Channel: Muslim Life Hackers
Series: Muslim Life Hackers - Season 3
“Comparing to others is actually a form of violence against yourself… it doesn’t do any good… The best thing we can do is to compare and compete against yourself. I want to my best. I want to be better than who I was last year. It’s not about competing with others and outdoing others, it’s about competing with myself and making sure that I am constantly in that process of self development, self improvement, excelling and achieving.” – Haleh Banani*
Today we will be speaking to sister Haleh Banani. She has a masters degree in clinical psychology, a featured expert on a variety of platforms and also hosted her own TV show for Al-Fajr TV called ‘with Haleh’ which combined principles of psychology and Islam to help people reach their full potential.
In this interview, we talk about the impostor syndrome, feeling like a fraud, tackling perfectionism and handling negative self talk.
– What is the impostor syndrome all about?
– What causes a person to feel this way? Is it a result of low self esteem or a mix of issues?
– If someone has been given the opportunity to take on a big role/project and still feels like they don’t belong there (despite having the capability). What advice would you give them in terms of overcoming this internal conflict and doing their job well?
– How does one tackle perfectionism?
– How do you internalise your accomplishments?
– How can we make sure that we are giving our best effort instead of getting caught up in aiming for unattainable perfectionism?
– Do other people really do sit and think about our mess ups?
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You're listening to the Muslim life hack his podcast.
Assalamu Aleikum, I'm a from Earth and welcome to season three of Muslim life hackers podcast. So Muslim life hackers podcast brings together individuals from all walks of life to give their insights on an area to help you live better, achieve more and succeed in this life and the next. If you're new to the show, make sure to check out our episode archives over at Muslim life hackers.com, where you'll find all the episodes from season one and season two. Now let's get started.
Today we'll be speaking to sister Halle bananas. She has a master's degree in clinical psychology has been a featured expert in a variety of platforms and also hosted her own TV show for our budget TV called with Halle, which combines principles of psychology and Islam to help people reach their full potential. In this interview, we talk about the imposter syndrome, the lack of fraud, tackling perfectionism and handling negative self talk. So enjoy this episode with Haley banani.
Thanks for taking time to join us. So to start off, can you please tell us a bit about yourself and just an introduction for audience? Sure, sure. I have my Master's in clinical psychology. And I have had over 18 years of experience doing therapy with individuals doing marriage counseling, and working with an international clientele, I do Skype therapy sessions. And I'm also the founder, co founder of the five pillars of marriage. And my husband and I have come up with this program on helping people have a very successful marriage. So that's like the number five and then the five pillars of marriage and hamdulillah. Fantastic, that sounds really good. The topic that we wanted to
speak about today on the show is about the imposter syndrome. So for those who haven't heard of this term, can you give us a brief explanation about what it is exactly? Sure. It's a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. So they feel a bit inadequate. And it's this feeling of chronic self doubt, and feeling that they are somehow going to be exposed.
Okay, so what actually causes someone to feel this way? Is it a result of low self esteem or a mix of issues? Actually, it's a bit different than having low self esteem, because it is it is having there is a discrepancy between their actual achievement and how they feel about the achievement. These are usually high achieving individuals. And they just have a feeling of self doubt. And it stems generally from parents being very critical of them, you know, maybe there is pressured that they they have received from their parents, there, sometimes it's due to the internal expectation that they have, they have very high expectation, they expect perfectionism. And so they it's hard
for them to live up to that, which leads to this feeling.
