Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

“Trauma & Post Traumatic Growth (Hopefully) Of The COVID-19 Outbreak”

Post traumatic GrowthDuring the COVID-19 pandemic, I witnessed people’s emotions wreak havoc and exert a mental health concern alongside the medical threat just like the consequences of “Ebola virus pandemic” during earlier times. Most people experienced a variety of negative emotions including being traumatized; and a shared kind of trauma prevailed. There’s certainly a downside to this stressful situation, but eventually there’s good in the bad, just like any other life experience. Many would, hopefully, undergo what is known as “post traumatic growth”.

So what specifically is “trauma”? It’s a fact of life that we’re all prone to being traumatized to different degrees and by different life events. What characterizes traumatic events is a sense of fear and unpredictability leading us to feel our life is under threat. These events can be painful and carry with them negative experiences that makes one’s sense of normalcy greatly diminished for a while. They overwhelm our nervous system as we try to process what’s going on. The experience can impair our attempts at coping with what’s happening; consequently, leads to a variety of unwelcomed emotions like grief, sadness, anxiety, panic, depression, despair, etc… Traumas can be sudden losses of people we love to death or divorce, losing a job, abuse in different ways, assault, natural disasters, facing major illness, or this pandemic we’re currently facing. While some people hold on well during crisis, others require more time to adapt and heal. Another group would need more professional support to kick start the healing process. Those who are more vulnerable than others to remain stuck are mainly those who have previous experience with anxiety and depression, those with previous unresolved traumas, and those with current vulnerability like financial instability or lack of social support.

This pandemic is triggering a shared trauma because the entire population is experiencing a collective comparable negative major life event. Most people are experiencing similar fears for their health and that of their loved ones. With all eyes set on the whole world facing the same problem, it’s a sign of high alert because of its magnitude. Most share the same disruption to their previous life on both personal and professional levels. There are shared losses of different sorts besides the shared uncertainty about when all of this will end, shared unpredictability, and similar confusion. It is a collective vulnerability where almost everyone feels in the same boat of threatened humanity. Vicarious trauma is, also, at play especially while people are closely monitoring the global and local news, with heightened anxiety becoming contagious.

Despite all of this, many people will eventually experience “Post Traumatic Growth though. While it’s true that traumatic events can lead to serious mental health problems, focusing on just the downside of traumas can do us injustice. There are countless instances where eventually, people come out of traumatic events transformed to being a little bit wiser, considerably stronger, and perhaps a better version of themselves. A trauma makes us question so many things about ourselves, about others, and about life in general. It can shake us to the core; and we need to put in a lot of effort to make sense of things. Traumatic experiences are not fun at the time, but we can grow out of them in different ways. “Post Traumatic Growth” may be in the form of realizations, transformations, and/or changes in our beliefs, understanding, or priorities that come after struggling with the adversity. Researchers estimate that half to two-thirds of people who experience traumatic events also experience some growth in different areas. We may not experience these changes as we’re going through the hardship, but we know we’ve healed once we give that experience a new positive meaning no matter how horrific that life event was. This could be in different ways:

  1. Wisdom and maturity: There’s a different perspective on other little negative events. They’re viewed as much trivial in comparison to other biggies. Being dramatic over little stuff becomes something in the past. For life threatening traumas, more appreciation for life and living emerges.
  2. Strength and Resilience: Some look back at what happened and realize that they did demonstrate a lot of strength through that struggle. Whatever happened passed and they managed to cope in different ways. These times helped them become resilient and added to their reservoir of “know how” to manage future challenges.
  3. Forming deeper social connections: In times of crisis, people reach out to others (and others reach out to them). Social support is paramount in navigating hard times. We form a different kind of bond with that supportive circle.
  4. Pain is utilized a motivator to action: Some would make of what happened a motivating force to help, later on, those facing similar struggles. Like for instance, those who overcome addiction, health issues, abuse, accidents, etc…., become engaged in, or become strong advocates of causes that support those who share the same predicament. A different more refined sense of living for a purpose emerges.
  5. Letting go and forgiveness: Some may grow once they let go of the bitterness surrounding what happened. They do some forgiveness work if other people were involved. It’s deciding not to be bothered anymore by that stressful event. This can be a lengthy process sometimes.
  6. New possibilities: Some would even find new possibilities in the form of new interests, a new career, or major life shifts that they would never have thought possible before.
  7. Spiritual growth: Finally, post trauma, growth may be in the form of spiritual or religious awakenings whereby these areas suddenly become stronger and appreciated more intensely.

