Self-confidence enables self-empowerment



Column by Fatimah Shalash. E-mail [email protected].

It took me some time to realize that in times I was respected or disrespected, I had a degree of control to how I was treated.

Particularly, I recall the instances where I was mistreated or not taken seriously.

I wondered why someone thought he or she could order me around or talk to me in a condescending manner. I tended to blame them before looking at my own behaviors.

It never occurred to me that I could inadvertently be the one encouraging it. Second-guessing myself and not putting a stop to it probably didn’t translate to others that I thought I deserved any better. Maybe at the time, I didn’t give it too much thought. Perhaps I didn’t even realize how harmful it was to my well-being. Then I learned a huge lesson — “you train people how to treat you by how you treat yourself.”

Through your words and actions, both to others and yourself, you can invite others to respect you. A few examples of how to do this is through creating boundaries, talking about yourself in a positive manner and standing up for yourself when people cross the line.

That line is yours to choose. It is for you to decide when you feel that twinge of discomfort or that pang of humiliation. In that moment, you have one of two decisions: believe that they are right and empower their voice, or realize that you deserve so much better.

Once you have had that realization of deserving more, like the one I’ve had, it becomes extremely difficult to tolerate disrespect at any level. I believe that this has come as a result of cultivating my own respect for myself. When you appreciate who you are, others can’t help but appreciate you, too.

This isn’t just a lesson for friendships or romantic relationships, but for classmates, co-workers and family. While I realize there are different degrees of complexity in these relationships, the overall take-home message is that the power can lie in your hands, if you take it.

In situations where you’re around people who make you feel inferior, you have a choice and a voice. It may take some time to find them, and that’s OK.

Start by discerning between what others are actually saying and how what you say to yourself could garble that message into something completely different.

Exercise your self-confidence and control those with whom you feel safest.

The message is not clearing or giving justice to those who mistreat you. It is exactly the opposite. Rather, it is offering a different way of looking at things.

The more empowered you are, the less room people have to treat you otherwise.