I wanted to share a story with you that I have compiled from the sessions with my relationship coaching clients.

Once upon a time, in a country far far away there were women who were working very hard. These women were in two categories. Some would complain about not finding the type of men that they are looking for and the others would complain about not being able to change the men that they have found.

Almost all the women that weren’t able to find the men they were looking for would dream of a wedding picture. Some would want a wedding in countryside and the others in a ballroom setting. No matter where the wedding would be, all women would search for the man that would give the best picture shot in the wedding. That man would be a good looking, wealthy man that had a good job and education. However the women in this country have never asked themselves the question of “Can I have lifetime happiness with this man in the picture?” They would dream not of a happy home but a happy wedding picture.

These women were all told a very familiar lie. “I can have both a baby and a career”. They all knew about it but for some reason they have all believed in this lie. Their naturally fragile bodies have started to endure much more burdens. Everyday they would wake up in the very early hours of the morning. They would get to work after a long commute. They would draw their swords and have many pitched battles. Most of them would emerge victorious from these battles. They all have forgotten that warfare was meant for men.

Those women that found and married the man in the picture would go back to their work as soon as their babies were born. Because their work was very important and there were many more battles to be won. These women, who very well knew the needs of their customers buying their products, would never ask the needs of their spouses and never wonder about those needs. These men whose needs are not met would search to satisfy their needs in other places and things when they felt unfulfilled.

The story is such that, while conquering the battles was so important for these women, they would never appreciate their men who would conquer even bigger battles everyday. Most women in this country had even forgotten about what appreciation had meant.

The women in this country were scared to death about surrendering themselves to their men. On one side, they would want a strong man who manages them, and on the other side they would want everything to be “their way”. They were not aware of these contradictions either.

The women in this country would always strive for changing the men and make them the men of their dreams. However, they unfortunately never knew that they would come across the men of their dreams once they choose to be a woman themselves.

From the sky, fell three apples. One on the head of the storyteller, one on the head of the story listener. The last one fell on the head of the woman. So that she could have a wake up call…

The system we grew up in doesn’t teach us to be ourselves. Very few ask, “What do I want? What would make me happiest in life?” Even our dreams are being controlled.  It is most men’s dream to own a red Ferrari once they get rich... It is beyond us to even consider anything else. When we are unable to realize our own dreams or discover what our talents are and use those talents, any attempt we make to be different ends up being a futile one.  Surely we are all unique, but those who haven’t found that out are still trying to be different and yet wind up being the same. Once we start asking the questions to bring out the potential within us, then our uniqueness becomes apparent.

For years, we believed that drinking coffee is a form of pleasure, and that we would purchase comfort when we purchased a car. That was how we were taught, after all. Unwittingly, those who believed this attached more meaning to coffee than just being a beverage.

Only a very few of us tried to discover the positive aspects within ourselves. Those who did not make this attempt were caught up with the illusion that they would become attractive by wearing brand x. Some went and bought even two pairs so that s/he could say, “I’m superior than you”. Thus they would try to forget and make others forget their loneliness within the crowd with symbols such as bags and sunglasses declaring “Look, I’m one of you.” 

As we try to satisfy our emotional hunger with bags, sunglasses and cars, streets are filled with people that are all alike.

If we could only love ourselves as we are, we could speak through our being rather than through our clothes. Then we would be different and so would the world be...

This time I wanted to write a piece of the kind you might find in Cosmopolitan. Why is it that some relationships fail? I believe that being aware of the following in our own relationships could make things easier. I put this piece together based on my own experiences and observations, as well as what my clients and I have discovered together. So why is it that some relationships don’t work?

