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Posts Tagged ‘Relationship Coaching’

What happens when you put an Islamist, a Socialist, a Christian, and a Liberal in an Egyptian garden?

In Arab World, Diversity Work, Egypt, Interfaith Dialogue, Politics, Tahrir Square on January 22, 2012 at 7:31 am

Alfred DePew

Published in the Vancouver Observer news site | January 21, 2012

Circulation: 100,000 monthly readers

Imagine bringing together different factions of Egyptian society — Islamist, Socialist, Christian, and Liberal — to discuss their views in an Egyptian garden.

This is what Cairo management consultant Hesham El-Gamal wanted to find out when he invited people from a wide spectrum of opinion to participate in what he called a “communication experiment.”

He wanted to discover their common ground.

“In the early stages of the revolution,” El-Gamal said in a Skype interview earlier this month, “there was conflict about whether this was the right way to go about things. We thought about creating a one-day workshop to see things from a different light without judgment or attacking.”

In his work with corporations, El-Gamal uses relationship coaching techniques developed by the Center for Right Relationship to mediate conflict. Ultimately, he wants to train volunteers in these techniques, so they can work on a larger scale with different political parties and factions. He had to start somewhere, and he wanted to film his experiment to give people an idea of how some of the techniques actually work.

El-Gamal posted notes on various Facebook pages announcing his experiment, calling for anyone with a strong position about the revolution to respond. Even though the announcement assured that the workshop would be conducted in safety and respecting and accepting everyone present, there was a reluctance to participate. Some expressed an interest, but “didn’t want to be exposed,” says El-Gamal.

Venting on Facebook was one thing. Showing up in person and in front of a camera for an entire day of dialogue was another.

It took about a month for El-Gamal to find representatives of every major direction or faction, as well as someone who might represent the Silent Majority, the so-called “couch party,” or those who “watch and feel anxious but are not willing to do anything.”

In the end, he found two Islamists, two Christians, a Socialist, a Communist, a Liberal, a revolutionary from the April 6 Movement, and one who felt she could represent the feelings of those who remained largely silent. Nine people in all. Then, he found a secluded place for the workshop near a park in Old Cairo and a weekend when everyone was free.

“Egypt is at a crossroads,” says El-Gamal at the beginning of the film which came out of the workshop. One road leads to the dream of a prosperous, unified country, in which everyone is free to worship according to his or her faith. The other leads to sectarian fights between narrowly defined interests of emerging political parties.

In interviews and scenes from exercises he led during the workshop, we get some moving glimpses into the thoughts and feelings of the participants.

When asked to speak in the voice of Egypt herself, one said, “I am one of the oldest civilizations. I survived for 7,000 years. I have been through many difficult times. I have suffered occupation and enjoyed prosperity.”

Another said, again, speaking as Egypt, “Don’t be afraid of freedom; don’t be afraid of the infinite skies.”

In another exercise, participants are asked to step into one another’s “land,” leaving behind the their own perspectives and becoming curious about someone else’s.

“On the map,” explains El-Gamal in the film, “Egypt is one large area where all Egyptians live. But there is another map, one we have created. This map divides Egypt into groups and factions: Islamic Egypt, Christian Egypt, Liberal Egypt.”

As one participant notices when he visits the land of the ‘Silent Majority,’ it “has the benefit of the helicopter view. They can monitor all the action from outside.”

It is this ability to get out of one’s own perspective and step fully into another that is perhaps the most striking thing about this film.

El-Gamal is pleased with the results of his experiment. “It went quite smoothly,” he says, “and the filming itself was easy.” The hard part was “to capture nine hours in 15 minutes, to create something meaningful for people that sends a clear message about what can be done to get closer.”

The response to Voices of Egypt has been extraordinary. Shortly after it was posted to the “We are all Khaled Said” Facebook page, the video was viewed by 1,500 in one day. El-Gamal was interviewed for a morning show on national TV that gave a link to the video.

El-Gamal has been encouraged by people’s comments. And relieved.

“When I started this experiment,” he says, “I wanted to help people. The joy of the experiment was more than enough. When you put your heart into something and aren’t concerned about the outcome, that’s when you get the best outcome ever. One of my dreams was to create a video. I was willing to accept that it would fail, not produce a significant reaction. I enjoyed the process—then of course, it was crowned by fantastic feedback.

