Psychologist and founder of Prana for self and Corporate Development Dr Samiha El Refaie helps us answer some of life’s most puzzling mysteries. After her graduation from The American University in Cairo, she worked for the United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugees, Judging on asylum seekers cases where she had profoundly learnt how pain and suffering can enormously enhance humans’ coping skills and resilience. Which inspired her to establish Prana, which means ‘Universal Life Energy’, an empowerment and human development hub. We met with her to talk love, divorce, society and family.
How has the turnout been in Egypt? Are people participating in the sessions or is it still a vague concept in Egypt?
Egyptians are very receptive to coaching and development. They enjoy exploring themselves and working on becoming the best versions of themselves. I remember delivering trainings in the Middle East to classes of different Arab nationalities and I can tell you with absolute certainty that Egyptians used to shine in those sessions.
What’s the most common question people have asked you?
It’s funny when people learn I am a psychologist, they ask me if I would assess their mental and psychological health because of living in the daily stresses in Egypt! I usually laugh and say that Egyptians have such strong coping mechanism, having survived ages of oppression and expressing their feelings in humor and jokes.
As a life coach, how would you answer the following:
I get excited when starting something new, but then I seem to lose interest quickly. This also applies to relationships. Why does this happen to me?
Well, it is because of two main things. Firstly, clearly what you get yourself into is not what you’re passionate about. We are all born with innate skills and talents that make us unique and that’s why our passions differ. You need to get yourself on a serious mission of discovering yourself and what gets you into what’s called a ‘state of flow’. That is the kind of thing that when you get involved in, you get totally consumed enjoying it that time passes without you feeling it.
I’m divorced and single, and now wedding and engagement announcements seem to bother me. How do I get over that and turn it into something positive?
No one teaches us about divorce, we only learn about happy endings! We see that in movies and hear it from people so anything else other than a happy ending is simply shunned! You need to know that this tough time will certainly pass and it could be the best thing that’s ever happened to you; if you let it be. First you need to give yourself plenty of time to “grieve”. Grieving is a process that directly follows any trauma. We get pushed to move on and to not even talk enough about it, causing most people to not truly heal! We get so busy justifying ourselves to the world, needing to prove there is nothing wrong with us, that we don’t focus on what truly matters; our wellbeing and healing.
Talk to friends, cry, write a nightly journal where you express how you feel, do yoga and physical exercise to release the pain trapped inside. The only way to the other side of grief is walking through it, not around it. In the meantime stay away from marriage related triggers that induce your discomfort. Divorce will turn into a positive experience once you re-channel your frustration into exercising, working harder, going out, socializing and increasing your network of people, taking care of your body and how you look, and using the sense of emptiness to fill it up with activities that will shape your new you.