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My approach to psychodynamic (deep) coaching

Experiencing difficult emotions, such as fear, anger, sadness, guilt, shame, envy and jealousy is a normal part of life.

— vikacoaching

However, few people know how to process these emotions and support themselves during challenging times. As a result, people make wrong decision in life that entail long-term negative consequences.

As a psychodynamic life coach, I help my clients to alter their negative emotional state at the unconscious level. Our unconscious minds “speaks the language” of images and bodily sensations, which are metaphors of our inner world.

During our sessions we explore these images, sensations, and emotions in a safe space using Emotional-Image Techniques (EIT) and Metaphoric Associative Cards (MAC).

Together, we work to determine the underlying causes of internal conflict or suffering. During this transformative process, my clients learn to see hidden obstacles and to work through difficult emotions.

Through creative use of imagination, during our session we take action to let go of burdens, to lower tension, to relieve distress, to resolve internal conflict and to transform the emotional state.

As a result, my clients acquire a sense of inner peace, self-confidence, lightness, wholeness and clarity. They start to experience more joy in life and to make healthy decisions.

Shame and “The Tale of Abu Hasan and the Fart”

It seems that shame is often misinterpreted as conscience, which is a sense of moral responsibility people have in front of other people or society.

In Greece there was Aidos, goddess of Shame, Modesty, Respect, Reverence, and Humility. She was meant to restrain people from doing wrong.

There are sociopaths, people who lack the ability to feel or sympathize with others. They never feel guilt, shame or remorse. So, in some sense shame, guilt and remorse helps us to stay on the ethical track. But, how much of it is adequate? I came across a story called “The Tale of Abu Hasan and the Fart” where Abu Hasan felt humiliated and destroyed his good life. Do you think Abu Hasan could act differently?

What is shame for you? Is it conscience? Honor? Does it help you adapt in society or does it limit your self-expression? If it limits your self-expression, I invite you to my mini-free online course on toxic shame and self-actualization. Message me for more information.

Here is the story…

“Abu Hasan was wealthy, clever and generous, and the most eligible bachelor in Baghdad. When his friends would reproach him for remaining single, he would reply: “I am free, why must I become a slave?” But eventually he agreed to wed and everyone rejoiced. A fabulous ceremony was prepared, the greatest Baghdad had seen in years. Tables were laden with chickens stuffed with pistachios, whole roast goats with fresh dates, pastries with walnuts and cream, and sherbets and sweets of all varieties. Abu Hasan and his friends reclined on silk cushions smoking pipes of honey tobacco. The bride came forth wearing the first of seven dresses, a turquoise gown dripping with gems and silver, and each following dress was more lovely than the last. She retired to the chamber to await her husband, who entertained his guests with a great store of wit and fable. At last, when his duties as host had been fulfilled, Abu Hasan bid his guests good night. But he had eaten and drunk so heavily that as he rose from his cushions he released a thunderous fart that echoed from wall to wall and silenced every voice in the room.

The guests at once began talking, pretending they hadn’t noticed, but Abu Hasan was covered with unbearable shame. He slipped out of the house, saddled his horse and rode to Basra, where he boarded a ship bound for India. There he soon secured himself a position in the services of a Rajah, and came to be loved and respected by all in the court. But he was never seen to smile, and every evening he would climb to the highest tower to gaze in the direction of his homeland. After ten years had passed, he packed up his belongings and set sail back to his native country. Once on land, he rode to Baghdad and paused at the outskirts of the city, hoping to find out whether anyone remembered him any more. Eventually he passed a hut where a mother was putting her daughter to sleep. He heard the girl ask: “Mother, what year was I born?” “Oh, that’s easy to remember, dear,” her mother replied, “You were born in the year that Abu Hasan farted.” Hearing these words, the shame returned and all hope died in Abu Hasan’s heart. He fled the country, never to be seen again.” #shame

Shame, Guilt, Contempt

As I am preparing my free online mini-course on Toxic Shame I am learning more and more about shame and how disproportionately and inadequately we devalue ourselves and how serious are the consequences of it. Shame is a very painful emotion, it brings loss of self-esteem and requires reclaiming and healing our identity. It harbors an enormous amount of anger and hate towards self. One way to understand if shame is part of your life is to get to know sisters or brothers of shame. Let’s look at the following: shyness, embarrassment, guilt and contempt.

Shyness and embarrassment are somewhat lighter versions of shame. When we feel shy or timid we feel awkwardness, we tend to feel that everyone is focused on us and we desire not to be visible, hide, not to be called on, we want to disappear. When we are embarrassed we are seen in a light that makes us uncomfortable. For example, our skirt or pants fell down on a street in front of a crowd.