It is the meaning we attach to events that either makes us powerful or weak; and we often gravitate to know, understand, and make sense of what happens. I can’t stress enough the need to talk about your feelings when you’re under stress to those who can support you. It helps you better process things and is very helpful in shifting to a new more empowering narrative about the traumatic event. Talking about it helps you move beyond the pain. During this pandemic, and during any other stressful situation, I encourage you to consider answering these questions:

  1. What can I learn here? (list as many as you can)
  2. How do these learnings make me want to be, or act in the future?
  3. What’s the good in this bad situation?

Don’t rush to giving answers, or force your growth. The answers may not always come readily. Each of us will grow at his/her own pace. Just give it all the time it needs. It may continue to be work in progress for some time before you come to terms with what happened. Lucky are the ones who eventually find a new better meaning for their struggle. For these, trauma is not the end. It’s the beginning in many new ways.

After this lockdown is over, perhaps we can start appreciating the little things more. The freedom to go out, our being healthy, the presence of our family and supporting friends. After this lockdown is over, I wonder how many of us will change in a good way and which kind of our previous “normal” will we then reject!

 Dania Dbaibo Darwish


EMDR: The Psychotherapy of the 21st Century!

Many of you have been hearing lately about EMDR as an approach to therapy, but perhaps most don’t know what it means, or exactly how it goes yet. EMDR is an abbreviation for “Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing”; and EMDR therapists are often fascinated by its wonders whether in speed of healing, or its long-term positive effects. Research after research keeps documenting how efficient EMDR is for a variety of psychological problems not restricted any longer to dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as when it was first introduced. EMDR combines components of many different other therapeutic approaches, but it’s most unique in working on a neurological level that is often felt directly by the recipient.

Most of us have experienced stressful life events, or have been traumatized one way or another. It could be witnessing war, physical or emotional abuse, illness, bullying, betrayal, accidents, or any other shocking or debilitating experience. And just like the natural healing mechanism that operates directly when we have a physical wound, we, also, have another healing mechanism that runs the same for psychological wounds. It all starts in our brain as I will shortly brief. Take for instance the sudden death of a loved one. At first, it would be dreadful and unbearable, but with time, we gradually start recovering and eventually we accept the loss (or maybe not). They say “time heals”, but in reality, it is our brain’s diligent effort trying to make sense of what happened that helps you heal with time.

One theory explaining how EMDR works is mimicking what happens as we sleep at night during REM sleep (which is Rapid Eye Movement – one of the stages of sleep) in which our eyes start moving rapidly from side to side continuously for some time. We go through this phase maybe 5 times if we slept 7 to 8 hours. During REM sleep, our brain is very active, but we have sleep paralysis and we can’t move. Apparently, this is the time at night when our brains process information, consolidate our memories, try to find solutions for our problem, etc…. For overwhelming experiences (& perhaps just like some machines), our brains can get jammed unable to work properly. Consequently, the stressful event continues to have a negative impact on us in different ways. It becomes like heavy baggage we carry on our shoulders too much to bare affecting our daily living. It’s like there’s an ongoing alarm system put on whenever that event is remembered. It could, also be triggered by anything that resembles it, or is related to it.

Take a moment to think of a really bad memory……

Be with it for a moment ….. Scan how it makes you feel in your body ….

If that memory still triggers a disturbing physical sensation in your body, then this is how you know it’s not resolved yet. It is not healed. If it doesn’t have any physical traces, then that’s great! Your brain has successfully processed it. Now take a moment to think back of the best memory you’ve had in your entire life before you continue reading (I don’t want you to stay stuck in traumatic material).

