How fear effects our self esteem

Paris mourners with a sign, "Not Afraid"

Helping those Affected by the Paris Terror Attacks

Eiffel Tower lit up in red, white and blueFor the past ten days, my attention has been captured by the almost continuous press coverage of the Paris terrorist atrocity on Friday the 13th. Like most people, I was horrified at what unfolded. Sitting in Australia, I assumed I was powerless to help and at some point, pulled myself away from the television to get on with life. I really hate feeling powerless. It makes me feel lethargic, fuels my desire for chocolate and Seinfeld re-runs. And I know I am not alone. I then went to work Monday to make a relaxation recording for the School of Self Esteem.

The School of Self Esteem uses Audio Relaxation Recordings to help people reduce their fear and anxiety. You see, when people are thinking about starting to tackle their personal problems, some are overwhelmed with anxiety, which stops them getting started. If they do start, their fear often pushes them to quit. I’ve found these recordings to be amazingly effective in helping people.

Whilst making the recording, it occurred to me that terrorist events cause fear, panic and anxiety in people generally and such a recording would be ideal to help those affected. This simple idea brought out the energy needed for action. But I was immediately struck by an obvious obstacle – I don’t speak French and surely helping Parisians could only effectively happen if the recording was in French. As fortune would have it, I knew a Frenchman had recently started working in the same building as me. I hadn’t met him yet, but the seed was planted in my mind as to how to tackle this.

Click to Listen in English:

Cliquez ici pour écouter en français:

I recorded a demo in English and got some friends to give me feedback. This included that a male voice might be a bit too strong for some people and a female voice might work better for women. OK… so I needed the help of a French translator and female to do the voiceovers. I wasn’t deterred by the problem despite the fact that I didn’t have an immediate solution.

OK … with the backing track done and script in English, on Monday morning I introduced myself to Hugues, a Frenchman who is new to Sydney and works in the same office building as me. He was just thankful some one had approached him and broached the topic as he was feeling isolated in a foreign country while ‘Paris was burning’. He listened to the English recording, was impressed and wanted to help. Hugues volunteered to translate the script into French and do the male voice over. Despite recently arriving in Australia, not having met me before and being snowed under with work, he worked back into the night to make this happen. Bravo mate.Paris mourners with a sign, "Not Afraid"

Then we needed a French female voice. Hmmm. Where do I find that at short notice? When in doubt, turn to Google. And presto, I found Isabelle in France and she agreed to a vastly discounted rate. 24 hours later she had produced a professionally recorded French female voice over. However the feedback was, it was delivered a little fast. I then went through the recording, the English script side by side with the French one, and inserted little spaces to make the pace more relaxed. My French definitely benefited from the experience.

It was then the next problem dawned on me. How to get this out there to those in need? The press? I don’t know anyone in the press, let alone the French Press. Twitter? Sure … but what can one person achieve on Twitter? Engaging support for a social media campaign therefore had to be the answer. But then self doubt crept in: am I going to expose myself as foolish for thinking I can help people on the other side of the world who have just been through a terrorist atrocity. That’s when some sage advice placated me: “Isn’t it worth doing it even if you only help one person,” said a confidante. Too right.
Flowers in Paris mourning victims of the terrorist atrocities

So I am putting my pride to the side and putting social media to the test.
While the recordings were made for and inspired by the awful events in
Paris and my own connection with France, a friend made a good point when giving feedback. There have been many recent terrorist events around the World this year (Denmark, Egypt, India, Israel, Kenya, Ukraine, Denmark, Lebanon, Nigeria, Tunisia, Turkey, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan) in addition to Paris. Plus, more than 30,000 American’s are killed from gun violence each year. “Wouldn’t they all benefit form this,” she asked. Touche.

Please forward the following links to all those affected by the Paris or other terrorist atrocities or violence. Let’s help them reduce their anxiety and fear and rest their nervous system. The world can only be a better place as a result.

Link to English Version:

Link to the French Version / Version Française:

A sincere thanks to all those who have made this possible, especially Deepthi, Isabelle, Julia, Wendy, Hugues and Tsung. Equally, thanks to all those who are helping by sharing, liking, forwarding, tweeting or whatever flavor of social media you’ve pushed this out through.

