Life Coaching

You can find here the articles of Life Coach Hakan Arabacioglu.
  • Can a person change his own luck?

    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...

  • Create a lover out of nothing

    I often hear this sentence from women during my seminars: ‘There is no suitable man for me’. And they do their best to make me believe in what they believe. What I tell them is this: ‘If you can’t see them, that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

    The one-sided generalizations that take you away from your aims are called ‘limiting beliefs’. Having a limiting belief such as: ‘There is no suitable man for me.’ will even prevent you from seeing the men that are actually around you. Let me tell you how:

    Years ago, I met a girl who was older than me. I would go and ask for her advice when I had problems with my relationships. One day she called me and suggested we go to Kemancı together. Kemancı was one of the most popular rock bars of İstanbul at the time. I thought it was only the two of us going. But when I came to the meeting place, I saw that she had brought four other men who had problems with their relationships just as I did. So we went to Kemancı as a group of five men and a woman.

    I didn’t look similar to any of the people in the bar. I had glasses, short hair and a colorful shirt while most of the people in the bar had long hair, black shirts with skulls on them and no glasses. I thought ‘Girls will not even take a look at me here’ because I looked completely different.

    We danced on a platform all night. While we were leaving my friend who took us there turned to me and said: ‘Hakan, the girls who were standing on your right didn’t take their eyes off you throughout the night. But you never turned and looked at them.’ I still don’t know if what she was saying was true or not. But there is something I am sure about: I really didn’t look to my right even once that night. Fearing to be rejected because of my thought ‘The girls here won’t be interested in me.’, I just danced with my friend who was dancing on my left side.

    Something else happened after a few years. There was a girl I was really interested in the company I was working at the time. I found her very attractive but again I thought ‘This girl won’t be interested in me.’ I really enjoyed chatting with her when we came across during the coffee breaks. Five or six months have passed chatting at the breaks. One day I took up all my courage and I texted her that I really liked her. Her answer was: ‘I ran after you for six months.  But you didn’t reciprocate and I was about to give up. So I was very surprised to have your message.’ I was definitely very surprised as well. Because I was sure that she would never take a look at me…

    The limiting beliefs such as ‘he would never take a look at me’ or ‘there is no suitable man for me’ are just like the walls you build around yourself. In order to see what is behind the walls you need to break them and replace them with empowering beliefs. But you aren’t able to see the other possibilities since you focus on ‘the impossible’. You won’t see those who are dancing under your nose and looking at you all night or those who runs after you in your workplace. It is time for you to change your beliefs and create your lover out of nothing!

  • Create your own paradise!

    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.

  • Do you take yourself where you go?

    Once upon a time, a wise man was wandering in a harbor with a friend. They saw a man who held his head between his two hands, thinking deeply sitting on a galiot. The wise man’s friend said to him: ‘Look, this man is one of the wealthiest people in the world. There is nothing he hasn’t done; nowhere he hasn’t seen. Yet he’s unhappy.’ The wise man’s answer was: ‘He must be taking himself wherever he goes, that’s why he’s unhappy…’

    Yesterday, I remembered about this story when one of my counselees has told me that she was unhappy in her workplace and wanted to change it.

    ‘You may change your workplace.’ I said. ‘Bu believe me, your new workplace is not going to be any different from here.’ I gave her an example when I saw that she didn’t really understand what I was saying.

    ‘Let’s say you start a job to work on something for 1000 USD. Two days later, your director asks you to work on something else. You can’t say no and you work on both of them for 1000 USD. A week later, one of your colleagues comes and tells you that she needs help. You say ok and you now work on three different things. Then your boss comes, he congratulates you and gives you another task. You accept it as well. After all, you become a tired and unhappy person who works on four different tasks for 1000 USD and leaves work at 10 pm in the evening. Now you say that you are unhappy in your current job and you want to leave to find a different one. Ok, just go. But what would change if you just didn’t learn to say ‘no’?’

    Unfortunately, there are people who think they can change their whole lives if they change their boyfriend/ girlfriend or their job. If a person can’t be happy and take control of his life wherever he’s right now, he won’t be able to do it anywhere else.

    If you leave a place saying ‘That’s enough!’, then you are just escaping. What you are escaping will maximize and find you again. Remember, the world will change if you change...