  • Not knowing clearly what you want: To be thinking, “I love my freedom, I’m happy this way, I don’t want anyone in my life,” and yet at the same time to be thinking, “Oh! I wish I had a happy and easy going relationship!” is to end a relationship just as it’s begun – just as a car goes nowhere if you press on the gas pedal at the same time as the brake. What’s more is that most of us aren’t even aware that we’re doing this. -> Decide what it is that you want out of a relationship. Write this down if possible.
  • When the role of man and woman gets mixed up in a relationship: In couples dancing, it is the man who leads. When the woman follows, then the dance begins to flow. On the other hand, if the woman turns left as the man tries to turn her towards the right and the dance falls apart.  Then, it becomes tiring for both parties. It is no longer a pleasure for them to dance or for others to watch. -> Pay attention to the role of man and woman in relationships you consider to be healthy.
  • Putting the opposite sex to a test of their love for you: When a person doesn’t love himself, he is likely to challenge the other party. Its most striking two forms are as follows:
    A) Breaking up for one reason or another and waiting for the other party to call. When the other party doesn’t call often enough, the person complains that "s/he hasn’t called me enough,” and when s/he calls too often, then complains again that “S/he’s smothering me!”
    B) Challenging the other party’s limits: Testing the limits of the other party with exaggerated behaviour and trying to see how much that person still loves you by pushing the limits even harder. Saying, “I love you,” so much so that s/he gets sick of hearing it, doing the things over and over again even if s/he says s/he doesn’t like... -> Instead of looking for a confirmation of his love for you, first find ways of loving yourself. Make a list of things you can do that make you feel good and start doing them. One method here which I think is especially effective is to look into your eyes in the mirror every day and repeat many times to yourself, “I love you,” and “I love myself.”
  • Trying to start a new relationship before clearing out the old: Only one person can fit into your heart. If you’re trying to bring a new person into your heart without clearing away the crumbs of the old relationship, that person cannot fully enter into your heart or your life.  -> Clear your heart and mind by writing him/her a letter (by using this letter template) expressing your feelings and then burn after writing. Rewrite new versions if necessary.
  • Persisting in showing interest in people who don’t want you: Continuing to pursue someone who has told you already s/he is not interested in you or a relationship with you. Not only is this damaging to your self-esteem, it won´t ever get you anywhere either. -> Instead of getting stuck on someone who’s made clear to you s/he isn´t interested, take a look at how many other possibilities there are in the city you live in. Why insist on someone who doesn’t want to be with you?

A final note to those who are unattached: Always look ahead; never look back. Imagine yourself within the happy relationship you’ve described. Above all, don’t you worry about it. Don’t waste your life with regrets. Whatever it is that you wish to do when you have a boyfriend/girlfriend, start doing it today.

Luck is a state of vigilance.  It is to be on one's toes and to keep one's eyes open.  It is to see the opportunities and being able to incorporate them into your life.  

Luck is not some excuse for failure which lies outside of us.   

The psychologist, Prof. Richard Wiseman, conducts experiments on luck. He gives a newspaper to people who call themselves lucky and unlucky.  He asks them to examine the paper and tell him how many photographs they see.  Somewhere in the middle of the paper, he places this note covering half the page: “Tell the supervisor of the experiment that you saw this note and win $250." Those who regard themselves as unlucky don’t see it!  Because they were looking for something else...  

When we take a look at our lives, it is possible to feel unlucky. Yet, behind our experiences, there are beliefs we have unknowingly adopted from the environment and our family as children – such as, “Life is hard”, ”It's hard to earn money” etc... These kinds of beliefs don't illuminate our path at all.  With these beliefs, living cautiously, thinking in boxes, and without taking risks, we may say we are unlucky. We forget our part in the picture.    

If life is a series of experiences and, yet you see yourself continuing to experience the same mistakes over and over, then you aren't learning the lessons you need to learn along the way. You aren't changing the direction of the steps you're taking. You're very unlucky (!).

If luck is about being vigilant, now is the time to wake up! It's time to redefine what we call luck and start living like a person who's lucky...

From time to time when my clients describe themselves to me, they say things like, “I'm very opinionated", “I have a hard time concentrating,” using very clear-cut terms.  Interestingly, the ones that say they are opinionated nod their heads with confirmation when they are introduced new perspectives. And the ones that say they have a hard time concentrating, don’t miss a single word of our sessions, which are over an hour...

So at least, there are times that they are different than they think of themselves – and they're surprised when I point this out to them.

When I was a child, we would sometimes find a smelly green insect in our house, called a stinkbug.  It would come to the light, the warmth of which would cause it to smell even worse. When my sister and I saw the insect, we would run away screaming. This wasn't the case just with this bug, it was the case with every bug...

Years passed by. I decided to make a number of changes in my life, taking steps towards the Hakan in my imagination...  One day, I saw a spider in the bathroom. I took it into my hand and put it aside so that it wouldn't get wet and die.  After putting it down, I screamed; I was amazed at what I had just done. I hadn't even considered about being afraid as I had picked it up.  I also hadn't told myself anything like, “Come on Hakan, you can do it!”  Before I knew it, I had simply taken up the spider and put him aside... I have no idea when I became that person who can pick up a spider with his bare hands.  

That week, I saw a stinkbug in İstanbul for the first time.  As if to test me, it landed on my car's gearshift.  As my sister was going between jumping and screaming, I picked up the insect and threw it out the window.

So how did I achieve this?  Here's what I think: I let new Hakans into my life every day.  I don't label myself with unnecessary labels like “I'm afraid of insects" or "I'm like this" and "I'm like that”.  As a result, new Hakans come along and I grow richer day by day... I call this living by multiplying...

