Love Yourself First

Feeling confident is important in order to flourish in all areas of your life, especially when it comes to relationships with others. Whether you are already in a relationship or single and looking to meet one, working on yourself should remain a priority, as a lack of self-awareness and self-love is likely to leave you feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled.

There are many factors that lead to low self-esteem. If not addressed it can impact our daily lives and seep into our productivity and interactions at work. Aliya Rajah, Life Coach and NLP Practitioner gives her advice on Love Yourself First.

[Originally posted on January 8th 2019: ‘Love Yourself First’, on Aliya’s website. Reposted with permission.]

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Photo credit: Shannon Kaiser, The Path of Self Love

You may have heard the phrase ‘love yourself before you love another,’ but what does this actually mean?

In order to love yourself, you need to start by knowing who you are. How can you love what you do not know? Once you start to know who you are, it makes it a lot easier to know what you want from another.

Feeling confident is important in order to flourish in all areas of your life, especially when it comes to relationships with others. Whether you are already in a relationship or single and looking to meet one, working on yourself should remain a priority, as a lack of self-awareness and self-love is likely to leave you feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled. I’m going to share with you a few reasons why.

  1. If you don’t love yourself, you’ll be more likely to avoid spending time on your own, and so constantly seek out to be in the company of others. Apply this to dating, and you’ll find yourself needing to be with someone as opposed to wanting to be with them, and relying on your new partner to be the source of your happiness. When you’re confident in yourself, you are more likely to be with someone because you’ve chosen to be with them. You come from a place of “my life is pretty good, but being with this person will make it even better.”
  2. If you don’t value yourself, you will end up putting the other person on a pedestal and feel the urge to do anything to impress them. Have you ever been on a date and felt the need to ‘sell’ yourself to that person and convince them as to why you’re so great? Or maybe it’s happened to you, and you’ve experienced the person you’re on a date with eagerly trying to win over your approval? When you feel a great sense of self-confidence; you know who you are and what you want, you can sit there and think “do I want to spend my time with you? How do I feel about this person?”
  3. When you know and value yourself, you’ll know what you want and expect, which means you can set boundaries. An increased sense of confidence enables you to communicate when you’re not happy about something in the relationship. The unfortunate reality is if you don’t set boundaries when it comes to how others treat you, other people will set those boundaries for you. When you don’t value yourself, you’ll fear that the other person will leave you, and instead of valuing yourself to know that you will be okay by yourself, you’ll convince yourself that you need them and continue to tolerate their behaviour.
  4. If you don’t love yourself, you will end up attracting people who validate how you feel about yourself. Disrespect and name calling will be acceptable because it’s what you’re comfortable with. Start being kinder to yourself and talk to yourself like you would someone you love. As your confidence increases, you will naturally begin to attract those who are similar to you, and you create healthier relationships.

 

How can you start to love yourself more in order to have flourishing relationships?

  1. Know your values. What is important to you and what are your reasons for wanting to be in a relationship? What are your non-negotiables?
  2. Learn to enjoy your own company. Go for a walk, pamper yourself, read a book, anything that makes you feel good.
  3. Understand that saying no doesn’t make you a bad person. You can still be a kind person but have your boundaries.
  4. Forgive yourself. Remind yourself that you are human, it’s okay to make mistakes, and that there are lessons to be learnt from every experience.

https://aliyarajah.com/ | Instagram: @coach_aliya | Facebook: @AliyaRajahCC | YouTube: Aliya Rajah

How to Boost Your Confidence Before a Stressful Event

If you’re someone who freaks out at the thought of any of the above events, or if you regularly imagine everything going wrong, I’d recommend creating a routine for yourself to prepare yourself for what you need to do.

Many of us feel anxious before speaking at events. The biggest villain in the piece being the over-thinking leading to self-doubt. Aliya Rajah, Life Coach and NLP Practitioner gives her advice on How to Boost Your Confidence Before a Stressful Event.

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Photo credit: Leading Higher

During a recent coaching session with one of my clients, we were developing a strategy to help her feel more confident before delivering presentations at short notice.