  • Driving for beginners

    Don’t step on the gas pedal before releasing the handbrake
    No matter how positively you think or how many affirmations you use, you can not move forward before cleaning out the sorrows and angers from the past and eliminating the limiting beliefs. Without the release of the handbrake, a vehicle would have difficulty moving forward. Stepping on the gas pedal in this position, you would be able to move but only to a degree which is a lot less than your normal capacity.

    Don’t drive while constantly looking at the rearview mirror
    You move towards wherever you focus on. Constantly thinking and talking about the past will make it difficult for you to move forward. Those people who walked out on you or the wrong steps you took in the past do remain in the past. Focus on where you want to go. Consequently, you drive more safely.

    Make sure you are driving towards the right direction
    If you don’t like anybody or if people can drive you nuts, maybe it is you that have a problem instead of them. Make sure that you evaluate your situation in an objective manner and remember this funny story: One day, Temel was driving on the highway. He heard an announcement on the radio. “Attention, on highway E-5 there is a vehicle moving in the wrong direction.” After the announcement, Temel looks around carefully and says: “Hey man, there isn’t just one; all of these cars are coming in the opposite direction!” Your boss, sweetheart, family, colleagues and you; just wonder who is “coming in the opposite direction?”

    To find out about your speed, look at the speedometer once in a while
    If you are driving on an open road even 250 km/h could feel like you are driving very slowly. Look at the dashboard so that you can find out your real speed and how far you have come along. Majority of those people who say “I am unable to succeed, I am lacking something” actually forget to look at the dashboard. They are unaware of the distance that they have come along and at how many km/h they drive. Use your clear goals as your dashboard and adjust your speed accordingly. Don’t say “I am going very slowly” by looking around at other cars. According to your own wishes, determine when and where you want to go.

    Don’t try to reach another place by driving on the same road
    Once you determine that you are on a dead end road, don’t insist on that same road by hoping that maybe next time it might lead to your destination. It does not. The ones who say “I am tired” are generally from this group. They try the same road by thinking that they are trying a different road; once they become unable to reach their destination, both their power and hopes are diminished. In order to arrive at different destinations, try different roads and even different vehicles.

  • Free yourself from the situation that repeats itself

    Sometimes life feels like a video game. You can’t go to the next level without passing the current level and until you pass that level, you come across similar type of characters. Even if the appearance of these characters may change, they hit you at the same spot and always hurt you in a similar way.

    Things get even more complicated when you generalize whatever hurts you: As in “All men, women, bosses are alike”. However, you were the one who picked and chose him/her among many others. You were the one who decided to continue the path with him/her.

    Until you discover this important and delicate point and get over your current level, you keep playing with similar types of characters. Until you find the thing that you have overlooked and begin correcting it…

    If, among all this sameness, you are now willing to say hi to the new, there are a couple of things you can do which I listed below:

    Change your reactions. Whenever you recognize that you are getting angry with someone, do something you have never done before when you were in a similar situation. For example, go ahead and brush your teeth. Consequently, you will break the cycle that repeats itself and will quit giving automatic responses. You will be the one that manages his/her reactions vs. your reactions managing you.

    Take a look at what you can do differently about communication.  Every negative feeling occurs as a result of an unsatisfied need. Let’s say you got very angry, ask yourself: What do I really need? What is my unsatisfied need that caused me to get angry? Share the answer you find with the person you got angry with as well.  For instance, “I needed this and when it was unsatisfied, I felt angry about your behavior”. Afterwards, fulfill this need.

    Clean up the accumulated sorrow and anger that you bring from your previous relationships. If you don’t take care of this step, every event in your life will resemble to the one that had wounded you and you will continue to give automatic reactions. Don’t expect your life to change before you clean up the accumulated weight from your past. (For this clean-up, you can use this letter template.)

    Look at the events from a broader framework. Don’t take things personally. Remember that the events of the big picture have a meaning that you don’t recognize at this very moment. Consider that 10 years from now, the conflict at this moment will have no meaning. Ask yourself, “What does this situation teach me, what lessons can I draw from this event?”.

    Don’t make assumptions. “He didn’t bring me flowers; this means he doesn’t love me.” Try to find out, understand why he didn’t bring flowers.

    Whatever you are expecting, offer it yourself first. If you are expecting attention, this would be attention; if you are expecting understanding, then give out understanding… In other words, whatever it is you are willing to have, create it first in yourself.

    Once you’ve finished reading this article, don’t start your words with “It is easier to say but …” Read the article one more time and even if they may be really small, take a look at what you can change.

