The Art of Transformation | Tristan Soames | Tough Moments


Tough moments in life may be hard to overcome, but not completely impossible to get through. Tristan Soames is a living example of experiencing trauma in his childhood, rebuilding his life, and unleashing the best version of himself. Now, he is a coach, NLP master teacher, and so much more. In this episode, Tristan joins Marc Scheff and shares his expert advice on getting through challenging times, just like how he did. He also explores the importance of practice when it is NOT difficult to ensure a smoother ride.

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Getting Through Tough Moments With Tristan Soames

In this episode, I had a chance to talk with fellow coach Tristan Soames. I say fellow coach, and there’s a pause because Tristan is so much more than that. He’s an NLP Master Teacher. He’s a photographer and motorcycle rider. He calls himself a cat lover and an entrepreneur. He’s done so many things in his life and had so many different experiences.

In this conversation, we get to talk about some of them. We will talk about some of the good ones and the bad ones, and how as an expert in this field, he suggests that you can use the practices to become better on the other side of some of these difficult experiences and conversations that we can have in our life. Tristan runs Certified NLP retreats every year and he helps people create lives where the impossible becomes inevitable. Without further ado, let’s hear from Tristan.


The Art of Transformation | Tristan Soames | Tough Moments


As you’ve heard, I’m joined by my friend, fellow coach, and NLP Master Trainer who’s living out in Ibiza as a world traveler. He helps people create lives that they love. Tristan Soames, welcome. How are you, my friend?

I’m good. I’m excited to be here. I’m ready to dive in.

We didn’t talk about this in the pre-call, but I am curious, what drew you to Ibiza?

It was the sunshine. When I was about six years old, my parents moved down to Southern Spain and we lived there for a while. I grew up in the sun. I guess my earliest memories were 4 or 5, and then six was formative living in the sun. I then moved back to England when I was about seven to live with my grandparents. As you probably know, the weather in England’ is not great. It’s a miserable gray weather and the contrast never sat well.

I then went on a holiday to Spain when I was about eighteen. I landed in Ibiza for a holiday when I was about twenty and I fell in love with the place. I felt at home. It was that contrast of the sun, the sand, the sea, and the lifestyle, and that holiday vibe was very different from that. It was more of a rigid English mentality and also, the weather.

Global Trips

There’s the transformation of growing up in England. I spent some time in London. I lived there for a little bit. It was very different. We have been to Ireland for many years, but you’ve also traveled all over the world. Can you tell us a little bit about some of those trips?

I suppose Spain set me up to experience and enjoy different cultures. I came back here many times and then moved here, but I also went to India in 2008 and I fell in love with the place. I lived there for about six months the first year and then I went back again the second year and the third. I went to India for probably a decade and started running retreats and the like.

Someone I met in India who lived in South Africa asked me to go and train there. I went and ran some stuff in the townships in South Africa. I have friends all over the world. I spent a lot of time in Malaysia and some time in the State. I eventually made it to South America and Central America but I’ve never quite made it down to Australia or New Zealand. I love traveling. I’ve done a lot of Europe.

I was curious how it ties to the work that you do, but I’m hearing that it’s a way of getting that perspective. I share that my kids both spoke Spanish when they were much younger. We did maybe less reading than parents should do before they had kids but we did some reading. One of the things that we discovered was that science has shown that if you’re bilingual, especially as a kid, they’ve seen that bilingual kids have much more empathy and much more ability to see connections in various ways. There are details on that, but basically, they have more empathy because they’re thinking in another way that’s different maybe from a typical kid in Brooklyn. That was what I’m hearing you say as well.

Absolutely. I was listening to something with exactly the same thing. Travel broadens the horizons, we all know it. For me, spending time in different countries and different cultures expands my mind. It gives me deepened empathy. Also, in terms of the work, with people who are from a different culture, India is very different. Working here in Ibiza, South Africa, and Mexico.


Spending time in different countries and cultures can expand your mind and teach you how to be deeply empathetic.


Do you do work in all the places?

Not so much now. I’m very much settled here in Ibiza, but I ran a retreat in Mexico a couple of years ago. I spent a lot of time in retreat and a lot of time in South Africa as well, but since COVID, I’ve based myself here and online but I miss it. I was lying in bed last night thinking of India. I was like, “I miss it.”

