Over the years I have spent a lot of time feeling badly about myself. Not sorry about myself, but badly and I think that I am not alone in this experience. There are a lot of reasons why someone might not feel great about themselves, we all have stories and challenges and family difficulty. The point here is not about the why of our feelings but the shared experience and the existence. If you want to explore more of the why I would recommend my book, ‘til now, you can buy it on amazon!
Shameless pitch now over I want to talk about the impact of feeling lousy about yourself on the world. I know that when I am feeling down on myself I tend to not be in the best mood with others. I am not my best self when I forget that I am in fact my best self. When we show up to any interaction and are stuck in negative messages about who we are, we aren’t able to engage with those around us with love, appreciation, humor or happiness. And the more of those interactions we have the more we tend to personalize the negative impact of the experience and then the more negativity we carry around. It is a self-defeating cycle.
It occurred to me while listening to some interesting people talk about success that the root of so much of how we define ourselves is based on external measurements and misinterpretation. The word success does not include a formula for measuring yourself on a scale or against any other thing in the universe. The word means “ the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” Understanding this concept creates an immediate shift from perceiving something as a failure to knowing that you are a success!
I spent (and sometimes still do) a lot of time feeling like I haven’t succeeded at anything because I’m not the most ‘whatever’. Some of that ‘whatever’ I may not even want but then I wonder, am I just making excuses for not doing more. But the truth is that our emotions contribute to the positive or negative outcomes of our interactions and endeavors. A person who is confident and less qualified is more likely to get the job than the person who is insecure, unsure, timid and more qualified. I’m not saying don’t bother being qualified, I’m saying feel good about what you already know, what you have already accomplished and show up with an enthusiasm for who you are.
Most of us are already succeeding at hundreds of things every week but because we move through the world without clear intention we don’t experience those successes. Let’s take a weekend day for example: rather than measuring the “success” of my weekend on Monday morning by how I feel then, I think in advance about what I want to do with my time, what I need to do, and what resources are available. I might like to take a walk, read, paint, go to the market, and go out to dinner. On Sunday night before I go to bed I can reflect on what I did; my measure of my weekend becomes more about the experience and less about the feeling after the fact. I may still be tired on Monday morning, and I may not have done everything I wanted to do, but when I considered in advance I can honestly evaluate the experience and recognize where I have succeeded in something as little as being fully present for my weekend.
What difference does this make on Monday morning when I start my work? I may not always be in a good mood, but I don’t feel like I am not capable, I don’t tell myself stories about not being good enough or smart enough or accomplished enough. I know that I am capable of identifying my aim and meeting it, I know that I can address challenges and move on, and simply knowing that success is a habit, that success is possible will completely change how you interact with the world.
Most of the time when I don’t succeed it is because I don’t have a clear purpose. It’s fine to not always have a clear aim but don’t measure yourself negatively for failing to get somewhere specific. When I am clear, even with something little, I add to my emotional strength, I bring a personal positivity to my interactions, I can be honest about how I feel and I can share that with the people around me!