Okay, so when I was actually reading this, it's it says that a lot of high achievers actually struggle with this as as you mentioned right now, and it's because people expect perfection from themselves. Right, right. How can someone tackle that that perfectionism? I mean,
right? Well, what happens is that the they don't internalize these individuals, they are high achieving, like you're saying, they're very ambitious, and they have achieved quite a bit, but they haven't internalized their success. And they generally attribute their success to either luck or external events. Now talking about the perfectionism, generally, most people who feel this way do have the sense of being a perfectionist. And this can be really very destructive, because there is this very high expectation, and they never feel like they're good enough. And this makes a person feel they always feel inadequate, that they have never, they haven't done enough and they're not
good enough, smart enough, talented enough. And so it's really important to set your goals at a very, at a reachable state. I use this analogy with my clients because I deal with a lot of individuals who are extremely successful that they are high achievers, and they do suffer from this. I've dealt with a number of people who have suffered from this and the way I explain it
to them is that you are setting this goal. And it's very much like a, you know, when you're making when you're shooting baskets, right, yeah. And that goal, you can set it as high or as low as you want. And it's very tricky where you place it, right? Because I know when my son was taking basketball, when it's an adjustable on that, and if it's too low, they're not going to feel challenged, he just felt like oh, this for babies, right. And if it's too high, what happens is that the person will feel overwhelmed. And a lot of these high achievers what they do, they set it like 60 feet high. And that feeling of like wanting perfection. But what they don't realize is that there
is it's so unattainable, that they almost stop trying and they feel they feel very defeated. So my suggestion is adjusting the goal, you can still be ambitious, you can set high goals, but make it attainable, and do it one step at a time, rather than suddenly putting at 50 feet high, you start low, and then you keep building gradually. So you build gradually so that you can be able to make use of that momentum that comes with it. Right. Right. Right. and gaining that sense of competence and knowing that you have the ability to do this task at hand. Mm hmm. Okay. Yep. Makes sense. So, I mean, say, say if someone was being given an opportunity when they can, they're taking on a big role
or project and although they are competent, they still feel like they're belong there. So for this person and others who find themselves in this predicament, what advice would you give them? Like, how can they overcome this internal conflict, say, even if they set goals that were kind of reachable, but that that position then being in that they just feel like I don't belong here? And it's like, right, right? Well, the first thing you need to do is definitely control yourself talk. You know, as a cognitive behavioral therapist, one of the first things I do with my clients is address the fact that how their thoughts affect their emotions, and their emotions affect their
behavior. So the conversation, that internal dialogue that you have with yourself, you really have to take control of that, because that's what's causing all that anxiety, the self doubt, another thing that you could do is that you can own your successes. I had a client who she graduated from an Ivy League school had a great position, very successful, but she did not feel that she had anything to offer. So one of the things I had her do was to list down, and she had a very long list of achievements for someone so young, she had achieved so much, Mashallah, but she never internalized it. So once she wrote it down, I said, I want you to really internalize these achievements. And
that's when she it finally hit her that yes, that I, I am good enough. And I have made some achievements, so owning your success. And then the second thing is that you don't talk down yourself that, you know, it's a beautiful quote, I came across, which, which is by CS Lewis, it says, humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less, it's not beautiful.
It's not that you're thinking less like, I'm not good enough. being humble is not under appreciating what you have to offer, but not being narcissistic about it, not not thinking about yourself, so excessively. So when you, you don't talk yourself down, that's really important. The third thing you can do is you focus on the value that you're adding, instead of focusing on perfection, because that's where people get stuck. They feel that they need to be perfect if they're writing an article, and I was just writing an article last night and needed you there is that feeling inside that you want every every sentence to blow a person away, you want to have that impact, you want it to be
powerful, but instead of searching for perfection, just think about adding value. And when you shift your focus, then that's gonna that's really going to have a big impact. The two other suggestions is embrace the challenges. Even if you feel like you're not up to the challenge. I can't tell you the number of times I was asked to do something where I wasn't ready to do it. I didn't I may have not had the experience. But I said yes. And by saying yes, I just I built my courage. I built the experience and I tackled it and you know, your comfort zone will keep expanding as long as you keep taking on the challenges. And the last thing is just not comparing yourself to others because as
long as you compare
You feel like oh, this person has achieved this, they can do this better. You are constantly it's it's actually a form of
a violence to yourself when you compare. Yeah, yeah, that's that's true. And I think it doesn't help, especially with what we have today with social media and everything. People, obviously, putting on the side. So it's like that comparing just gets worse, doesn't it? It does, and it doesn't do really any good. I think the best thing we can do is compare ourselves to, let's say, I can compare myself and compete against myself, I want to be my best. So I want to be better than I was last year. It's not about competing with others, and outdoing others. It's about competing with myself and making sure that I'm constantly in that process of self development, self improvement,
excelling and achieving. That's true. That's true. So I'm on that part when you were saying about owning your successes and internalizing your accomplishments? Is it is it just by listing everything down? Or?
