It can be easy to appreciate your strengths—your sense of humour, your generosity, or your analytical skills. And it is also easy to get down on yourself for having various personality traits you perceive as weaknesses. Maybe you are quick to anger or always running late. Instead of getting down on yourself for your weaknesses try instead to reframe them as something positive, as traits that make you uniquely you.
- Make a list of all your strengths. Include the big ones that are huge components of your personality, like your patience, all the way down to the small things you are good at. See how many great qualities you contribute to the world.
- Now make a list of all your weaknesses. Write down things you don’t like about your personality or you feel are negative traits.
- Look at your list of weaknesses. Think about ways you could see those weaknesses as positives. For example, say one of your weaknesses is that you think you talk too much. You could reframe this to a positive as, “It’s easy for me to express my opinion.” “I’m too sensitive” could be reframed as, “I have empathy for others.”
Stay true to yourself. To appreciate and accept yourself, it is important to know who you are. It may be helpful to identify your personal values. Knowing what is important to you and making decisions based on your personal values helps you be authentic and appreciate your true self. Make sure your values are your own and you are not simply taking on the values of your friends or family. Figure out what is important to you.
- Explore which values are important to you and write them down. A concrete list of your values may help you recognize when you are being inauthentic to yourself and your values.
- You may feel like other people may not like you if they see the “real” you. It may be helpful for you to explore these feelings with someone you trust or by writing in a journal. Determine when you feel most yourself and when you feel the need to pretend to be someone else, and explore the differences between those situations.
- If you feel you cannot be yourself around certain friends or family, perhaps because you fear being made fun of, then it may be a sign that you fear rejection about revealing your true self.
- The first step to changing your behavior is noticing when you do it. Pay attention and later, spend some time reflecting on what triggered your behavior in a particular situation. It may take a while for you to feel comfortable enough to be your authentic self around other people. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t do it right away.
Avoid comparisons. Comparing yourself to others can leave you feeling discouraged and judgmental. Remember, you generally see only a piece of others’ everyday lives (particularly on social media). Comparing yourself to someone will only set you up for disappointment and feeling bad about yourself.
- Measure your growth by comparing yourself to who you were in the past instead. For example, think about your life 10 years ago. Has it changed? Have you acquired new skills, new relationships, or left dysfunctional life patterns behind? If you feel you have stagnated, take some steps to make some positive changes in your life.
- You can also look at your life now and imagine what you would like it to look like five or 10 years in the future. If you dream of getting a promotion at work in a few years, for example, what can you do today to start making progress towards your goals? Working toward a goal can help you to feel more self-worth and in control of your life.
It’s never too later to start living your own dreams!
By Shabnam Khan, Family Counsellor