She asked me “Aliya, what would you do if someone gave you 5 minutes to prepare an important speech?” (By the way this question was hypothetical, her colleagues give her more a lot more than 5 minutes to prepare for a presentation!)

I said “I would most likely prepare the speech for 4 minutes, and then take 1 minute out for myself to feel calm and get in the zone.”

‘Really? Even with only 5 minutes to prepare?”

“Definitely, it’s so important for me to approach challenging situations in a calm and relaxed way.”

Let’s say you have a job interview coming up, or you need to give a presentation at work. We often focus fully on preparing the content for what we need to deliver, and place less emphasis on how we need to feel in order to deliver at a higher standard.

If you’re someone who freaks out at the thought of any of the above events, or if you regularly imagine everything going wrong, I’d recommend creating a routine for yourself to prepare yourself for what you need to do. I am a huge believer of not just ‘rocking up’ to an event. Spending as little as 10 minutes doing this beforehand can make all the difference to your performance.

In this blog post, I’d like to share with you a few things I do to mentally prepare me for challenging events, in hope that they will inspire you to create a motivating routine that works for you.

  1. Start the day off well: Firstly, how you start your day will impact how the rest of the day goes. I always like to ensure that I wake up early enough to start the day off in a relaxed and calm way.
  2. Visualise: Before you leave the house in the morning, close your eyes and picture the event going really well with ideal outcomes. If you only imagine the worst case scenario, chances are you’ll feel a lot more nervous and your performance will be affected. Allow yourself to dream big and picture the event going really well!
  3. Have some empowering ‘me time.’ Before the big event, take some time out and go to a quiet space (either a meeting room or even in the bathroom). Spending a few minutes here beforehand can make all the difference to your performance. There are 3 things I love to do during this time, as they massively boost my confidence.
    • Firstly, I love to power pose. For me, this is putting my hands on my hips and standing with my legs shoulder width apart. Studies have shown that power posing increases testosterone, causing you to feel more confident, and reduces cortisol levels, therefore reducing stress.
    • Secondly, take some time to breathe. Numerous studies show that doing some deep breathing can greatly reduce anxiety and stress.
    • Thirdly, give yourself a powerful pep talk. This one might sound a bit crazy, but it 100% works. Tell yourself everything you need to hear to get you into a positive state for the event. Statements I often use are “You’ve got this, you’re going to be great!” “You are so confident!” Say it like you mean it and give yourself a big smile, whilst you walk out the door on your way to impress.

Now the outcome of the interview/meeting will depend on a number of factors, but by having a routine in place beforehand, you’ll feel a lot calmer and more prepared for the event itself. And by feeling more relaxed, it’s likely that you’ll perform much better under pressure.

I’d love to know how you get on. Feel free to drop me an email on aliya.rajah@gmail.com

Good luck!

https://aliyarajah.com/ | Instagram: @coach_aliya | Facebook: @AliyaRajahCC | YouTube: Aliya Rajah

Influential Muslim Women: Historic & Contemporary 3

Throughout Muslim history women have been in the forefront of society, taking active part in communal life in a variety of different roles, not only as mothers, daughters, sisters and wives. Not only were these women active community members and philanthropists, they were encouraged and well respected within Muslim societies.

PtMSis Influential Muslim Women Historic & Contemporary April 2019 Invitation

Date: Saturday 27th April 2019

Time: 2.30-5.15pm

Location: Euston Road

As Muslim women it is important that we have relevant and relatable role models from whom to draw inspiration, those who reflect the values of both deen and dunya. Fortunately, we do not necessarily have to look beyond our communities for such inspiration.

Throughout Muslim history women have been in the forefront of society, taking active part in communal life in a variety of different roles, not only as mothers, daughters, sisters and wives. Not only were these women active community members and philanthropists, they were encouraged and well respected within Muslim societies.

Join us to explore the contributions made by Muslim women across historic and contemporary life. In the third of our Influential Muslim Women series, we will explore the invaluable contributions made by Naseebah bint Ka’ab and Dr Hawa Abdi.

Who is your role model? Come join us to discuss further.

This is a sisters’ only event.