The body keeps score so it’s been said. These negative memories if not processed right, remain stored in their raw form (just as things first happened). They were not integrated with more empowering memories in the brain’s memory network, so continue to feel disturbing in our system. When the stressful event first happens, it creates a negative belief, or a negative evaluation of the self like for instance “I’m not safe” for someone assaulted, or “I’m not good enough” for someone bullied. This negative belief lingers on with that memory handicapping the person from progressing in their life in a healthy way. You can’t do well in life if deep inside you had a negative self-view.

A therapist trained in EMDR helps the recipient unload such baggage by resolving these stressful memories one at a time. The recipient is asked to focus on the traumatic memory with all its related components (image, negative belief, emotions, and sensations) and then follow the therapist’s fingers moving the eyes from side to side for like half a minute only to report briefly the changes experienced. It’s like nudging the brain to start working on the memory to heal it. The process of bilateral brain stimulation repeats until the person is no longer bothered physically by the memory. This is when we know the memory is processed and there’s a shift into more positive thinking about what happened. New learning emerges that strengthens a more positive belief system as it connects with existing more empowering memories. It’s worth mentioning that eye movement isn’t the only means to kick start the brain to heal from the memory’s emotional impact. EMDR therapists are using auditory and kinesthetic bilateral brain stimulation to get that same effect.

In EMDR, a therapist doesn’t ask “what’s wrong with you?”; rather “what happened to you?” The client may want to deal with one presenting problem, or many. Each problem has its history in life events that happened at some point. There are many ways to dig for these, link and lump them together in themes, and resolve these according to the client’s priorities. There’s focus on healing the past; eliminating the effects of present triggers; and preparing the client with better capabilities to handle the future. When we think about what people usually struggle with (like depression, anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, self-esteem issues, relationship problems, etc…), all usually result from upsetting life experiences. A comprehensive work when doing EMDR to resolve all these usually leaves clients feeling transformed into a better more empowered version of themselves.

A word of caution: It is very important to seek a well-trained EMDR therapist if ever you consider dealing with your problems using EMDR. EMDR cannot be learned in a day or two course (although such courses are sometimes on offer purely for financial gain). Qualified therapists undergo a period that could span a year and a half. The training moves them into more advanced levels as they get supervision by EMDR consultants to fine tune their skills. EMDR is not a technique that psychologists, or non-psychologists can easily use. Because we do not know what each person can hide, repressed traumas can emerge during the process that only experienced clinical psychologists would be well equipped to handle. It is advised, therefore, to be in safer hands if ever you want to deal with your baggage.


Time For Your “Mind Gym” – What Are You Certain About?

I’m certainly not a big fan of “Black or White Thinking” although I find myself prey to such dichotomy at times; and in certain respects. To me, we cannot fully understand life matters despite so many “givens” and no matter how hard we try to analyze their prevailing effects. So many things out here exist in shades of gray; and we, human beings, are certainly very complex.

Take, for instance, our need for certainty. It conflicts with our opposing need for uncertainty. The first gives us assurance and steady grounds to move in strides. The second equips us with the thrill of anticipation and the zeal to resist destructive high tides. We’re quick to form judgments so as to gain a sense of relief, but we, also, seek the unknown for the excitement it hides beneath.

Such bipolarity can shape one’s behavior and character wherever we end up on that continuum. We can resist shifting our preferred set point and strive always to restore any disequilibrium. It’s as if we put ourselves a set of rules and arm our mindsets with the necessary tools to make it through prevalent challenges existing in over a million.