Being Triggered

In the conversation that we had, you brought up something that resonated with me about when we’re on a path of transition. We can use all the woo-woo words like transformation and I’m right there with you. However, fundamentally, if you’re going through a big change, and maybe it’s professional, maybe it’s personal, or maybe it’s a relationship, there’s no one path where things get better and then they get better and then they get better.

It’s more like, as they say in The Good Place, Jeremy Bearimy, if you’ve ever seen that show. It’s more like a windy thing and you could feel great one day and the next day, not. You and I were sharing a story of the story feeling quite triggered. I want to be clear that I’m using that term in the true sense where something’s happening and we realize that it’s starting to needle in on some past experience that we had. Do you want to share your experience with that? I want to also talk about what we discovered in that conversation.

It feels like, “Where do I dive in?” I caught myself being triggered towards the end of last week where there was a compounding effect of multiple events, one upon another, and I didn’t catch myself. It’s probably over three days and I was like, “That’s complex. PTSD.” I only self-diagnosed last year when I ended a relationship and realized, “I’m in a dysfunctional relationship,” basically recreating my childhood where I’m not being seen, I’m not being heard, I’m not being valued, and so on.

I caught myself going into this downward spiral and I’ve got a load of learning from that and a real gift and insight but it comes from childhood. That’s complex PTSD sustained. PTSD tends to be a one-off event. It would be a bomb, a car crash, or something like that. Complex PTSD is where we have sustained stress through time, especially in childhood.

I think when it’s in childhood especially, it’s also called an alternative childhood experience, which is another way of saying physical or emotional abuse but yes.

We all have some level of trauma. It just depends, but certainly, childhood, PTSD, or complex PTSD, what I heard it described as is a brain injury. We have these developmental stages as children, and if you’re not in a place where you feel safe, supported, and connected, you end up doing three things, which is our nervous system gets dysregulated. We disconnect from our authentic selves, others, and hope, and we have self-defeating behaviors.


If you are not in a place where you feel safe, supported, and connected, you disconnect from yourself and start to build self-defeating behaviors.


I caught myself doing this and I was like, “I’m back into the disconnected and dysregulated state.” That comes from childhood. I had a pretty crazy wild wacky ride. I tell people about it. They’re like, “That sounds great. I’m like, “It’s not all great.” My parents are hippies and people go, “That’s amazing.” I’m like, “It came with downsides as well.”

Traumatic Impact

Thank you for sharing that, first of all. I know it’s not always easy. It sounds like you’ve had some good support and good practice around that. I want to ask about something that we talked about yesterday, but I also wonder about having a creative background as I do and working with artists for many years and creative people in general. I feel like a lot of the population is dealing with something, if not exactly that. Whether it’s some sort of trauma in the background.

I don’t know that anyone I know is immune from that. There are people who I know who maybe wouldn’t even consider their background to be formative in that. I won’t overuse the word trauma. I’m not going to say everybody’s traumatized, but we all have these experiences that form who we are and what we believe about the world. When we’re kids, we have these people who are telling us what real-ism, true-ism, right-ism, or wrong-ism is so we make these stories.

Sometimes, suddenly you’re in your mid-40s and you go, “I didn’t know that I believed that.” I wonder if there’s a relation I don’t know. I wonder if there’s a relation between that. Here I am doing this work. Here you are doing this work I wonder if people who have had these experiences also feel drawn to this kind of healing work in a way, whether it’s art, coaching, or something like that. What are your thoughts?

I’d say almost comparably. Not universally clearly, but in my experience, I was searching for some. I came from a broken home. I had a broken heart. My parents left me when I was 6 or 7 years old to live with my grandparents who were both colonels in the army. Prior to that, there was violence and drugs and all that stuff. I couldn’t make sense of the world, but I had a brain injury. I had a trauma-driven belief system. I’m not safe, I’m not loved, I’m not wanted, I’m not valued, and I’m not home, literally and metaphorically. I was searching for meaning, for connection, for love, for truth and I didn’t find it.

For me, society was very much driven by profit, commercial interest, and people’s self-interest. I was like, “This doesn’t feel right.” I then came across yoga or tai chi, meditation, and things like that in my twenties. I started to hear about the word depression. I was like, “I’m pretty sure that’s what I’ve got,” but I was seeking. I was searching for something to fill the void or to heal. That’s when I stumbled across NLP.