  • How about what you really want?

    We were raised hearing many definitions. Our minds are full of ‘goods’ and ‘bads’ such as: ‘It is good to work in a corporate. It is bad to have a desire for the opposite sex. It is good to eat spinach. It is not good to be 30 and still single.’ Nobody taught us to ask ourselves what we really wanted to do. We thought that we had to choose from the ‘goods’ that were given. And we forced ourselves to do so.

    There is a huge choir in the heads of those who grew up with the ‘goods&bads’.  This choir has a large staff which is composed of your mother, father, grandmother, neighbors etc. They all talk throughout the day ‘You’d better do this, you’d better do that’. The noise this choir creates is so great that these people cannot hear their own voice. They aren’t even aware of what they really want.

    Besides, the same people are taken back when they face a situation that weren’t classified and taught as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. For example one of my counselees was taught that it’s bad to laugh when she’s with boys or make an eye contact with them. But those who taught her ‘what’s bad to do when she is with boys’ never told her what’s good (!) to do when she’s with them. That’s why she didn’t know what to do and get in a lather when she went out for a dinner with a man she is interested in, even though she had a respected career.

    These people hope for help from other people’s ‘goods’ and ‘bads’ when their own definitions of ‘good or bad’ can’t help them. I know a lot of people who ask if they should call someone or not, see him or not or what they should write in a text message. They get totally confused when someone says ‘bad’ for something some other person finds ‘good’. Not knowing what to do, they can’t think of asking themselves this question ‘What do I want to do?’

    Just turn down the volume of the choir in your head, let go of the question ‘What should I do?’. Pay attention to your own inner voice and ask: ‘What do I want to do?

  • How do you get a noisy kid to be quiet(!)

    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.

  • How to climb a tree?

    I am getting messages from people who want to change some of the things in their lives and say “I don’t know from where to start?” Fundamentally, coaching is not about giving answers, it is about expanding one’s perspective by asking questions. It is having someone find his/her own answers. Still, for purpose of using as a guide, I have listed below a few points to consider:

    Thinking starts with questions. Those who change their questions also change their thoughts, actions and results. I categorize the questions into two; the disempowering ones and the empowering ones. For instance, the question of “Why can’t I climb a tree, why can’t I do that?” is one that is disempowering, whereas, “How can I climb a tree, how can I do that?” is an empowering question. While the first question puts you in a vortex, the second question puts you in action, removes you out of your current situation. Asking questions towards your desired situation is more beneficial than trying to figure out the reasons.

    Thoughts and expressions:
    “I would like to climb a tree but I can’t.” Your expression in this sentence does not serve your desire. Namely, you can not climb a tree by saying “I can not climb”; saying this has no benefit for climbing a tree. Moreover, as if you are holding a megaphone in your hand, you are exclaiming to the whole universe and to all your cells, “I won’t do it.” Instead of this, you can take the first step, by saying phrases like “I am ready to climb the tree”, “I have the intention to climb the tree” Thereby, you move your focus towards doing.

    Smallest steps:
    “What is the smallest step I could take for climbing a tree?” Ask yourself this question. Many answers would be crossing your mind, e.g. putting on sneakers, choosing a smaller tree.

    No matter how many times you have tried, you should always keep your focus on “doing” even if you are not getting the results that you are after. If you fail, you just learned another way of how not to climb a tree! After your attempts, you may ask yourself the following: In every attempt, have I tried to climb the tree via the same spot and same way? What have I learned from my experience? For next time, what can I be doing differently?

    If there are people, who have already climbed that tree or a similar tree, you could get support from them. You could learn about how they climbed, what type of obstacles they have encountered and how they managed to overcome them.

    You could read this article one more time by replacing the example of “Climbing a tree” with any type of subject you would like to succeed in.

    One day, we went camping in a deserted place. We were struggling with everything from pitching the tent to lighting the camp fire. Some people in the group were saying “we can’t do this”. At that point, one of my friends interjected “People are going to Mars; what are you talking about? We can do this.” Whenever a person comes to me and says "I can’t do this"; my friend’s remark “People are going to Mars” comes to my mind.

    As last word: Reconsider whether you really want to climb the tree or not.

