Do Positive Self-Help Affirmations and Mantras really help us?

Self-help mantras and positive affirmations are thronging social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. These quotes have really caught my attention lately. Yes, they are inspiring and they do make me feel great about myself sometimes. Self-help is also a multi-million-dollar industry. Let me also say I am talking about quotes pertaining to self-help here and not quotes from great leaders and motivators. So, what are self-help mantras? Here are some examples:

“I have the knowledge to make smart decisions for myself.”

“I have all that I need to make today a great day.”

“I am, and always will be, enough.”

 These are some great positive self-affirmations. At first glance, it is difficult to see anything wrong with it. Now, I would like you to picture a client of mine who experiences low self-esteem at the workplace and struggles to find his voice in meetings. If he is asked to say “I am, and always will be enough” every day, it will contradict his inner feelings and may result in him feeling worse. Research shows that for people like my client, it is more rewarding when their negative feelings are brought out with the help of a broader intervention than overly positive and unreasonable affirmations that they do not relate to.

Social media platforms force us to think positively but the reality is that it does not really lead to happiness. When we fail at something, these beliefs on positive affirmations contradicting the story that we build in our head can cause real harm. Our understanding of what makes us happy can be skewed sometimes. If I were to choose between two events – one a vacation in Mexico and one volunteering to coach and guide someone who needs me, whom I have never met in my life and lives in another continent, I definitely would choose the vacation and I would think that would make me happy. The truth is these two events happened in my life and I am pleasantly surprised that the volunteer session I did with this individual brought me a sense of ecstasy that I have never experienced before. The fact that she sat in a house with no walls talking about women empowerment gave me goosebumps.

Paradoxically, an individual who has high self-esteem can gain a lot of benefits from these self-help affirmations to enhance his career and life in general. Having good family relationships, close friends, a satisfactory job are some of the factors that affect an individual’s self-esteem. It is important to understand that self-esteem cannot be based purely on a simple self-affirmation every day in front of the mirror. If you have low self-esteem and your confidence is affecting your productivity, promotion, and climbing the ladder of success, it is imperative that you get help and not resort to self-affirmations that may be doing more harm than good.

One piece of advice that has not gone to waste for me is that we are in control of our thoughts and actions. It is not a surprise that your thoughts and actions are related. If your positive self-affirmations are contradicting your beliefs and actions, you must not sweep them under the rug. Using words that contradict what you are truly feeling will not change things in your life. I strongly recommend getting help, invest in yourself. We invest in clothes, cars, and houses but hesitate to invest in our development. You must be your first priority not what you own. Saying “things are fine” multiple times, does not make it fine. You must confront your issues for it to actually be fine one day.

Hamna Siddique is a career and leadership coach focusing on confidence and personal development.

Email: hamnasiddique@goldbridge.llc. https://hamnasiddique.com/| ©2020 Goldbridge Coaching LLC |All Rights Reserved|

 

How to Understand Intelligence to Achieve Success

“People who boast about their I.Q. are losers.” ― Stephen Hawking

 I believe I must thank Alfred Binet, Robert Yerkes, David Wechsler and the list goes on for the psychological assessments we have today. When IQ traveled the Atlantic and reached the American soil, the psychologists decided that this little gem was innate and was determined by your ethnic group, culture, and genes. People from war zones were tested before their entry to the US and were noted to have lower IQ whereas the Nordics were tested and found to be high in IQ. The same ethnic group of people who scored low in the IQ tests was tested later and found to have a much higher IQ. Research into this change revealed that this was due to proper nutrition, education, and also some change in their parents’ educational level. Yes, it is true, your parent’s education level can have an impact on your IQ.

When psychological tests were introduced in the early days, women performed significantly worse than men. Men had better access to the types of tests such as puzzles and other activities compared to women in that era which connotates the reason for women doing poorly could be the lack of accessibility to such activities. This also suggests that the requirement to do these IQ tests then were purely abstract intelligence. This is different from the practical or emotional intelligence that we talk about today. The biggest misconception the world has about IQ is that it is a measure of your intelligence and it is innate and cannot be changed. The truth is practicing IQ tests can increase your scores. Also, your environment, nutrition, childhood accessibility to healthcare, and other factors have a huge impact on your IQ.

Intelligence must always be seen as multi-faceted but sadly it is not so in the world today. Children who are labeled to have low IQ or considered less smart than their peers grow up into adults believing what they were told. It is astonishing how many adults underestimate their intelligence and subsequently their confidence due to their belief about themselves. Humans have different kinds of intelligence and if we use the right intelligence for the right job, we will be successful and content in our career. Forcing oneself to use the part of intelligence that is not their strength is catastrophic and can eventually lead to burnout and lack of motivation. These are probably the people who wake up on a Monday morning dreading to go to work.

