How to let go of your past to have a meaningful present: Self-love writer Vex King breaks down 'childhood trauma'

The author of 3 widely-received self-help books talks about why it's important to have a fulfilling relationship with yourself in Closer to Love


Somya Mehta

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Published: Thu 16 Feb 2023, 9:03 PM

By Somya Mehta

Making self-love go viral on social media, Vex King is an author of two acclaimed books and a self-help writer, who has been harnessing the power of digital platforms to spread positivity in the world. If you’re feeling down in the dumps and happen to give his Instagram page (with the same name) a visit, you will be amazed with the vast variety of ‘foods’ for thought you’d be able to discover. However, fame was never the motivator for the British-born social media personality.

Born in 1987, in Northampton, United Kingdom, to Indian parents, King had a turbulent childhood growing up. His father passed away when he was only six months old, followed by a tumultuous journey of homelessness, while his mother tried to keep the family — which includes his two sisters — afloat. As his mental health continued to deteriorate during his formative years, there came a time in King’s life when he didn’t want to exist anymore and experienced persistent suicidal thoughts.

The upward journey from hitting rock bottom started to take place when he came across the self-help book, Think and Grow Rich, which he heard had transformed famous martial artist Bruce Lee’s life. “That’s what shaped my journey,” reveals King in a video conversation before his Dubai visit. King was recently in town with his wife Kaushal, who’s a beauty content creator (popularly as Kaushal Beauty on social media), to take part in the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

“After reading the book, I realised that although I was born into certain circumstances, and I couldn’t control the things around me, I could change my response to those situations. By changing my response, I could change my destiny.,” says King. Contrary to the popular notions of self-help, this realisation was backed by logic and reasoning and not so much by blind faith, adds the writer.

“Even the laws of science suggest that when I launch a ball into a particular direction, if everything remains exactly as it is, I could predict where it would land. However, even if one factor changes, such as wind resistance or the pressure exerted, the ball will land in a different place,” says King. “In the same way, if I changed my response to a situation, those responses would compound over time and I would end up in a completely different place. So, that’s kind of both my learning and teaching.”

What propelled his move into the world of social media was his organic journey of self-discovery. “There were all these ideas coming into my mind that I wanted to share with the world. At one point I had 50 social media accounts, all with different names, just with the sole purpose of spreading positive words around,” adds King. “Although the internet’s an amazing phenomenon, there’s a lot of negativity that lives there, too.” And this was King’s way of trying to balance the negativity out.

With over a million followers on social media at present, the 35-year-old writer has also authored two best-selling books, through which he aims to boost people’s wellbeing in a similar manner that Bruce Lee’s go-to book helped his journey. “My goal was not to build fast, it wasn’t even to build a lot of followers. But it was just to share ideas with the world that could potentially help other people because I’ve gone through a lot in my life and I don’t want people to suffer in the way I’ve suffered. That’s my biggest motivator.”

While he likes to keep his real name under the wraps, King reveals his name was given to him due to his anger issues growing up. “I was always ‘vexed’ at something or the other,” he adds. “I don’t feel that same anger anymore but it’s an important part of who I am. It’s about the progression I’ve had from someone who’s not had much growing up to a person who’s now in a happier place.” When asked if he now feels like a ‘king’, he responds, “It’s got more to do with my inner kingdom. Creating my thoughts in a way that would serve me and take me where I want in life.”

The anger in King’s life came from the challenges he faced as a child growing up in poverty, surrounded by violence and fear, which he shares candidly through social media and his books Good Vibes, Good Life and Healing is the New High. Experiences such as these often get termed as childhood trauma’ on the Internet, which has been garnering a lot of mainstream attention in the modern mental-health narrative in recent times. Although, there’s greater awareness, this can sometimes lead to muddling up of terms online, which can be trending one day and be misinterpreted or blown out of proportion the next day. King’s work also seeks to simplify the misconceptions around one’s emotional wellbeing on social media. “I reflect on this a lot. What’s the fine line between trauma, personality and normal stresses of everyday life? These get mixed up all the time. It’s great that there’s more awareness around trauma but I also think that people get confused with pop psychology terminology,” says King.

“People are now looking to blame their parents for everything. They start digging up their past and start loathing their company and disliking their family. The past is only useful if it serves as a point of reference that you can use to make yourself feel better about the present. That is eventually the end goal,” he adds.

Building on the concepts of healthy relationships, King has recently come up with his second book Closer to Love, which brings to light the importance of having a healthy relationship with oneself as the first step in having fulfilling relationships with those around you. When asked why he focuses on the self, King responds, “How can someone get to know you for who you really are, if you don’t know yourself?”

King's new book is now out to purchase
King's new book is now out to purchase

If we’ve attended to ourselves, in the first instance, we will not go out of our way to find someone to outsource our needs to. , believes the writer. “When we do that, what we’re trying to do is to find someone to complete us because we’ve established that we’re not ‘whole’ ourselves.” So, in the month of love, King’s book serves as a reminder that the love we’re able to give away is the only love we can experience and the giving starts first and foremost by tending to ourselves, because ‘nobody can pour from an empty cup’.

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