop saying things. And in school, I was petrified of being called on to read anything out loud. And I realized later that when I did that, I would actually hold my breath. I just, I just didn’t breathe when I was reading something out loud. So of course, it’s going to be uncomfortable. And I wouldn’t want to read for very long because I wasn’t breathing.
(09:13) Dr. Doreen Downing
Right? And then you lose your breath. And then…
(09:18) Ann Hince
Oh yeah. And then they both became alcoholics in my teenage years. So, life at home was just, I mean, I used to call it hell. And so, then when I was 19, I did wake up one morning and found my mother dead on the bathroom floor. And that was just another trauma. And I just did the same thing that I always did. I just carried on with life because I didn’t know anything else. It was just my normal. And so that was the beginning.
(09:44) Dr. Doreen Downing
What did she die of?
(09:47) Ann Hince
She had throat and lung cancer from drinking and smoking. And one of the tumors in her throat burst. So, she really bled out. Or she inhaled it.
(09:57) Dr. Doreen Downing
Were you the one who found her?
(10:00) Ann Hince
Yes. I was the only one in the house at the time.
(10:04) Dr. Doreen Downing
Oh my, oh my.
(10:06) Ann Hince
It’s okay. I mean, it’s just a story to me now. Hopefully it doesn’t traumatize anyone who’s listening.
(10:10) Dr. Doreen Downing
No, but I just I had to take it in there, I had to take a breath and go to, you know, be with a child who, well a teenager, but had that experience. And that leads to us, moving into the beginning of how you carry that underneath for years without, like you said, just moved on. Next, whatever was required, going on in school probably. And…
(10:45) Ann Hince
yes, I moved out to California, when I was 21, I became a software engineer, I got married, I had kids. And then I was in my late 30s, that I actually had a business altercation with a couple of other mothers who were very self-confident, self-assured authority type women. And there was me this really scared mother inside. And they were telling me, I’ve done something wrong. And my mind just spun out of control. It just went over and over everything that they said, and what had happened. And I couldn’t sleep for like three days.
And it was during that period of time that I realized, I don’t think this is normal. I don’t think other people would react this intensely to something that really wasn’t that big a deal. And I had a glimpse, because I realized it’s a little bit loud, like how I would react when my dad would tell me I’d done something, right? To me, he was this authority figure. And I realized, okay, well, maybe there’s something from my childhood here that I haven’t looked at. Just a little bit. Which is so funny now, because there was so much, I hadn’t looked at.
But that was just my little glimpse, that I realized maybe I could do something, but I didn’t know what to do at that point. And it was in that timeframe that I actually went to a doctor’s appointment. And I have no idea why I went to him. It was certainly nothing to do with emotions. But he was a holistic physician. And he recognized I was more stressed than I should be. And he asked me on a scale of zero to 10, what my stress level was, and I said, 8. And then he asked me why. And it was that question that made me realize, oh, it was finding my mother when I was 19, which is now two decades earlier, because the tears were still just under the surface.
And so, he used this technique with me, it’s called EFT, which is short for emotional freedom technique. It’s also called tapping. So, he tapped with me, because we’re tapping on different places on our body as we’re talking through something, that’s why it’s called tapping. So, he tapped with me about my mother’s death for about 15 minutes. And I walked away from the appointment, being able to tell the story in my mind without the tears there anymore. And that was the first time I realized that we hold those emotions physically in our body, and that we can let them go.
(13:02) Dr. Doreen Downing
Oh, what an amazing moment, life transformational moment. So many people wake up, but they go on a longer journey. And it feels like EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique was something that helped you in a moment that you didn’t even realize you were opening up a floodgate that was underneath. So, just a little bit more about this doctor who was holistic, and somehow, I mean, I could already feel that you trusted inner guidance, or whatever kind of guidance comes to us. And there you were in his office, and he performed or not performed, he taught you.
(13:55) Ann Hince
Yes, he did it with me. And I actually went home after that appointment and I went online and learned everything I could about EFT because it was given away by Gary Craig, who developed it for free. So, you could learn all about it online. So, I did that. But then I have the engineering background. I like to know how things really work. And that it wasn’t just a one-time fluke. So, I wanted to try it out. And at the time, I had a 17-year-old cat at home, who we’ve just been told needed to have a daily saline shot because his kidneys were starting to fail. And the first time I gave him an injection, a saline shot, my hand was shaking so badly. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do it every day, because I was so afraid of giving him this shot.
So, I thought, well, I’ll tap about it and see that happens. So, I did, I tapped about every aspect about it, which is what you do with EFT so I tapped about my hand shaking. I talked about my fear of hurting my cat. And I talked about all the memories I had from all the injections I’d had because I’ve moved around the world. And the next day, the needle just slid right in and all that fear that had been living inside of me the prior day are just gone. And that’s when I realized two things. I realized, firstly, that EFT is deceptively powerful, because it doesn’t really look like it’s doing much. And I realized that freedom is on the other side of that fear. And that’s where I wanted to get to.
