Building Back Your Self Confidence
by Megan Wyatt, Founder of Wives of Jannah
Honestly, I think us females are just so hard on ourselves! We truly are!
So many women express the feeling that they've lost themselves after marriage and starting a family. That academic go-getter girl who had big dreams before marriage is now the go-fold-another-pile-of-laundry woman who dreams of a crumb free floor, empty laundry basket, and a chance to sit down and drink from her favorite mug in silence.
Goodness. So many of us just want silence. Not diamonds and bigger houses. Just silence! But so many of us also desire....more. To see more of ourselves realized and to feel confident in our abilities to participate in the world at large.
As a wife and a mother of four, alhamdulilah and masha'Allah, I completely understand the desire for silence, to see the bottom of my laundry basket, and to connect with parts of myself that go beyond my family and home.
Saying this out loud is often scary for women who fear it makes them sound ungrateful or uncaring about their families.
But it doesn't have to be this or that.
You can be a fully dedicated wife and mother and also dedicate yourself to areas of your life that truly nurture you and make good use of your talents and abilities.
Before I discuss self-confidence it's worth nothing that the phrase "self-confidence" and "self-esteem" are often interchanged but they focus on different parts of ourselves.
"The terms self-confidence and self-esteem are often conflated. Confidence is a measure of faith in one’s own abilities; esteem is about our sense of self. It involves both thoughts and emotions and influences how we perceive others and interact with the world." (1)
In another post I'll talk about self-esteem but today let's look at building back your self-confidence without compromising your family life.
1) Make peace with prioritizing your family.
I am completely unapologetic about the fact that I only coach clients on Sundays. This is because being present with my husband and my kids is a top priority in my life. Each of my children, ranging in ages from 18-6 need a part of me each day.
I homeschool the younger two (and used to homeschool the older two) and spend a good part of my day aside from schooling as a taxi driver, chef, maid, and Uno champion. I am proud of my sacrifices for my family and also extremely grateful for the fact that I can build a life around them.
I will fight tooth and nail to make sure I can show up as my best self for my kids and that means saying no to opportunities and deadlines that I'd love to be a part of but can't. I know that for me, personally, there is a limit to what I can give to the world and I want to make sure when I show up for family or clients they are getting my personal best.
Part of my self-confidence is built by my efforts for my family. I don't undervalue that role at all or think they aren't "enough" simply because those efforts aren't attached to the outside world.
Parenting is....oh my goodness.... the biggest role of my life! It's the biggest skill building and growth opportunity of my life and I work hard at being a better parent every day. Being a wife is equally a huge role and I also work hard striving to be a better wife every day.
And being a wife and parent are roles I am accountable to Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala, for before other areas of my life I'd like to pursue. So I take them seriously and I don't worry about being "too much of a housewife" or "only a mom" as a result. (We need to unpack those phrases another day.)
Instead, I have decided for me personally what honoring the rights of my family looks like and I do my best to uphold my goals in that area. May Allah forgive me my shortcomings and and increase me in acts of service and care for my family.
2) Invite goals into your life.
All of that being said above I value the time and space I do carve out to take on new activities, goals, and challenges that nurture my self-confidence. Self-confidence isn't something you improve just by talking about it. It's built by doing something different and experiencing success, growth, and a degree of joy or accomplishment as a result.
What do you want to do more of in your life? What skills are you longing to put into use? What makes your brain feel alive and excited? What gives you, what my kids call, "sparkly eyes?" Apparently my eyes twinkle in a noticeable way when I'm fully alive, in my element, and as a result relaxed.
Having a goal in mind for your life is an invitation to grow and take new action. Goals, mind you, aren't the same thing as ideas. A goal is something with an action or series of actions that you'll take.
Building confidence can begin with small things like getting dressed each morning, taking a morning walk, reading The Qur'an for 5 minutes a day, or completing one single lecture in a two week period that you've been wanting to complete.
It can also be led by bigger challenges. Reorganizing your closet, decluttering the garage, repainting a room, selling old things online and using that cash towards something new, taking an online course, or volunteering once a month in your local community.
As you start with small easy goals it becomes easier to add on bigger goals. The positivity snowballs and reminds you that when you set your mind to something, insha'Allah, you can do it.
For many of my coaching clients I look for goals that make them a little nervous because those are the ones closer to what they really want to accomplish.
I set 14 day challenges to give them a chance to start something new without the daunting feeling of being committed for life. Knowing they'll meet me again to talk about their goals propels them into action but so does simply having the environment to think about themselves and what they want.
3) It's ok to make space for you.
Women, so much more than men, need reminded that it's O.K. to make space for themselves and their needs as an individual in the family schedule. Being fully committed, fully present, and fully available doesn't have to mean without limit.
As a human being you aren't limitless in what you can give without it depleting you. Give with all your heart but make space to give to yourself.
Work towards an environment where you have time to nurture your interests, your skills, and use them in a way that lights you up and reminds you that, attached as you are to your husband or children, you are still you.
Invite your husband, if needed, into a conversation where you can share the value of alone time for your well-bing and of time to pursue things that lift your heart and builds your self-confidence.
I have worked with so many women who felt depressed because, as much as they loved their family, felt that all they did was give, give, give and they no longer recognized their face in the mirror. They didn't want to feel resentful toward their husband or children but that feeling was present because they were being run ragged by how their family system was structured.
"Suck it up" mentality doesn't work. Instead, I have seen it lead to women completely falling apart while feeling guilty for wanting anything for herself while constantly feeling her Lord must be angry at her because serving her family isn't "enough."
You are a full human being. Make space for all of you.
I started, if you notice, talking about family and how I strive to prioritize mine in whatever way I can. I start with this because I want women to understand I am a wife and mother who values her role. I get it.
I understand mom guilt, wife guilt, spiritual guilt and have had to conquer that too! It seems something most women share in common are feelings of guilt when it comes to living a life that feels balanced for us.
But me being here and serving the Wives of Jannah community, whether through a blog post, podcast, in a program, or coaching is also an important part of my life. I pushed through the guilt and instead focused on building a life that supports the goals and vision that I have because I recognize my potential, my limits, and my needs.
And I also know that there is space and time for you. You just have to believe you are worth seeking it. And you are.
So I leave you with this golden rule I teach and live by:
"You can't do everything you want all at the same time.
But you can make time to do everything you want."
Life has seasons. Some seasons offer you more time and some offer you less.
No matter the season make time for the things to remind you of who you are.
Remember you are already doing so much and be proud of that.
And with that, your own self-confidence will build or bounce right back!