  • If he stands apart, first get closer to yourself

    ‘My husband keeps himself apart!’ I sometimes hear this statement from my counselees and I find it quite strange. Something is apart from you to the very extent that you are apart from it. Could Ankara be 20 km apart from İstanbul while İstanbul is 500 km apart from Ankara? If your husband remains distant from you, then you remain distant from him too.

    They say: ‘No way! I do everything for him… Can’t you see how close I am to him?’
    Here, I am not talking about a formal or physical closeness; I am talking about closeness on an inner level. Are you really there with your heart while you seem to be there with him physically? Could it be your anger or fear that you feel for him keeping you distant?

    I had a counselee who complained that her father kept himself apart. They lived in different cities. Her father didn’t come when she opened her new workplace or when her child was born. She could count many such instances to explain how her father stood apart.

    I told her the same thing: ‘If your father is apart, then it is actually you who stands apart from him.’ During the sessions we did, she remembered a past incident: When she was a little child, she eavesdropped on a conversation her parents were having. Her mother told her father that an acquaintance was sexually abusing his own daughter. The little girl was afraid upon hearing this conversation. So, without even being aware, she built up a wall between her and her father in order to protect herself.

    I go a step further here: If you are distant from others you are actually distant from yourself.

    Below is a link where you can see the meditation I did together with my counselee. When we communicated her inner child during the meditation, she saw herself at the age of 5. She was sitting in a place 30 meters away, crouching on the ground and facing back. She was crying.

    It took us a while to approach the little child. We then played and spent time with her. Within the week, her parents called her by themselves and visited her. We weren’t surprised at that. Because the world was getting closer to my counselee as she got closer to herself.

    Whatever it is that you expect from outside, give it to yourself in the first place. Ask this question to yourself more often: ‘What do I need?’. If you look for closeness, get closer to yourself in the first place. If you want love, express your love you have for yourself more often.  Remember: ‘The World is the way it is because of the way you are.’

  • If you didn’t exist, the universe would be incomplete

    We have forgotten to enjoy life. Since childhood, we are trying to accomplish the goals that have been set for us. Instead of bringing our talents and intelligence to light, we are constantly in a mode of competition as if we have to be perfect. The more we compete, the more we compare. The more we compare, the more deficient we feel and become unhappy.

    Osho says: “A grass leaf is needed as much as the biggest star. Without the grass leaf, God will be less than he is. This sound of the cuckoo is needed as much as any Buddha; the world will be less, will be less rich if this cuckoo disappears. Just look around. All is needed, and everything fits together.”

    We are self-sufficient and beautiful in every way. However, there are so many “shoulds” that we are taught. As in the case of, “you should be successful”, “you should be beautiful”. Unless we become aware of these “shoulds” and get rid of them, we live the lives that others demand from us. We are expected to behave according to the beauty and success standards that were determined by others. Consequently, we remain hungry because our needs are never satisfied.

    So few of us wake up and ask “what do I want?” Those who can not quiet down the voice of others, live the lives expected of them instead of pursuing their own dreams. This is such a dilemma that regardless whether these people chose to live their own dreams or someone else’s dreams, they feel guilty either way. The proper thing to do is to lower the voice of the others and start listening to our own needs.

    Since we don’t know how to communicate with ourselves, we don’t know how to communicate with others either. Every time we feel angry or guilty and don’t express our feelings, it builds up inside. We remain unsatisfied as we don’t know how to convey our needs. When we remain unsatified, we try to get that satisfaction from other things like eating chocolate, shopping etc.

    The comparison is not only with others but also with ourselves. We don’t like the way we were yesterday. We don’t like the decisions we make. However, it is important to remember that we also did the best with what we knew back then. We chose the best among all the available options we had. We tend to forget about this fact. We feel guilty instead of being happy with our new broader perspective.

    Of people who have a guilty conscience, some want to get out of this while others want to continue to suffer. They get pleasure from the suffering. In every occasion they tend to focus on the part that they can blame themselves about. Afterwards, just like a jewelry designer, they diligently work on “that blamed part” and they make it more embellished.

    • Choose any situation,
    • Find something wrong with the situation,
    • Blend in the thoughts of “I am inadequate”, “I can`t”
    • And nicely start self-accusing yourself… (Cancel)

    If we can catch ourselves during one of these 4 steps, we can get out of this cycle.

    Remind yourself how much you are loved. Shower every part of yourself with praise when you are in front of the mirror. Write love letters to yourself from the mouth of your ideal lover. Have plenty of gratitude for what you have.