My teacher, Bilge Şeker, told this one day: “Let's say I don't know how to bake a cake but I need to. In that case, I call for the Bilge who can bake a cake best and I unite her with myself.”

When you call upon your other selves and unite with them instead of saying things like, “I can’t” or “It’s too difficult”, you discover other sides of you whom you have not met before.  Just like the Hakan who picked up the spider with his bare hands...  Thus, life becomes easier as you multiply...

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself what your body wants from you?  I've been doing this on a frequent basis for some time. At one stage in my life I went on a number of strict detoxification diets, with lists of the foods that you could and couldn't eat. This way of eating may be useful for some time for cleansing the body, but it became the way I lived my life.   

I wouldn’t eat anything after dark. I would brew and drink herbs with strange names and take a number nutritional supplements. Yet all along, I now realize that there was something I was forgetting. I had never once stopped to ask my body what in fact it wanted.

The other day, when I asked my body what it wanted, I had a vision of bagel and cheese. So, I bought the bagel and went to a grocer that offered a wide variety of cheese. I had a mental image of a hard and unsalted feta cheese and I began to look for that. I picked up a piece of Circassian cheese I had never heard before, and as I did so, I felt an intense craving for it.  Without putting any more thought into it, I bought it and left.  As I unwrapped the cheese to eat with my bagel by the seaside, I realized that I had picked out just the cheese I had imagined – and without even knowing what it was.

When some of my clients come to me wishing to lose weight, I ask them to focus on thier most intense feelings when they get cravings. I ask this because weight gain is partially the result of an effort to feed an emotional hunger. Continuing to eat without heeding what the body truly wants only leads to continued weight gain.

Today may be the day for you to start talking with your body...

So many of us are leading our lives on the basis of things we have never questioned the reasons for or the validity of, and yet they shape the direction of our lives.
Let me begin with a brief excerpt from Secrets of the Millionaire Mind:
A woman who was having ham for dinner one evening was slicing it from both ends. Puzzled by his wife’s choice of slicing technique, her husband asked her why she was slicing the ham from either end. His wife replied, “My mother would do it this way.” As it happened, his wife’s mother was coming to dinner that night. The couple asked her why she had always sliced the ham from both ends. She replied, “That was how my mother cooked it.” They then rang up the grandmother and asked her why she had cooked it that way. Her reply?  “Because my pot was too small!”

Many years ago, after putting considerable research into it, I translated an article on milk and e-mailed it to a couple of online groups. In short, it was about its detriments of milk rather than the benefits of it.  The main reference point was nature. More specifically, it pointed out that in nature, no animal drinks another animal’s milk. There is also no animal that drinks milk after reaching adulthood. The enzyme in the human body which digests milk is hardly produced at all following puberty. So why on earth do we drink it?

There are so many things like this in life whose reasons or validity we accept without stopping to question, and yet they shape our lives. We live in a world full of people who don’t like milk and who gets irritated because of it, but drink it anyway...  Why?  Because it is said that it is good for you.  There are people who slice ham at both ends before they cook it. Why? Because that was how their mother did it.

We live in an age in which we are bombarded by the messages of colossal industries and to some extent, we have forgotten why we do the things we do. My job is to have people question the unquestioned in their lives... To break the habits and patterns you have taken on without knowing why...  To bring out who you are... To help you discover what you want and to support you in doing it...       

It’s time to give up the milk you don’t like but drink, just because they say it’s good for you...

There have been many people who made an impact on my life, and to each and every one, I owe a debt of gratitude. I realize that a mere word or even just a look of someone is enough to affect my life profoundly.

Years ago, I was experiencing difficulties in relationships, and decided to do something about it. So what did I do? I went and got a book on the subject and began to read it. I devoured the book and finished it in no time. A week later, when a friend asked me what I had done about this difficulty, I answered that, “I read a book on the subject.”  My friend responded with a question: “So you read a book on it. So what?”    
I continued to make the same mistake for years on end. I believed that something would change in my life by attending a training or listening to what somebody said or at other times, by reading a book. It was the “so what?” question of my friend that made me realize that things don’t work this way. It was then that it began to sink in for me just how important it is in life to take the first step, to take action.

A teacher of mine whose classes I attended over the years, had tirelessly said to us: “If you think something’s going to change as a result of you coming here, don’t even bother to come!” That was because coming to class essentially was ALL we were doing.  
My clients who come to me for coaching may make the same mistake sometimes. They are under the impression that the coach holds a magic wand in his hand. They think that taking part in the coaching sessions without carrying out the exercises we have agreed upon will be enough in itself for change to occur in their lives. They overlook that, change takes place by putting faith, determination and discipline into practice.
Life does not change by going and attending classes. Nothing changes unless we internalize what we read and apply it in our lives.
So you read a book.  So what?

