In this counseling answer:
Writing lists of one’s strengths, achievements, and what they like about themselves is a good way to boost self-confidence. The counselor further suggests techniques that change negative self-talk and activities to engage in improving one’s job interviewing skills.
Wa ‘Alaykum As-Salam,
In response to your post, I have some ideas and activities for you to consider that are designed specifically for the purpose of improving your self-esteem.
Before we begin, I want you to get a blank journal and a pen. You and I have work to do. Now, you will be making lists and engaging in some writing activities that are designed to change the relationship you have with your environment by correcting your self-perceptions. I will suggest some ideas ponder and activate that will increase your level of self-esteem. Then we will target job interviews to increase your ability to interview well.
First, you must learn to love and appreciate the body that Allah (swt) created for you. We are each provided with the perfect vessel that contains the light that is in reality who we are. You need to have the exact body that you have in order to fulfill your purpose. Therefore, practicing acknowledging the goodness of your body and being grateful for what it does to help you fulfill your journey is step #1.
Indeed, your energy is directed toward your intellect to a very high degree. Your body graciously carries you from here to there so that you can complete your mental tasks in the services of others. You do not require physical strength or stature; rather, you require a body that is designed to keep you alert. You have an engineer’s mind that is strong, flexible, agile, alert, effective and efficient. This is very powerful. The amount of good you will bring to your community and the societies you work in will be immeasurable.
With that said, it is wise for you to thank Allah (swt) for the body that has nourished your mind and made all of this possible. Then actually practice saying „thank you” to your body for every service it provides you with. Thank your stomach for digesting your food, thank your endocrine system for keeping you balanced and healthy, thank your feet and toes for making it easy to get from one place to another, etc. Write a list of at least 10 things that your body does or has that empowers you to be who you are and to complete the work you are intended to complete. This is your first list.
Now, you are going to make three more lists. Write down 3-6 parts of your body that you like. For example, your feet, or your nose, or your hair, or your eyes, or your shoulders, or your mouth, or your jaw, or your knees, or the entire face, or your stomach.
The next list will be of your accomplishments. Make a list of your accomplishments to this day; include graduating with a degree and consider some obstacles that you overcame as a child, too. Have you ever written a song, or a poem, or helped someone solve a problem? Think of times from very young childhood until today when you were especially pleased with yourself, and write these down in your journal.
Finally, write down a list of 10 character traits that you like about yourself. For example, dependable, kind, honest, creative, intuitive, charitable, intelligent, purposeful, loyal, insightful, a peacemaker, fair, polite, caring, creative, understanding, determined, ambitious, clean, a good problem solver, a helpful person, etc. Now, take this list and rewrite each character trait and say, I am….; for example, I am a helpful person, I am a kind man, I am creative, I am intuitive, etc.
Next, tab another spot in your journal and write down as many negative thoughts as you are aware of having about yourself. The idea is to gather a list of negative “self-talk” statements that you likely tell yourself many times daily but are not aware of saying. We call this your unconscious script; I call it the tape recorder in your head. This tape recorder actually guides your self-perception and is at the heart of what you think about yourself which, in turn, creates how you feel about yourself! It is not based on reality, and it does not define who you really are, but you are hypnotized into thinking that it is the reality. So, once we reveal the “tape recorder inside your head, we can re-write it and replace those unconscious, automatic thoughts with truth thoughts. This will give you the confidence you are seeking.
Once you have your initial list, continue writing down your thoughts throughout the week as you become aware of even more “programming” in your head that you want to “re-program. Once you have a good long list of all the negative things you are saying to yourself, shift your focus to the state of observation. Detach yourself from the feelings you associate with these statements. (You likely often feel depressed when you say these things to yourself).
Simplify and summarize these statements into a few main themes. In other words, take two or three that are pretty similar and reveal the exact nature of the negative programming you are carrying with you. Next, write a corrective “truth” statement that is either opposite of the negative statement or is a truth about your real self, using the content from all of your “lists” (your body, your accomplishments, and your character traits).
Use the truth statements to describe yourself as it applies to the situation when your negative programmed tape recorder statements pop into your mind. For example: if you think to yourself, “I am a failure”, you will replace this automatic “tape recorder-programming” with, “I am a handsome man with great poster and a kind face; I have achieved a degree in engineering with my intelligence and my ability to focus with a great attitude and dedication to my work. I am a success!”
Once you have a long list of positive truth replacement thoughts, you will do two things with these. First, you will make a tape recording (add your favorite nasheed without words if you can). You will record your truth thoughts and make a recording that is 30-60 minutes long. Listen to this as you go to sleep every night for as long as you can. Three months is a good length of time for it, and it is ok if you miss a night or two in a week.
The second thing you will do with your truth statements is the following: every time you catch yourself thinking a negative statement, say something such as “STOP” Then, consciously and purposefully say a positive truth statement about yourself; in other words, correct yourself and your thoughts. This is called “thought stopping” and “thought replacement”. It will help you change the way your mind thinks and will ultimately change how you feel about yourself.
Here are some activities to engage in improving your job interviewing skills.
First, volunteer for a charitable organization if you can. You will become more comfortable in the professional world and with interacting with other people in this way. It will also increase your social skills.
The second activity includes practicing presentations and your job interview with one or two friends or trusted family members. To prepare for these practice sessions, I encourage you to go to every job interview that you are invited to even if you do not want the job. By doing this, you will discover what kinds of questions you might be asked during a job interview.
Make a list of all possible questions you might be asked and create a little presentation of yourself that includes answers to these questions. You will want to create a 10-15 minute presentation that is concise. Write this down as if it were a speech that you were going to give to a selected audience. For example, “Hello, my name is….and I am an engineer. I graduated from ….. with a vision of one day becoming…… I want to make a contribution to……by…….and I believe that I am a good candidate for this position because …….Now, practice this speech in front of your family or friends several times. Yes, do it.
Finally, remember to research every company you are interested in so that you will be able to tell them why you want to work for them. You will also know what knowledge and skills they are seeking in a candidate. Create little mini-speeches that are specific to the organization you want to work for and practice those as well.
Last but not least, do not worry about attracting a woman. Your confidence will attract her. Include in your tape recorder that you create with your truth thoughts the following; “I am a good Muslim man who has the desire and ability to protect and provide for the woman that Allah brings to me as a wife. Allah knows what woman is the woman who will be my wife, and all is well.”
Consider letting your family and friends know that you are available and seeking marriage as you focus on your career.
Remember, it is quite normal for things to take time. Most people participate in a very large number of job interviews before they find a job that will position them for the career choices they are seeking.
In the meantime, volunteer if you can – this also looks good in your CV -, and/or take a job that you might not really want so much, but will keep you “in the game” while you continue to interview for other positions. If you add to all of these activities doing some helpful “chores” at home so that your parents can feel proud of you, your self-esteem will improve.
May Allah (swt) help you,
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.