    If we didn’t exist, the universe would be incomplete… We are always loved. We are always perfect in every way.

  • If you hurry, slow down and stay within yourself

    City life is very noisy. We become unable to hear our inner voice because of this noise. We aren’t even aware of what we really want or need. We are distant from ourselves. When we are distant from ourselves, it is almost impossible to get closer to someone else.

    We are constantly yearning since we aren’t aware of our needs. We become aggressive and angry because of this yearning. We begin a relationship to receive, not to give. To receive love, compassion or appreciation… We expect from someone else to give us what we can’t give for ourselves. We think ‘something is missing’ and try to complete it by expecting it from outside. We run faster, worrying that ‘we are late’ and we move away from our real selves as we run faster.

    If we slow down despite the hectic pace of the city and be centered in our own stillness, we will be able to hear our inner voice better. Our relationships will have balance as we have balance in our own lives. Then we will stop our efforts to balance ourselves through relationships.

    This excerpt is taken from an interview I gave for the Valentine’s Day February Issue of the İstanbul Life magazine.

  • Living by multiplying

    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...

  • My job is to question the unquestioned

    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...

  • Once upon a time there was a woman but not a man…

    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…

  • One question can change your life!

    When I observe the people in my life, I see that some of them are sad, worried and confused.

    They are confused because they don’t know what they want expect from their lives. More interestingly, they don’t even think about questioning it. I thought if someone could really avoid asking what she wanted from her life. And I realized that it could actually happen. Let me tell you how:

    • Some of these people are not brave enough to go after their own dreams and desires. Because when they pursue their own path they also have to take the responsibility of their lives. On the other hand, if they take their steps in life according to other people’s expectations, then they will have the chance to blame others for what happen in their own lives. They are afraid of taking responsibility and failing in realization of their dreams.
    • Most of them have a “picture” that they represent to in the outside world. This is usually a picture of a very strong and successful person. If they fail on their self chosen path, they feel afraid of being humiliated and loosing that picture on which they spent years to create. However the reality truth is that their life is getting lost… Instead of taking a wrong step, they choose not to take any steps at all.
    • The desires of the inner child and the desires of the inner parents contradict each other. If they haven’t already started managing their own lives, the voice of the parents in their ears becomes more dominant. Some of them are worried about saddening their parents while others are worried about not getting approval or not even being loved. Turning the voice of the parents off while turning the voice of the inner self on is a process that needs to be learned.
    • Most of them think “I should either do the work that I love or the work that will earn me lots of money” I don’t know what happened to the jobs that had both so that they decided not to search for these jobs they both love and also make lots of money from. Yet, there is one thing that all the wealthy people seem to agree about: If you love what you do, money will follow you anyway. Many years ago, they asked Benetton’s advertisement expert when he created those world wide popular advertisements: “When do you go on vacation?” And his answer was:“I am on vacation everyday” What if we could go after a job in which we could get as much pleasure as we are on vacation?
    • And finally some people are afraid that their dreams will become true. They think as if they will not be able to replace their realized dreams with a new dream.

    So after all these, you have decided to ask yourself the question of “What do I want?” and take the steps that you are willing to take. How will you search the answer to this question? Will you sit down and close your eyes as if in a meditation and repeat “What do I want, what do I want?”

    In my opinion, there is nothing to exaggerate in such a way. Because, the things that you do with love and passion should have already become evident during these many years. I don’t even remember taking breaks at school until the end of the 3rd year at middle school. Because, in every break, I used to play my flute that I carried with me. At home, I would accompany the cassettes of the famous singers with my flute. This would go on for many hours. Could you have a child do this by force? See, passion is something like that. Take a look at your life; what were those things that you used to do with this much passion?

    If you are similar to some of the people that I listed above, let’s take a step towards the new. Let’s move our heads away from our daily hustle and bustle and search the answers to these three questions: How do you dream yourself when you are 90 years old? Are you currently walking on this path? What is the smallest change that you could do in your life right now, so that you can reach your dream of yourself at the age of 90?

    Sometimes a question can change a life. You will be able to find what you want much easier by looking ahead way further; not by looking at just tomorrow from today.

  • So you read a book. So what?

    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?

  • The truth is simple

    Take a look at what Osho says: “Try to be simple in everything. If you are simple, you can not tell a lie because a lie can never be simple. The very nature of a lie has to be complex. Only truth can be simple.”

