Nicky Abdinor

Nicky Abdinor is an Inspirational Keynote Speaker and registered Clinical Psychologist. She is available for consultations at her private practice in Milnerton, Cape Town. Nicky travels nationally and internationally for keynote speaking events. She is always commended on being a “credible” agent of change whether you are connecting with her one-on-one or from an audience. When you meet Nicky, it is hard not to recognise that she puts her message into practice!

Nicky-Abdinor_P1My Highlights | One of my greatest achievements was being selected for the Masters Programme in Clinical Psychology at Stellenbosch University. Any one who has studied Psychology will know that selection is highly competitive as only 8 students are selected each year. I was very proud to know that my lecturers saw my potential in this career path. The Programme was challenging academically and emotionally – it is an opportunity for self-growth and reflection and you leave the course with a different outlook on yourself and the World. I am grateful for the privilege of being a Clinical Psychologist and having people entrust me with their stories in therapy.
In the same year as I began my Masters, a second highlight for me was obtaining my driver’s licence. This was the ultimate level of independence for me and I’ll never forget that feeling of leaving the traffic department, driving on my own for the first time! I drive a specially adapted car that was donated to me at the time from the UK and not a day goes by that I am not grateful for the independence that driving has given me. It is incredible that I can drive hands-free!

The Difference Between Good And Great | I think that the difference between being good or great at what you do is linked to two factors – authenticity and loving what you do. As a professional speaker, it’s important for me to be the same person on and off the stage (authenticity) and when you love what you do, it will never feel like work!

A Key Talent | A strength that I have is to change my perspective of situations that are difficult. I’m realistic that we cannot all live in a “cotton-wool world” where nothing bad can happen and we achieve everything we set our minds to. Sometimes we’re faced with extremely difficult situations or experiences and all we can do to change them is to change the way we think about them (our perspective or beliefs). This concept was first taught to me through Viktor Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” As a Psychiatrist in a concentration camp during World War II, Frankl discovered that the prison guards could do whatever they wanted to do to his body, but he had control over his mind.
A guideline to use this strength is when you are feeling an unhealthy negative emotion (such as anxiety, depression, unhealthily anger, shame or guilt), try to identify the beliefs that you have about the situation. Most likely they will be negative, unhelpful and irrational beliefs about a situation that you are in. Taking a look at these beliefs, ask yourself three questions:

  • What is the evidence of this belief?
  • How is it helping me to continue believing it?
  • If _________ (a close friend/family member) thought this, what advice would I give them?

These are basic strategies from Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy (CBT).
Principles I Live By | Kindness is one of the greatest gifts you can give. I live by the principles of being kind to myself (self-care) and to be kind to others. Each person is facing a battle each day that we don’t always know about.

How I Use My Mind | Through my Psychology studies, I realised that I have been applying many Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) skills in my life. I believe that it’s not my situation, but how I think about my situation, that determines my emotional wellbeing. I recognise that positive thinking is helpful, but we also need to be rational and realistic. Positive Psychology has also contributed to my approach to life – it highlights that we must not ignore what is wrong, but focus more on what is right.



Lessons I Have Learnt | Believe in yourself
When I meet parents of children with disabilities, I always say to them that the greatest gift that they can give their child is to believe in them. I was never made to feel ashamed of my physical disability – if I wanted to run naked across the beach, I did (although they’re a bit more strict on this now!). Often parents try to hide their child’s disability, perhaps by covering them up or taking them out of situations where a hidden disability may be made visible. Often, it’s not from shame, but from the need to protect the child from stares or judgement. The problem is that this gives the child the indirect message that they need to hide their disability; that something is wrong and it must not be seen. If you believe in them, they will believe in themselves. It also comes down to the belief you have in yourself that you can handle change, challenges and adversity. This is a life lesson for all children, not only those with disabilities.

Learn to tolerate uncertainty
If you can consider any thing that is causing you stress or anxiety, it is usually future-oriented. We often need to know what will happen in the future with absolute certainty to limit our stress and worry. The reality is that we cannot know with certainty what the future holds and learning to tolerate the uncertainty helps us to be more present and less anxious. If you worry too much about tomorrow, you cannot enjoy today.

Performing At My Peak | I believe that a balanced lifestyle is essential in our busy lives. I perform best when I am looking after myself physically (eating healthily and getting good quality sleep) and emotionally (spending time with family and friends and having “me time”). Performing at your peak is about setting realistic boundaries about your time and priorities.

Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | Connecting with colleagues in my fields (Psychology and Professional Speaking) has been an essential part to my growth and inspiration in these career paths. I regular interact with other Psychologists (through supervision groups, academic workshops or informal meetings) to share experiences and motivate each other with improving our practices. The Professional Speakers’ Association of Southern Africa (PSASA) and Toastmasters have brought so much knowledge and inspiration to my speaking career. When I meet “young” people in these fields (Psychology and Professional Speaking), I cannot emphasise enough about the importance of networking. If I think of each goal I have achieved, certain people or colleagues have been connected to that achievement. Each person is in our lives for a particular reason and sometimes we only learn what that reason is much later in life.

My Future Dreams And Ambitions | Writing a book is high up on my “to do” list. My goal is to accomplish this in 2015. If you write down a goal (particularly on a platform like the Legacy Project), then there is no turning back!

The Best Advice I’ve Received | The best advice that I ever received was not direct advice, but rather a philosophy instilled in me from a young age from my parents: Focus on what you CAN do. While growing up I took part in as many activities as possible, as I reached adolescence, my physical disability became more of a challenge and I wasn’t able to take part in sports with my peers. I implemented this life lesson by focusing on what I CAN do (academics and speech and drama) and found great meaning in these abilities that helped me to achieve my career goals today.

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