I think more steps to that, because that actually sounds like one of the ones that you mentioned quite quite a few times about internalizing accomplishments internalizing, yes, like, one client I had, she was she was a physician, she was a service owner, extremely talented and creative. But you know, she had very low feelings about herself very low self esteem, didn't feel like she was accomplished. So it is about not just writing it down. But feeling that sense of accomplishment, allowing yourself to feel good, I think there's a lot of guilt associated to a feeling. A lot of people shy away from feeling proud. And it's not about the pride that will make you arrogant, but it
is about gaining that sense of confidence, right. So there's a difference between confidence and arrogance. And confidence is that you believe in your abilities versus arrogance, you feel you are better than others, right. So there's nothing wrong with having that feeling of self confidence and knowing that you're capable. And I think that's where a lot of times people shy away from internalizing their achievements, maybe in the search or in the pursuit of humility. They don't want to internalize it, but they keep away they prevent themselves from really excelling. Because they are not allowing themselves to feel their capabilities. So they don't take the time to sit down to
internalize what what they have done, and in order to motivate them to keep
stepping up in their life.
Right, right. And another important aspect is having that internal validation, I think individuals who get stuck in the imposter syndrome, they're so focused on other people's acceptance, it's all about external validation. If people say I'm okay, that I'm okay, if you others, they validate me, then I am okay. But what we need to do is take that and try to become more focused with internal validation, we need to be able to feel that you know, I'm doing the right thing. Allah is pleased with me, this is what I'm doing. And it is good. I'm adding value. And you're not so concerned about other people's view of you or their acceptance, and having having more focus on self acceptance,
where you accept yourself, whether that's your strengths, and your weaknesses, right, you have to accept yourself as a package deal. And that will definitely help with this. So one of the things that you mentioned with regards to strategies on how to overcome that internal conflict you feel when you're feeling like a fraud, or you feel like, okay, you don't belong in that position. I wanted to know that the thing you mentioned about providing value instead of perfectionism, so would you have to give give us an example. Like say someone is, like, how do they know that they're providing value? I mean, what, what how does that look like? Pretty much? Okay. All right. Well, you
can see whatever it is that you're doing, like the example I gave about writing an article Yeah, right. So how do you know enough? Yeah, like when you're in the process of actually writing the article. Mm hmm. As far as while you're writing it, you need to it's kind of that gut feeling of knowing that you are giving a talk right. You are
Giving it its due, right. And I think that feeling of assan, right, that feeling of I want to do things as if Allah is watching me. And having that feeling of completion where you were you do your best, but it's not about attaining perfection, but it's just about, I have given this the the right amount of time. And I think we, we all get that feeling where we know when we're cutting corners when we're kind of slapping something together versus when we really put the time and effort to do the research and, you know, get the verses and just make it really good and complete right. Now what happens with the imposter syndrome, they have one of two extremes, the way that they deal with it,
either they overly they over prepare, so they are spending hours and hours excessively, in preparing for the task at hand, or they procrastinate to the very last minute, and that way, they can't feel liable for the fact that they don't do a very good job. So it can go both ways. And I think you know, like the Prophet salallahu alaihe salam has taught us to be in the middle, right, follow the middle path, we don't want to be in any of these extremes of either spending hours and hours preparing for, for something that is coming up. And I know that I fell into that initially when I had conferences, and I stretched out my comfort zone because suddenly I was talking from talking to
a few 100 people I was asked to speak in front of like a few 1000 people. Yeah, and I got myself so involved with preparing, and, and and just excessively preparing, right. And that's something I recognize in myself. And I realized that, you know, I don't need to spend this amount of time and I just I cut it down. And it made me It gave me so much more peace. I think my family appreciated that so much more, right? Because I wasn't taking away time from them. And so I think that that really it really helps to not overly not to be excessive in your preparation, and not, you know, just putting it for the last minute and and having that contentment in your heart that you have done. What is
what is expected and not trying to reach a perfection? I don't know if that answers your question. Because it's, it's a little bit tricky to recognize whether
it's a little bit tricky to find that line between doing your best and then aiming for an unattainable perfectionism. Yeah, that actually makes sense. Because
like, ultimately, when we're when it whenever we're doing something, we know when we kind of gave it a half effort. And when we really did try our best, so it does exactly, you know, you know.
And I knew when I was preparing, and I was overly preparing, I had a lecture in Malaysia, and I know I went overboard in the preparation. My husband told me so right. And I knew I knew that it was just more than I needed to. And it's just we got we have that gut instinct. And then once you start listening to your gut, and you start following it, then it decreases the self doubt as well, right? Because this is a disorder, right? a disorder of self doubt. And so the more you start listening to yourself and following your God, then that's going to give you that level of confidence and competence that you need. And it will lower your that imposter syndrome. Hmm, true? Well, one of the
things that you also mentioned was how there's this thing about internal validation about how, how when someone, they feel feel that they're a fraud and everything because they have validation, just, it depends on other people's acceptance and what other people think. And I really like for you to put this spotlight on the reality of do do other people really sit there and think about ourselves? That's a question.