So that was the start of my journey. That’s where I started tapping every day, started noticing when I was feeling emotional. And I would tap and bring myself back to peace, and retur. I could tell things were shifting, I was becoming a little less reactionary, a little more peaceful inside. And I wanted more of that. So, I knew you could write down all your childhood things. I wrote down every emotional memory I could think of, from my whole life up to that point.
And I tapped through one each night for about an hour to an hour and a half each night. And my mind started to become quiet, and peaceful, and I was less reactionary. And it felt so different. I actually remember opening my kitchen door and saying to myself, feels like I’m living in a different reality here because I was used to having a really busy critical, judgmental mind. And it was quiet. And it felt so different.
(16:17) Dr. Doreen Downing
I like that word. Your mind was quiet. And that’s what people who suffer from public speaking anxiety say is that their mind is hijacking them. The body is overwhelming them with all of those, well, I guess it’s pure emotion, just the fright surging through the body. And your ability. You had trauma in your past but then you took real life situations from your history. And I would say that that definitely applies to people with public speaking anxiety, because a lot of it is like what you’re demonstrating today about how their voice didn’t have a welcoming into this world. You know, there wasn’t somebody receiving it and saying, yay, you.
(17:10) Ann Hince
But one of the things I realized when it became quiet when I noticed that it was quiet, is I realized that the words that I would replay in my mind, like the judgmental or critical ones, they were my dad’s voice that I had programmed in myself from childhood. So, I definitely had fear of public speaking. Absolutely. So, I would notice what those words were, what those beliefs were or the phrases that would come up, you know, that you sucked, or whatever it was, that was awful, or how embarrassing or any of those phrases, and I would tap on them, and just accept them.
I feel like my voice is terrible, whatever it is that I believe I would tap on that over and over again, that’s the key with EFT is you want to keep doing it until the energy underneath it has dissipated. Because if I can say my voice is awful, and there’s no energy any more than it, they’re just words. Yeah, it has no attachment to me anymore, and it’s not affecting me anymore.
(18:12) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yeah, then you say they’re just words. They’re just words. And there’s not the negative attached to it any kind of almost any kind of energy except for just it just is just the words,
(18:24) Ann Hince
Right. Yes. And that’s the other key thing about EFT is we’re actually working on the negative. I know a lot of people these days think we just need to be positive, but the positive isn’t stored in the body the way the negative is, right where I’ve got to the place I am now where I can actually sense inside the body. I know that it’s just the tension or the darkness that we need to address. And once we do, the light is already underneath. So, all we need to do is find those negative thoughts, those negative beliefs and let the energy of them pass through the body and be gone. And then they’re no longer there.
(19:00) Dr. Doreen Downing
Say a little bit more because I think what you’re presenting right here, right now is the whole idea of doing this podcast, to be confident is an inside job.
(19:18) Ann Hince
It is an inside job. Absolutely. And my journey started with EFT which was more with the words. And as I did more and more work with EFT, I realized it’s opening up the subconscious mind and expanding our awareness. So, I started to become aware of my emotions during the day. But then there’s a deeper level of awareness, which I hadn’t been aware of before. But you can become aware of the physical sensations underneath the emotions. So, if we’re feeling afraid of speaking in public, we’re actually holding tension in our body somewhere, possibly multiple places. I can feel it in my lower abdomen when I think of that fear of Public Speaking.
So, once I was aware of that, I would focus on that tension inside that emotion, but it’s actually tension. And I would just feel it and allow it to be felt, and it would dissipate a little bit, and then I would feel it again, and it will dissipate a little. And I’ll do it over and over again. So now, instead of doing the EFT, when talking through the words over and over again, now I’m at a deeper level of awareness, and feeling that fear inside of me and allowing it to dissipate. And it really does leave the body.
(20:36) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, I get it. To me, it feels like a deep cleansing process.
(20:42) Ann Hince
It is. It’s really releasing. I believe it’s releasing it from the connective tissue. It’s releasing that stored energy. So, I started doing that every day, then instead of tapping so much. And I would lay on the sofa at night, and I’d bring collective traumas to mind like 911, or the Loma Prieta earthquake that I was in. I would think those thoughts, bring those memories back to my mind, and feel all those sensations in my body, and just allow them to be, and they would just dissipate. So do it over and over again. Eventually, I actually got to a place where I could keep my awareness inside my body after the tension had released.
And I’ve never heard of this before. I don’t know anyone else that talked about it. So, it’s kind of just playing around and wondering if I could do it again. And I found that I could. And then but what can I do now that I can put my awareness inside my body. So, I started moving it around. And I found that I can actually find a place with tension. And I would focus on it, and it would shift a little bit. So, then I would focus it on again on it, and it would shift again. So now I’m doing at a deeper level, still, what I was doing with the sensations, but now I’m actually inside the body.
So, I just started doing this, I’ve moved around my body, feel the tension inside, let it release. And it took many, many months but eventually I could put my awareness inside my head. And that was eye opening, I had so much pain, and the forces pulling my bones out of alignment that had been inside of me for 50 years, but I had not been aware of them. They were huge. I just had no idea how much tension I had in my head for 50 years. So, now I had a technique, I just started feeling it. It would release it, feel it again, feel a little bit more.