Years ago, at a point when I was floundering in my unhappiness and delaying my happiness at every turn, I was thrown off-guard when a friend of mine said, “Hakan, heaven is right here!” Such a very different view compared to what I’d been taught...

As a good student in my religion class, here’s the way it was supposed to go, as I remembered it: Two interrogator angels would appear before you, ask you who you believed in and who your prophet was, followed by a bunch of other questions the exact nature of which was never quite explained.

The decision would then be made on the basis of your answers as to whether or not you had earned your way into heaven. As a child, I had taken this information deeply to heart, never to question it afterwards. That is, up until my friend made her remark: “Heaven is right here...”

I began to think about what she meant. Hardly could it be said that I was happy with my life. A graduate of one of the best schools and having worked at Turkey’s most prestigious companies, I was “a success”. I had a car and a house in a well-to-do district of Istanbul. Yet, despite being “successful”, this did not change the fact that I was nowhere near heaven on earth.

A poem came to my attention during the first year of university. In this poem, titled “Instants”, an 85-year old man on his death bed was bemoaning his past. “If I were starting life all over again, I would eat more ice cream and fewer beans. I wouldn’t take an umbrella everywhere I went,” he lamented. Extremely impressed with the poem at the time, I posted it up on my wall in my dorm room – so that it would remind me to enjoy life!

It seems matters grew complicated as I entered the business world and started earning money. “Run, run non-stop. Rise through the ranks, earn money, save money, invest money... You’ll have plenty of time to live when you retire.” I’m not going to argue the point of whether these injunctions are right or wrong. The point is that I had begun to run so fast that the people around me were no better than a blur... Not to mention that there was nowhere in particular I wanted to get to, other than that peaceful life beyond retirement.

“Heaven is right here” was one of the first sentences that began to wake me up.

I was talking to a friend a few days ago. She is an educated, beautiful young lady. She complains about not being able to find the man in her dreams. And she couldn’t find out why so far.

While we were talking, I felt an urge to ask her what kind of beliefs she had about men. So I asked her what she had heard about men when she was a child. That was exactly how she answered me: ‘You are a very beautiful girl, so be careful about men!’

Without even being aware, the little girl just kept in her mind what she heard at that young age and did not forget it during those years. What she actually kept in mind without being aware was the belief ‘Men are dangerous’ through remembering the statement ‘Be careful about men.’

On top of these, she probably saw Nuri Alço drugging the drinks of the girls in Turkish movies. So her belief was confirmed and strengthened. I remember that my grandmother used to caution my sister saying: ‘Listen good girl, drink your coke always from its bottle.’ The strange part was that both my sister and I grew up in a small city in Anatolia where the news spread very easily, but so far we have never heard of a girl whose drink was drugged… 

What I mean is that those little girls who were brainwashed by what they saw in movies and the things they have heard from their elders, have built extremely strong walls of security to protect themselves from men. They still have these walls around them even though they aren’t aware of it. men just can’t penetrate into these strong walls. So the women who aren’t aware of their walls cannot understand why their hearts stay empty.

The statement ‘Be careful about men.’ was not said to my friend, but to the girl she was when she was just 7. However, based on this statement, she still lived her life with these walls of security as if there was a danger. She wasn’t aware of her grown up body and her enhanced life experiences.

That’s what I told her: ‘There is no ‘‘danger (!)’’any more. You are a grown-up now…’

* Nuri Alço: A Turkish actor who is famous with his ‘sexual predator’ image in movies.

I recently went to pay a visit to my friend, Merve. As the two of us were talking, her 6-year old daughter was running around and playing with her friend in the house. From time to time they would scream and bang the doors.

With a third slam of a door, my friend interrupted our conversation. She got up and calmly went to her daughter's room. She cracked open the door and said quietly, “When you slam the doors like that, I can't hear what Hakan is saying to me." She returned and we resumed our conversation from where we had left off. There was no more ruckus.

No scoldings, no warnings, no demands! Just self-expression...

My clients who come to me for relationship coaching typically have the following exchanges:

- It annoys me when my husband/boyfriend/partner calls me and cuts it short. (You can substitute any situation here that makes you uncomfortable.)
- So, have you told him this?
- No, I haven`t.
- Well then, how is he going to know this unless you express it?

As we express ourselves openly in our relationships, we make it easier for the other person to understand our needs; then the communication starts.