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Thanks to all who attended our #InfluentialMuslimWomen series event looking at inspirational historic (#NaseebahbintKaab) and contemporary (#DrHawaAbdi) role models. It is amazing to have such exemplar and relatable personae who convey the power and influence women have had in the past and continue today in Muslim societies.

The sheer strength of character, confidence, assertiveness, faith in God and their roles in the forefront of society by both women discussed inspired us all.

We had an in-depth discussion about the challenges and opportunities we face as Muslim women. At Pass the Mic Sis we aim to empower and provide a supportive space where we can express challenges faced with the mindset of looking for avenues to move forward with a positive mental attitude.

It was great to continue discussions and networking over dinner!

Special shout-out to our host #RegentsPlace!

The Elevator Pitch

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Date: Saturday 21st July 2018

Time: 2.45-5.15pm

Location: Farringdon

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, business owner, home-schooler, employee, or a sister looking for a career change, come and tell us your story!

The Elevator Pitch is the chance for you to test your ideas, generate leads or practice your presentation skills. OR all of the above. Whether you are just starting out, thinking of starting out or are already well-established in your field why not come and share your journey with us? No idea is too small or too big! Inspire others to begin or further their journeys.

As one of four Pitchers, you will be given 5 minutes to entice the audience, after which you will receive feedback through shared discussion. If you email the organiser prior to the event that you’d like to do a pitch along with what you hope to achieve from your 5 minute Pitch and post-Pitch feedback slot, we can try to direct the Q&A / feedback session accordingly. In shaa Allah.

Alternatively you could attend and enjoy the event as an audience member and join in with the discussions and Q&A sessions!

Please note that this is a sisters’ only event and for security purposes venue details will only be disclosed to sisters who confirm their place.

Light refreshments are available and any sisters interested can join us for dinner to continue discussions at a local restaurant after.

The venue is a short walk from Farringdon Station (Thameslink, Metropolitan, Hammersmith&City and Circle lines) and St John’s Street bus stop. There may be some limited on-street parking, although it’ll be on a first come first serve basis pending availability.

Thanks to the sisters who were able to battle through the tube closures and made it to our #TheElevatorPitch session. It was an intimate event with Pitchers receiving constructive feedback to hone in on and develop their #presentationskills and #confidence in #publicspeaking.

1st Anniversary: Journeys

It was good to reflect on the the journey of Pass the Mic Sis to see what was achieved within a short amount of time, with limited professional connections and resources. It just goes to prove that if one has the will to do something anything is possible.

Date: Saturday 5th May 2018

Time: 2.45-5.15pm

Location: Farringdon

This year we celebrated our 1 Year Anniversary / 1st Birthday of our establishment. It has been year of organising and meeting a range of Professional Muslim Women across industries, at various levels of experience and life stages.

It was an intimate session where we were able to talk quite in depth of our individual journeys, the challenges and opportunities we felt. What we succeeded in, what lessons we learnt and talked about where we would like to go now in the future.

It was good to reflect on the the journey of Pass the Mic Sis to see what was achieved within a short amount of time, with limited professional connections and resources. It just goes to prove that if one has the will to do something anything is possible. If a year a go someone would have told me that I would be organising networking events and contacting professional Muslim and non-Muslim women to be guest speakers, I would have laughed. But alhumdilillah an amazing bunch of Muslimahs have joined the ride and in shaa Allah we will continue to grow and attract a wider range of Professional Muslim Women in the year ahead.

So all you Professional Muslim Women out there, if you are interested in networking, supporting, learning and growing with an amazing range of fellow Muslim women come join us at our future events and help us develop the sessions further. In shaa Allah.

Influential Muslim Women: Historic & Contemporary 2

It was amazing having these two role models showcased during the session and a sense of female empowerment was felt in this group. The discussions that followed naturally were invigorating and showed how wonderful an opportunity it is for Muslim women to gather and discuss relevant topics, opportunities, and challenges we face.

Date: Saturday 10th February 2018

Time: 3-5pm

Location: Farringdon

During this session we explored the life of Noor Inayat Khan who during WW2 helped the British Government as a spy operating in Occupied France. She was an example of how many Muslims were took an active part in British society throughout history. We need to be educated about female Muslim role models throughout history and how our sisters in Islam took an active role in society, during major world events that we were not aware of.