And over time, I can actually feel my skull bones relax into a deeper, what I now know is more alignment. But at the time, it just felt like a deeper sense of just relaxation. And so now I do have X-rays they took last year compared to 2013. And can see that the bones, the eye sockets have aligned, the jaw was way off to the side, it’s now more centered. And my neck, it’s still not fully straight yet, but it’s a lot straighter than it was. And I’ve grown half an inch because of that deep relaxation of tension that has been stored in the body.
(23:09) Dr. Doreen Downing
I love hearing you speak today. This is so fascinating. And the whole idea of energy being trapped in deep tissues. And what I see that you’re talking about a lot of people talk about is presence. And you haven’t used that word but awareness and presence. But what you bring to a deeper, deeper, deeper, full presence is some kind of ability to be with energy that is trapped so that it can be released. So that there’s a purpose, rather than just being skilled at being present to notice what’s around you and…
(23:48) Ann Hince
Absolutely, yes. The being in the thinking mind, I think a lot of people are in the thinking mind, and bringing us back to presence is kind of just being in the neutral mind almost, what I call in the sensing mind. So, I’m feeling, I’m not thinking, I’m actually feeling inside the body. So, it’s absolutely in the presence because I’m not thinking, I’m not in the past, I’m not in the future, just feeling.
(24:20) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, well the power they talk about the power of now. But today it seems like you’re really showing us what the power of now means and how to drop down in such a way that you are not scared you’re just being with and that whole sense of, to me it does feel like a deeper, we all have that capacity to arrive inside of ourselves in this spacious place that is transformational insight. We have the power to transform our own energy. So that’s what you’ve been talking about today.
(25:00) Ann Hince
We do. So much of what we do is we try and suppress it. We don’t think we shouldn’t be feeling it. And I didn’t even learn that right at the beginning of this journey. I didn’t realize that’s what EFT is doing. But it’s fully accepting it. It’s whatever you’re feeling, it’s okay that you’re feeling it. You don’t have to do anything about it. But if you’re feeling really scared, or if you’re, if you’re heating something, if you’re really frustrated, and actually feel that and allow it to be okay, that you feel that, because it’s in that moment of acceptance is when the shift happens.
And you got that from a deeper and deeper level right inside. I’m not trying to do anything with that tension. I’m just feeling it, and allowing it to be exactly what it is. And that’s when it shifts. So, it’s the same thing with the emotions and the EFT. Once I fully accept that I’m feeling frustrated right now, and that’s okay, that’s when the shift happens.
(26:01) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, so then we apply it to speaking up in situations, not just, again, as I said, on a stage, but in any kind of conversation where you hold yourself back. It’s learning how to take that breath and find that acceptance because shift happens, as you say, when accepted.
(26:25) Ann Hince
Right. So, if I was doing something like that with EFT, as I mentioned at one point, you tap on all the aspects of it. So, there would be a phrase that you could tap on, it’s like, I’m afraid to speak up, right? You can use that phrase and tap with that. But you could also work out what it’s you’re afraid of, or you’re afraid of being judged, or afraid of what they’re going to say, or you’re afraid of being humiliated. What exactly is it that we’re afraid of? And then we would tap on those words, and just accept that I’m really afraid of being judged, or I really hate being judged. And allow that to be okay. And allow that hatred of being judged to dissipate. Because when it’s not there anymore, we are much freer to speak up.
(27:11) Dr. Doreen Downing
Much freer to speak up. Yes, I want to say amen. That is wonderful. Well, we’re reaching our time, and I want to make sure and give you some last words, if they feel like they’re coming through for you.
(27:27) Ann Hince
Okay, I love to have people think about how powerful they are. With everything that’s happening, we’re so divided these days, there’s so much energy and emotion around all these divisions that we have. And people think we have no power over that. But we do, the power we have isn’t how we feel. Because if we can bring ourselves back to peace, then that’s the signal that we are emitting, and we’re attracting peace then into our future. And we’re actually providing peace to people around us. So, we can use something like EFT at any point, like if we’re frustrated with the politician or frustrated with the news, we can tap on that frustration, or whatever it is we’re feeling and bring ourselves back to peace, so that then we can attract peace into our future. So, we do have a lot more control over our lives than we think we do.
(28:21) Dr. Doreen Downing
Wonderful. So, can you tell people how to get a hold of you?
(28:25) Ann Hince
Sure, yes. I do have my book, A Pathway to Insight, which talks through all the steps that we just talked about today. And I have my website, AnnHince.com, and the X-rays are on there so you can see how powerful we are. I have a YouTube chAnnl which has a demonstration of EFT and a demonstration of feeling your feelings on there. And I have a public Facebook page that I’m happy to interact on. I love to.
(28:48) Dr. Doreen Downing
Well, that’s wonderful, great invitation. Thank you so much, Ann.
(28:52) Ann Hince
Thank you. It’s been fun.
Also listen on…
Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: doreen7steps.com.
Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: doreen7steps.com.