Assalaamu ‘alaikum and a very happy 2017 to you! Starting off a new year brings a variety of emotions. Many people often begin the year feeling a sense of sadness because they didn’t achieve what they wanted to the year before. How are you feeling at the moment? If you’re not feeling wonderful, don’t worry. Feelings change from moment to moment – a lot of factors influence the way we feel, from how much sleep we’ve had and what we’ve eaten to the larger circumstances of our life. However, one of the things that we can rely on is the notion that there will be a general trend in the way we feel about ourselves. If we have a healthy sense of self-esteem, it won’t be shaken too much through the tough times. However, if our sense of self-esteem is low, then it may be easily hurt or knocked further back. We all have times in our lives when our self-esteem is lower than normal, but that is nothing to worry about as long as we generally feel a sense of contentment with who we are. If you feel that you could improve your self-esteem, then read on…
So how are you “doing” your self-esteem?
Do you often worry about what others are thinking about you? Imagine that you have to go out somewhere for a wedding or a dinner party. You need to decide what to wear. You go to your closet, open it, you look around at the variety of clothes you have and the first thought you have is “geez I have nothing to wear.” You spend an hour contemplating your options, turning each one down because you feel that other people there will be better dressed than you. In the end you choose something because you have to go, but as you leave the house you’re still not feeling good.
Is this scenario something that you can relate to? Worrying about who we are in comparison to other people can be really debilitating to our self-esteem. And if we generally feel that others are better than ourselves, then we will always feel inadequate no matter the circumstances. One of the keys to achieving success in anything we attempt is to first of all feel that we are capable of achieving that success. Believing that you can do something gives you the confidence to try. So, if you find yourself struggling with feeling good about how you are, you may need to readjust the paradigm with which you look at yourself. Let’s look at a few practical ways in which you can begin to change this.
Choose what success means
How do you feel good about yourself? How do you gauge whether you are a success or not? The place to begin is to first set your own standards for success. Choose what being a successful person means to you so that you don’t have to adopt another individual’s definition of what success is. Each human being needs to have his or her own definition of success. Of course, there will be commonality with other people, but you need to connect with your own definition so you know whether you are achieving it or not. To do this, ask yourself the following questions:
• What does it mean to be successful by my own standards?
• Are there any areas of my life where I compare myself to others? Is
this healthy or not healthy for me?
• Do I have role models that help me form my definition?
• How will I know that I am successful?
• What do I now need to do differently?
Once you have some of these answers, then you can start to work by your own standards and stop comparing yourself to others as much. If you find that you are still not meeting your own standards, then it may be time to either review them or adjust the way that you are currently doing things.
If you dream about achieving something big, then you are taking the first step towards success and having a healthier sense of self-esteem. Feeling good happens when we experience a sense of fulfilment. In order to achieve something you need to first know what exactly it is that you want to achieve. Take some time to work on your life vision. Imagine that you are at the end of your life and, as you look back, you realise that you achieved what you truly wanted. What is that? Start to get an idea of the things that will truly fulfil you and build from there. Having a big dream, one that you sense will make an impact on other people, can give you a real boost to your self-esteem. This should be something that both inspires you and excites you to move forward. Once you have a general idea, then start to list some goals within that life vision. The final step will be to start doing things that are well thought out. Each of these stages will help to build your self-esteem, as you will be focusing on something that is important to you and makes you who you are.
Notice your achievements daily
Comparing ourselves with other people leaves us vulnerable, especially since we may not even have a standard to which we are comparing ourselves. This is a behaviour that will need to change if you want to maintain a healthy sense of your own esteem and wellbeing. One way of achieving this is to start noticing your own achievements on a regular basis. At the end of every day, write down five or more things that you did well during the day. It could be anything from making a nice meal to dropping the children off on time. The scale of the achievement isn’t what’s important. What’s critical is that you begin to notice all that you get done every day. At the top of the page, write down “what did I get done/achieve today?” Next write your entries by date. Keep the pages rolling over time. Once a month or so has gone by, your mind will begin to start noticing your accomplishment with greater ease. Soon you will begin to feel a sense of achievement and purpose. Also, if you are not in the habit of scheduling tasks, then begin to do this. This will give you focus and a sense of direction. Remember that you can choose to give yourself breaks or have an easy day too. Rest can be as much of an achievement as action; it all depends on what you need.
Look after yourself
Our self-esteem depends on many things. A healthy self-esteem will be present only when we live by our values, give ourselves productive pursuits and take good care of ourselves. If you aren’t giving yourself any time to look after yourself, then your self-esteem is bound to suffer. Ask yourself if you are neglecting any of your important needs. It could be that you’re not getting enough rest or exercise or perhaps not eating right. All these elements make a significant impact on how we feel. Take some time to focus in on at least one area and do things that will help you take better care of yourself – you will find your confidence and your self-esteem rising insha Allah.
Sayeda Habib is a highly qualified professional coach. She coaches Muslim women to help them feel empowered and create results in their lives. She coaches clients one to one and also runs group workshops. She holds the Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential issued by the International Coach Federation. She is the author of “Discover the Best in You: Life Coaching for Muslims.” She also contributes to various online and print publications. She has been featured in the media in various countries including Pakistan, the UAE and the United Kingdom. To find out more, log on to www.makelifehappen.com or email at Sayeda@makelifehappen.com