Life Lessons

Tips on Building Self-Confidence

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I know I haven’t been blogging much lately, but it’s just that I’ve been trying to live offline more than online this year, adding new experiences to my list, and opting to meet people face-to-face instead of hiding behind usernames and passwords. But it’s quite interesting how during my visit to Kenya this year, I met a lot of people who brought up my blog over and over again discussing possible topics I could write about.

So today I’m going to address one of those topics. One of my closest friends told me that her problem in life was with self-confidence. She said she didn’t even have the self-confidence to talk to customer service people on the phone, and the topic made me laugh because if I had enough self-confidence in my life, I’m not so sure I would have ever become a writer. It was because I found it difficult to connect with people and express myself that actually made me pick up a pen as a child.  So how was I to teach her on self-confidence, when I obviously needed a few lessons in that area myself?

But I’ll try.

My advice to her was to take risks and expose yourself to an experience over and over again regardless of how you feel about it. For instance, I personally have an issue talking to customer service myself, and until recently, I used to delegate that task every chance I got. But picking up the phone to talk to them, I realized that we avoid tasks like that because we dread we’d sound so stupid in front of these people, or we’re scared they’re going to judge us. And I suppose many people in my community would relate to that, because we grew up listening to people being judged all the time. Dialogues got dissected, behaviors got misinterpreted, lifestyles got judged…it was no wonder we were always scared of making a wrong move lest we step on a verbal land mine.

But it gets easier when you tell yourself to accept that feeling as normal, whether it is the fear of being judged or being seen as stupid, or deaf (which sometimes happens when you can’t understand what that customer service woman is actually saying). Accept that feeling uncomfortable is normal, and accept that you’re not perfect, so there’s no point in pretending to be perfect all the time.

Accept that you will make mistakes and you will be judged so be prepared for it and don’t sweat it. Whatever it is, you don’t have to lose sleep over it. People make mistakes. People learn from their mistakes. People move on. Again, taking into consideration our society, unfortunately, the communal memory of our people can astound you. You’ll hear people recalling someone else’s mistakes decades after they’ve made them.Why? In the decades you’ve been holding on to a grudge on whoever it was, Pluto got demoted so it’s no longer a planet, Japan’s coast moved 8 feet after the 2011 earthquake and over 30 new countries came into being (since 1990 at least). My point is, the world changes, and so do people. So cut others some slack.

 Empower yourself with knowledge and be more competent. The main thing that makes us lose self-confidence is when we don’t know. In some scenarios we don’t know what to say, how to behave, how the other person will perceive what we say. Not knowing makes us think, “Oh God, they’re going to think I’m so stupid.” So in order to negate this, learn. Sometimes learning is simply done by spending time with a self-confident person and seeing how they do it, how they deal with different scenarios.

Practice in low-risk scenarios. This is very useful advice for people who struggle with public speaking. To some, speaking in public can be quite a terrifying experience, especially when the audience consists of high-calibre people in your field. Just the idea of presenting something can make you sick to the stomach. So step number one is to know your stuff (previous point), and step number two is practice in front of your friends and family; people who won’t judge you so much and exist in your life to be supportive. Of course, shifting from a low-risk environment to a high-risk one is not going to be easy, but at least with practice you manage certain aspects like your nerves, or how you present the material…

Fake it until you make it. This deals with your body language. I personally struggle with this because I tend to act small, disappear into the wall every chance I get. But people who fake self-confidence feel that self-doubt rise inside them and yet they never fail to stride through the room, walk tall and speak loudly even if they knew that they’re not so sure about what they’re saying and even if they knew you knew they’re not sure about what they’re saying.

If you found this post useful, feel free to share with your friends.

istockphoto.com/donskarpo
istockphoto.com/donskarpo

Intersecting Orbits

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Expect to be disappointed by people. Even if they were your family or your closest friends. Inherently, we are driven by selfish needs and desires. At some level, our minds find themselves calculating, “What’s in it for me?” (Whatever it is)
The secret us to expect it and not to assume that just because you’re in someone’s orbit, their life somehow revolves around you. It doesn’t. It probably just revolves around themselves. And that’s okay.
Because at some level you’re the same. So don’t let the magnetic field of your star to greatly influence another. But somehow let the orbits intersect so the resulting pattern is much more beautiful than each individual orbit.
So expect to be disappointed.
Just don’t let it affect you.
About the image: I got the image online though I forget the source. I’m not sure how true what’s written is but I found it interesting.

20140831-194946.jpg

Do you suffer from control issues?

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So I was trying to work on converting a results image from a linux-based form to jpg and the result was something like this.  I am not sure what the actual image is supposed to look like but I know that this is not it. To tell you the truth it made me think of shooting stars for some reason, and suddenly I found myself on this blog.
ux_half000500

Today I find myself reflecting on matters of the heart. The other day I was watching a video of an open-heart surgery and I was mesmerized. Of course, my reaction would have been different if there wasn’t a screen between me and the patient’s open chest since blood makes me queasy. But I thought of how little control we really have over our own hearts, let alone our own lives. When the heart beats normally, we tend to take it for granted. We eat all the wrong things and don’t do enough exercise to take care of it. We don’t really think much about it, and whether or not we’re letting it strain with the effort of carrying our weights around. But if God forbid, the heart’s beats start to change and turn erratic- racing, skipping beats or fluttering – suddenly all attention turns toward to it. Crash carts start rolling, defib pads and paddles get prepared for that heart in distress.

And naturally, I remembered this Hadeeth

http://sunnah.com/muslim/46/29
http://sunnah.com/muslim/46/29

So whenever you feel like your control issues are getting the best of you, just close your eyes and listen to your heart. Let it remind you that there’s little you can actually control.

Silence

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As you grow older you tend to appreciate the beauty of silence. Silence so deep that the only thing you can hear are your thoughts, and the occasional birdsong outside the window. Silence, as a response to questions you can’t start to fathom, let alone find words to express your opinions about them; like what has the world come to. At least by being silent, you are not adding to the sound pollution, even though you know that sound pollution is not the world’s biggest problem right now, but at least you’re making a contribution somehow.
“I don’t know what to say.” Has become your default because you really don’t know what to say. You can cry out and yell and try to say something but if nobody is listening, what’s the point? And if people do listen but nobody is willing to understand, what’s the point? Or if people do listen and do understand but what you say doesn’t change anything, then what’s the point?
So resort to silence.
Because sometimes, silence is the best answer you can give.

 

silence