“Now I know there is hope, a way for us to go forward.”

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The Wisdom of Self-Doubt

In Children, Education, Family, Inner Work, Parenting, Realtionship, Relationship with Self, Schools on December 20, 2011 at 12:30 am

Maria V. Chatila

Guest blog by Maria V. Chatila, ILM, ACC, ORSCC

Maria V. Chatila is presently living in Dubai with her husband and three children. She works as an Education & Relationship Life Coach. She is dedicated to helping schools, families, couples and individuals to build personal and family awareness’ while creating empowering relationships. Maria has given talks to large groups of parents at schools as well as smaller groups of parents at their homes.

I dedicate this article to all parents and children in the hope that it may motivate and inspire you to achieve your full potential.

Anyone who knows me will agree that I am unable to wear the mask of pretender very well. Most often, I wear my emotions on my sleeve. Not only do I hang my emotions out for the world to see, I also assume that others will follow suit. Fortunately, I am mistaken. However, for the sake of this article, I will blast open one particular emotion that I tend to find very interesting and very wise. The emotion of the month is what I would like to call ‘Self-Doubt’.

According to the Collins dictionary, Self-Doubt is a lack of confidence in yourself and your abilities (Collins, 2003)

The Invasion of the Gremlins

As I sit here writing this article, I find myself reminiscing over my school years and the self-doubt that I experienced all of those years ago. The interesting thing about my memories is that my fears back then now seem so young and ridiculous. But, if I remember correctly, to the much younger Maria, those fears were very real and very scary. All these years later, the funny thing is that the essence of my younger self-doubt still exists.
My inquisitive nature leads me to use my curiosity and find the wisdom that lies behind the self-doubt that we may be feeling and use it to serve my audience of readers.
This is the time of the year when children and their parents may be feeling both very excited and very anxious about the upcoming end to the academic year. Most families have plans of enjoying a summer of carefree attitudes that means they could enjoy the freedom and flexibility that summer has to offer. The school schedule these days is about juggling the social and academic obligations and with this comes the knot in your stomach that for most people means SELF-DOUBT. Parents on the one hand are constantly wondering, ‘am I doing it right?’ Children, on the other hand, are wondering, ‘will my parents be proud of me?’

Last summer, I interviewed children of various age groups about how they felt about returning to school in September. The youngest of my interviewees Aya, was only 4 1/2 and she was ever so excited to begin school because this would be her first time attending the Big Girl school. She looked forward to a lovely new teacher who would surely love her and she especially was excited to play on the school playground. Apparently, says Aya, only clever big girls could play on the special playground so she was going to be a clever big girl this year! I was very impressed with Aya because it seemed that until this point, she really did not have any self-doubt. This made me really curious because, if most children were as confident as Aya commencing their careers as students then when did Self-Doubt begin to kick in?

Later on, I met Nicholas. He was 5 years old and he was preparing to attend Year 1 at his primary school. Overall, he had no real fears about recommencing school. However, he did say that he was a little bit nervous about meeting his new teacher. He claimed that until he could ‘see’ her face, he would be nervous. I asked him what he would be looking out for in her face and he said that he was nervous that she may not be nice and he would be able to tell this by looking at her eyes. He would be disappointed if she had ‘big circle eyes when she looked at him’ because this would be bad.

Michael, 7 years old, was getting ready to attend Year 3 and he was most definitely excited. However, he also claimed to feel really nervous too. Michael stated that his fears were mostly about the new teacher and his friends. He stated that meeting a new teacher makes him nervous because new teachers have new rules and new work that he will have to do. He was also nervous about his friends because he stated that if there were new people at school, he would have to make new friends.

Selena, also 7 years old, had a somewhat different stance to Michael’s. She was very nervous about not being able to make new friends which would lead her to be left by her lonesome during break-times to walk alone on the playground. Selena also claimed to be nervous about making mistakes with her class work that would then cause her to getting poor grades and this would eventually be the reason that she would be seen as a disappointment to her parents and they may even become angry with her. As she spoke, I could almost feel her fear.