I think that’s what tends to happen. We do the best we can and we are searching for something that will give us a sense of meaning, a sense of purpose, a sense of connection, love, healthy relationships, and meaningful work. For many people, that takes them into that personal development realm, coaching, or healing, which for me, are interrelated.

Managing Trauma

One or maybe many of my coaches, I’ve heard them say, “If you want to know who your client is, look in the mirror.” I know we’re not therapists, but people who go into therapy figure themselves out. I can relate as someone and I hear you saying the same. Something that we talked about and I asked you and I’d love you to share it here. Let’s say we’re having an experience that’s causing us to feel heightened emotion or whatever word you want to use.

We’re feeling like we’re not making the best decisions or it’s hard to think. I know people experience these things differently, but what’s the answer? How do you fix it? I know you’re an NLP Master Teacher. You’ve got tons of somatic training and all these different things. What are some things that truly do help people manage those experiences and come out a little bit better on the other side?

I think there are a number of ways to answer that, but the one word that pops out to me is distinctions. I think the greater the number of distinctions we can make, the more influence or choice we have in our lives. For example, if I start the foundations of NLP, there’s a distinction between the present state and the desired state. The present state is, “I have heightened emotions. My rate or my thoughts are racing. What’s my desired state?” To slow down, to feel relaxed, and to come back into my body.


The Art of Transformation | Tristan Soames | Tough Moments


Being able to make distinctions is key in terms of a shift. One of the distinctions that you know has helped me is to recognize that feelings or heightened emotions don’t just happen in and of themselves. There is something that happens before that. Typically, the sequence goes something like this. There’s an external event, we process that through our filters, what we see, hear, and feel. We then make up meaning. We create what I call an internal representation.

The principle is that what we see and hear in our minds is what we think about. What we think about influences our feelings. Our feelings become our behavior. Behavior becomes a character. The character becomes destiny started. What we see and hear in our mind’s eye. Hence, for example, with a trauma-driven belief system, something happens out here. We make meaning here through our thinking, which creates heightened emotions.

For me, I think we were talking about getting to the facts. You said when it comes to trauma, it’s like, “What’s going on? What’s the reality?” We ground ourselves and what’s happening and that’s often quite different to what’s happening in here. What I do with myself and clients, “Let me back up to the data. Let me back up to what I’m seeing and hearing in my mind’s eye. Is that true? Is it real? What else could it look like? What else could it mean?” That can then shift the emotions quickly. When we start to use language to reorganize and shape our experiences, we can change how we feel.

Building The Mental Muscle

That’s great and probably hard to do at the moment. Certainly, it’s hard to do at the moment having never done it. What are some things that you do or you do with your clients that build that muscle? I trained in Jiu-jitsu. I love talking about it. I’ll talk about it for hours. I wouldn’t step on the mat in a competition having never done it, or maybe not even in my first week doing it. It can be a very intense experience. I want to make sure that I’ve got some training and built some muscles so that when I get on the mat in an unknown situation with an unknown opponent, like everything we do in life. Sometimes we’re like, “We don’t know who we’re dealing with. We don’t know what they’re thinking. We don’t know what they’re going to do.”

When I step on the mat having had practice with all of my different training partners, I know that I’ve got enough whatever skill or ability or whatever so my fight and flight response doesn’t kick in. It doesn’t have to be jiu-jitsu. We can talk a lot about it. What are some things that people can do to strengthen this muscle of noticing when they’re feeling that heightened emotion and they want to back up to the data?

I think meditation is a core aspect of my life now. That’s one of the things I stopped last week. I wasn’t meditating. I wasn’t going walking in nature. I’m stopping those muscles, those ways of being or engaging with myself and life. That’s what I did. I stopped vocational practice to be present for twenty minutes a day. It doesn’t need to be hours. Just having that practice of coming back into the moment and noticing what’s going on, gives us choice. It gives us an awareness of like, “This is my present state. I feel tense. I can relax.”

Meditation is foundational. The other is conditioning or practice. For example, if you go to jiu-jitsu once a year, you’re going to get smacked. If you go once a week, you’re going to be more on your toes. If you go 3 or 4 times a week, you are going to be in optimal shape. I run courses, programs, and regular events online. My community comes and joins and we hang out. We sit and we talk. “What’s your present state? Where are you at? What’s your challenge?”

