My name is Claire Schrader, and I started out in life as the proverbial wallflower. That is until I found a way to break out of my shell and acquire some of the skills that the most successful people naturally have.
As a result, I have achieved things that would simply be impossible if I hadn’t come out of my introverted hidey-hole.
I have developed a fast and effective system, The Sunflower Effect, enabling my clients to free themselves of inhibitions, develop an effortless self-confidence and break through their barriers to expressing themselves in their everyday lives.
But I started out as a quiet, shy introverted child. We lived in flats where childhood noise was not liked and my mother says that she deliberately repressed both my sister and I. We were so good and so well behaved that teachers used to comment on it. There was something unsettling about having such good, well-behaved children.
The photo was taken when I was 13 but looked more like a nine-year-old – I felt as awkward as I ever had.
Shyness followed me into my early twenties until I got to the point where I knew I had to do something about it.
When people meet me these days, they find it hard to believe I was once a shy introvert. In fact, the first thing they say to me is “You’re never an introvert” – because I appear to be more outgoing than most, very comfortable on stage and in front of an audience, and somewhat of a free spirit.
And then they wonder how on earth I managed to effect such a thorough transformation. Since being an introvert is something that you’re supposed to be stuck with. There’s no cure for being an introvert!
Well I am still an introvert, and very happy that I am. I wouldn’t want to stop being one, because there are many wonderful things about being introverted.
I now feel I have the best of both worlds – the ability to go within and think and experience things deeply, and the ability also to be outgoing, expressive and social.
How I did it?
Well, it didn’t happen overnight…. it happened over a period of time. And it didn’t happen because I had any special gifts or abilities. In fact, I was for most of the time stumbling blindly in the dark.
Through a series of coincidences, I became involved in drama at university where I discovered that drama naturally built confidence. In a relatively short amount of time, my shyness became a thing of the past. (See my full story in my book From Wallflower to Sunflower)
Drama enabled me to come out of my introverted hidey-hole and undo the negative programming that had kept me locked away in my shell.
And for most part it was relatively easy and highly enjoyable.
My first career was in nursing because as a shy introvert I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. However, after building my confidence through drama, much to my surprise I found myself pursuing a career in the theatre – something I would never have dreamed of doing.
In my theatre career, every acting role enabled me to explore and develop new aspects of myself, and that was empowering. It enabled me too to free up parts of myself that I had suppressed for years. And it was fun.
In the course of this, I came across the improvisation techniques of Keith Johnstone and Viola Spolin. On top of the discovery that improvisation was nothing like I thought it was, improvisation released creativity in me that I never knew I had. Along with this, my social anxiety disappeared. My whole life, my confidence in myself and what I believed I could achieve began to open up.
(This is why I also run the “I don’t know what to say” improvisation course because this is an extremely powerful way at building social confidence and developing many other aspects of self-expression)
And I discovered much to my amazement that there were so many gifts locked away inside me – gifts I never knew I had.
Because as an introvert these gifts were all held within me. And there they would have stayed if I hadn’t have found a way of getting them out of me.
Becoming a playwright
Some time after this, I started writing my first play. Suddenly I could write with ease, even though for years I had been blocked. The play seemed to be writing itself.
Much later, I realised that all the improvisation work, had freed me from the self-imposed restrictions of a lifetime and I could finally let my ideas flow.
Later on, this play, CORYVRECKAN, was produced at the Old Red Lion Theatre in London, an extraordinary experience for me. Not only did I see my play enacted by a talented and committed cast, on the last night I had two agents who wanted to represent me. One was Margaret Ramsay, at that time, the most famous agent for stage writers.
The play went on to be nominated for three awards in the London Fringe Theatre 1991 Awards, and Julia Tarnoky won Best Actress (pictured with the award and publicity). She considers her role in CORRVRECKAN, as some of the best work of her career.
Years later when I trained as a dramatherapist, I was able to bring all of these experiences together. The drama had liberated me to be true to myself, and the extensive personal development work I had done, had given me insight and understanding.
I founded Making Moves in 1997 and over time developed The Sunflower Effect system. I have been helping shy, quiet and introverted people find freedom ever since.
The power of achievement
It is powerful to achieve things. It builds self-respect and confidence. Because the fact is, we live in an extroverted world and that isn’t easy for most introverts. I have achieved all kinds of things as an introvert which I would never have thought possible if I hadn’t discovered drama.
On top of the things already mentioned I have also been featured in women’s magazines and on the radio for my solo fire-eating act La Dame de Flamme, the fire-eating ballerina. I also performed at a Royal Function attended by H.M. the Queen. (See my media page)
I won an Arts Council award for Corryvreckan and had other plays performed too. I’ve given presentations at large-scale events including the Women’s International Networking Conference in Rome, and run powerful programmes in business for advertising professionals, CEO’s, Organizational Development Consultants and Innovators etc.
How I work
My style is open and encouraging, allowing each individual to emerge from their shell at their own pace and in their own way. Laughter and humour is an important part of the process. I share openly about my own life and experiences: as one who has been through dark places in my life and come out the other side stronger and with a renewed zest for life.
I continue to pursue my own growth bringing back what I have learned to the groups and individuals I work with.
These are some of the things people have said about the way I work, which at one time I would have been too embarrassed to put on my website!
She is very intuitive and sensitive to the needs and dynamics of the work. And fun to work with. Open-minded, great inner strength, expertise and professionalism. She creates a very deep space for a wide range of emotions to be re-experienced and expressed in a safe way, allowing people the time and space to do that.”
You are a marvelously ego-less workshop leader. You empowered a bunch of potential starts to twinkle and shine – I ended up feeling like a 1000 watt light bulb.”
Scilla Elsworthy, Author and Director of Oxford CND
A wonderful transparency. No apparent difficulty in being with whatever is happening. Deep understanding of everyone’s process and full acknowledgment of where we were.”
J.W. Communications Coach
Here’s some more detail about my training, qualifications and background.
If you are resonating with my story or drawn to discover this for yourself, if you haven’t already done so, I suggest you get started by subscribing to my newsletter. You’ll receive a free copy of my eBook “The Self Confidence Myth” and discover how you can break out of your shell the fast, fun and easy way. You’ll also receive updates of when my courses are running. You can unsubscribe any time you wish.
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