Finally, I interviewed Dania who was 12 years old. As she spoke, I could feel the weight of the world on her shoulders. Dania discussed how she always has a feeling of self-doubt heavily on the first day of school. ‘Too much is unknown’, she said. She worries that this may be the year that everything goes wrong and she fails at tests and disappoints her parents, her teachers and herself. Dania worries that she may not have a bright future if this academic year is not successful and that she may not be able to accomplish the great things that she dreams of. Mostly, she says, ‘I feel afraid that I may not be noticed or chosen at school to do things that help me to stand out in front of my peers’. She worries that the teachers may not be fair and that she may not be accepted by her peers. Not fitting in amongst your peers is very challenging, says Dania. Some children get bullied if they don’t fit in and this can be scary for children, she says.

As I sat listening to the answers that were being offered to me by these young children, I remained astounded by how much has not changed since my younger years. Although technology has hit an all time high for creating amazing gadgets, our children are still suffering from the same issues of self-doubt as we did in our younger days!

With Age Comes Wisdom

‘Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it’ Louise Priscoll
Interestingly, my last interviewee was a mid 30s mother of two children who remembers feeling self-doubt as a young child, but most especially at this time of the year when she was younger. To Melanie, the self-doubt reminded her of the ‘inner 5 year old child that lacks confidence, perseverance and drive’. I could not agree with her more. I too remember that my self-doubt really kicked in at the age of 5. Most countries across the globe begin to welcome children into school by the age of 5 and I do believe that although school is a place where children learn to build their characters and learn to mix with other children; I also believe and agree with Melanie’s statement; ‘as parents, we must become aware of our children’s feelings’.

Recently, the news printed a story about a young 13 year-old boy who tried to end his life because of his self doubt. Are parents, teachers and the community really aware of our children’s feelings of self-doubt that continue frightening them into doing things that seem like their only hope for escape?

A Coach’s Perspective….

In my working experience and in my personal experience, Self-Doubt is very common and I have still to meet an individual who has never experienced a lack of belief or a fear of failure. All those years ago and if I am very honest, not too long ago I still believed that my self-doubt existed to harm me. However, it is now my belief that ‘Self-Doubt’ enters our lives to give us some wisdom. The question is, are we ready to ‘see’ the wisdom in our fear of failure? It is a fact that teachers and caretakers have a huge impact on our children. Most teachers have more quantity time with children than some of the parents do. Therefore, it is important that parents and teachers work together to find the wisdom in the Self-Doubt that is causing havoc on our children’s lives.

Some of my tips are:

First and foremost, normalize the self-doubt. Most children are on a sole train called ‘EGO’ and they are not aware of the fact that many of the other children are also feeling scared, nervous and afraid of not being a success at school. As my evidence shows, all of the children that have previously been in school have already developed self-doubt. Sit down with your students and your children and share
your own memories of self-doubt as a child. In fact, share some of your most recent memories of self-doubt as an adult. Normalizing a lack of confidence will help your children feel comfortable with their own feelings.

Secondly, use the child’s fears openly and brainstorm as a family or as a class around the possible wisdom that is available to the child because of their self-doubt. At first, there will be no apparent wisdom just sadness and helplessness. Keep asking and soon enough the child will begin to say something positive about their learning’s because of the existence of their self-doubt.

Finally, once the wisdom has been made consciously aware, ask your child to take more actions that will continue to let them grow. Remember, ‘It is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters’ (Epictetus) Sit down as often as your family or class feel is necessary and discuss the actions that were taken and give your child the feedback that they need. Praise them for whatever action they took and encourage them to keep moving forward.

Final Thoughts

I believe that it is our role as parents and teachers to help each and every child achieve their full potential. I stand strong and ask that you do too. At the end of our time here, I would like to believe that as a community we were able to light a fire within our children and help them to shine brightly for the next generation to see. What have you done today to help your child see the wisdom in their self-doubt?

For more information about Maria and her work, please visit her website, www.bpacoach.com or contact Maria directly through her email maria@bpacoach.com

.

Since feeling is first

In couples, Realtionship, Relationship with Self, World Work on October 23, 2010 at 12:53 am

Painting, acrylic on paper: Untitled, 2007, Alfred DePew

(Reprinted from the Vancouver Observer)

Canadians often put me in mind of Dorothy Parker’s quip about Katharine Hepburn, who, she once said, “ran the gamut of emotions from A to B.”

