Friends and family have claimed that I’ve always carried myself with an air of confidence in whatever I have pursued over the past few years. Yet as I ponder over my younger years at school, I realise that self-confidence wasn’t something I was born with. Rather it is a quality and trait I have had to develop throughout various stages of my life.
It is ironic to think that ten years ago, I was like many young girls at school, starting to become self-conscious and trying to find myself. The challenges of being my own person were clearly evident as I seemed to be living in the shadow of friends who most of the time, just wanted to look good. I felt under pressure to surrender to the latest popularity contest. This focus on self-image was a struggle in the initial years of being at school, most significantly because most young girls at that age are consuming the hidden messages in the latest media manipulation of how women and girls should look. I didn’t feel self-confident, in that I wasn’t assured in my beliefs and confident in choosing the right course of action according to my values. Naturally, I felt undermined, not due to the societal pressures around me but rather because I hadn’t yet realised what I did when I became 15.
C is for Compassion
Embracing Islam gave me the opportunity to break free from the ‘looks are all that matter’ environment, liberating me from a rather suffocating atmosphere where girls were often trying to be someone that they weren’t inside. As I began my path to knowledge, my self-confidence began to grow and I was no longer chained by the opinions and thoughts of others. Breaking free from others’ expectations of me and their perceptions helped me to take the first step in breaking what I call the CODE to confidence – C therefore stands for being Compassionate to Yourself. Previously, I had been looking at others’ personalities and traits whilst failing to focus on my own strengths and talents. This suppressed my own confidence as well as my self-esteem and morale. The more I let go of trying to be like others, the more I found the beauty in being compassionate to myself foremost. This then radiated an inner beauty that was my own.
O is for Open to Growth
As I grew into a young woman and left school, opportunities to stand as a confident person were offered to me by the Grace of Allah I in many ways; from being able to speak at public events such as at the House of Commons, to a global platform in the UAE. I began to appreciate that the O in the CODE to breaking through to confidence stood for being Open to Growth. This lesson in developing self-confidence is perhaps the most important, because when we acknowledge that we need to be confident in our beliefs, values and how we look, we can deal with the challenges we face in our own self-discovery. Far too many young girls get ‘comfortable’ in their own bubble and this hinders their progress and development as individuals. Seeking opportunities to get feedback and working in a supportive environment is then hugely important in the process of developing self-confidence and self-esteem.
D is for Determination to Succeed
Sisters I have worked with and interacted with in workshops have told me that their lack of willpower and motivation is the biggest barrier to being confident individuals in whatever field or role they choose. I often ask these sisters whether they have clarified the motive behind the action they are going to undertake and with what passion they are intending to pursue it. As obvious as it may seem, most women don’t ask themselves this question and hence don’t have a real foundation for being motivated in the first place! Once this clarity takes place, it is much easier to be determined to achieve a goal one has set oneself, inshaAllah. Determination to Succeed is therefore the driving principle of success in self-development, the third coded principle of Break the CODE.
E is for Evaluate Your Progress
Lastly, the issue of self-confidence is really a personal one which I appreciate will be different for each of us – however I do believe, given my own life experiences and my journey through the process of developing myself, we are all capable of developing self-confidence and increasing our self-esteem in order to be productive in this life and the Hereafter. Despite challenges we face in contemporary society, if you wish to embark on the journey of bettering yourself, it is important to be prepared to Evaluate your Progress as this is inherently going to help you to be more confident in yourself and focus on areas to improve. E therefore is for the most critical part of any project we undertake and action we pursue.
As we go through the Break the CODE journey, I’d like to invite you to join me in this personal pursuit to help sisters become confident young individuals who are not afraid to be who they are and even love who they become as a result of Break the CODE. Follow the NicheHero Project here.
Lotifa Begum serves as Head of Productive Muslimah at ProductiveMuslim.com. She has gained a huge insight into a wide range of productivity-related issues and has delivered workshops for sisters on issues relating to time management, personal development and productivity. She is passionate about sisters excelling in their pursuit of productivity. Visit www.productivemuslim.com for more tips and advice!
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