Friday, 10 April 2009

Getting Back On Track

Negative stress – in short, the opposite of positive stress, which helps us to achieve – can debilitate, even kill its victims. For example, one UK study found that severe anxiety caused by workplace harassment for over two years led to more symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder than a comparison group of UN personnel recently returned from a war zone.(1) And recent research has found new evidence linking anxiety with the onset of dementia.(2)

No longer a soft subject for the hopelessly idealistic, the search for contentment and self-fulfilment is ever more clearly allied with the difference between life and death.

Having experienced negative stress myself, as well as knowing several people who have suffered from it to the extent of needing medication, I was drawn to a small article in my local paper entitled “That eureka moment is incredible."

It was about a young West London professional Tamer El Sheikh (pictured above), who is a newly trained “life coach”. He took up the training when he found himself at a crossroads in his marketing career. Clearly enamoured with his new profession, I felt inspired to call him for a chat.

The Missing Piece - even for guys
His practice – the Chiswick-based Missing Piece LLC – has been up and running for over five months. Tamer says the financial rewards as with any new business start-up are expectedly small but that his passion for the work is unabated. He also believes that the enterprise will continue to blossom due to the high demand for life coaching, which he says continues to be a fast-growing industry worldwide. (3)

“Life coaching is socially acceptable and seeking a life coach does not carry the same social stigma once associated with therapy, especially amongst men who don’t usually like to admit they have a problem. Consulting a life coach is almost quite fashionable.” says Tamer.

Clients come to Tamer with a wide range of problems including negative stress, career, relationships, sexuality - and even for parenting tips. But finances are also an area he tackles. “With the credit crunch, both individuals and small businesses have asked me for help with regards to resource management and allocation,” he says.

Simple But Powerful
So what is it that he has found so rewarding about life coaching? “I was initially bowled over by how simple the process is and yet how effective it is. Life coaches don’t offer you solutions – they shouldn’t. Life coaching is about empowerment and guidance – we are not therapists and do not encourage psychological dependency,” says Tamer.

“We are there to get the client – many of whom are successful and capable people - back on track. We can lose track of our goals and visions, a life coach is there to help remind you of what you once wanted to achieve, and also provide you with the guidance on how to go about achieving it. Or if you find that your life is hectic and chaotic, again, a life coach can give you the guidance to get things in order.”

The Psychological Bit
However, psychology does play a key role and is often the first port of call for a life coach. “Many of my clients actually find that they have minor mental blocks that are stopping them from finding contentment, and a life coach can easily help unblock them. But, some clients do have bigger psychological issues that require referral to a qualified therapist before the life coaching process can begin,” says Tamer.

According to Tamer, very simple guidance can turn a life around; and the reward of seeing people unblock their minds and life is a rich one indeed.

Tamer’s life coaching sessions of 45 minutes duration, start at £125.00. Typically, 3-6 sessions are required, but one session may be sufficient, depending on the scale of the issue to be resolved. He offers a free initial consultation.
You can contact Tamer by email:

1. “Bullying in the workplace – changes are coming”
2. “ ‘Dementia risk’ for shy and anxious” – Channel 4 News online, April 6, 2009
3. For a comprehensive overview of life coaching - and some of its high profile adherents - see Oliver Bennett’s: “Up where you belong”, The Independent on Sunday, January 5, 2003


  1. Hi Girija

    I am glad you brought out this topic since it is so common in the current corporate environment

    Incidentally, I have also personally come out of such situation, wherein, I had worked as a senior manager in a leading private sector bank for the last 5 five years. . The trauma which one goes through – one has to personally go through it to understand it, I guess. The ordeal lasted for 7 months in my case and finally had to resign my job. The scars still remain and left an indelible mark in my mind and dented my psyche. It still hurts when I think that, an orgnanization for whom I have given my sweat and blood had treated you this way

    Unfortunately, Mr Tamer is in UK, and I would not be able to attend his sessions

    Thanks a lot, one again for having written a blog on this


  2. Hi Rishee,

    Thanks for reading this and commenting. I am so sorry about your experience - it really is a horrible thing to go through. It has to end -there are stats out there about how much workplace harassament damages a country economically per year - this, if nothing else, should move governments to some action on this.
    I feel that every company should make it a priority to address the psychological health of their staff - just like they provide gym membership, for example. Positive thinking seminars, talks, meditation classes - should all be on the agenda, in my view.

    Kind regards

  3. PS - there must be life coaches where you live, why don't you look one up? But from what I hear you need to be prepared to 'shop around' to find the right person for you - just as with therapists.

