Tuesday, June 21, 2016

THREE LEGS OF THE STOOL CALLED SELF-CONFIDENCE






Pic.: Anima D'Cunha


On 12th June, 2016, The Dawn Club Centre of Excellence had published its latest book – ‘WHAT MAKES ME CONFIDENT’. I wish to share with you, in today’s blog, the ‘Afterword’ I had written for this book…

Several years ago, I found a small book by the title - ‘Changes’. It was a book written for adolescents and it carried guest articles from some of America's icons. All of them had shared in this book their stories – how they became confident and successful in life. What I loved the most about this book was the simple imagery used by the author (Mysteriously, I don’t remember the author’s name… and, I have failed to get it from every source I have tried) to explain to little-ones how to be self-confident in life. I loved the imagery so much, that, over all these years, I have shared it with my own students – both, little-ones and young-ones. Here is the imagery…

“Self-confidence is like a stool with three legs,” the author tells in the book, “If any of these three legs is not proper, the stool will not be proper.”

THE FIRST LEG: TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.
It really hit me hard when I first realized, that the less we complain in life, the less we blame and feel victimized, higher the chances of becoming stronger and confident. Being reactive to situations in our lives takes away the power from our souls… Blamers are losers in life… The ‘Poor me’ – our victim mindset – only keeps us imprisoned in life. Our sad stories may bring us sympathy… But, they won’t bring us success and confidence. What brings us success and confidence is our ability to respond to situations in our lives – the ‘response-ability’. It is being proactive, being in charge... It comes from the realization – ‘My life is my business’… ‘My success is my responsibility’.

So, the more and more we take charge of the situations in our lives – the more and more we act responsible, become proactive - the more and more we become confident… stronger and wiser in life.

Thus, the author, drilled into the tiny heads the simple truth, that if the first leg of the stool was not okay, their confidence could not be okay.

THE SECOND LEG: FEEL WORTHWHILE.
How can we feel confident and strong if we do not feel worthwhile? None of us are good at everything… But, aren’t we all good at something?

So, the more we become aware of the things we are good at… we inevitably feel confident in life.

Each one of us has been blessed with a talent or two… Talents are God-given… they are our natural endowments, our gifts. Some of us can dance, sing or draw… some of us can play, cook, teach or preach. Earlier we discover these gifts, the earlier we become confident in life… and, the longer we enjoy our success.

Our skills are honed by us. When a talent is honed, polished, fine-tuned under a Master – in a school – it becomes a skill. We all hone many such skills… some are technical and processional skills, some are soft skills… Many of them we hone under a Master, in school… and, many we hone on our own.

In my case, I discovered when I was in my first year of B.Com, that teaching was my talent… God’s gift. I honed it as a fine skill all on my own. Slowly, I also realized that writing, too, was my talent… a gift from God. Again, I began to hone it into a fine skill by expressing myself every day through my writings…

Our strengths are our strong personality traits which are positive… Like, in my case…

I can be very punctual… I can be very committed… I can be very loyal and honest… I can mix with all types of people… I can be very patient… I can manage with little cash… I am not very fussy about food… I forgive and forget fast… I make peace… I can resolve conflicts of other people… I can see the extra-ordinary in the ordinary… I can walk the extra-mile… and so on.

The weaknesses our negative personality traits… Like in my case, I am weak in money-management… I lose my temper often… I get intense and serious soon… Humor doesn’t come easily to me… I worry often… even tend to panic… Take fewer risks to learn new things…

But, I have learnt one thing: When we become aware of our weaknesses and are willing to overcome them, it is a great strength. It is only when we keep justifying our weaknesses, that  they do more harm to us.

So, the author drilled in the tender skulls the need to get in touch with their talents, skills, strengths and weaknesses… He explained to the kids, that the more and more they became aware of what they were good at… what was special about them… the more and more they felt worthwhile, and thereby, confident…

Seriously, nobody can feel confident without feeling worthwhile - good and productive inside.

That is the second leg on which the stool of self-confidence stands.

THIRD LEG: FEEL APPRECIATED.
Appreciation – the positive feedback – is the food that nurtures our heart. As kids, we yearned for it… as young and adults, too, we continue to yearn for it. If we have received sufficient appreciation when we need it – on our little victories and successes… it is likely that we have grown to become confident individuals. On the other hand, if we have received more of criticism and indifference from people who mattered in our lives, it is likely that we have grown to be less confident.

I always tell my students this: “If we have not been appreciated and complimented enough by our near and dear ones, and if it has affected our self-confidence – all that we need to do now is, look back and smile… be compassionate to those who have been harsh or critical to us… Just don’t blame, don’t get into self-pity or blame. That very freedom will enable us to self nurture our hearts… and become more confident…

Even that comes from taking responsibility…

I, also, tell all our little and young-ones this: “What you can do is – you can appreciate others… give them sincere compliments… thank them profusely… And, by doing this, you become more and more a ‘giving person’… You become more confident, stronger and wealthier… The more you give, the more you receive… What goes around comes around…

Then, I tell them about the inspiring poem by Bruce Barton - ‘Two Seas’…

River Jordon flows down in two different directions… On the one side, it joins the Sea of Galilee. The sea of Galilees a generous sea… It doesn’t keep the water it receives from the river Jordon… Every drop of water it receives, it gives… So, it constantly flows… Thus, there is life around it, a great buzz… There are fishes in its water and there are birds up in the sky… Boatmen go about singing and businessmen go about doing business… There are townships and people there are prosperous…

On the other side, the river Jordon joins another sea… This sea is stingy and insecure… It jealously guards the water it receives. Every drop of water it receives, it hoards with fear…. So, there is no movement there… Water is still, no fishes live in it… The air above is thick, no birds fly over there… There are no boatmen, no songs heard… Nobody does business around it… Nobody lives… This sea is called ‘The Dead Sea’!

What has made this difference? Not the river Jordon. She gives her water, in equal measure, to both the seas… One gives it away, generously and prospers… while the other hoards and stagnates…

The poem ends with these inspiring lines…
“There are two kinds of people in this world…
“There are two seas in Palestine.”

God gives all of us in equal measure... just as river Jordon does. The best way to feel empowered - strong and confident - in life is by giving to others what we receive from God… Yes, by contributing.

We cannot contribute and feel weak at the same time. Never!

GERLAD D’CUNHA

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