To the people of Paris, France and all those effected by terrorism or violence – peace.

Thank you for your support,

Sean Nunan

Principal, School of Self Esteem

Writing a self esteem story

A Writer’s Perspective on Self-Esteem

Self esteem story looking at an english teacher’s self doubt about whether his writing is good enough

By Andy Rugg

On paper things seem to add up: I have a degree, I read widely, I sit down on my computer for hours on end. I type words on the keyboard, which form sentences which combine into paragraphs and paragraphs are the building blocks to my stories. Hence, literally speaking, I am a writer. The thing is, no one’s read my work. People don’t know my name. You won’t find any of my work in bookstores and I’ve never been close to a book deal. So really, am I writer or just someone who’s trying to be?

The answer is obvious to me: I am trying to be a writer, I’m just not a successful one. A successful writer, by definition, is someone who is read by others. People take pleasure in reading his/her work and devote hours of their lives to it. They often pay to read it. Clearly then, in order to be a real writer, you need to actually be read, family aside. This leads me easily to the conclusion that I’m not a real writer as no one’s read my work.

If I sit still and listen carefully, I can hear the truth echoing in my head. It’s spoken in a soft, calm voice. You’re no good at this. It’s time to admit it. Your words just don’t flow together right. Your ideas have been done, your characters aren’t realistic and the structure is all wrong. Please, finally admit it so you can find something else to do. There’s no point sitting at your computer anymore typing. It’s a waste of time. If you were a good writer you’d have a book published by now. You’ve been at it for years already and what have you got to show for it? There are people out there who are published and half your age. You. Need. To. Move. On.

Even now, as I read over what I’ve just written, the truth of the words weigh on me like a lead weight. I can’t ignore them. I’ve tried everything. For a while, I used to drink cheap white wine while writing. Although the words were sloppy and the ideas half-baked, I could churn out page after page without agonising over every word. The wine pushed the voice into the background for a while and I actually enjoyed it. I had fun writing for a change. I soon realised though that I’d become a hopeless alcoholic if I kept writing that way and decided it wasn’t worth it.

I often think about confident people. Even though many aren’t particularly skilled in what they do, they seem to carry it off anyway. Artists, bankers, policemen, whatever. If they think they’re good at it, they somehow become good. I wonder what I would be like if I thought this way. If I believed in myself, would I then be able to write more easily, not burdened by the constant battle with the voice? I’m sure I would, but it’s not that easy.

There are times when I’ve sat for an hour or more, trying to write, and then given up in frustration. The voice is too strong and the self-criticism too scathing to get out more than a couple of sentences. Sometimes I’ve just had to walk away and leave it until I feel better about myself. With no faith in my writing, each word becomes an interrogation (are you sure you want to use that term?). With no self-esteem, each letter becomes a struggle, each word a marathon (only a crap writer would use a metaphor like that).

So how do I go on? And why do I bother? Some of those slogans help. ‘If you think you’re a writer, you probably are…’, etc. It’s also nice to think of big authors who were refused by publishers and then became best sellers. J.K Rowling is the obvious example. Mostly though, I go on because I don’t know who I’d be if I didn’t. Trying to be a writer is now so entrenched into my perception of myself, that I’d be lost without it. I want to be a writer so I need to keep writing.

I’ve come to learn that battling the voice is everything. It’s helpful to run a parallel dialogue. When the voice hits me with one of its sly remarks—that sounds like something a thirteen year old would write—I try not to let the emotion of the comment affect me. I try to come up with something more rational and helpful. I takie the gist of the comment and turn it into something more constructive—The first part of that paragraph sounds a bit rushed, but the idea is OK. Try re-writing it. It doesn’t always work, but it sometimes does and usually lightens my load so I can continue. When I can push through it and keep going and produce something decent, I know I’m heading in the right direction.

I don’t think the voice will ever go away, and I find it hard to imagine ever having complete faith in myself as a writer. I think what’s important is realising that the courage it takes to fight the voice is in itself an achievement. To continue, when it’s so much easier to quit is its own kind of victory. I’ll keep trying my best. Really, that’s all we can do.

Just write your self esteem story