That is a good point, isn't it? You know, no one really cares.
I think everyone is so self consumed. Yeah. And this is what I try to, you know, I try to get tell this to my clients when they are so they become so obsessed about what does he think and what is she thinking? I said, You know what, I hate to break it to you, but they're not thinking about you. Everyone is consumed with their own life, their own achievements, their own failures, right? And even if you do make a mistake, I think that it's all about how you define success and failure right?
And generally people define success as achievement. And, you know, gaining maybe, whether it's material wealth or possessions or status. But if you start defining success as the ability to learn,
then anything that happens to you is, you know, your success, good. Even if you fail at a job and you learn what you did wrong, or your business failed, and you learn that, how to invest your money, or what you need to do, then you're still a success. And failure is the inability to learn rather than thinking it's not being able to achieve your goal, because I can't tell you the number of people who beat themselves up because they have not been able to achieve the goal that they wanted. And they get stuck in that they can't get over it. So if you start looking at failure as the inability to learn, you know, so if you can't learn from this incident, then then that is failure.
Yeah. Not the fact that you failed your class, or you failed at your business, or you failed in your marriage. All of these are learning opportunities, and you can become a better person from these experiences. Because they say the best best, like learning lessons are your own experiences. Yes, yes. And then when we, when we do make a mistake, we learn it right it is it becomes such a part of us. And so we shouldn't be afraid of making mistakes, I think part of the imposter syndrome is that fear of failure, because their aim, you know, they've put that basketball net so high, it's 70 feet high. And they want perfection. And they're so afraid they're standing there with the ball in their
hand, and they're so afraid that they're not going to make the basket, right. So this, we need to be able to be okay, if we don't make the basket, even if you try. I mean, I think there's something on Michael Jordan, the number of shots that he missed B and the fact that he wasn't even chosen on the basketball team in high school. Right? So we can't be afraid of that, you know, he could have had a negative attitude and thought, Oh, I'm a loser. I can never do this. But you know, it's about turning things around, reframing it, and then reaching your goals. Yeah, that makes sense.
So you see how the thing you also mentioned about having positive self talk? So say, if someone failed, and they they're really kind of like messed up with what they're doing? I mean, how, how should they speak to themselves? I mean, because I think so sometimes, we're so used to that negative voice that it's like, we don't know how to speak well to ourselves anymore. I know it this is this is such a phenomenon. And people are unaware of it, I a majority of the clients that I have, that's one of the first things I teach them. And they're very unaware. And they don't recognize how much it's destroying their life and their emotions and their relationship. So it's, it's about First
of all, you have to recognize that you do have this internal self talk. And, you know, the first week of therapy, I tell them just to recognize the negative self talk, because we were talking somewhere about four or 500 words a minute. And 85% of what we're saying is negative. So how is that going to affect us? Obviously, it's going to affect us in a negative way. So when you become aware of that internal dialogue, and you start taking control of it, I guarantee your mood will change, your achievement level will change and your relationships. So it is it is really key to hone in on the self talk. Like Can you give us an example like if, say, I, I'm I made a mistake, and that
negative self talk is like, Oh, you're so dumb. What? How should I have spoken to myself? Okay, very good. So for a specific example, instead of saying that, you know, oh, how could I've done this? I'm so stupid. First of all, the rule is never say anything negative about yourself, okay, I know that people are in the habit of that, but even just say, Oh, that was so stupid. Oh, I'm so dumb. You know, you've got to refrain from using that because that is kind of like slamming the door in your own face, right? So you have to say something like, Okay, well, I you know, I didn't do it right. This time. I'm gonna I'm going to do it another time. I will make it better the next time. That's
I'm going to try harder or I'm going to learn from this experience. Because if you think about it, and I it's interesting because I wrote on my Facebook, kind of about
Getting people's feedback on why they beat themselves. And a lot of people said that this is a sense of, they want to achieve higher, and it's a way of motivating themselves. It's kind of like that tough coach. But studies have shown that that is not an effective means to get the best out of a person. The most effective means of getting the best out of an individual is by being positive and giving that positive reinforcement, positive sentiment and affirmation. So if a person is telling themself hear, you stupid idiot, I can't believe you messed up, I can't believe you did that, that is not going to get them to succeed the next time. They're just making themselves feel horrible.
