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August 22, 2019

Ask Manal: Need advice? Ask the life coach

Send your queries, marked ASK MANAL,

Miscarriage blues

  1. I have recently had a miscarriage and feel very depressed about it. In fact, my husband and I are both in a state of depression but we try our best to console each other and pretend that everything will be alright. We had been looking forward to a new member in our family – our first child – and had been dreaming a lot about good times ahead. However, those have come crashing down and we feel very low. People have advised us not to worry but, I know, every miscarriage increases the prospect of another one in future and this keeps me tense. How can I possibly get rid of this tension?


It is estimated that 10-20 per cent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. It is therefore much more common than realised, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Your feelings are normal and pretending everything is alright when it isn’t may backfire. Allow yourself to grieve the loss at your own pace. Speaking with others who have been through the same experience may be reassuring.

With regards the tension you are feeling, this is due to living in the future and constantly asking ‘what if’. As such, when you start to worry and ruminate, you need to bring yourself back to the present. Redirect your focus from your internal thoughts to the world around you through different mindfulness techniques, like deep breathing and the ‘five senses’ exercise. I also recommend speaking to your doctor about your concerns for future pregnancies, so you can check if your worries are valid and know if there’s anything you can do.


  1. My husband is a chain smoker and I have learnt to live with him without complaining for 15 years. He is aware that this habit is not good for his health but he is unable to quit. In the bargain, I am forced to be a passive smoker and it has started affecting my health, too. Are they any quick solutions to stop his smoking? Can I do something to get him off it without making it obvious to him?

Maria Dias


Quitting smoking takes a high degree of willpower and commitment, so if your husband isn’t willing to quit on his own, it is unlikely you will succeed at getting him to. Instead, you should focus on how you can preserve your health despite being forced to be a passive smoker. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US has stated that the amount of many cancer-causing chemicals is higher in second-hand smoke than in the smoke inhaled by smokers. You could request your husband to smoke in designated areas of the house or away from you when you’re out in public, in order to avoid inhaling the smoke as much as possible. You can also insist on avoiding indoor public places that allow smoking. In fact, seeing you take your health seriously may inspire your husband to quit smoking in the future.


  1. I am a young graduate who is looking out for a job. I have studied engineering but have not been able to get a job for the past two years. All my friends have jobs and this makes me feel inferior. My efforts to find a job have not got any results. There have been job offers which I have refused because they do not involve engineering. What should I do? Should I take up any job that does not involve my field?


The good thing about the fact that your friends have jobs is you can ask them for advice on how they managed to secure theirs. They might have useful information to share with you that you haven’t considered. Nonetheless, it’s not a bad idea to look into jobs that don’t involve engineering, but may possibly still be related to it. This doesn’t mean you should go for ‘any job’ but you could find a job that interests you and is in line with your skills even if it isn’t in your degree major. Actually, many successful people end up in careers that aren’t what they studied in college (whether as young graduates or later on in their career); don’t reject a good job prospect just because it isn’t in your current field.


  1. I am a 26 year old female who finds it very difficult to speak with male adults when all alone. I do not mind talking to them when there are others around but, when I am alone, I feel very insecure, even if they are known people. I have read books and seen on news channels a lot about how women have been assaulted by men and this makes me feel very nervous all the time. I always feel someone will try to take advantage of me? What should I do?



It is important that you recognise how realistic your fears are, as having difficulty interacting with the opposite gender will likely get in the way of your best functioning. While it is true that women get assaulted, when you worry about it happening, your brain thinks the threat is real and imminent which makes you nervous. In order to have a more realistic perspective, write down the different scenarios that you imagine could take place around male adults – the worst-case scenarios,  best-case scenarios (this should be unrealistically positive), and the most-likely ones. For each, consider the likelihood of it happening. This will allow you to put your fears into perspective. Remind yourself of the most-likely scenarios anytime you find yourself in a situation that makes you nervous. If this significantly interferes with your daily life, consider seeing a mental health professional.


(Manal al Adawi is a certified positive psychology coach in Oman)