I have my own set of certain facts I believe in; and these bring me the sense of relief I need. If you work on accepting these as few of your life rules, they’ll bring you the same comforting effects indeed. These are in line with the “Black or White Thinking” type of guide for me. You’ll find my top 10 dictums below and I’m sure you’ll agree:

1. Life is neither easy, nor is it simple. To make it manageable and more enjoyable remains a choice to repeatedly kindle.
2. We cannot change others unless they’re willing to. Even when they are, we can only influence how they feel, or inspire what they do.
3. Our bodies depreciate with use and time. They’re the only place during our lives in which we’ll, surely, reside.
4. Happiness is a temporary state and we slide between the good times, the bad, and maybe worse. True strength lies in fast forwarding negative emotions and the good feelings to nourish and nurse.
5. We’re operating within limited time and energy constraints. We cannot possibly add more to what we already do without sacrificing doing others, or suffering more restraints.
6. We are social beings in need of maintaining healthy relationships. We get frustrated with one-sided effort when we try hard; and look instead for ones that offer a reciprocal mix.
7. We can invest in projects, or in people and then fail, but investing in ourselves and in our continuous education will always somehow reap gains.
8. Holding on to faith remains the best torchlight guiding our incomplete understanding. It remains the colorful perception as we reach dark deadlocks in problem solving.
9. We won’t find anything more valuable than time, nor can we buy any of it to satisfy doing everything we need. Life, surely, is passing by at a dizzying speed.
10. Our eternal search remains for love’s alchemy. Its absence creates all sorts of malady; and once found, is the all too healing remedy.

During my days, I frequently have to remind myself of these few life facts I grew to accept and be certain about. There’s no point in resisting some life rules, and surely you have more in your own certainty account. In many other respects, I remain within gray areas filled with doubt. In the school of life, we’re all still learning what we can be sure of or not…. In time, we will all be granted a black-belt in overcoming life’s difficulties if we keep giving it our best shot…

That’s another fact I’d like to add on the list above…

Across these posts, I send you positive vibes and much love …

Your Personal Coach


Time For Your “Mind Gym” – How Well Have You Fulfilled Last Year’s Self-Promises?

new year wishes

It gives me the chills when I consider that this is my last post for this year. Oh boy, time flew by real fast; and to realize that there are things pending still on my 2014 to-do-list makes me almost shed a tear. How did that happen when I know and practice what I preach about principals of high productivity? How is it possible to be so clear about my yearly resolutions and still fail to perform despite my relentless activity?

At this moment in time, I empathize with myself just like I do with my clients. I certainly was not “wasting” time. That’s more like pseudo-science. Urgent situations came up and necessitated my dealing with rising tension. New opportunities surfaced and required my attention. Some projects were too overwhelming, so I deferred some and put others to suspension.

No, I wasn’t slacking off during the past year. I was, rather, engaged in re-shuffling my priorities based on situational pressing demands. At different times, I found myself exploring novel life territories and adapting to unknown lands.

Yes, I did my best to accommodate without totally losing focus of my principal mission. I truly did maintain an eye on my guiding life vision. Yearly new resolutions are ideal when coupled with a clear plan to accomplish and move toward; and it’s perfectly okay to continuously consider their feasibility, be flexible with some, forget about others, and add a few new with greater reward. Can you similarly assess how much on that to-do-list you’ve scored?

My earlier plans were not meant to be engraved in stone. We have to keep in mind that a martyr cannot do much in a combat zone. It’s like we’re in a battle field out there and we need to remain vigilant to any upcoming rival; and in the end, allow no defeat to be ever final. Adjust the sails when the wind blows; slow down the wheels upon surfing the slopes; and fly higher when the sky is clear and before it, again, heavily snows.

At the verge of a new year, I cannot but give thanks and acknowledgement to how far I have, till now, reached. I would like to silence my inner critic for a while and resist the temptation to self-reprimand. These only leave me painfully impeached.

In my last note for this year, I am calling your attention to differentiate between excuses you may have for leaving things undone and truly exploring reasons for things you haven’t begun. I, hereby, call on you to focus NOT on the losses of the past year, but on all the gains you’ve gradually acquired my dear…

Next year will similarly be like a game of hide and seek. The good and the bad things will remain to bubble and squeak. And aren’t those what flavor life with its special mystique?

Wishing you a new year filled with earned success and best of fortune…

Your Personal Coach (who favors forward motion)


Time For Your “Mind Gym” – How Heavy is Your Emotional Baggage?


How old are you? Better phrased: how “young”, still, are you? Perhaps as you revisit the number of years that so far elapsed, the thought spontaneously scans phases in your life you passed through. Each chapter in your journey piled up a different sort of baggage when you take on a rear view.

Have you, at any point, taken the time to examine that? Are you aware of the extent that baggage affects your life today, how you deal with others, and what you arrived at? Some of us enjoy self-reflection and habitually monitor ourselves attempting to fine tune and understand. Others take it a step further and hire another brain to dig deeper and give them a hand.

In my line of work, I’ve seen many face their worst daemons courageously, while others went into such territories with much reluctance painfully. Others remain hiding themselves behind walls of shame and make believe that their baggage is invisible to the eyes. What do they know about harmful disguise? What do they know about volcanoes and their erupting with lava as they rise?

To become target of someone else’s baggage is certainly terrible and perhaps inevitable at different times. You’re lucky if you can withdraw yourself from their lives as soon as you detect over-flowing negative baggage signs. If you don’t, you’ll soon realize how chained you’re becoming as you operate within gloomy relational confines. To have your way out, by then, can be really difficult sometimes.

But what if that emotional baggage is all yours and you keep noticing something isn’t just right? To know if you’re carrying a heavy load, just ask yourself: Are you being paranoid and suspecting? Do you repeatedly project your own insecurities onto others and assume it is them who are suffering? Do new people you meet keep reminding you of past hurtful ones? Are you avoiding relational commitments and are building walls against anyone who comes?

Such questions point toward issues, if any, that remain unresolved. You can look at these with a blind eye, turn to them the deaf ear, or wait for them to get gradually dissolved. Still, they have their own days during which they creep up in your life in multiple ways and at every passing phase.

“You may be victim of others’ emotional baggage at some point, but there’s no running away from your own. The longer you postpone facing these, the more, under your skin they’ll moan.” ~ 3Ds

That baggage anyone carries can be rendered much lighter once explored. You need to dig deep for buried emotions, discover what meaning you gave hurtful past incidents, and then reinvent a new version of yourself that you can gradually move toward.

Surely everyone has baggage, but it’s not your responsibility to manage others’ crown of thorns. You can only open your own can of worms, let all out, and be ready to face any ensuing storms. There’s got to be some labor before your life balanced and transforms. That’s the only way to make yourself better, or would you rather remain bitter?

It really is a matter of perception and how your brain searches for threats and automatically screams. Need another pair of eyes to help you see through that existing filter you have on your life screen?

I’ve walked in your shoes daily so far; and I’ll be ready when you are 🙂

Your Counselor (this time) & Personal Coach


Time For Your “Mind Gym” – How Do You Use Your Shell?

STRIDES (previously Coaching Your 3Ps: Personal & Professional Progress)


No, I am not basing the above question on the mere assumption that you have a shell to start with. You do have a shell you often hide in on your own, retreat to in tough times, or coil up in and prepare to reboot your system.

It is that private space that you seek; the personal bubble you protect. It is transparent to the ordinary eye, but becomes quite obvious with excessive use.

Your shell can be as hard and impermeable as that of a turtle. When threatened, the turtle totally withdraws inside. It is a natural defense mechanism to be safe rendering it, indeed, much protected.

You can create your shell in your mind’s eye and become more aware of it. Observe the patterns… When do you go in there most?

Do you notice that you’re in “hiding” most of the time? ALERT!! No movement; no progress. No…

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Categories: Uncategorized

Are you Getting Prepared?




If you’re reading this, then congratulations! You’re still living 🙂 but how are you doing that? Is this is the optimal life you dream of living? Or could you make your life better still? How would you like your next life phase to be like? What would you like to see changed?

I ask a lot of questions, I know, but it is exactly these kinds of questions that help you be a better version of yourself. There’s a difference between being a spectator to your life & actually participating in it fully; and to maximize on life’s experience, one needs to learn from the past, live the present moments, & plan for a better future.

Yes, the ability to plan is a gift we possess within our biological make-up. Getting prepared to achieve our desired goals is integral to succeeding in any endeavor. It would take a long time to reach any destination without a “road map” – that is if you arrive there at all….