Let us have a look at emotional intelligence. Now, how does a person high in emotional intelligence use it to be successful in life? One element that is prevalent in most emotionally intelligent people is empathy. This comes from being self-aware of one’s own emotions and that of others. The presence of empathy leads to the consideration of feelings of others in action and words. Empathy is a great quality in a leader. An empathic leader is willing to acknowledge other’s emotions and also unmask her own emotions at the right time. This also makes them excellent team players as they are more understanding of others. Emotionally intelligent people are less defensive and entertain constructive criticism. They work on themselves and instigate change in their life. The intrapersonal skills possessed by an emotionally intelligent person makes them an adaptable person. Their outlook is more positive and they do not dwell in negativity. The relationship management of emotional intelligence makes them a great mentor, influencer, and inspirational leader.

My linguistic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal intelligence is high along with some logical-mathematical intelligence, which is probably why I decided to become an entrepreneur and a blogger. My spatial and naturalistic intelligence is lower which is probably why I didn’t become an engineer or a biologist. Being aware of the type of intelligence I possess and knowing my personality strengths gives me gratification in my life and a sense of validation that this is what I am born to do. I can easily justify my lack of expertise in other fields because of the awareness I have created learning about myself. Stephen Hawking’s quote above has so much more meaning to it now.

Hamna Siddique is a career and leadership coach focusing on confidence and personal development.

Email: hamnasiddique@goldbridge.llc. https://hamnasiddique.com/| ©2020 Goldbridge Coaching LLC |All Rights Reserved|

 

How to embrace our emotions?

Imagine a boardroom full of people trying to solve complex issues. Chances are the level of emotions may be displayed in the room depending on the hierarchy of the leaders, where the top leader in the room is in a better position to display her emotions. The employee in the lowest tier of the leadership tries hard to hide her emotions. The western civilization has embraced the ethos of an emotionally amputated decision-making roundtable where the solutions are more technical and less emotionally comprehensible.

It is true that technical solutions can be utilitarian compared to an entirely emotionally motivated action. Purely emotionally driven behavior can lead to an uncontrollable situation with mob-like conduct spreading like wildfire. Hitler’s Nazi Germany was a good example of this. The propaganda created by Hitler at the time exploited the emotions of the people and stirred up hatred that leads to violence and hostility towards people who seemed different from them. The Milgram Shock experiment conducted by Stanley Milgram, a psychologist at Yale University highlights the conflict an individual experiences between obedience to an authority figure and personal conscience. Milgram questioned whether Adolf Eichmann, German high official and one of the major organizers of the Holocaust and his officers were accomplices or were just following orders. The experiment involved “killing” innocent humans by administering a shock. It was finally concluded from the experiment that ordinary people follow orders easily if coming from an authority figure. Subsequently, the authority figure can also misuse their power and autonomy to make irrational decisions.

What role does emotion have in all this? When we are stuck in a situation such as the above, either as a leader or a follower, dig into those feelings. Explore the emotion and check if it is in favor of morality. Aristotle argues that virtues regulate our emotions. Whether it is true or not can we not explore the virtues that we possess, for instance, fear of people different from us by trying to understand these people by getting to know them through their culture and develop courage?  Can we not dig into these emotions and find out if they arise out of an old mindset and family belief or is it in line with the current boisterous time that we live in? If these emotions are pragmatic and guide us to a more principled path then surely revelation of these emotions can aid in the situation. Extreme measures are taken to hide emotions in organizations but isn’t it time to change this outlook and use these to our advantage. Leaders could embrace this by incorporating positive emotions such as gratitude in the organization. These emotions can also lead to reciprocal altruistic behavior by persuading the other individual to boost their morale reinforcement further.

Displaying positive emotions help in recreating positive experiences again in life and subsequently, reliving these positive experiences create a kind of adaptability in people, in the sense that negative and unfortunate experiences can be interpreted in a positive way. This is in relation to adaptation theory that suggests that under normal circumstances, people tend to adapt to positive variations in the environment. They reach a state of hedonic neutrality. Increasing gratitude can prevent this fall and people appreciate it even in hard and adverse situations by interpreting it in a more positive light. This means even when an employee is having a rough day at work, the feeling or the remembrance that the employee is with helpful people in a good environment can help them feel better about the situation.

Going back to the story of Hitler and Nazi Germany, the Jews looked different from them. Hitler was bothered by how different they looked and stayed away from them in his younger days. I wonder if Hitler had explored his emotions and questioned his hatred and tried to create a sense of psychological safety for himself by getting to know them, the hatred would not have spread like wildfire. Leaders of organizations could create a sense of psychological safety too by getting to know the people who work for them and create history for leaders of tomorrow by showcasing empathy and gratitude in making positive influences. Wouldn’t the world be a much better place to be if we nourish our human side to harness a future that we would like our future generation to live in?