Some weeks ago, at dinner with my friend Hal, he said he had been feeling emotional.

“Which one?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” he said.

“You know—happy? Sad? Pissed off?

“I don’t know—emotional,” he said.

Then we changed the subject.

As North American white guys, we tend to avoid direct expression of feeling in day-to-day conversation.

Unless, of course, the subject is hockey.

And yet, my stiff upper lip has been known to quiver. I have the kind of face that registers everything—worry, delight, perplexity, and suspicion.

I am terrible at poker.

I’ve had to learn about feelings—the hard way, by being tyrannized by them. Had I been born in southern Italy, I’d have had no problem. Or so I imagine. But I was raised in St. Louis, whose dominant culture was Anglo and Teutonic, despite the French name.

At sixteen, I began to suspect that feeling was not just the root of the problem but the problem itself. My first therapist was a psychiatrist, a bona fide Freudian analyst of the Viennese School. When he’d ask how I was, I’d say “anxious.” I didn’t have a very wide emotional vocabulary in those days, and I don’t recall Herr Doktor as being much help.

Twenty years and four therapists later, I heard myself say that I’d know when I was ready to stop therapy when I no longer had any feelings.

Then I laughed. So did my therapist. It was our next to last session.

What had brought me to that fourth and final therapist was grief. When my father died, I was overwhelmed, nearly paralyzed. My father and I were not close. It didn’t make any sense. It was wholly irrational. And yet, as I came to see, grief had its own kind of logic. My friend, the poet Anne Rubicam Witten, pointed me to Gilgamesh, Innana, Persephone, and Orpheus—stories about the decent to the Underworld. Stories that acted as a map in this new territory of grieving.

Therapists could only take me so far. For the rest, I needed the poets.

Robert Bly used to talk about the grief at the core of the male psyche. He spoke about it as an initiation, the “time of ashes,” essential to the evolution of a man’s mind and heart and soul.

Not that grief is particular to men. My friend Monica insists that at the heart of every silence lies some form of grief.

What Hal chose not to talk about that evening at dinner was his mother’s death and the fact that he’d recently declared bankruptcy.

Emotional indeed.

What then is the language of feeling? Not just one, surely. Proclamations of love. Lamentation. Sidelong comments. Innuendo. Carping. Sarcasm. Body language. A glance. Those looks.

I often work with couples who want more intimacy, better communication, and less fighting. Much of my work involves training them to become exquisitely aware of what  lives in the space between them. Feelings. As they become aware of the impact of what they say and do, they have more choice about how they speak and act in order to keep the relationship space clear.

When I began with one couple, the atmosphere between them was so charged that even an intended compliment could start a fight. Gradually, as they became more aware of how they were interacting and what feelings they were generating, they began trying new ways of communicating—at different times, with clearer intentions, using more neutral language. Then they noticed the impact on their children and how they were treating each other. All this took slowing down and paying attention. Giving themselves time to feel.

Another couple, men who’ve been partners for eight years, wanted to stop avoiding topics they simply couldn’t discuss. So we began with what they could discuss, always pointing to the space between them and what was there. That they loved each other was clear. That the relationship was skilled at any number of tasks was also clear. And so we built on that. Some weeks later during a session, one acknowledged the other, and he began to tear up. A hard place for men, even gay men. He made a joke and looked away. I asked them to pause and invited them to sit with what was happening. In the ensuing silence, they held each other’s gaze, tears in their eyes. This was the intimacy they were seeking to reclaim. A sweet, tender, dangerous vulnerability. And they’d learned to create the safety to experience it.

And what of our relationship to ourselves, the time we give to our own feelings?

All week, I have been busy coaching couples, setting up individual calls with my certification students in Europe, interviewing and assessing new clients. Relationship work. Then all of a sudden I am exhausted. I have stepped over my own feelings of admiration, frustration, impatience, love, envy, and longing.

They clamour for my attention.

So I close the computer, lie down and let everything surface.

After a while, I take my notebook and pen and give myself a half hour to listen and write down what I need to let myself know.