So, back to those questions I, usually, ask. Why don’t you take some time to answer the following? After all, it’s your “Mind Gym” time & you need to exercise your mental muscles:

  1. What’s – at least – one thing you would like to change in your life? Prioritize…
  2. What are the reasons for this change (how will your life be different)? List these down…
  3. What do you “need” to make it happen? Get these prepared….
  4. What are the baby steps needed to actually make it happen? Plan these in order…
  5. Who do you need to support you reach your goal? Arrange to connect with these people…
  6. When can you start? Schedule the time to take action on these steps…
  7. How can you make sure you commit to making the change? (Tip: read the reasons you listed daily)

Once you answer these questions, your brain already took the bait, Ha Ha!!…. 🙂

You are NOW prepared!! Call it the new “Life Math”…

Road is clear, wear that special mental set, & Blast Off!!

VabooooooM!! 🙂

Your Personal Coach



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How Are You Feeling?


How are you feeling today? Compare it to yesterday. Better still, compare it to an hour earlier, 2 hours, 3 hours earlier…. Let’s be honest: did you notice how much your feelings generally change? And they sometimes oscillate like a roller coaster…. & then it’s like: “Oh, boy, what a ride!” 🙂

Are you fully aware of your feelings? They are so part of daily living that, sometimes, you don’t give them your full attention. Still, they do affect your reactions to your surrounding circumstances & to people around you. Feelings speak; yell, sometimes…. And “of all existing languages, that which speaks your emotions is most profound…”.

Allow me to remind you of this: one key to your own psychological health is to notice your feelings (especially the more negative ones), label what you’re experiencing, and properly deal with your emotions. This is the exact process used in any area of self-development.

Not noticing your feelings can get you confused; denying your feelings can lead to implosion; suppressing them may lead to ultimate explosion; shoving them under the carpet only makes them creep from way under disguised differently into harmful ways over and over again.

So what are you to do when you notice & identify those negative feelings? Stay with them for just a little while, understand why they emerged, & then change them. And the latter is simple. It’s all about how you interpret what happens to you. Think hard: what could be a more positive evaluation of the situation?

Voila…. Feeling better?? It’s all self-service….  Really…. 🙂 Let’s remain sane. Deal?

Your Personal Coach


Do You Have A Problem?

Do You Have A Problem?

So I finally launched my Newsletter, Horrraaaah!! 🙂 Only those who subscribe to my website would receive a weekly “Mental Shampoo” to inspire them to reflect on pragmatic life matters. I wanted to call it ‘Mental Shampoo’, but many of my friends preferred the ‘Mind Gym” title better. I thought I might as well include these short insights on my Blog. In my extremely busy schedule these days, I find it hard to squeeze the time to write lengthy articles, but that “author” in me is still so much alive. Here it goes…. the first in the series posted on my blog for documentation purposes 🙂 

Do you have a problem? Most of us, unfortunately, do. I haven’t met anyone, yet, who is trouble-free. We’re all struggling with different challenges that vary, also, in magnitude. It’s like part of living life!!

Do you find yourself ruminating over a specific problem? Well, perhaps you do. And perhaps your head got dizzy, already, from going round & round in that vicious circle going nowhere. All you can think of is: “It’s not fair!”, “I can’t tolerate this!”, “this can’t be true”, and the list goes on….

Why don’t you consider this: “The problem isn’t really the problem. The problem is in not considering SOLUTIONS to the problem.”

You can only regain a sense of control once you know & do believe you can do something about your problems. And there’s always something you can do, don’t you now? Let’s switch from a “problem-focused” mode to the more empowering “solution-focused” mode?

And it’s simple: Choose to change the situation, & if you cannot do that, choose to change the way you react about it!!

Come’on…. Let’s get started, uh- huh?!


Believing in your brilliance always,

Your Personal Coach


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Dania Dbaibo Darwish (Triple Ds) in ACTION. All about what I do …

In my spare time, I created this short video (pictures, clips, & stuff like that) to explain what I do. Dania Dbaibo Darwish ROCKS to the sound of QUEEN 🙂

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