  4. Hi Girija

    Thanks for the reply

    I am aware of only the corporate culture in India, especially –Private sector banking. In this field employees slog for hours together for a lesser salary compared to software counterparts, especially in the lower/middle level management side.Here, humanity takes a back seat, when compared to performance.

    There is also a deep rooted bias towards similar community people , especially among local bosses. One or two such “elements” are more than enough to spoil the entire atmosphere.This trend can be seen more in Chennai ,(where I have lived for 8 years ) where a “higher class” community employees enjoy a better treatment.

    The drive in this sector is so much revenue driven, that employees find it difficult to enjoy their personal lives , since they work on Saturdays as well. So the question of meditation classes ,which has to be done on a regular basis,as suggested by you in offices, seems to be a distant dream. The “gym culture”, as far as my knowledge goes, exists only in software related sectors

    In this age of mad race for achieving personal dreams, some corporate has to set a precedent by introducing meditation and positive thinking techniques/workshops for better output from the staff.

    I feel general awareness that such a problem exists and a mass movement against such practices are the key

    Regarding your suggestion for a life coach in Bangalore : there are only councellors available here who mainly specialise in relationships and other related psychological problems

    Anyways, thanks a lot ...

    Warm regards


  5. Hello! Iam a huge fan of yours from Idhayathai Thirudaathey, i just loved the performance and drew a lot of inspiration from the film!

    Kind regards from an awestruck fan,

  6. Hello i am a "very big" fan of yours!


    Check this out, please ma'am. This is probably the reason for the unexpected double in profile view count.

  8. Hi Girija,
    Your article is timely, especially in an age where the separation between work and life has dimmed so much. Most of us take it for granted these days how stress creeps up on us, settles in, and becomes an integral part of our lives. Life coaches are definitely in order.

    Anxiety gets to many people at one time or the other -- my personal experience has been both post-traumatic stress and anxiety from difficult life events all occurring in succession. I chose to do something about it out of necessity. I have found therapies such as progressive muscular relaxation, deep breathing, mindfulness & tap therapy very effective -- these are techniques that one can apply anywhere, anytime (even in the workplace) to reduce negative stress.

    On an offnote, I admire your blog's zen motto (undercut and flourish). Your work in journalism is even more impressive than your silver-screen performances from the 90's.


  9. Hie Girija,

    I am a first timer here.Got to know about your blog through Balaji ( I have always wondered of your whereabouts after your movie with Maniratnam. Anyway, wish you all the best in your future endeavors. God bless you :)


  10. Hi Girija,
    You are a journalist based in England. Has the BBC lost it? Just check out on this link:

  11. Hi Girija,

    I came to know about this blog through tone of my friends mail..then I realised u r the one from the movie "Vandanam" with Lalettan....Feels great to visit ur blog....good writing...i have subcribed to ur posts..what do u do? You r in London right? Do visit my blog ..hope you could post ur comments....Wud be great..thank u...

  12. Today's corporate world combined with management culture in India makes our jobs much more stressful than it should be. It makes all the more harder when our good old supportive Huge joint family structure is non existent. We need to increase awareness towards better managing practices. Simultaneously go back into our old family values of finding time for most of our family and friends.

  13. hi girija i love your acting in was so sweet..

  14. Hello Girija
    This is Nishant from USA and I am a Phd student. I am a regular visitor of your blogs and I would like to know what is the Indian philosophy you follow? I mean, is it Sri Arobindo's or some other saint who has inspired you? How is that you have left movie field when everyone strives to find a place in that field? What is that which interests you? Can you please share something more about your inner being personally to me?
    Thanking you

  15. Are you also married? or have you taken up the life of a renunciation?

  16. hello girija
    iam mahesh you may be sini feeld to new movie lo vachi manchi manchi movies teyalani korukuntunnamu

  17. Hi girija..

    I can never forget your movie geetanjali.
    Even my baby also likes this movie.
    Hyatts of to you for your acting.

  18. I dont know if what u r doing currently is what u were destined to do. But definitely u r a supurb actress...i did see ur movies years back when it was released and as i write this..i am seeing vandanam again...not sure how many times i would have seen it....and i am sure a lot of indians do feel so...i strongly suggest u must return to not easy to keep ur fans following u for so many years and that too when u r not acting... I am not saying ur blog is or career path is not good...all i am saying is u definitely are more recognised in india than u think...its just like what happened to the lady in the movie chitram...why dont you open a facebook account and specify the movies u acted and do a dipstick check on if u still have a fanfollowing me will be surprisred.... We wait to see u back in acting...

    This is purely a personal opinion..wishing u all the best...