Written by Samman Committee Member Ankush:
Hello, readers hope you are doing well? The weather has become cold and the rains have made my surroundings greener than before and I feel closer to nature.
Today the meeting was planned offline which I was really looking forward to, but the awesome rainy season restricted the movement. But the Samman team was well prepared and we used the technology to our advantage by conducting the meeting online on Zoom. Trust me, nothing changed except the fact that I did not get drenched and was in the comfort of my home during the entire duration of the meeting.
The topic of the meeting was ‘Building Confidence & Self-Esteem’ it was hosted by Dr Urvashi Shah and Co-hosted by Dr Kanika Shah with fellow members joining as the audience.
It started with a general question on the importance of confidence and self-esteem. The audience was thrilled and intrigued by the same. I personally was looking to it as I felt quite low for a week.
Both confidence and self-esteem are the first things which I lost when I was newly diagnosed and many undergo the same. The same can be difficult to get back when not addressed. This brings me to the fact that anyone can lose them when facing life and challenges. When stressors of life take a toll and we play many roles in our lives we can lose our sense of direction and energy. That’s when it hits us. So losing confidence and self-esteem is pretty natural and not restricted to illness and epilepsy.
The first step is to address it and accept that one is losing confidence in life. There are signs in life such as low interest, losing touch, always being edgy and etc. But the first step is to address and accept it. Having a positive approach and being self-aware is a way to build up some confidence and esteem. Like the acceptance of epilepsy sometimes such acceptance can open the doors to new opportunities and expose us to brighter things. The idea is to be open and receptive to acceptance. Positive acceptance enables us to see life and general events from different perspectives. (I can personally attest to it in my blogs). And seeking professional help can be worth it, trust me it can save one a lot of pain and agony. Don’t let the naysayers call you out and give you names. Everybody runs for water tankers when their house is on fire but not when their neighbour’s house is burning. So take care of your mental health and make it a priority before anything else. Seeking professional help is normal and in such chaotic times, I personally think everyone needs it.
Like we play many roles in our life it is natural to break down sometimes and these times make us realise to get maintenance and repairs to our body, mind and soul. We are much greater than the roles we play in any given space and time. We are whole as a character and an important lead character in the film called, ‘Life’. So it is natural to lose some edge when things don’t play out the way we expect them to be. In spite of being a lead character in our life, there is very little control we have over it. Life doesn’t go as we planned it. This brings me to the second step, which is minding our focus, controlling things which are in our hands and letting go of things which are not. When we don’t expect the things and events of our life to go as we worked hard for or they don’t turn out to be what we wanted them to then we fall into the pitfall of disappointments and intense despair which can even lead to depression and suicidal thoughts. To answer and deal with it is to focus on our actions and words. Our human mind and body are the only things which are under our control and everything else in nature is God’s work. We can control our actions, words, thoughts, what, where and when we spend our time and with whom. My school teacher used to say that after I gave my exam, I make sure I did my best and leave the rest, something which rang my mind bells after a long time in the meeting when Dr Urvashi Shah made the same remark. There is no point in losing mind, sleep and being anxious over things which are beyond our control. Let’s stop being control freaks (I keep saying that to myself because sometimes I need it). Even the ancient scripts have been written stating that our actions are the only things we can control and then letting go becomes a choice. In modern words for modern people, Dr Urvashi Shah quotes, “Life just slaps you and we have to accept it.” It is a hard truth but it is always better to lead an honest and full life rather than living one with pain and disappointments. Trust me again, sometimes it is better to do your best and leave the stage for another player to do their part in the play of life.
This brings us to the fact that nothing is permanent in life even right now as I write this, planet earth is rotating and revolving. Even if the mighty earth in which I reside is not permanent then how do I expect other events and people to be fixated. Besides change is the only constant. So if I change, I can move with the earth and change with time. Look where dinosaurs ended up when they refused to change. Right, they are extinct. So let’s not be bothered by the past and be present to make the best of the future that one can make in the present. If you are bothered by something/s then make note that it will change and the time will pass. And you have the gift of the present to change it.
This brings us to the third step which is Noticing Negative Thinking. We, humans, are programmed to protect ourselves from dangers. These dangers are often real and perceived dangers. Sometimes our mind goes toward the extreme corners to make us understand and stay away from them. For e.g., At present, if a person is unhappy at work. But chooses to stay there in fear of losing a secured paycheck and a safe environment, may perceive switching jobs as a danger because the mind has become accustomed to the so-called safe and steady but unhappy work. This is a perceived danger as the person is qualified enough to switch jobs and look for other exciting opportunities. But it is a real danger when the person has no option and only strives on the paycheck to make a living. So at times, it is better to keep a track of our minds and notice such patterns developing and identify with real and perceived dangers. Reframing our thoughts and seeing things from a practically positive standpoint is one way of dealing with extreme thoughts.
Members from the audience suggested being vocal about mental health when required but sometimes being quiet and reflecting in silence which is both a middle path to deal with inner troubles. Sometimes being grateful for little things in life can also help the tired soul rejuvenate itself like meetings happening online in spite of rainy seasons. Thanks to the 4G connections and advanced mobile technology which we have taken for granted. Without them, we would have missed an amazing and enriching experience. Even the fresh air we breathe and water we drink is something to be grateful for, as many don’t have such luxuries which we have taken for granted.
In order to conclude, sometimes when developing confidence and growing ourselves we need to try new things and expose ourselves to positive dangers. We need to stop giving ourselves excuses and justify ourselves. We must always reach the goal, even if we fail, we must learn from failures but never stop pursuing the excellence for which our life was made. We may not excel in things we intended to do but that doesn’t mean we cannot excel in anything.
Here are some steps which you can incorporate to build yourself up.
- Writing a journal of things, events, lessons learnt, etc. Writing can help the mind clean things up. (Rest of the post-writing work I will let you experience it yourself).
- Things one is grateful for. Small things and people which we take for granted.
- 20-20-20 minute/goal method. In this, you take out 20 mins for each; exercise or body movement; self-love or gratitude; learn something new. They are the baby steps that one can incorporate for starting afresh.
And to end this post let me write down, that always be learning from failures, be consistent and always be chasing excellence in your pursuit of life. Dr Pravina Shah said to always meet one another and help one another irrespective of where and who we are.