    When they meet me, some of my clients say “Hakan, I have a lot to share with you”. They get really surprised when I tell them, “Please summarize it to me in only three sentences” They might even get a little mad at me that I am taking away the pleasure of them amplifying their sad stories. However, they are not aware of this: The most important reason why they are not able to see the solution is that they are drowned in the details of their long story.

    Sometimes I ask my clients only yes or no questions. They give me longwinded answers. I listen to them attentively. Instead of answering with a simple yes or no, they tell a lengthy story. At the end, once they are done with their answers, there is not a yes or no.

    Sometimes I leave them alone so that they could express themselves freely. They answer by skipping from one subject to the other. They are usually unable to remember the question when I unexpectedly stop them and ask “What was the Question?” The ones who answer usually remember the question that has been directed couple questions earlier vs. the one that has just been asked.

    Just like it is not easy to find an item in a messy room with so many things scattered inside; it is not easy to find the solution inside a mind which is full of so many different stories. For this reason, I encourage my clients to simplify. Once they simplify, the realness (reality) starts showing itself and it becomes clearer.

    Whenever I start hearing long answers, Osho’s words above come to my mind. “The truth is simple. When I encourage my clients to think simple, the mud around the reality gets cleaned up and the solution becomes evident like daylight.

    I observe that people who are confused ask themselves similar questions that don’t have answers. In my opinion, these disempowering questions have two types. The first one is “Oh Lord, why is it me?” type “why” questions. Second one is “I wonder if I did wrong?” type “I wonder if” questions. Once we replace these questions with empowering ones such as “What is going on here?” or “So, what can I do next?” they start heading towards simplicity and solution.

    In conclusion, if you want to get to know yourself, start simplifying. Eliminate all the unnecessary things in your life, including the needless questions in your mind and the needless stuff in your house.

  • The women that hide their womanhood

    Some have grown up in small cities where holding the hand of a man would be a big time conversation topic for days. Some, at the beginning of their womanhood, had to go through the rage of their fathers when they came into first contact with a man.  Unconsciously she learned this: “If I approach a man, I will get into trouble”.

    Going forward, she didn’t and couldn’t approach a man. She hid her own femininity so that a man wouldn’t approach her. If it would be possible, she would even pray that her breasts wouldn’t grow. So that she wouldn’t be getting into trouble…

    The mothers and grandmothers of some have cautioned plenty of times: “Oh honey, beware of men”. As such, she considered men as something dangerous that shouldn’t be trusted. She visualized half of the human beings on planet as boogeyman. In order to alienate herself from men, she has given up her femininity as well.

    Some have observed many women around them that have been cheated on by their husbands, listened to the stories of adultery. She has said, “I don’t want to be a woman of this type” and has disowned her womanhood in its entirety.

    In conclusion, as a result of giving up their womanhood due to one reason or another, all women have come across 3 different paths: Getting into motherhood right away by skipping their womanhood, becoming masculine or staying as a child.

    When she forgot her womanhood role and became a mother, her husband was compelled to become a child as well. When she got into excessive masculinity, she started fussing about the passiveness and the weakness of the men that she came across. When she chose to stay as a child, she came across either dependent lovers that could not assume responsibilities or ones that acted like a father-figure. Therefore I assert that a woman will come across a man when she becomes a woman.

    To what extent could you relate yourself to the examples above? Do you have a woman role-model? Have you ever observed how that role model talks, walks and approaches to men?

    The only word that can be said to those who ask “How am I going to do this then?” would be: Start observing! Yourself, your body, the women around you, your wishes, desires.. The change occurs as a result of this. By becoming aware…

  • What do you feel? What do you need?

    Some people ask me what I talk about in relationship seminars. Even though what I talk about usually depends on the questions I ask and the answers given by the participants , we sometimes have dialogues such as:

    John made me feel very bad.
    You think that John made you feel bad. But there is no ‘bad feeling’. So what is it that you really feel?

    He made me angry.
    John can’t make you angry. Can you say what you feel using the pronoun ‘I’, without putting the blame on another person?

    I got angry with John.
    You can’t be angry about everything John did. Which of his behaviors did you get angry about?

    I got angry because he wasn’t listening me.
    How do you know that John wasn’t listening you? You interpret the situation that way. Can you leave aside your subjective perspective and express it more objectively?

    I got angry because John didn’t look me in the eye while I was talking.
    It might be that he actually looked you in the eye but you didn’t see. How would you express it using ‘I’?