We use language and coaching to shift state and go, “That’s what I want instead.” I think it’s being able to make those distinctions linguistically because language shapes every aspect of our experience and it’s processed at the unconscious level. Most people are swimming in languages. It’s fish in water. They are completely unconscious of how it’s affecting them and others.

Starting to bring that meditative and attentive quality to how we’re using language with ourselves or with others, which is intrinsically what we think, “Gives us more choice and more freedom,” but it’s a muscle and you’ve got to work in. The more regularly you go to jiu-jitsu or you go to the linguistic gym or the mentor gym, the more capacity you now have to be able to shift and change and adapt to what’s going on or what you want or to be able to shift your state.

That resonates with me. I mentioned the fight or flight thing. I was reading How to Work With Almost Anyone. It’s the new book by Michael Stanier. I think it’s in this book. He thinks that there are three responses. There’s a fight, there’s flight, and then there’s a fix. The idea is that fight and flight are in a way like extreme responses. They’re both responding and reacting to danger. You perceive danger. You either go and you fight it or you run away.

I don’t know that the word fix is the right word, but it’s an F so I get it. The idea is that there’s a third option, which is to ground. I love what you said before to back up the data and say, “What’s really here and what’s the choice that I want to bring?” Now, I have been in this practice of sitting with my thoughts, maybe it’s a physical practice or something else where I know that I don’t have to respond in an outsized way.

It’s interesting you say that. That’s what I call a mode of operating. It’s like, “I have to do this. I’ve got to do that.” We have these default programs. We all have these patterns and they’re often reactions and they’re often unconscious. We don’t know what’s going on. We just react. We get angry. We fight. We fly. Also, the fix for me, it’s a way of running while reacting, which is bringing that mindful awareness by switching. Now, there’s a stimulus and there’s a response between the two. There’s a gap. That’s the data, that’s the thinking, and that’s the belief that drives the behavior. Also, the more mindful we can be of how we are processing that gap, the more choice and influence we can have.

Closing Words

You are minding the gaps, so to speak. I feel like there is a lot more we can talk about, but I also do like to keep these at a pretty short, manageable clip. There’s much more for us to talk about so maybe we’ll have to have you back. However, in the meantime, if people are interested in reading more about what you do or what you have to offer or if you’re putting work out there if there’s a book or something, where would you like people to go to find out more?

My website is probably the easiest. I’m not on social media very much. My website is Also, there’s a book on there. I wrote a book a couple of years ago called Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life, which is very much my personal journey with NLP. There are a lot of images and anecdotes in there, and a load of cool models and tools and processes from NLP. That’s probably the easiest. Go on there and download the book for free.

Tristan, it’s been a joy having you. Thanks for joining us and thanks for sharing your wisdom.

You’re so welcome, Marc. Thank you so much for having me.

What a great conversation. I’m going to be honest with you. I find it so hard to keep those conversations short but what I discovered in this conversation with Tristan was it’s amazing how you can create practice for yourself that builds whatever muscle it is you want so that you can respond and not react to the things in your life. Responding from this place of who you want to be as opposed to fear or discomfort or a fight or flight response.

That was great. Thank you for tuning in. If you’re interested in finding out more about the work that Tristan does, you can to his website. If you’re interested in getting more of these episodes, please subscribe, like, or follow on whatever platform you’re on. Also, if you got a lot out of this episode, it would mean the world to me if you shared it with a friend. Thanks for tuning in and we’ll see you next time.


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About Tristan Soames

The Art of Transformation | Tristan Soames | Tough MomentsTristan is an NLP Master Trainer and Coach based in Ibiza. He’s a photographer, writer, digital nomad, entrepreneur, motorcycle rider, cat lover and deep-thinker. He explores both inner and outer worlds. NLP has been instrumental in helping him to transform his childhood trauma, dysfunction and experience of life. It has enabled him to create a life of remarkable freedom which he now facilitates in others. He is passionate about sharing what he has learnt on his journey – the difference that has made a difference – which now inspires and catalyses change in individuals and communities around the world. He loves travelling and working in places close to his heart – especially India, South Africa, the UK and Ibiza where he runs certified NLP courses and retreats each year. He’s in the business of helping people create an extraordinary life – whatever that means to them – one where the impossible becomes inevitable!

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