16 October, 2012

Beating poor confidence

I went back to the orthopaedic surgeon today for a further consultation about my niggly knee (see here for my account of last month). Rather than bore you with the intimate details of my physical condition, except to say that I didn't have to have an MRI and I get to go back to the gym.  

Instead I'm going to talk about my struggle with confidence. It is my struggle with living in Japan and where I don't understand or speak the language anywhere as well as I'd like to. I've struggled with confidence all the years I've lived here. Language school, rather than helping, made it worse, as I anticipated my every sentence would be corrected. It is something that surprises me whenever I return to Australia, that I am a relatively capable person in my home country! I wrote a little bit about my struggle here.

With my general lack of confidence, going to hospitals here scares me even more, because it is a place where you are so powerless as a patient, even more so than in Australia. 

And not just because of the language barrier. The patient-doctor relationship is more hierarchical here than in the West. Here, the doctor is the expert and he/she certainly don't expect the patient to have ideas and opinions or to question the doctor's opinion or challenge their decisions. We discovered that in a large hospital in Sapporo, when I was pregnant with our second son.

I (along with most other Westerners here) cop a double whammy when seeking a medical opinion here. I'm struggling with the language, and I'm coping with the foreign culture of the patient being powerless.

During the month I saw this video about improving your self confidence using body posture. It is well worth a look:
Amy's premise is that your body posture can change how you think about yourself. So, if you fold yourself up in a ball, hunch over, etc. your confidence will plummet. Do the opposite, open up, stand straight, even with your arms wide, your self confidence will rise. 

So today, while I waited for 1 1/2 hours to see the doctor, I tried not to curl up in a defensive ball. I sat tall and opened out my arms a bit, it's hard when you're sitting on a bench seat with others. 

As I Christian I also have another weapon in my arsenal: God's Word. So I also repeated to myself: "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Phil 4:13 with a bit of Matthew 19:26/Mark 10:27 “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

It worked, I managed to come out of the whole encounter with the doctor and hospital with confidence that I'd done my best, quite a contrast to how I normally emerge from these situations.

I'll be taking this all to the Writer's Workshop that I'm leading next Thursday and Friday (25 & 26). I'm teaching about "Good Writing" on Thursday afternoon. While I've done a good amount of preparation, I still don't feel terribly confident about presenting on a topic that I'm hardly an expert on. However, with God all things are possible, right?

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