Now, if they instead say, you know what,
I really shouldn't have done this. I really shouldn't have done this next time. This is the way I'm going to do it. So it's really about
it's something that I call a redo, I do that with my kids. If they have a wrong reaction. I just have them instead of getting mad about that reaction. I just say, let's, let's do a redo. Okay, let's do that. Do that over. And what happens when you do that? Is that you program yourself to react differently than next time? Yeah, let's see, last year, a reader. I like that.
And you give and see, it's about redemption. It's about learning. It's about excusing yourself. You know, I think a lot of times, we end up punishing ourselves, we punish our kids. And we get so fixated on the punishment, that we don't recognize that the whole purpose of education is to teach is for someone to learn. So if you're beating someone up, that's not guaranteeing that they're learning. They're actually just feeling horrible about themselves and about you. But when you are you nurture, you got to be like a nurturing coach to yourself, where you inspire, and you believe in yourself and you give encouraging words. That's what's going to make you thrive, and nurturing
coach. Yeah, that sounds good. So we're actually coming close to the end of a interview now and I'd like to ask you our final questions that we ask all our guests. So the first question that we have these, what are your three top book recommendations? We can do it we took on this topic or just generally on how to get the most out of my life?
Oh, sure. Sure. You know what, I really enjoy the books from Anthony Robbins, personal power, awaken the giant within I think they're both very powerful. Regarding this, there's Margie Warrell, W ar e Ll stop playing safe. And she specifically talks about the imposter syndrome.
Yes, yes. So I think that those are those are all, you know, good recommendations. Okay, cool. Okay, so we'll go to our audience listening to this, you can find this on our show notes, which are on our website. And so our second question is, what is your favorite life hack to get ahead in life?
Favorite life hack? Okay.
Know, I think it's this combination of I think that's synergy. The synergy of dealing with your, your body, mind, and soul. And, you know, just we're eating really healthy. We're doing a paleo diet. My husband and I, yeah, I just read your Facebook ad.
Right. So I mean, peak performance, you know, talking about like, just being sharp, mentally, physically, spiritually, always keeping that connection with a law and making sure that you're doing everything for the sake of a law and surrendering to his plan. And then also emotionally addressing your emotional needs, and just setting really reasonable and exciting goals for yourself. So I think all of those and wanting to and wanting to change the world a little bit, I think that that's always exciting is like you could add a little something to make the world better in your own way. Fantastic. So where can we find you online?
Well, you could find me online on holep unani.com, which is h al e HBANI. halaby ninety.com. And also like the five what I was telling you about the program that I have
The five pillars of marriage.com. Okay, yep. And also on Facebook, like you mentioned. Fantastic. Okay. So thank you so much for joining us on the show today, there's been a lot of things that have been covered that I have benefited from. And I'm sure a lot of our listeners will as well. And so is there anything else that you want to mention that you didn't get to mention on this interview? Tom, the lie was that it was really a pleasure. And it really made me reflect on on this imposter syndrome and how important it is to not be so hard on yourself, to allow yourself to just to grow and to, to focus on adding value rather than wanting that perfection. So I think that I think we've
covered it well, and it's like having that hustler than looking at the best case, interpretation of things that have happened because I think people who tend to have this imposter syndrome tend to be a somewhat negative. And so you just have to be very careful about interpreting things in the correct positive way where you look at whether it was your success or your failure, you look at it, and you interpret it in a positive way, rather than dismissing your successes.
So there you have it, the interview with Halle banani. One thing that stood out for me in this interview was the reality check about other people, whether they really sit there thinking about our stops, they don't, people don't really care. I mean, sorry, if that kind of hurt you, but if you don't believe me, then think about how many times you sit there thinking about the mistakes of others. I mean, seriously, do you really sit there thinking about how that lecturer said, um, too many times? Or how that, or how there was a typo in someone's Facebook post? Oh, my God. I mean, if you do that, it's a bit worrying. But it also reminded me about this article I was reading. It was,
it was a success story about someone putting themselves out there and succeeding in the online business space. And this person said, how we sometimes give ourselves too much self importance, like people are constantly watching our every move. And that stops us from doing what we really need to do. So, food for thought. Anyway, I'd love to hear what you thought about this episode. And everything we do on the show, including any topics or guests you'd like to see on, you can do so by going to Muslim life hackers.com slash contact. We're also on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. So connect with us and you can also send your feedback through this. If you want to show your support
for the show. The best way to do so is by telling your family and friends online or in person. Now, this brings me to the end of the episode. Friends until next time, remember the only person you should aim to be better than is the person that you were yesterday, so give it your best today.
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