“I’m afraid of x; I can’t do it, I just want to hide away!”
If you've ever felt like this, did you also secretly hope to find a wand that would just magic all your troubles away?
Many of the sisters who come to me for coaching have feelings just like these; they want to turn them on their heads so badly, but they just don’t know where or how to start. Once we’ve established that I don’t have a magic wand hidden away somewhere, we start getting down to working out how we can overcome their challenges.
Everyone’s journey is different, but there are some stages that they all share, and Khadijah’s journey (not her real name) is a good example.
Khadijah was great at her job. She was a teacher in an Islamic school; she just loved working with the children and found it easy to develop relationships with them. It was nothing to her to stand up in front of her class and teach, but as part of her duties she was also expected to make presentations to the other teachers and she dreaded it. She was running out of excuses to get out of doing it and had to do one in the next month to stand a chance of being considered for the promotion she felt she deserved.
1. Get to the bottom of the fear
The first thing we did was to take a good look at what was holding her back. Khadijah said that every time she thought about doing a presentation these ideas came to her mind:
- “My mouth will all dry up and I won’t be able to speak”
- “Samira will be there and I know she hates me and that will make me nervous, so I’ll stutter”
- “I’ll probably say something stupid and they all laugh at me”
- “I’ll just show myself up to be a fraud and I’ll never get the promotion....in fact they’ll probably give me the sack and that’ll mean that I won’t be able to pay off my car payments and I’ll lose my car...”
With all those thoughts and more running through her mind, no wonder she was nervous about giving a presentation!
2. Check out the reality
The next thing that we did was to go through each of the thoughts and challenge them to see how true they were, what evidence there was for them and how helpful they were to Khadijah’s desire to be able to stand up and give a presentation.
- It was very possible that if she was nervous that her mouth may be dry, so that was a realistic thought.
- Yes, Samira would probably be there, and whether or not she actually did ‘hate’ Khadijah was open to question, but the fact that Khadijah perceived that she did could cause her to feel nervous giving a presentation in front of her, and when she was nervous, she was more likely to stutter.
- If the presentation was to be made in front of a group of her friends and colleagues, most of them would more likely feel empathy with her and be supportive - particularly her friends - rather than laugh at her, but it could possibly happen.
- The fact that she’d been a successful teacher for so long made it unlikely that she would be seen as a fraud; more likely that she was just nervous about giving her first presentation to a group of teachers, and that wouldn’t be lawful grounds for dismissal!
If you'd like some support to find your magic wand, ask Amal for a free consultation and you can have a chat about it.
3. Work out strategies to overcome the challenges
We then went through each of the challenges and worked out how Khadijah could overcome them.
- The easiest to resolve was to decide that she would have an unbreakable glass with water in it by her when she made her presentation, to relieve her dry mouth (if she did get one).
- To reduce her nervousness in front of Samira, we worked on several fronts. It would take a longer time than we had then to work on the relationship with Samira, so we focused on the presentation initially by: choosing a subject for her to talk about that she was comfortable with; getting her to practice it several times out of the presentation room and also in it; and gaining the support of a close friend who agreed to listen to the talk and give her feedback, and also to sit at the front when she gave her talk.
- We also did some desensitization work to help Khadijah cope with being laughed at and worked out some things that she could say if it did happen.
- And she did a lot of dua`a to Allah to ask him to give her the confidence to carry the talk off well.
Khadijah did get through the presentation. She was nervous beforehand, but once she got into her stride, the talk flowed well and she even got a couple of compliments. I’d like to say that one of them was from Samira, but some miracles do take a bit longer! And the next two presentations got easier and easier...as do most things when you practice them.
So who was it who had the ‘magic wand’? I guess if anyone did, it was Khadijah as she had the courage to face her fears and work out a way to overcome them.
Sometimes, we all just have to be prepared to take that step out of our comfort zone, wave our own magic wand and trust in the support of Allah and His Words, knowing that:
“Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity.” - The Holy Qur'an Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:286