At the end of the day, we’re all human, and it’s that humanity that brings us all together. We all react the same way at our core. Inside Out, a series of courses to help you identify and deliver change from within, for yourself, is all about learning why we react a certain way.
The courses empower us to take-action in what we do and don’t want for our lives looking at ourselves first to make the change. So far four courses have been successfully completed, the first being open to both men and women, and then females-only were the focus as “women need us more at this stage. For them to empower themselves sometimes they need an external resource to help.”
The first time bazaar discovered the intrepid duo made up of Awatif Al Sabah and Fabiana Santana was near the end of 2017 when they put on their inaugural course entitled “Introduction to Mindfulness” a workshop thoughtfully held across 3 early evenings to accommodate as many people’s different working lives as possible. The technique of being mindful is gaining popularity in the West from TED talks to magazine articles and even Buzzfeed’s Mindfulness challenge. 2014 saw an increase in publication of nearly 3000% to 535 journal articles covering the topic.
It is not considered unusual in the West for your average person to undertake some sort of mindfulness activity daily such as mindful eating or mindful driving but this is not something that you often hear about in Kuwait unless it is mentioned by those in the know already, having been exposed to the concept from outside (or by those who have read the 2015 and 2017 bazaar articles which can still be seen on bazaar.town if you search for “mindfulness”). Mindfulness is a mind-body-soul approach to life that helps us to relate to our experiences with more accuracy and clarity helping us to be present in an experience in a non-judgemental way. It is the “non-judgement” here that is most critical.
As with most relationships that work out well, it was through a mutual friend at an event that the two women met. “I saw her card,” says Fabiana “and I thought wow, a life coach in Kuwait!” Awatif grins and adds, “We went to Mubarakiya, do you remember, and we talked about everything and I said we have a good energy, we have to do something together!” Awatif had already been delivering life coaching sessions one to one and saw this opportunity with Fabiana to do something with a broader audience and in English.
Married at 18, pregnant in the first semester of university and eventually having 4 children in total over the years, Awatif felt like she was on a constant rollercoaster in life. As many mothers do she found herself giving love and care to her husband, children and family first all-the-while putting herself last.
Finally, in her thirties, she decided to do something for herself. “I was always a reader and had read many self-help books”, going on to explain, “I always liked to help people too. So, I found a life coaching course and took it.” Totally immersive the course had the participants living and breathing what it means to be a life coach from 9am-12midnight.
After that she completed “Master Life Coach”, because a little voice told her she needed to certify further to be considered credible, which is an almost perfect example of why Awatif felt compelled to learn about being a life coach and delivering the skills to others in the first place.
That “little voice” women often hear needs to be overcome, it’s often denigrating and destructive. Knowing what are the beliefs which limit you allows you to successfully change your character and define your own values, is something Awatif would attest to.
What Fabiana says they have discovered over these courses is that so many women are experiencing an epiphany regarding their relationships and existence. Participants are discovering a transformational moment where they realise what is their value and that they should be respected.
“Of course, if I do the cooking my husband will do the dishes,” smiles Fabiana, “but this is the first time these women had heard of this type of shared partnership in their relationships with their husbands. They learned to say and believe that they should be respected, that they are worth it.”
One needs a level of self-awareness and openness to realise that these kinds of courses are useful and to sign-up for them, so it’s a puzzle to work out how they found their first participants, and isn’t it preaching-to-the-choir in a way. Fabiana responds,
“Social media opens a different world for many people and Awatif has her followers and they listen to her spiels daily.” The self-help empowerment message is already a familiar one to this group in that case. Fabiana continues, “Word of mouth helps. We started small group, a good group and they left saying ‘my friend must come and see this’. It grew from there.”
On her own social media Fabiana regularly tackles self-help topics in both English and Portuguese, her native language as she hails from Brazil. No one likes a stranger telling them what to do, do they hear, ‘how can these speakers possibly comprehend the complexities of our lives if they aren’t living it?’
Fabiana answers, “I have a different perspective, from outside, but I also understand humanity through my marketing experience. I have to understand how people think and how they react, the psychology of it. We make a good team, “Tofy” and I, because she knows exactly what happens here behind closed doors”
While Fabiana is South American, Awatif is born and bred Kuwaiti and she knows “how the people here suffer”. You get both the external and internal understanding of Kuwaiti culture, and this empowers the participants to believe in the course leaders and the messages they are delivering.
Awatif adds, “Here women don’t [feel they] have the right to complain.” “Or to dream!” mentions Fabiana. Inside Out teaches women to not only identify the things that are lacking in their lives, but gives them the skills to empower change. Hypnotherapy, meditation, mindfulness, these services and skills are all explored in the courses.
The women only, safe environment helps participants to find their voices and they are often speaking about their experiences for the first time. It is going to take a long while to seriously make a cultural impact. As with most campaigns awareness must first be raised asyou can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. “To change a culture takes a generation,” admits Fabiana. It is a welcome start that these two powerful women are making, learning first of their own strengths and skills, then teaching these skills to others with empathy, showing true concern.
There is great affection between these two, evident in the shortening of each other’s names to “Fabi” and “Tofy”, smiling at each other genuinely and bursting into laughter at times. It is a joy to watch them interacting with each other, and makes bazaar greatly look forward to the next highly anticipated course.
For frequent self-help tips follow Awatif Al Sabah on Instagram @puresoulq8 or for appointments call 6700 7000. Visit www.iamfabianasantana.com for more on Fabiana Santana’s work and follow Instagram @iamfabianasantana. Images by bazaar staff and courtesy of Awatif Al Sabah and Fabiana Santana.
For more on the previous Inside Out course, click on the link below: