In keeping with SAMHIN’s mission of greater dialogue on mental health in the South Asian community and to highlight the important work of others in this area, we invited Bairavi Maheswaran, a medical student, to share some tips on building self-confidence based on her own experiences.

In many South Asian cultures, one is told not to speak up or voice one’s opinion in front of elders or if a conflict arises. Growing up, I noticed we were shut down or told not to say specific things because it was considered disrespectful or rude. However, our voices and opinions are justified. In other words, if a relative insults our physical appearance, we were raised to stay quiet and take it all in. This can lead to a decline in our confidence and difficulty in speaking or leading. This is an issue I faced. Below are some tips that helped me to build confidence and strengthen my public speaking skills and rational thinking.

Be aware of yourself.
Know what is hurting and motivating you and surround yourself with the positives.

Focus on your strengths.
The only person who knows your skills and talents the best is you.

Know who is in your support system.
Value the opinions of those who support you rather than the people who criticize you

Take on a small leadership role.
This was something that extremely helped with my shyness and fear of speaking. I started to teach at my temple, which helped me speak in front of a crowd and learn the importance of being a guide to someone. Often when we are criticized, we feel as if we do not have it in us to be role models. Yet, the truth is we are on different paths and do not view success the same way, but one way does not fit all.

Practice self-talk.
Give yourself daily affirmations to make yourself feel powerful.

Speak up
This is the hardest part because we are often told to never talk back. But once you build enough self-confidence, express how you feel and stop those who are hurting you.

BairaviMaheswaraBy Bairavi Maheswaran
SAMHIN Volunteer
Medical student at NYTICOM pursuing a DO/MS dual degree, with interest in career in psychiatry, especially forensic psychiatry. She hopes to be able to provide mental health resources to the adolescent South Asian population.


We would love to hear your comments on this post and what has worked for you.

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Feature image by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash