Sense of Self with Sonia Samtani
Sonia Samtani has a vision: to empower individuals with simple yet powerful tools to navigate life’s ups and downs. As the driving force behind All About You Centre - one of Hong Kong’s most sought-after therapy, workshop and healing spaces founded in 2013 - Samtani has an impressively long list of qualifications, including clinical hypnotherapist, life coach, regression therapist, public speaking coach, TEDx speaker and more. Yet, there once was a time when she was plagued with personal insecurities, inferiority and self-doubt.
Hong Kong-born and raised, her story begins not with one defining, traumatic event but via an accumulation of seemingly minor incidents. “When the kids in school saw beauty as being fair with light eyes, I made it mean my Asian appearance was inferior. When I wasn’t allowed to go out like other girls in high school, I made it mean I was an outsider. When girls talked about ideal bodies, I made it mean that mine was abnormal. This was not a great recipe for self-confidence.”
She wanted to hide away, but instead became more visible and heavy in her early teens, which led to an eating disorder. However, deep inside she wanted desperately to be seen and heard. “I wanted my opinion to be valued, and I knew that I was a people’s person. However, I believed that I was not worthy of being acknowledged.”
Samtani’s saving grace turned out to be her curiosity. “I was extremely introspective and my favourite word was (and still is) ‘why’.” As a young adult, she read books and took courses to understand how our beliefs are created, what makes them powerful and how to alter them. “I worked for a charity to support people with mental health issues at university, then worked for Tony Robbins for a couple of years, which brought about a huge sense of self-empowerment.”
The ‘whys’ took her on a huge internal quest. “I realised that everything starts inside and I wanted to share those tools with others,” she explains. “As I developed my craft, people asked me to practice what I was learning on them. When I saw them going through shifts in their self-esteem, my conviction in this work grew and I knew that this was what I was meant to be doing.”
“My younger self would be proud to know that I now do feel seen, heard and valued for who I am, and I’m not desperately looking outwards for it anymore.”
Samtani notes a shift in mental health perceptions over the past decade. “Today, people increasingly understand support for mental health is not for those who need to be ‘fixed’, but for all of us to help overcome blocks or enhance our lives.” The Covid-19 pandemic has further normalised this. “I believe Hong Kong people have woken up and faced things that perhaps they were unconsciously avoiding. We were put in a place where we needed to face ourselves, and although that’s not comfortable, it gave opportunity for so much self-reflection and growth. I am happy to say that I have seen many people have the courage to face the dark aspects of themselves and move through them. For others, it has given them the wisdom to understand and realise that we cannot have 100% control over our environment, only ourselves.”
Self-awareness and self-development are a lifelong process for everyone, herself included. “My younger self would be proud to know that I now do feel seen, heard and valued for who I am, and I’m not desperately looking outwards for it anymore.”
Q / A :
What inspires you?
I want to understand the ‘why’s’ of life: why people do what they do, why two people in the exact same situation have such different perspectives it, why people think the way they do. I am naturally interested in people and their behaviour and I’ve turned this interest into my career.
What led you to write your book?
I had been writing short blurbs in my newsletters for almost two decades, and my clients told me how much they looked forward to them and how they used them to set intentions for the month. So I created a book with tips and tools for conscious living in simple, bite-sized pieces. 52 Thoughts for Conscious Living is intended to be a friend and guide to lead you through the year with a conscious thought for every week. Topics range from understanding procrastination, to how to communicate effectively, to understanding what creates happiness hormones.
Your personal wellness routine?
I like to keep it simple and intentional. In the morning I do an earth and higher-self meditation, where I connect to the root chakra for grounding and the crown chakra for intuition. In that space I set an intention for the day. I then do some simple breathing exercises and yoga poses. As I get ready I listen to a discourse of someone who inspires me.
In the evening when I am done with my work, I create space for personal ‘downtime’, where I journal, meditate and have time for me. It feels like I am clearing my mental slate from the activities of the day and getting ready for the evening.
Before I go to bed I have a closure routine. I mentally review the day and flashback to all that has happened, I look for lessons and check if there are unprocessed emotions still left in my body. If so, I breathe or tap it out so that I don’t carry the charges in my body and I can sleep feeling more complete. After that I do affirmations and a visualisation.
How do you find your balance?
I love to journal and write down my thoughts; it acts as such a powerful tool for self-reflection, self-expression, and catharsis. Breathwork is a simple and powerful way to create balance; when we are stressed our breathing changes and when we practice deep breathing/alternative breathing/or even conscious breathing, it changes how we feel immediately. Finally, my way of self-love is noticing the parts of myself I am judging and giving those parts love with affirmations and self-reflection.
The most important piece of wellness advice you can give?
Understand that your life is “All About You”. You have more choices than you think and it’s your inner environment that matters most. You can choose to be the victim, the rescuer, the blamer, the martyr, the creator, or the master of your life. Awareness and acceptance are the key ingredients that will lead you to the choices that bring most peace.