The Personal Bank Account
You might be thinking that we are talking of your bank balance or your jewels in the locker. Actually, we are discussing something even more priceless and invaluable. We will be looking at some ways to build self-confidence and a strong character that will help you embrace the first three habits of highly effective teens, as suggested by Sean Covey.
Just as you can deposit and withdraw from your personal bank account (PBA), you can similarly do so with the stuff you think about, act upon or do to others – they, too, impact your PBA. For instance, when you honour a commitment or keep a promise, it becomes an instant deposit into your PBA. Why? Because it makes you feel good inside and happy outside. It boosts your self-esteem and you feel in control of your life. On the contrary, if you break a promise or stand someone up, it’s a withdrawal because you feel disappointed. Later, you try to defend your wrong behaviour through excuses and justifications that nag you from the inside and make you miserable on the outside.
So, are you ready to evaluate your PBA, just to check, if you are loaded or bankrupt? Following are some signs, according to Sean Covey, of both conditions (sounds like a disease). Take the evaluation:
Signs of a poor PBA
- You cave in easily to peer pressure.
- You wrestle with feelings of depression and inferiority.
- You’re overly concerned about what others think of you.
- You act arrogantly to hide your insecurities.
- You self-destruct by getting heavily into drugs, pornography, vandalism, etc.
- You get jealous easily, especially when someone close to you succeeds.
Signs of a healthy PBA
- You stand up for yourself and resist peer pressure.
- You’re not overly concerned about being popular.
- You see life as a generally positive experience.
- You trust yourself.
- You are goal-driven.
- You are happy for the successes of others.
If your current personal bank account is low, don’t worry about it. Just start making small deposits right away. This will eventually win back your confidence. Small deposits over a period of time will make you rich.
Following is a list of some initial yet meaningful deposits you can make to build your PBA. Similarly, an opposite action would end up in a withdrawal from your PBA:
- Keep promises made to yourself
- Initiate little acts of kindness for others
- Handle yourself gently
- Be honest with yourself and others
- Renew yourself
- Let your talents bloom
- Break personal promises
- Be a loner and keep to yourself
- Beat yourself up
- Be dishonest with yourself and others
- Wear yourself out
- Neglect your talents
Keep promises made to yourself
Have you been friends with people who say one thing and do just the opposite? They promise to pick you up for a party at such-and-such a time but never show up. How humiliating it is to deal with people who take their promises so lightly and habitually break them! You end up mistrusting them.
The same goes for commitments you make to yourself. I will finish my homework as soon as I get home. I will stick to my diet. And when you break a promise to yourself, you stop trusting yourself.
Start making small deposits into your PBA by keeping small promises to yourself, such as: I will eat healthy food for lunch; I will not answer my cell phone until I have offered my prayers, etc. You can make bigger deposits into your PBA once your self-trust is built and you feel more in control of your life. Then, ignoring a nagging brother or sister or sharing with them will be possible, too. These and similar bigger deposits will make you emotionally richer.
Initiate little acts of kindness for others
Psychiatrists state that if you ever feel depressed, try to do something for others. It will lift you up, maybe because you will focus outwards rather than inwards. When you serve someone else, it generates a natural feeling of goodness inside, as is the law of Allah (swt).
Sean Covey shares a personal example. Once, while travelling, he was upgraded to first class. He was very excited at the prospects of wide seats, edible food, courteous stewardesses, etc. Among the passengers, he noticed a lady travelling alone with a wailing baby. She was clearly in distress.
After battling inside his head for some time, Sean decided to swap his ticket with hers. She was quite surprised at his kind gesture and thanked him profusely. Throughout the flight, Sean kept on thinking how the baby and mother were doing. Unable to curb his curiosity, he went up to the first class just to check on them. The sight brought a smile to his face, and he immediately knew that he had made the right decision. The baby was warmly snuggled up to his mother, and they were both in peaceful slumber. Their peace meant a great deposit for Sean. Kindness always brings comfort that selfishness cannot.
Handle yourself gently
Rita Mae Brown once said: “One of the keys to happiness is having a bad memory.” Some of us are very self-critical. We expect perfection from ourselves; thus, when we make mistakes, we are least forgiving and most uptight.
Especially if we are late bloomers, we should not expect perfection the very next morning after making new attempts to improve. We should be patient with ourselves and give ourselves time to grow. We should also learn to laugh at our mistakes and not repeat them.
Sean Covey shares another example. A ship at sea for many years picks up thousands of barnacles that attach themselves to the bottom of the ship and eventually weigh it down, becoming a threat to its safety. Such a ship ultimately needs its barnacles removed, and the least expensive and easiest way is for the ship to harbour in a freshwater port, free of salt water. Soon the barnacles become loose and fall off. The ship is able to return to sea, free of its burden.
Are you carrying barnacles in the form of mistakes, regrets and pain from the past? Perhaps you need to let yourself soak around in fresh water to rid yourself of the barnacles, too. Letting go of your burden may just be the deposit you need.
Insha’Allah, in the upcoming issues we will discuss the remaining three ways to deposit into your emotional bank account and build self-esteem. Be on the lookout…