The poem from which I borrow my title is, after all, a love poem by e.e. cummings.

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

–the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says
we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph

It’s the thing that flutters up behind the eyes, a movement in the heart before language.

And then … the words to say it.

Imago and Me: A Guest Post by Michael Cohen, psychotherapist & coach

In Realtionship, Uncategorized on March 9, 2010 at 3:17 am

Michael Cohen

Until I was trained as an Imago Relationship therapist, I never really knew if I was helpful to the couples that came to see me. I always did the best I could to mediate their conflicts and to make sure they each could learn about their role in the problems they were experiencing. Inevitably one person would feel like I was taking sides, even though I made every effort to stay neutral. In conversations with colleagues and in supervision groups, we all shared our frustrations with the couples therapy we were doing.

Seven years ago my partner Dan and I went to a weekend workshop called Getting The Love You Want, http://gettingtheloveyouwant.com/. It was one of the prerequisites to Imago therapist training. Both of us decided we wanted to be trained in this method and there was no better way to begin than to experience it for ourselves.

We were blown away by how helpful it was. We learned so much during that weekend, about ourselves and about the repetitive arguments and frustrations we were having. We also got a really clear sense of what it was that was limiting our intimacy together. We spoke our fears and were able to understand them within the context of our families of origin, or what we had experienced as children. It all made great sense and released a great surge of hopefulness for us.

Now I have been practicing Imago Therapy for 7 years with many couples, and I know that the work is helpful. I see the progress clearly and I am excited to pass along what I know to other people. Imago Relationship Therapy is a very psycho-educational approach. I like to call it relationship training, because for many people it is the first time they have ever been taught the art of and techniques of being in a partnership. Most people come to relationship with very unrealistic expectations and very few skills.

Rose and Shawn were one such couple. They had a perfectly lovely first year of life together, and then as happens, they began to deal with some conflicts. Shawn had been brought up to believe that he would meet a partner who would make him happy, someone who would never disappoint him. He was very invested in that after his childhood, which was filled with disappointments. His mother died when he was 10, leaving him with an overwhelmed father who quickly married a significantly younger woman. Shawn felt perpetually left out of this new family and retreated inside to a lonely and resigned place. When he met Rose, she offered a loving connection and a sense of loyalty that reminded Shawn of none other than his own mother. We call that his relationship Imago, or his unconscious idealized image of love.

As a result of this history, Shawn’s reacted to Rose’s differing needs and separate sense of self by getting frightened, becoming angry and accusing her of being unfaithful to him. He had not made any of the connections yet to his past, as most people don’t, until they begin to take responsibility for their feelings and reactions. Shawn, like many of us, needed safety, support and guidance to make those connections. He needed a trainer, if you will, to help him understand what was happening between he and Rose, and to discover new ways to relate. After some work, Shawn was able to make those connections and to learn new ways to deal with his feelings. Of course Rose had her work to do also. They are still in therapy together and they love the process.

Sometime people come into couples therapy seeking to change their partner. Few things are less productive or more frustrating. In Imago therapy, there is great emphasis placed on learning about and changing you. Some of the questions put before you in the course of this treatment/training are: What is your role in each conflict? What of your past is influencing your reaction to your partner? What are the challenges present for you to become a better partner? What old habitual responses do you need to look at and revise so they bring you what you want? How well do you attune to your partner’s needs?

The creators of Imago, Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt have created exercises and useful tools for couples to delve into this rich terrain. Self-discovery within the context of a relationship can be the most valuable of all personal growth.

One of the most helpful tools is called the Intentional Dialogue. It is a method of communicating that allows people to truly listen to each other. One of the foundational beliefs of Imago theory is that the core of most relationship difficulty is that people do not know how to communicate clearly (especially when it comes to feelings and needs) or to listen well. Once these skills are learned and practiced, many couples learn to solve many of their own conflicts by themselves.

Relationship can be so wonderful and at the same time, so difficult. We all need as much support as we can get to make them work well. The best support I have found, both as an individual, and as a therapist, is Imago Relationship Therapy. Check it out, and check out our new website as well: http://www.gaymalecouples.com/.Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have comments or questions. I love talking about Imago and about relationships.