Building self-esteem

Ask our counsellor

Phyllis FariasDear Madam,
I am a student of Class 12. I am not able to answer questions in class. For some reason I am low on confidence. I hesitate to clear my doubts. I cannot communicate with my teachers. When my teachers ask me questions, I get nervous and tense. I need to overcome this fear. Please help.
A

Dear A,

Mark Matteson in his book, Freedom from Fear, has used an acronym for the word FEAR — False Evidence Appearing Real. You cannot get rid of fear unless you really want to. You have to gain courage to overcome your fear. You need to stop imagining that you will be rebuked or put down by your teachers or people in authority when you speak up.  

Here is a story, which I hope will help you to rise above your fear.

The Japanese General Nabunaga decided to attack the enemy, even though he had only one soldier to the enemy’s ten. He was sure he would win, but his soldiers were afraid. On the way to the battlefield they stopped at a Shinto shrine. Nabunaga said to his army, “I shall now toss a coin. If it is heads, we shall win. If it is tails, we shall lose. Destiny will now reveal itself.” He tossed the coin. It was heads. The soldiers were so charged up for the battle that they wiped out the enemy. The next day, an aide said to Nabunaga, “No one can change destiny.” “Right,” Nabunaga replied,
showing him the coin which had heads on both sides!

You need to build your confidence by telling yourself that you will answer at least one question or clear one doubt in class at least once a week. Taking the first step is important.

Also, stop thinking that there will be negative consequences when you speak up. If you speak to yourself positively and convince yourself that you can do it, you will be able to overcome your fear. Remember you are in charge of your destiny — you could have a great future or you could destroy it with your own fears.

Dear Madam,
I have failed in one subject in II PUC. I had tried my best but I did not succeed. Till now I have never failed. My family is depressed because of me. I don’t have any idea what to do next. My dreams are shattered. I have thought of giving a re-exam. Please help.
YS

Dear YS,

There are two ways of looking at failure:

-  To feel sorry for yourself and therefore get depressed.

-  To learn from the experience and move on, putting some of the lessons learnt into practice.

You are feeling sorry for yourself and this feeling is enhanced because your family is also depressed. Why else would you say, ‘I have thought of giving a re-exam?’ Where does the question of ‘thinking’ about it arise? I sincerely hope you take the supplementary exam. Marks are not a measure of intelligence or creativity. Marks are a measurement of your performance in one exam. Do not give ‘marks’ the power to determine how you feel about yourself. Common thoughts are, ‘If I fail an exam, I’m a failure’. You are not a failure, you just did badly in an exam.
Here are a few tips to help you to move on.

- Analyse the reason/s for your poor performance. It could have been a lack of comprehension, or your answers may have lacked the correct terminology.

-  While studying, it is always best to write down the important points as you are reading.

- Use Visualisation techniques to help you to remember.

- During the exam, pick out the keyword in the question before you attempt to answer it. For example, ‘list’, ‘describe’, ‘compare’.

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