Conversations with Rita Haque – Certified Cognitive Behavioral Therapist (Part 1)
Updated: Jun 22
Hello everyone, this is Sonny Kwok, Founder of Yafot Wellness. I’m very excited to chat with Ms Rita Haque. She’s our latest addition to the Yafot Wellness team as our Wellness Coach & certified CBT Specialist to empower you to live the fullness of your life! Let’s get to know Rita better!
Sonny: Please share with us a little bit about your life story.
My Heritage & Family Background
Rita: I am a Eurasian and come from a rich heritage of blended cultures. My father was of Armenian, Indonesian Chinese and Dutch descent while my mother came from a blend of Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, German and Asian descent.
My dad was more western in his ways, temperament and taste. He was conservative, humble, quiet and kind. He was a principled man and was dedicated to God and his family. He felt strongly for the poor and marginalized; and contributed regularly to charities. My mother was generous and kind. She had panache and style; and worked till she was almost 80.
I came from a family of one brother and two sisters. We always played, prayed, ate together and lived the values instilled in us that we still hold dear. Such a mixed heritage helps me integrate easily in any situation, in Singapore and the places I’ve lived in Australia, UK, Hongkong and the US.
I used to live with my maternal grandmother in a typical Peranakan house surrounded by a large rambling garden of flowers and trees. There, I developed my love for nature and creativity; and found novel ways to amuse myself while my parents were at work.
My Early Career
I started my career as a teacher in the convent where I studied. My over-protective parents organized it and felt I would be safe there! During my stint, working with academically weaker students made me realise that I had the heart and patience to help them succeed.
I also delivered 30-minute English language lessons on Television for three years. That opportunity won me a Colombo Plan Scholarship to study Television Production in ABC, Sydney Australia. This experience honed my skills to develop and deliver programmes for schools. It increased my appreciation of media communications and prepared me for a career in communications.
Sonny: How did you first get interested in Counselling & mental health?
The Ordeal with My Eldest Son
Rita: Three years later, I got married and forayed into the world of Advertising. I wanted to grow my creativity to tap on my media experience. My early years in advertising were stressful. I was always ready to give up.
Having my first son gave me the perfect excuse to quit, return to teaching and spend more time with my family. However, within four months of his birth, I had another son on the way. It proved too soon after my first son. I experienced serious birth challenges – was hopsitalised for 10 weeks and nearly lost my baby seven times.
Many years later, I learned how his traumatic invitro experience had impacted his brain and may have predisposed him to Attention Deficit Disorder in his childhood and a mental challenge in his early adult life. This experience sowed the seeds of interest in mental health, led me to do my Masters in Counselling, increased my interest in psychology, caregiving and mental health advocacy.
Sonny: How did you get interested in personal development?
My Journey on Personal Development
Rita: My interest in Human Potential started very early on. From the early 80s, I pursued my own personal development while building brands particularly after setting up my own agency.
I had two friends who became my business partners. They were so different in so many ways that it caused much friction. We were successful but the experience was demanding and emotionally draining.
While we experienced a meteoric rise to become the fastest growing agency in town, we ended up stepping on each other’s toes unknowingly. Unfortunately we neglected building up our relationship with each other.
I realized partnerships require emotional and mental maturity. It involves much preparation, setting expectations, transparency and total commitment. Especially the ability to have difficult conversations. It got me interested in learning more about personal development and human potential.
Two years after selling my agency, I decided to pursue the field of Human Potential and its influence on business growth. During my journey, I introduced Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, the Hoffman Process and Corporate Transformation Tools (CTT) to Singapore in hopes of raising awareness, consciousness and growth.
Pursuit in Neuro Linguistic & Counselling
Thereafter, I studied Neuro Linguistic Programming in the US and focused on developing myself and others through multiple courses in therapy health and wellness, and coaching. I also completed my Masters in Counselling with The University of South Australia Social Science (Counselling).
Since then, I’ve continued to pursue certifications in Emotional Intelligence, Health, Coaching. I’ve incorporated my learnings into my coaching, counselling and to the organisations I’ve worked with.
Sonny: What does living the fullness of life mean to you?
Rita: When we realise that how we think, feel and act is within our control, we can:
- Choose Our Emotions
- Learn to Process Difficult Situations
- Have A Simple Spiritual Practice
- Look After Our Health, Cherish It
- Learn to Live Fully
- Be Present in Every Moment to Enjoy the Fullness of Life
Accepting imperfection in us and others frees us to enjoy the fullness of life and not be disturbed by difficult emotions.
Sonny: How do you live that out?
Rita: It’s not always easy but my total trust and surrender to God helps me greatly. I’m grateful for all the gifts that God has given me. This includes the love from my family and siblings. I learned to reframe difficult situations and see the value of what I have learned.
I recognize that I’m human and I can have compassion for myself when I’m hurt. I forgive easily and prefer resolving a difficult situation by being honest about how I feel. I don’t worry about what I cannot control and focus only on what’s within my control.
Sonny: What are the top 5 life hacks you can share from your life-long wellness journey to live the fullness of life?
- Forgive yourself and forgive others easily.
- Pamper yourself regularly to self-care
- Do the 4-7- 8 Dr. Weil’s Deep Breathing Exercise – AM and PM (three breaths only). Breathe in to the count of 4. Hold for 7 counts and breathe out in 8 counts. Tune into your feelings and body regularly to check if your mind body and spirit are in balance. Don’t ignore the pain or discomfort you feel. Find out what it’s telling you.
- Dance like no one’s watching to make your organs jump for joy and bring you renewed aliveness.
- Love and laugh more