And then there is guilt. If shame focuses on who we are in our core, then guilt focuses on what we have done, on our actions, on our deeds.

Both shame and guilt might be useful in order for us to fit into societal norms and lead ethical lives. However, when these feelings are in excess they are toxic, destructive and harmful.

Dr. Paul Ekman states that shame, guilt and contempt are all about meeting expectations. They all are social or moral emotions.

Shame says: I did not meet my own standards and expectations.

Guilt says: I did not meet your standards and expectations.

Contempt says: You did not meet my standards and expectations.

Often shame tends to use contempt, narcissism and blaming as a defense mechanism against the feeling.

Whose expectations are you trying to meet?

Lost or stolen heart

Just watched Moana for the first time and got inspired to write some thoughts.

It is shown that the heart of Te Fiti (goddess/mother island) was stolen by Maui (man/son) who got tired of not being enough for mortals.  

We have this misconception about love that we need to give our hearts away to be accepted and loved.  Maui was rejected by his parents and he thought by pleasing mortals (his parents) he will get their love and acceptance.   He went so far as to steal the heart of mother island (goddess) just to please mortals, and as a result he lost his magic powers, Te Fiti’s heart and got banished to the island.

How often do our hearts get stolen and how often do we give our hearts away on our own?

Sometimes we give it away because it is painful to feel and we choose to give up our heart.

Sometimes we give it away because we are afraid we will not be loved in return and will be rejected. 

And what happens when the heart is stolen or given away?

Te Fiti turns into Te Kā.  Someone who is meant to spread life and beauty turns into someone who is a heartless and destructive monster.

What to do when someone is asking you to give them your heart? You run away from those people.  All we need is to let our heart shine with our light and warmth.  This is enough for people near us to receive and feel our love.

What to do when the heart is lost or stolen?

It can be very challenging to get it back. And the biggest challenge at this point is us.  Just like Te Kā, we stop believing in our own tenderness and light. We sabotage all the attempts of getting our heart back.  This is a time to find external help, like Moana in this story, through various challenges she was able to see gentleness through Te Kā’s destruction.  And after being truly seen Te Kā surrendered and accepted her heart.

I was surprised to relate so much to Moana in a sense that what I do during my session is helping people get their lost parts. And very often, it is finding a heart and then finding a way to return their hearts to them.

The main tool I use in my work is EIT (Emotion-Image Therapy) where emotions and feelings are expressed through images, then those images are carefully analyzed, and an appropriate tool is used to transform the emotional state.  EIT works in a very much the same way how Moana helped Te Kā get her heart back and transformed to who she really meant to be Te Fiti.

You can read more about EIT in here: https://vikacoaching.com/emotional-image-therapy/

Shame and guilt

Dr. Paul Ekman states that shame and guilt are all about meeting expectations. These are social or moral emotions.

Shame: I did not meet my own standards and expectations.
Guilt: I did not meet your standards and expectations.

Shame focuses on who one is, while guilt focuses on what one has done.

People who experience shame feel that they are bad in their core, defective or undeserving.  People who feel guilty tend to punish themselves over and over.  This leads to depression, inability to achieve success or all kinds of fears.

Shame and guilt might be useful in order for us to fit in to our societal norms, however, when these feelings are excrescent they are destructive and harmful.
Often shame tends to use narcissism, blaming and contempt as a defense mechanism against the feeling, while guilt tends to use repression against the feeling.

I am developing a masterclass on shame and guilt.  It will be geared towards adult women with ADHD/ADD who experience excess shame and guilt.  These feelings make life very difficult and narrows the window of possibilities.  If you or you know anyone who has ADHD/ADD and experiences  feelings of shame and guilt I would love to have a session with them.  I will charge only half of my regular price for this session.

Why do physical, emotional and spiritual routines alone do not get us where we want?  

Why are emotional or spiritual routines important?  Because they increase our vitality, life energy and give us clarity.  When we are full of healthy energy we are able to work on our life projects.

Think of solar lights. They will not be able to produce light without getting energy from the sun.  They would not be able to fulfill their life’s mission (light up our path) without first absorbing the sun’s energy.
Without exercise, sleep and healthy eating our body cannot function optimally.

Without emotional and spiritual routines our vitality is low and we cannot fulfill your life’s mission.
When we are full of energy, we are calm, have clarity of mind and able to take needed action that will bring our life projects to life.

But why do physical, emotional and spiritual routines alone sometimes do not get us where we want?  

