Self esteem has long been considered the bedrock of individual success. But high self-esteem may not be all that it’s cracked up to be. Thinking you’re great (which of course you are) comes with pressure to live up to your own self-image. You may live in quiet terror of making mistakes, and even worse, feel devastated when you do. When faced with a challenge, you don’t need to believe in your own brilliance as much as you need to confront your flaws head on. Develop self-compassion, a willingness to look at your own shortcomings with kindness and understanding. With a realistic sense of your abilities and actions, you can figure out what needs to be done differently next time. Being perfect doesn’t lead to success, but being able to avoid the same mistake twice does.
Adapted from To Succeed, Forget Self Esteem by Heidi Grant Halvorson
I ran across this little excerpt a long time ago and stuck in my “future blog post” folder and today as I was digging through it for fodder for yet another post I was struck by the words as strongly as I was when I read it for the first time.
I have never been a huge believer in myself and in my own abilities. Thank goodness I am way better than I used to be (a lot of thanks goes to my cheerleader husband) but I still doubt my abilities at times and wonder where that doubt in my own self came from. My parents were always supportive– giving me all the love and encouragement over the years that anyone could imagine. I was always surrounded by loving and wonderful individuals and encouraged in anything I ever attempted. And yet–there was always a bit of self doubt.
What the above quote tells me is that I am not alone in my self criticism. It is far easier to find fault in oneself than to find fault in others. Admittedly we ALL fall short and face challenges that seem insurmountable but in the big scheme of things most of these challenges can be dealt will successfully if we only allow ourselves to step back and look at it from another perspective.
Today this except helps me as an adult to understand that I am flawed but I have my strengths that I can rely on. That is where I need to focus today. Not on my shortcomings but on my God-given strengths. It’s a new day. Full of possibilities. Join me as I journey on with a renewed awareness of who I am and what my capabilities are.
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Nice choice for a topic. I like your idea-folder idea. I read about that as something writers do. I even started a “bits and pieces” folder once and then successfully ignored it, still leaving my bits and pieces scattered around willy-nilly.
Well now is the time to gather up your bits and pieces and get them organized, Christine. I giggled at your willy nilly comment—we are birds of a feather. I just used that today in conversation.
A perfect post. We all need reminding that we are human and make mistakes. When things go wrong, I always tend to beat myself up thinking it is all my fault. We are lucky to have such supportive husbands.
Thanks, Darlene! It is okay to mess up and not beat ourselves up. It really is and as I get older I think I get more forgiving or something when it comes to that. And yes—-our husbands are amazing, aren’t they?
Good topic! I’m sure this could be shared with many!
I have folders on external hard drives with my notes and scan things in all the time. I also keep my own notes of what works and what doesn’t. Focusing on the negative won’t find your way to success. Sticking to the facts and not filling it with mindless crud to reflect back on becomes a downer and doesn’t make one want to try again.
Mindless crud –that made me giggle and yes—-focus on the positive and not the negative works for me.
Yeah, to God-given strengths!
The recovering perfectionist in me really likes this, but not sure it is just tied to high self esteem as the quote suggests. I agree with you, not believing in your own abilities creates the same problem : )
I suspect you might be right about that that it may not just be tied to high self esteem. I can definitely see that becoming a recovering perfectionist could like this. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment.
I think part of the struggle is also that women are encouraged to have humility also. So it’s easy to downplay our strengths in favour of appearing modest. But sometimes, it’s true: you just have toot your own horn! And also forgive yourself for those days you fall short.
You are right! I think that it is easy to downplay strengths. I think the young women of today are so much more self assured that I was and I wonder how that happens but am glad that it does. Thanks for the great insight!
This is something that rings true with me. And I think my self-doubt came, in part, from my ex. Not that he did it intentionally, but he didn’t do anything to encourage me. Motor Man has gone above and beyond in that respect. “Cheerleader” is the perfect description. Aren’t we fortunate to have such supportive spouses!
We are SO fortunate to have those men in our lives. Chris has always been my number one cheerleader telling me to go for it when it was something that I felt was impossible. So glad your Motor Man is the same way.
Many of my family members and friends have commented on how much I’ve changed (for the better) since he’s been in my life!
I love that he has done that for you.
I just try to unstick myself from the awesome-me/pitiful-me energy trap, remind myself that I’m too close to myself to see myself clearly, and focus on what I’m doing.
That is great advice for me to take. It can be so easy to fall into that poor me mode at times and I am guilty so often. Thanks for your great wisdom!
It’s a very good reminder. 🙂
As others have mentioned a worthy topic! As a frequent restaurant worker, I would hasten to mention that a lack of self confidence is rarely found in youth. Lacking Self confidence is sometimes better than an excess of self confidence… Does that make sense?
Makes perfect sense. Are you trying to say the youth of today are arrogant?
A lot of us probably do not have much confidence, I also you can have too much
Thanks for the reminder. We’re our own worst enemies. I like the part of the quote that highlights how being perfect doesn’t lead to success, but avoiding the same mistake twice does.
What a great post! We can be so hard on ourselves and we can be so understanding and compassionate with others… Like you say, being aware of the strengths and shortcomings and accepting it. Focus on your strengths and stay positive. A great reminder when I sit here with my morning coffee getting ready for the day.
Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I am going to be so behind after this week on commenting on blogs but I will get there, I promise. I think we can be so hard on ourselves but it is something I have to consciously work on on a daily basis. So happy to have met you!