We’ve been examining the impact failing to trust in our own worth has on our lives. Today I’d like to share a little practice I have adopted to help me remember that I’m enough.
I think we all have moments when we’re worried that we fall short. We have times when it feels safer and wiser to not even try. In those moments we don’t necessarily need to be better than we are. What we need is a fuller view of who we are.
We need to remember the times when we have tried something even though we were scared. We need to remember when we have made a difference for someone even though we weren’t sure we could. We need a reminder of how other people see us when we have a hard time seeing beyond the ways we think we don’t measure up.
A while back I started keeping a little notebook of feedback I get from other people. I make an entry whenever someone compliments something they admire about me or points out a way I’ve helped them or shares what they value about our relationship.
The point of this notebook isn’t to prop up my ego or give me opportunity to gloat. I’m far better at enumerating my flaws than at noticing anything good about myself. I think most of us are.
Sometimes we need help to see our whole selves, instead of just the parts we think are wrong. This notebook is one of the places I go for encouragement when I have a hard time seeing my own value.
My notebook builds my courage to take action.
When I’m afraid to try something or reach out to someone, it’s hard to see past all the reasons why I shouldn’t. I remember all the mistakes I’ve made. I notice where my knowledge or skills aren’t as great as someone else’s. I dwell on the times my relationships didn’t go how I’d hoped.
My notebook is filled with evidence to the contrary. I can read about times when my skills or knowledge were just what was needed. I’m reminded of times I’ve been a good friend. I have evidence that I’m capable of showing up. I recall lessons I learned, even when everything didn’t go as planned.
Doubting my worth isn’t healthy humility. It keeps me cowering where it feels safe. It keeps me from trying. Self-doubt gets in the way of contributing and connecting.
Keeping my notebook doesn’t make me arrogant. It reminds me that there is more to me than just my flaws. It reflects back my value and shows me evidence that I’m more capable than I think. It reminds me that showing up is more important than being perfect.
My notebook shows me who I already am.
There are qualities and characteristics that I aspire to embody. It’s easy to get discouraged when I don’t think I live up to them. I’ve been surprised to hear people describe me by naming the very qualities I think I’m still so far from reaching.
I’m quick to brush off compliments. Keeping my notebook prompts me to pay attention. Taking the time to write out what another person said about me prevents me from dismissing their words as niceness. It encourages me to start incorporating an outside perspective into my self-concept. We get a distorted view of ourselves if we never let anyone reflect back to us what they see.
For example, sometimes it feels like my defining characteristic is that I’m afraid. Then someone admires me for my bravery. It’s easy to forget that feeling fear doesn’t mean I’m not brave. I’m reminded that the qualities I admire aren’t all or nothing—not always or never.
While I’m painfully aware of my struggles to live out those qualities, others can see the evidence of them in my life. Being shown where those qualities are already present in me, inspires me to continue developing them.
This week, I’m inviting you to start your own notebook. Of course, this can take whatever form works for you. Use your favorite note taking app, a spreadsheet, scraps of paper in a jar, a folder in your email, etc.
I do have a folder for emails that make me smile, but I keep all my encouraging words in a notebook. The notebook itself is nothing special—small and inexpensive. I guess I like the feel of it in my hands. There’s something about writing out the words in fun colors that helps me take them to heart more than copying and pasting ever could.
Pay attention to what other people say to you and about you. Record the things you’re learning about yourself—your values and strengths, knowledge and skills. Maybe even ask a few trusted people what they value about you. Write down anecdotes from the times you are proud of how you acted.
Read through your notebook when you need some encouragement to face a challenge or to keep going when you’re not sure you’re making progress. Take a look when you’re afraid of being rejected. Remind yourself of who you are when you’re feeling discouraged.
I’d love to know…how do you remind yourself of the good things about you when it’s hard to see past the negative? When you’re afraid to try something, what difference does it make to look for evidence that you are absolutely capable? When have others seen something good in you that you struggle to see in yourself?