New Delhi: Describing her journey as "a creative pursuit in unexpected directions" Shobha Nihalani, the Hong Kong-based writer of thriller, adventure and dream novels - and life coach - says venturing into the self-help genre for her new book made her realize that self-esteem is the reason why we feel stuck or are unable to achieve our fullest potential.
She aims to give her readers a new perspective on this aspect and empower them to turn their dreams into reality and live a life of purpose.
"It is an odd thing to say, but I go with the flow," Nihalani told IANS in an interview of the diverse sweep of her books over the past decade.
"My writing journey has been a creative pursuit in unexpected directions; I just let my heart be the guide. Oftentimes when I feel there is need to learn, discover, or understand something new and insightful - it becomes a book. With my latest -- 'Reboot, Reflect, Revive: Self-esteem in a Selfie World' (SAGE) - it has been a journey of self-discovery.
"Sometimes we make certain decisions in life, and think it is just another book, but this decision to write about self-esteem has created a huge impact. While reading and researching on self-esteem, I have come to realise how much our life is affected by how we feel about ourselves, how we view and accept ourselves, in context to the world.
"Writing in the genre of self-help is challenging. First of all, I am not a psychologist, or a trained mental health professional. I had to figure out how to structure the book so that it was from a layperson's perspective, but serious in the way I researched and wrote it. Each real-life situation is backed by research from approved journals and academic circles," Nihalani elaborated.
She had researched before, but never so in-depth and meticulous in citations and references as she had to be "absolutely solid" and the publisher was "extremely particular about fact-checking all my references".
"When I researched online, I made sure that the information was from recognized and reputed sites, institutes or mental health professionals. I read a number of self-help books, interviewed different coaches, psychologists, and many wellness professionals from different parts of the world. I also interviewed people from different walks of life to share their stories on self-esteem. These were corporate professionals who were willing to share some experiences that impacted their career decisions... about people who faced all odds to be resilient to achieve their goals.
"Their stories create awareness for those who are in similar situations. Many don't realise that sometimes in career or other life situations, self-esteem is the reason why we feel stuck or are unable to achieve our fullest potential. There were some others I interviewed who were willing to share their personal ordeals to create awareness of the importance to be a friend and not a foe to oneself," Nihalani added.
And thus did the title of the book emerge.
"We need to REBOOT our thinking style, REFLECT on our attitudes and conditioned beliefs, and REVIVE our instinctive capacity for empathy towards ourselves and others," Nihalani explained.
Ever the optimist, Nihalani had previously told IANS that she sees some positives in what citizens around the world are going through in these days of the pandemic.
"Troubled times are a way to remind us to reflect on life and understand that we should not take anything for granted. Even the simple act of going out of the house is planned, when previously we would just go out on a whim for a walk or to meet a friend for coffee.
"It's necessary to be aware of our mindset, and maintain good spirits and a positive attitude. It is also nice to chat with others who are feeling lonely and spread some positive vibes," Nihalani contended.
Having lived in places as diverse as Kano, Antwerp, Singapore, Rochester, Mumbai, Bengaluru and now Hong Kong has given Nihalani the ability to deliver to the literary world works like "Karmic Blues" (her debut novel that was first published in Danish), "The Silent Monument" (also translated into Danish), the "NINE" trilogy, "Unresolved", Trikon and "The Blue Jade". She has also authored two non-fiction books - "Dada Vaswani" A Life in Spirituality" and "A Gift from Above: Haresh and Harini's Journey in Adoption"
What's the next book she is working on?
"I am wearing my ghostwriter hat at the moment, but my heart is set on being a life coach, I am certified as an InnerMost Shift Coach from the (New Delhi-based) AlphaStars Academy (that focuses on Neuro Lingustic Programming (NLP), a psychological approach that involves analyzing strategies used by successful individuals and applying them to reach a personal goal).
"However, I need to spend more time to practice their modules and become accredited. Coaching is an art, and if I can use my coaching abilities to guide others, and to transform their lives for the better - it would be an achievement in itself. Whether there is another book in the horizon or not, I don't know yet," Nihalani concluded.