Because somewhere inside of us there is a hole where the energy is slipping away.  The energy slips away because there are unaddressed chronic negative emotions, until this emotion is transformed, until inner conflict is not resolved there will be drainage of energy even when you have healthy routines.

How is it possible to live in the present, in the here and now?

Often suffering is associated with the past or the future. The past is often associated with regrets about mistakes we made or with great things we used to have.  And the future is associated with anxieties and hopes.  Anxiety about the future and that it will bring only negative things.  And hopes, fantasies, magical thinking that something will just happen miraculously, on its own, without any efforts from us. Most people live between these regrets and anxieties.  They do not know how to be in here and now.

And what does it mean to be in here and now?
It is when a person is collected, active and in charge of their actions.  It is when you think about the future, but you are acting in the here and now. You are proactive, you are making steps to improve your life, to solve your problems.  

It is like when you are driving a car, you know the direction you are going, and you are making right turns to get where you want to be.  If you are not in the here and now, you will miss your turn or you will crash.

Many of us cannot be in the present because we got stuck in the past, we are drained because our energy is constantly wasted on supporting the past.  
It is important to go to that past and to unhook your internal resources, to bring them to the present.

There are various ways to stop living in the past. To be in the present, in the here and now, you need to be relaxed and calm. You need to stop giving your energy to the past. Only in the present can a person be happy, take steps to self-actualize and to build the future. 

I will be happy to help you get unstuck and be in the present. Sometimes it only  takes one or two sessions to free yourself from the dragging past.

How do you find that missing puzzle you are looking for?

How do you find an insight about a problem? How do you find it on your own?
Without the help of a guide, a consultant or a coach? How do you find that missing puzzle you are looking for? 

Through Journaling? Meditating? Conscious dancing? Listening to music? Being in nature? Traveling? Through literature or poetry?

I would like to share one method with you that will help you autonomously find the missing puzzle.  Many of you know about journaling and putting all the thoughts and feelings onto the paper. This method has an extra step to it.

Here it goes.. 
1. Take a piece of paper. 
2. On top of the paper write the name of the problem you have and want to find a solution to.  It has to be just one problem or an issue. In one short sentence. Highlight it.
3. Below start writing everything you have in your mind about the problem.  It can take 2 to 3 pieces of paper.
4. When you feel that you have had enough of writing, you take a red marker and read over what you had written. Circle all the places, words and sentences that bring out any emotions or body sensations in you. 
5. After you are done circling, go over the places that you circled in red and you will get the insight, the missing puzzle piece. You will see things that you did not notice before, you will get an aha moment and suddenly see the solution to your problem. 

I hope you like this method and let me know what you think about it.

Who do I work with?

Many people go to deep coaches or guides because the guide is helping them to see the inner conflict, the value of themselves and their inner world. And the guide is helping to establish the contact with part of self that is unseen or unowned. When the contact is established the client can easily find a solution to the problem they have. 

I work with mentally healthy clients who are functional in the world, but they want more, they want to improve some parts of their life.

My main expertise is in working with chronic negative emotions such as shame, guilt, jealousy, envy, anger, sadness, etc.

I also work with people who experience:loneliness – procrastination – issues with personal boundaries – emotional dependency – difficulty in making decisions – femininity and masculinity – emotional intellect – existential questions – anxiety 

I do not work with conditions such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, borderline disorder, suicidal ideation, bulimia, schizophrenia, acute grieving, etc. 

I also do not give a diagnosis or perform any psychological testing.

Write to me if you want to make a step in improving your current emotional state or your relationship or if you want to increase your productivity or to explore your inner world or discover an inner conflict that keeps you stuck.

Introducing Myself

My name is Victoriya (Vika) Makrishcheva. I was born in the Soviet Union and witnessed its collapse in 1991. The collapse produced massive socio-economic disparities, impoverishing millions of families, including mine. To survive, I dropped out of high-school and sold home-made slippers in a street market. This difficult experience sparked my interest in economics. Hence, after immigrating to the United States, I studied economics. During my graduate coursework, I became interested in Behavioral Economics, which examines how people make decisions. I found that emotions were a major contributor to the decision-making process, which got me interested in psychology and related disciplines. Then, I took various courses in psychology and  received special training in group studies, modern psychoanalysis, psychodrama, and various types of coaching. These approaches became my toolkit of techniques for coaching. My two favorite approaches are (1) emotion-image techniques (EIT) developed by Nikolay Linde of Moscow State University, and (2) metaphoric-associative cards (MAC). 

If you have any questions email to vika.vcoaching@gmail.com