As our contemporary role model we had the honour of having Maya Nasaani as our guest speaker. She spoke about her experiences across Saudi Arabia, Syria and here in London. The irony of it being that the her experience within the male dominated construction industry was no different in any of these regions. Maya, made her mark in Saudi Arabia by instead of waiting for an opportunity for her to progress in her to arise, she made it happen. She advocated for the inclusion of women in decision making roles and gained respect from her male colleagues by excelling in her role and proving her worth by doing.

It was amazing having these two role models showcased during the session and a sense of female empowerment was felt in this group. The discussions that followed naturally were invigorating and showed how wonderful an opportunity it is for Muslim women to gather and discuss relevant topics, opportunities, and challenges we face.

There were many women we started listing who are doing great work in representing Muslim women across a range of industries without forcing their faith on others. Muslim women are excelling in a range of professions much like women from across communities and faith groups. The sisters left the session feeling inspired and wanting to learn more about Muslim women in society.

Networking for Building and Maintaining Professional Relationships

This successful session focused on the challenges faced by Muslim women when it comes to networking at respective industry gatherings. From social customs to male dominated industries, most sisters in attendance agreed that as Muslim women the challenges we face are three-fold; firstly as women, secondly our diverse cultural backgrounds, and thirdly our Muslim identity.

Date: Saturday 4th November 2017

Time 3-5pm

Location: Vauxhall

This successful session focused on the challenges faced by Muslim women when it comes to networking at respective industry gatherings. From social customs to male dominated industries, most sisters in attendance agreed that as Muslim women the challenges we face are three-fold; firstly as women, secondly our diverse cultural backgrounds, and thirdly our Muslim identity.

This leads to having to overcome internal pressures and barriers placed by both ourselves and society leading to issues with mental health, lack of confidence, conviction and communication skills. Imagine juggling all or some of these while trying to navigate a room full of people with whom one shares little or no common ground.

We were honoured to have Siobhan Fitzpatrick as our first guest speaker, who made it all the way from Ireland especially to meet us and relay some of her experience and expertise in networking. She wrote an interesting article Allergic to Networking? which was perfect to start discussions.

Siobhan was very warm and gracious in how she listened and involved everyone in the session and gave some useful feedback which many of the sisters, including myself, tried out. The sisters who attended appreciated the presence of and external guest speaker, and expert in her field to give us her time and advice.

 

Mental Health and Wellbeing at Work

The session highlighted how much of a taboo mental health is within the Muslim community and society at large. To the extent that most affected will not reveal their condition to employers and recruiters for fear of losing their livelihoods and/or not being selected for potential opportunities.

Date: Saturday 30th September 2017

Time: 3-5pm

Location: Vauxhall

Our most popular event so far has been the Mental Health and Wellbeing session where we had a panel of sisters talking about their experiences of going through depression and various forms of mental health issues and how they dealt with it in two different ways; one sister actively sought medical help to treat her problems while the other found alternative means and self-help methods.

The session highlighted how much of a taboo mental health is within the Muslim community and society at large. To the extent that most affected will not reveal their condition to employers and recruiters for fear of losing their livelihoods and/or not being selected for potential opportunities.

The discussions that followed evoked emotions and sense of unity amongst the sisters who attended was heart-warming. The feeling of trust and openness of all proved why Pass the Mic Sis is an important platform to enable such conversations to happen in a safe and trusted group of sisters.

We will be following up this session in the coming months to take our discussions further to focus directly on how stress and mental health issues affect Muslim women in the workplace. Keep your eyes peeled for dates.

Introduction to Social Media for Professional Networking and Business Development

This session was packed with lots of information for sisters to take away. We looked at the concept of social media from its root within the marketing strategy of the business plan, the various platforms available for use within a professional context, finding out who the target market is and catering the content posted to their interests and needs, whilst maintaining the integrity and ethos of one’s own business/individual goals.

