Every bruise we receive is a lesson, and every lesson makes us wiser. A living testimony to this anecdote is the mindset and mental health coach, speaker, and personal development trainer, Rahaf Raef Kobeissi, who has beautifully leveraged her life’s learning into her work.
Having coached a spate of leaders in one-on-one structured programs on mindset and mental health issues, she continues to do her bit in making a difference in the mental health arena. ASPIRE catches up with the well-being warrior whose story and journey are sure to motivate and touch hearts of many people.
GROWING UP WITH WOUNDS
Originally from Beirut, Rahaf left her home at the age of 18 to break free and start a new life on her own. A series of personal tragedies in her own journey led her to the path she is now on – starting with losing her father to suicide.
The incident left deep scars and made her realize the importance of conversations on mental and emotional health. “The incident made me sit up to the fact that we do have a mental health problem in our region, especially for men, because if it had been a safe place, my father would have been able to come out and say, ‘I’m not feeling okay’. He wouldn’t be wearing that mask of ‘all is well in my world’. And if I had had the right knowledge or tools, I would have also been able to read the symptoms,” says Rahaf.
Making a conscious decision that she didn’t want any girl to go through the pain again of losing her dad or husband or even brother, became her starting point. “I don’t want any man to bear that pain alone,” she shares.
She reminisces about being surrounded by toxicity growing up. “I had a very troubled childhood due to my bruised and stoic relationship with my mother. My brother was a drug addict. The negativity of it all engulfed me each day. One day, I decided that I had to break free and come out on my own,” she reveals.
Rahaf decided to dedicate her energies towards her education, work, and a brighter future, which had its path in illuminating other people’s lives. She passed her Psychology and Mental Health Diploma and started as a mental and emotional health coach.
DISCOVERING HER TRUE CALLING
While Rahaf initially studied Business Administration, her dad’s incident made her realize that the mental arena was her true calling that she was drawn to. “In my head, I just wanted to have an office and work all day, wearing a suit. My dad’s death changed everything. From my values to my priorities to even the things that mattered to me, everything changed 180 degrees,” she recollects.
It took Rahaf over five years to come out of that tragic incident. From taking antidepressants to therapy, it was a long journey. “It’s not easy for a young daughter to lose a father, especially in a situation like this. Therapy means you sit with your pain, become okay with it, accept it, and then do something about it. I attempted suicide three times because the pain was too much for me. The third attempt caused me to go blind for four days; that’s when I told myself, ‘The universe wants me to stay. There has to be a reason, and I am going to find it’,” she recalls distinctly.
HEALING THE WORLD
Rahaf’s first step was recognizing that her 9-5 job was quite pernicious for her, mentally and professionally. Recalling a day at work, “At one point, I strongly found myself standing up for myself and my colleagues when my ex-employer didn’t really care much about our well-being,” she says with not a tinge of regret as she speaks.
With encouragement from a friend, Rahaf took the leap, quit her job, and started her own entrepreneurial venture, Rays Your Mental Health (a play upon ‘raise’). After getting the license, she lay the groundwork to ensure it matches her vision. “I wanted something that is connected to me, hence the name – Rays Your Mental Health. It started with one client, but after putting in lots and lots of work, it was booming,” she gushes.
Today, Rahaf works with a plethora of clients and has helped them come a long way in their healing journey. Having tackled different kinds of cases when it comes to mental and emotional health, she opens up on how she is usually wary of clients who want fast results. “It is because I’m not just helping them to be more productive and more efficient. Those are achieved as an outcome of cleansing your mind and your heart. Any behavioral change or habit needs a minimum of six months before it becomes a part of your lifestyle. If you try for anything less than that, you could get distracted and fall back into your old patterns, and that is something I don’t want for my clients,” Rahaf states.
She is also the host of the ‘Don’t Be A Man About It’ podcast, focused on raising awareness on men’s mental health and sending a message to every man listening that he is not alone. “I would love to have a day where we stop talking for men or women or any gender biased conversation and just be human. But until that day comes, we must keep raising our voice. The objective of my podcast is to break the “Man Up” culture and the stigma around men’s mental health.”
I host men on my show. Some of them are extremely successful business leaders; others are men we meet in our daily lives who come and share their stories on mental health that inspire others. I want all men to know that they are not alone. I want them to learn that they have a voice, and they have support, and they have a community that is willing to be there for them anytime they feel they want to reach out,” she expounds.
SHAPING A HAPPY ENDING
Rahaf proudly wears her scars and admits that her life’s tragedies have shaped her into who she is today. “Even though my past was painful, I feel like I was chosen to be who I am today. It’s like the universe just chose me saying, ‘You’re going to be in pain for a few years, but I promise you a happy ending’,” she contends.
Rahaf has her personal coach and healer, and both help her maintain her emotional and energetic chakra balance on a personal and professional level. From meditating two times a day to music, water activities like kayaking, or going for a smash session, Rahaf ensures that she unwinds in her favorite ways to do her best for her clients. “Being the empath that I am is ten times more energy draining.
For those who don’t know what an empath is – an empath is a person highly attuned to the feelings and emotions of those around them. They don’t just sit and listen to you; they can physically feel your energy or your pain. “I end up absorbing all of that, and it affects me on a personal level. So, in cases where a person would require one hour to wind down, I take three. I listen to my heart on what I should be doing to recharge on that particular day and completely go with it,” she shares.
A big tattoo junkie, Rahaf has over nine tattoos, each deeply significant in its own way. One tattoo denotes being everything for yourself, the other commands her to live and express emotions to the extreme. Yet another tattoo is called Little Fox, a nickname that her dad called her. Finally, a dandelion, a gentle plea to make her dreams come true. Rahaf unabashedly loves them all. “These are stories of what I’ve been through and reminders of where I’m heading,” she asserts.
Recently, Rahaf received a certificate of recognition for participating in ‘Emerald – KCC Case Writing Competition 2020’. She also won the third prize for the case ‘Rays Your Mental Health: For a transformed mindset – A Case Study of Rahaf Raef Kobeissi’. She credits Dr. Mohammad Rishad Faridi, who encouraged her to accept her story and share it with the world. “Now I help people become storytellers about their own stories and break out the stigma,” Rahaf remarks as she pays his good deed forward.
Having set her sights on bigger accomplishments, she hopes to empower several others grappling with mental health issues. “One that is launching soon is to help people become the best version of themselves as a leader and as an individual, separate from my one-to-one programs. A second podcast is coming into the picture that is for everyone, not just men. I would also love to run an academy focused on mental health that teaches people how to become a trainer or a coach like I am.
I want to create an organization that helps kids access proper education that they might not receive, owing to their parent’s financial status. All in all, I have bigger dreams, bigger visions. All of them are put to paper, already on my vision boards. I’ve set the intentions. It’s just a matter of time and having the right resources,” smiles the inspiring healer who believes in happy endings.