Annalie Howling is a successful performance coach and trauma therapist, thriving in her own practice and accumulating an impressive social media following with 118,000 followers on Instagram.
However, Annalie did not start out as a performance coach. In fact, she was in a corporate job for a number of years and performance coaching was not even on her radar — until she sought help from a friend, who is also a coach, to cope with her own struggles.
“I had a big job and the ego titles that go with it — the big job titles and good salary and excellent reputation — but I was miserable,” Annalie says. “I didn’t realize at the time, but I burned out. I didn’t know what it was. Whatever I tried, it wasn’t that. I didn’t understand why I felt ill or I had no energy.”
Annalie did not know how to address her burnout until she experienced an impactful coaching session. This moment changed her life. Annalie shifted gears and headed to San Francisco from London to complete training courses and become a coach herself. She then returned to London to start her own business.
Originally, Annalie struggled to gain traction as performance coaching had not become a major industry in the UK yet. However, she remained committed to her vision, trusting that coaching would take off in the UK. Eventually, it did.
Now, Annalie works with clients — mainly elite athletes — around the world. She works largely with golf athletes, and her role entails working with the athletes on mindset, energy management and focus. These aspects of coaching are valuable as athletes often have a rigorous schedule and must travel extensively, be away from family and friends for extended periods of time and meet high performance expectations.
“Everyone thinks it’s very glamorous, but you miss the weddings [and] you are missing the birthdays very often because you are on tour,” Annalie says. “We are looking to support them as best we can.”
Annalie is also a trauma specialist. As someone who had a traumatic childhood herself, she has studied trauma and works with clients to help them overcome their shame.
“The fundamental with trauma work is you dig down through an event to find the underlying limiting belief that we have about ourselves from an event,” Annalie says. “It’s actually really hard to describe shame, to talk about your shame, but if I asked you how it felt, quite often you feel unwell — it might be a pain somewhere. Shame truly is a felt sense. It is an experience and it is an ‘I am’ statement: I am unlovable. I am unworthy. I am unsafe. I am out of control. I am alone. I am a failure.”
Annalie aims to help clients remove their shame and replace it with positive “I am” statements such as “I am brave. I am worthy. I am loved.”
Annalie’s chief goal is to help her clients overcome “underlying limiting beliefs that may be preventing them from living their most fulfilling lives.”
Annalie also posts free advice on social media. She was inspired to do this as she began to see false advice and content posted by others that took advantage of other people’s pain. Therefore, Annalie began to post content with the goal of providing useful information, especially to those who might not have the privilege of being able to afford therapy or coaching.
“Whether it helps them, or helps a friend or a loved one, they can take this on and use it in conversations — that’s why I did it and that’s why I’m doing it today,” Annalie says. “There’s no commercial gain in it right now for me. I’m purely doing it because I want to help people and I think it’s making a difference.”
Aside from her career, Annalie is also a single mother to a 6-year-old daughter. She has been able to employ some of her studies to her parenting methodology.
“[My trauma work] has given me a great understanding of the impact of shame on children and then you take that into adulthood, so it’s made me a much better parent as well,” Annalie says.
Annalie does encounter guilt since she must juggle a career and motherhood, but she has learned that she must prioritize mental and physical health for herself to be present for her daughter, and she encourages other mothers to do the same.
“I know that I need to prioritize those things to give her the better version of me,” Annalie says.
As Annalie moves forward, she hopes to set aside time to write a book based on her experiences and do more public speaking.
“I think it’s about being all parts of myself, being all of me,” Annalie says. “I have different hats, but ‘she can be both’ is permission to express myself fully wherever I am.”