Hamna Siddique is a career and leadership coach focusing on confidence and personal development.

Email: hamnasiddique@goldbridge.llc. |https://hamnasiddique.com| ©2020 Goldbridge Coaching LLC |All Rights Reserved|

 

Are you unhappy with your career?

 

 

I grew up in an environment where career counseling or guidance was rather nonexistent. I had a couple of choices to choose from to pick my major and not a lot of thought was put into it. We planned vacations more elaborately than my career. My father, being a successful banker and a good role model, due to his success, I presumed that is the path I should take. Soon I realized that as much I love Accounting and Business; I could not be confined to these disciplines alone for the rest of my life.

Shortly after my graduation, an insurance job fell on my lap, and within a couple of years, I was working in Lloyds of London feeling empty inside but making big bucks or should I say quid. The feeling was ironic as a few years back I yearned to be here and I thought I would be overjoyed if I had this job but here I was unhappy and questioning my life choices. I remember sitting on top of high-rise buildings in London and not feeling the content I should be feeling. There was an emptiness, a big void, and even after having a great job, I felt like an underachiever. This feeling made me feel emotionally paralyzed inside. Over the years, I became good at ignoring this feeling and tried to move on with my life.

And move on…I did…to the United States of America. I continued to feel lost with no help. It took some time to reflect on my likes and interests by myself. I decided to study psychology, as I have always had an interest in it but never had a chance to study it. I saw my move to the United States as an opportunity to go back to college and major in psychology. It was a big move for me as I had to revisit my fear and the emptiness I was talking about earlier. I decided to come face to face with my fear and joined college. It is hard to forget my first day as I decided to sit in the front row right under the professor’s nose. I enjoyed and galloped through every class that was offered. Years flew like weeks as I discovered my passion for psychology.

Today, I am proud to say that I am a coach. I realize that I took a complete 360-degree turn in my career. I love helping people achieve their dreams – dreams that have been ignored or hidden for years. I noticed the emptiness in me and decided to do something about it. I realized that if I did not do it for myself, no one else will. I realized the importance of career coaching the hard way, which is why I give career coaching a priority. I have created a unique career coaching program for my clients who need a little help in their careers. This is an investment for your life. Don’t be stuck in a job that you hate or feel half fulfilled. We can work together and explore your options in the career you already have or would like to have. We can also help locate your strengths and find a career you would like to transition to. My career package includes Career Planning, Transition, Leadership, and Exploration.

Hamna Siddique is a career and leadership coach focusing on confidence and personal development.

Email: hamnasiddique@goldbridge.llc. |https://hamnasiddique.com| ©2020 Goldbridge Coaching LLC |All Rights Reserved|

 

 

Why is our emotional well-being our last priority

 

Why do we place our emotional well-being below everything else?

I would like to take the help of psychology, my passion to help answer this question since in the past we humans have taken the help of psychology to understand our complex and complicated human existence.

But let us not forget Biology, the discipline which defined the first difference between a man and a woman. Biology taught us that men and women have different physical parts and slowly these physical parts were connected to our psychological qualities. The men were expected to look masculine and masculinity was associated with strength. Women physically exhibited fertility and femininity, that were linked to the soft touch and gentleness of a caregiver. What does this caregiver do? Stays domesticated; away from the public eye, putting everyone else before her, always working hard, doing chores, having no time for herself. What do the men do? Gallops to the public arena, looking strong and ready to face the world and solve the problems of men and women. That seems a lot on the men’s shoulder too.

The women look at these men and envy them for their easy access to the public arena. Men look at these women and said to themselves they are tired of being strong but will never give up the public arena as this is where we belong. In between the war for survival both the men and women suffer. Our minds and emotional well-being became our last priority. The survival in this materialistic world takes precedence over everything else. Instant gratification takes over. It became important to show people we have everything we need even though we are empty inside.

Our minds, our feelings, our well-being is concealed within ourselves, even concealed from ourselves sometimes. How do we reintroduce ourselves to these minds and achieve a state of balance and emotional well-being? It is simple. Access it.

Yes, it is that simple. Now, you may do it yourself through your rituals of prayers, meditation, or just look at your behavior pattern, make a plan, and follow-through. But sometimes, we know that we need someone to motivate us to achieve what we have been looking for and keep us accountable for our actions to reach our goal since it is so much harder doing it alone. Life coaching helps in getting to know yourself, know what makes you happy, what comes naturally to you, and live the life you have always wanted to live.

Hamna Siddique is a career and leadership coach focusing on confidence and personal development.

Email: hamnasiddique@goldbridge.llc. |https://hamnasiddique.com| ©2020 Goldbridge Coaching LLC |All Rights Reserved|