Date: Saturday 5th August 2017

Time: 3-5pm

Location: Canary Wharf

This session was packed with lots of information for sisters to take away. We looked at the concept of social media from its root within the marketing strategy of the business plan, the various platforms available for use within a professional context, finding out who the target market is and catering the content posted to their interests and needs, whilst maintaining the integrity and ethos of one’s own business/individual goals.

We explored the optimal times to post within each selected platform; we covered the most popular ones notably, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest. Online tools worth looking into to help monitor and manage posts across these platforms include Buffer, Hootsuite and Trello. The ultimate goal for social media is to create business leads and direct traffic to one’s website, and thus improve it’s search engine optimisation (SEO).

As with every successful strategy one needs to research, plan, practice, and evaluate; what worked, what could have been better and something to think about next time. Then continue the cycle by doing further research or going back to plan again. The idea is that social media isn’t static, it needs to constantly be reviewed and adapted to retain, maintain and grow a loyal online following.

The aim of the session was to show the sisters in attendance that social media can be used professionally for business or career development purposes if utilised effectively in a strategic and well thought out way. We succeeded in convincing one sister to create a LinkedIn account as a great way to search for and be found for potential new roles. As the one presenting this information to the sisters, I followed this through at work to help further develop the social media strategy for the practice I work with during the day!

Inspirational Role Models 2: Influential Muslim Women

The ladies who attended valued the presentation of female Muslim role models and it evoked a great discussion on the experiences of sisters in the workplace based on their Muslim identities. The session felt important and the networking group valued for bringing together Muslim women to provide support and network within a comfortable group of sisters who genuinely understood.

Date: Saturday 8th July 2017

Time: 3-5pm

Location: Farringdon

This was a popular session during which we explored four different inspirational Muslim women. Our two historic examples included Khadijah (raa) and the Queen of Sheba. Both in their own way show how Muslim women can be leaders, business women, articulate, respected, all while maintaining their morals and empathy towards others.

The late Zaha Hadid and Ibtihaj Muhammad comprised our contemporary influential Muslim women. They both did groundbreaking work in their respective fields and as role models for future architects and sportswomen from the Muslim community.

This session was particularly important due to the nature of the way Muslim women are misrepresented by a wide variety of stakeholders from all sectors of society. It is time we stood up and raised our own voices as Muslim women. As Susan Carland rightly wrote in her piece for the Guardian online last year, “If you want to know about Muslim women’s rights, ask Muslim women”!

The ladies who attended valued the presentation of female Muslim role models and it evoked a great discussion on the experiences of sisters in the workplace based on their Muslim identities. The session felt important and the networking group valued for bringing together Muslim women to provide support and network within a comfortable group of sisters who genuinely understood.

Networking for Professional Muslim Women

The point of the session was to introduce ourselves to and meet other like-minded (or not) Professional Muslim Women and to provide a platform for support and networking. Many of us did not work with other Muslims, let alone Muslim women.

Date: Bank Holiday Monday 1st May 2017

Time: 12-2pm

Location: Canary Wharf

Our first event was a preliminary session to establish a group of sisters, identify the needs and introduce ourselves in regards our professional backgrounds and experiences.It was held within the offices of one of the attendees in Canary Wharf, 12-2pm.

One of the core concepts for formulating the group to ensure every attendee was given a voice through a timed elevator pitch in a pecha kucha (continuous non-stop) format. Each sister was given 3-minutes to say who she is, what she does and why she attended the session. The working name of the group at the time, formed via WhatsApp, was ‘Elevator Pitch Networking‘.

The point of the session was to introduce ourselves to and meet other like-minded (or not) Professional Muslim Women and to provide a platform for support and networking. Many of us did not work with other Muslims, let alone Muslim women.

The need arose from the very few networking groups in London for Professional Muslim Women. Many industry events tend to be held in the evenings, involve alcohol and social events not necessarily inline with our Islamic principles. Many of us found it very difficult to navigate ourselves during industry networking events due to cultural and social aspects of such meetups.

The session was successful as altogether 10 ladies turned up within the office of one of the attendees which amplified the professional nature of the networking event. What it conveyed was the variety of the fields within which Muslim women work. It helped identify the best time to meet and the idea of continuing discussions over lunch was much appreciated.

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