Over the course of life, we develop a “sense of self”–a sense of what we’re good at, what we struggle with, what we enjoy, how others perceive us, etc. A healthy sense of self incorporates a realistic understanding of our strengths and our shortcomings. Over-inflating or understating either can lead to trouble. Because our sense of self is longitudinal in nature, i.e., our impressions begin in childhood, we sometimes hold on to skewed versions of ourselves that are not really accurate in the here-and-now. Therefore, it’s useful to periodically take a mental inventory of ourselves!
Today, I want you to take a mental inventory of things you do not like about yourself.
I know, I’m usually positive and affirming in Daily Shoring, but bear with me! After making note of a few things you don’t like about yourself, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you differentiating between “things you’re not good at” vs. “things you don’t like about yourself?” These are two different categories, easily confused, and they can change over time. If you’re not good at something, it’s likely you can compensate for that skill in other areas or improve upon that skill. If you’re simply not good at something, reconsider whether that is something you don’t like about yourself. Shortcomings are not the same thing as character flaws.
- Are the characteristics you don’t like about yourself still showing up on a regular basis? If you don’t regularly exhibit these characteristics, maybe they are no longer accurate descriptors of yourself. Since we begin to form our sense of self in childhood, we often evolve and outgrow undesirable characteristics. If you’ve changed for the better, first of all, congratulate yourself on your self improvement! Secondly, make a conscious decision to no longer think of yourself as having that particular undesirable characteristic. It’s fair to mentally make note that you had that tendency in the past, but it’s important to remind yourself that you’ve grown over time. Remember the post Be Mindful of How You Speak to Yourself? That concept is important here! Don’t label yourself in an outdated, unflattering way.
- If there are characteristics you don’t like about yourself, what are you doing to improve? A Daily Accounting is a great tool for self improvement! If you’re working on improving, remind yourself of that and include examples, i.e., “I have a tendency to be short-tempered, but yesterday when I was stuck in traffic, I handled it really well.”
- Are the things you don’t like about yourself a function of habits as opposed to personality characteristics? Again, there’s a difference–you can change your habits.
In asking yourself these questions, do you find that you have an accurate perception of your current strengths and weaknesses? Are you labeling your shortcomings (and yourself!) accurately? What can you do to improve upon undesirable personality characteristics? If you’re feeling motivated, focus on one undesirable personality characteristic and either use a Daily Accounting or The Power of Habit to bring about change.