    I got angry because I didn’t see that John looked me in the eye while I was talking.

    In this case, what was your unmet need that made you angry?
    I was angry because my need to be listened and respected was not met.

    You can see how we moved away from the first point you expressed it ‘John made me feel bad.’ If you are ready to face yourself, you may continue with questions such as: ‘Do I listen myself? Do I respect myself?

    Like attracts like. If you see that John doesn’t listen or respect you, you don’t listen or respect him either but you are not aware of it.

    If you express your feelings clearly, you will begin to get closer with yourself. If you avoid interpreting the situations, you will see them more clearly. If you focus on your unmet needs instead of blaming when you have negative feelings, it will be easier to work out the problem. If you choose to satisfy your needs by using your own inner resources instead of expecting it from others persistently, you will have a balanced life.

  • What does your body want from you?

    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...

  • What have you done Nuri Alço*?

    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.

  • Whose lover are you looking for?

    One of my counselees has lately told me that she wanted a tall boyfriend. She even told me that she immediately eliminated any men who were shorter than her. Here is the conversation we had:

    What if he is not tall?
    He wouldn’t be a good match for me.

    What if he wouldn’t be a good match for you?
    People will say ‘This is not a nice couple’.

    What if people say ‘This is not a nice couple’?
    People will criticize me.

    What do you need if you are afraid of being criticized?
    Acceptance and approval.

    Let’s see what we came to understand through this questioning:

    1) The criterion doesn’t belong to my counselee!
    My counselee says that she wanted a tall lover but that’s not her criterion, it’s other people’s criterion. We saw that she acted according to what other people wanted for appreciation. ‘We are okay with his height, let’s see what others would want for his weight?’ Based on such criteria, would she choose a lover for herself or for others?

    2) The criterion is not ‘a criterion for a happy relationship’
    The criterion of ‘tall men’ wouldn’t bring happiness. It is no different than recruiting a man with a red pulley and expecting him to speak fluent English.

    3) Even though you satisfy the desire, there might still be an unmet need behind it
    I want a tall boyfriend (because) I need approval. We found a tall man so we had the approval. What if people criticize that he is ‘very thin’ this time?

    As a result, are you aware of your needs behind your desires? Whose lover are you looking for? Will the man you find bring you the relationship you really want?

    You can get help from the practice package Have Your Dream Relationship to become clear about what kind of a relationship you really want and eliminate the obstructions that keeps you from achieving it.

  • Why are streets full of people that are all alike?

    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...

  • Why do some relationships fail?

    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.

  • Why does he do it?

    One of my counselees told me about her boyfriend and asked me: ‘Why does he text to her ex-girlfriend when he is with me?’

    I don’t find it helpful to ask ‘why’ questions about others. It helps nothing but confusing the mind. Because you don’t have the answer. You will never be sure about it no matter what your answer is. Your mind will keep asking the same question and your mind will get confused each time you ask. (Cancel)

    During the session, we developed a formula for those who ask these ‘why’ questions frequently. Here is the formula:

    1. Catch your ‘why’ question
    Why does he text to his ex-girlfriend when he is with me?

    2. Ask yourself this question: ‘What do I see here?’
    I see a boyfriend who doesn’t value me.

    3. Ask yourself this question: ‘In what ways do I do the same thing?’
    In what ways do I not value him?

    Your first answer to the last question will probably be ‘Of course I value him greatly.’ Don’t be fooled by this answer and ask yourself the same question at least two or three times more. Even though my counselee claimed at first that she really valued her boyfriend, she later realized that she was actually comparing him with her ex-boyfriends, thinking that they were more handsome than him. Even such a comparison decreases the value she gives to him.

    If you are honest with yourself, you will see that you somehow do the same thing that you are trying to understand about him. If you still can’t see in which ways you don’t value him, then ask yourself this question: In what ways do I not value myself? We realized that my counselee was really upset about the situation but she never expressed her sadness. Not being able to express yourself clearly is typical for a person who doesn’t value herself…

    As a result, instead of trying to understand the other person through asking questions starting with ‘why’, begin by observing yourself.

    Find out how you behave him or yourself in a similar way. Remember, the world will change as you change. Like attracts like. Unless you change, you will face the same problems even though someone else comes into your life. And he will keep texting his ex-girlfriend just as your boyfriend does now.