Today we chat to an inspirational lady who shares our belief that it is possible to achieve positive and lasting change by designing a life that you love. Homaira Kabir is a positive psychology coach, cognitive behavioral therapist and writer who is on a mission to help women break free from the grip of low self-confidence and stop living half-lives, something she says “is a disservice to us, and to the world.”
Through her scientifically backed strategies, courses, resources and the articles she writes for Forbes, The Huffington Post, Positive Psychology News Daily and her own website, Homaira helps women discover the power of self-worth and empowers them to show up fully in their relationships and rise to their full potential at work and in life. Enjoy the interview. ~ Rachel
Homaira at work
1. How are you doing what you love and why are you so passionate about it?
I love helping people live fulfilled lives and I do so by writing articles about meaningful living, including a book that I’m about to publish. Plus I offer courses and coaching programs that are about rising above our challenges and bringing our full selves to life. I’m passionate about this because I’ve seen both from personal experience and in working with wonderful women around the world, that we often stay imprisoned in subconscious fears and fail to become the person we were born to be. And that’s such a huge disfavour we do not only to ourselves, but to the world because it needs each of us to shine our light and make the difference we came here to make.
2. Tell us about your journey to here…
I was a mom for 15 years before I was ready to enter the next phase of my life. But the problem was that I had no idea what I would do in this next phase. I was trained as a teacher but I didn’t want to go back into teaching. And so began a journey inwards to understand myself, and as I did so, I became so passionate about living a good life that I went back to school to get a Masters degree in Positive Psychology, aka the science of a meaningful life. I now practice it through my own coaching business. My biggest teachers are so many – the Buddha, Carl Rogers, Marin Woodman, Nicholas Kristoff, David Brooks… Some of the biggest lessons are that its never too late to live the life we’re born to live, and that letting go of fears and grudges is the greatest freedom of all.
3. Many women lack confidence and don’t believe in themselves, despite all their unique qualities, capabilities and strengths. Why do you think this is?
You’re so right about this, and it’s such a pity that we still struggle with it in the 21st century. For my graduate studies, I chose to research women’s self-worth and found that its something that begins way back in our childhoods, from the attachment styles we form with our primary caregivers. But it’s constantly reinforced throughout life, not only by the societal roles we’re given, where we have to rise to certain expectations while boys are free “to be boys”, but also in the power-driven and competitive workforces we enter, that are largely opposed to the female psyche.
4. What’s the key to turning self-doubt, confusion, and fear into confidence, clarity and courage?
The key is to provide ourselves with self-compassion. Many people still believe that self-compassion is a form of self-pity. In reality though, it is anything but. Self-compassion is the warm embrace we provide ourselves so we find the clarity to listen inwards and the courage to do the right thing.
5. Where do you start when you’re helping women figure out what a fulfilling and meaningful life means to them?
I start by asking them to think about their heroes and reflect on what it was about them that made them stand out in their minds. They can thus connect to the values they espouse, and craft their lives to live by them every day, because research shows that meaning is found in our daily actions and not in some grand purpose that only a few of us can take on.
6. What’s your definition of “having it all” in today’s modern world?
I think having it all means living our paradox of both a happiness seeking self that wants success, and a meaning making self that wants to belong to something larger than the self. We’re both selfish and selfless, and satisfying both these needs helps us live our lives fully.
7. You are a big believer in the power of positive thinking. How can it improve our lives and are there any little things that we should be saying to ourselves every day?
Yes, I believe in positive thinking, not as a way of looking at the world through rose-tinted glasses, but as a way of seeing the full picture. And this is because we’re inherently wired to notice and hang on to the negative – and unless we make a conscious effort to notice the positive, we base our decisions and actions on a very biased and negative perspective on life. A practice that’s shown to be hugely beneficial in increasing happiness is to think of three good things about your day every evening, either by writing it down in a diary or by sharing it with a loved one.
8. As someone who is doing what they love, what does a typical day look like for you?
I have to make a conscious effort to keep my mornings sacred, because that’s the only way I can commit the most productive hours of my day to doing what I love. I walk every morning, so that I start my day by opening up to the sights and sounds around me, and feel the gratitude of being alive one more day to give myself fully to the world. After breakfast, I spend three hours writing – sometimes its blogging, and sometimes its writing longer researched articles for various publications. These days it’s mostly working on my book. I then take a break and let my mind sort and organize everything I’ve been working on. That’s also when I take a brief look at my email in case there’s something urgent that needs to be looked into. I then dive into the next three-hour slot where I either work on preparing online courses, or workshops or seminars. I’m also working on a two-day women’s retreat that I’m going to run with a colleague. After that, its time to get the kids from school, and I try and keep the rest of the day for them. We get up to all kinds of stuff, like science experiments, arts and crafts, baking, or playing out in the garden or driving down to the beach. Evenings are for coaching calls that I offer via Skype.
9. How do you juggle being a mum-of-four with running a blossoming business? What’s the secret of your success?
It’s tough – there’s no doubt about it. And it gets even tougher as the children get older, because their problems become bigger too. What helps me is to stay on top of my energy levels. I don’t mean just physical energy – which is the easy part. I also mean emotional energy, which is about managing emotions and letting go of things I can’t change. And finally it’s about spiritual energy which comes from always being involved in something that truly brings me alive.
10. Do you have any tools/techniques to help people who feel stressed out/anxious/overwhelmed because they have too much to do?
Yes… simplify! We live in an age where we’re constantly being bombarded – with information, with expectations, with deadlines and more. But we don’t have to fall prey to the noise that keeps us from what is important. What helps is to first understand what we truly want to achieve in the main domains of our life. Next, to make a list of everything we do in our day, however small. And finally to cross out everything that doesn’t tie in directly with our purpose.
11. What advice would you give anyone who isn’t doing what they love?
You get only one chance at this precious life of yours. Think of how you truly want to live it, and what legacy you want to leave behind in this world.
12. What’s your ultimate dream? And your dream for women as a whole?
My ultimate dream is to make a difference to the lives of tens of thousands of women – even millions! For women as a whole, I have a dream that we all learn to embrace our wholeness and bring our full selves to life. We live in a wonderful age where this dream can truly come alive. We’re suffering the consequences of Patriarchal societies and yearning for the feminine qualities of compassion and collaboration. Its time for us to believe that this is our age, and that we each bear a responsibility to rise up to it.
Happy place: Memories of childhood
Quickest way to find clarity: A 15 minute power nap
Mantra of the moment: “At the deepest level of being, you’re one with all that is” ~ Eckhart Tolle
Best place to people watch: The beach
Most inspiring books you’ve read recently: Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer because it helps us understand ourselves simply by observing ourselves
Best ‘ah-ha’ moment this year: The body is our greatest source of wisdom
Biggest ‘proud ofs’ in life: Giving birth to healthy twins after a very precarious pregnancy
Current passion project: My book
Wish for the world: Peace and compassion
Quote you live by: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~ Mary Oliver
You can read more about Homaira at www.homairakabir.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter (@HomairaKabir). And don’t miss her fascinating post – 4 Steps to Embrace Your Wholeness – on our blog tomorrow.