Accepting who we are
ACCEPTING WHO WE ARE
If I asked you to say out loud all of the things you like about yourself and then all of the things that you do not like, for most people, the dislikes will be a long list and come to you more freely than the likes. It is human nature that we are all our own biggest critics. Like many of you, I too would focus more on my weaknesses, struggling to identify my strengths; however, we cannot help it, or can we?
It is said that it can take anything up to 10 weeks to break a bad habit and a minimum of seven times of repeating something over and over again for you to accept it. Think back to any spy film you have ever seen, the spy tied to a chair, being forced to watch fast-moving images, all with the aim to break their will. What does that tell you? We are all open to suggestion.
So, if what we see and hear has such a massive influence on us, what we think and feel about ourselves will impact how we see and project ourselves to others. Simply put, if you do not like who you are, who will?
Becoming your own promoter
Some years ago, I went into my annual appraisal meeting with my manager. I had a fantastic year, delivered above and beyond my goals and targets, and my manager knew it. When the meeting started, my manager asked, ‘How do you feel you did this year?’, and I am not sure why, but I began to downplay my achievements. I knew what I had achieved, but I did not want to come across as boastful, and I felt my manager already knew anyway. My manager erupted, ‘It is not my job to tell you how good you are’, and they were right.
There is a big difference between confidence, overconfidence and acceptance. Being confident is knowing what you achieved, what you are capable of and at the same time wanting to change, learn and grow as a person. Overconfidence and arrogance are on the opposite sides of the spectrum. People will typically inflate what they have achieved, thinking they can do anything regardless of whether they are capable or not, often believing they do not need to learn or grow. None of us wants to be seen as arrogant or overconfident; however, in trying not to be seen as arrogant, we can come across as lacking in confidence..
When I became a manager, it gave me an entirely new perspective and changed how I approached situations. For example, asking for a pay rise plagues many employees. The reality is it is okay to approach your manager requesting more money or responsibilities; however, you need to come from a position of strength.
Why do you feel you deserve more money?
Your manager is looking for justification and reasoning. Build a case, a robust and confident argument in favour of a pay rise. Your chances and the outcome of securing a pay rise will likely be favourable if you approach it right. Of course, there are no guarantees, but even if you do not achieve something on this occasion, you have showcased your ability to analyse. Proven your ability to reason and highlighted to your manager that you are capable and looking to take on more responsibility should the opportunity arise.
The same approach can be used for taking on additional responsibilities or training, with some straightforward answers:
1. Why do you want new responsibilities or training?
2. How will they benefit you and the company?
3. How quickly will the training/responsibility pay off?
Suppose the answer from your manager is clear no or not now. It is okay to ask if there is a possibility for new responsibilities or training in the future. Also, ask what you can do in the meantime to strengthen your position for when the opportunity does arrive.
Whatever the challenge, it is important to show initiative, to outline the benefits of whatever you are looking to do and lastly, do it with conviction. In the words of my old manager, ‘you need to become your own promoter.’
Positive affirmation and learning to like yourself
What we hear and see has a significant impact on us and how we react and respond to the environment around us. If you are told your entire life that you will never amount to anything, you will begin to believe it over time. Think back to the spy in the chair. Those reinforced messages enter your subconsciousness, all driving your habits and behaviours.
You must start by learning to like yourself, focusing on the good things about you, such as caring, good at maths, whatever they might be. Without sounding egotistical, if you are struggling and find it hard to remain objective, why not ask friends and family what they like about you and what they see as your strengths. If negative aspects of your personality are hard to ignore, are you able to change them? Suppose they are behavioural or part of your personality. Why not think about what you want to change and establish a plan for the changes you seek.
Appearance for many is one such factor. How you look and feel is important to many people. If your appearance is one of the things that plague you, try to think why you are unhappy. If you continuously compare yourself to others, what would make you happy?
Even conventionally attractive people have insecurities. Changing your looks may resolve one problem; however, it would be quickly replaced with another. Many of these individuals often complain that they are never taken seriously. They constantly battle with the perception that they are not smart enough or fearful of ageing and losing their looks. The simple truth is that we all have insecurities. Realising and accepting that there are some things we cannot change (such as height, eye colours etc.). Establish what is important to you for all those things within our power to change. If the change is necessary, create a plan of action and make it a reality to see the positive outcome you seek in your life. If you fail at the first attempt, try again. It is important never to beat yourself up for trying and failing. Even small steps move us a little closer to our end goal and objective.
So, we have hopefully begun to build our lists of strengths and areas for improvement; what’s next? Create a mantra, a phrase unique and personal to you. Mantras should be short and catchy such as ‘I am beautiful inside and out’ or ‘I can achieve anything I put my mind to’. Do not just focus on an area for improvement, but try to include at least one strength. Such as, I am a nice person, and I will become healthier and happier
Once you have your mantra, always look directly at yourself in a mirror at a minimum, every morning when you wake up and evening before you go to bed. If it works for you, remind yourself and repeat it as many times as necessary throughout the day. Always maintain eye contact with yourself in the mirror and repeat your mantra two or three times. It will feel strange at first; however, persevere and repeat for a minimum of 21 days. You may not realise it straight away; however, you will likely begin to feel more positive and even more focused over time. After 21 days, do you feel better about that aspect of your personality? Are you ready to start with a new mantra? Or continue with your current mantra?
Stopping the cycle and transference
Your confidence and self-worth will begin to grow over time; however, do not stop just there and make other changes. Changes such as whenever you feel yourself saying:
- I cannot change it to I can
- No change to maybe
- Negative change to positive
We all go through life with baggage built up from all of the trials and challenges we have faced. Whether it is being abandoned, bullied or constantly feeling inadequate, there comes the point in which you have to own it. Owning and accepting that it made you who you are today, good or bad. If you do not like who you have become, think about why you feel like this and what you must do to become the person you want to be. Create a plan, and put it into action even if it takes time and is made up of many small steps. Remember that you can do anything you set your mind to and believe in yourself.
If you were bullied, you might be withdrawn or guarded towards other people. Though it seems scary, you cannot be afraid to open yourself to others for fear of being hurt. If you have created armour and have even bullied others, think about how you felt when it happened to you. Many people abandoned early in their lives often have commitment issues or stay in abusive relationships for fear of being alone. What happened to you is not something you need to continue punishing yourself for the rest of your life. Whatever the cause, the point is to own and accept that these bad things have happened, but they are part of your story, not the only story of your life.
In combating what we do not like about ourselves, we sometimes transfer our insecurities to others. For example, People who were once overweight might begin to remark about the physical appearance of others or someone insecure or confused about their sexuality, disliking or even hating members of the LGBTQ+ community. With transference, you need to ask why you feel the way you do rather than focus on the behaviour. If you have never resolved the underlining insecurities, you will never learn to like or even better love yourself. For example, accept that it is not about weight but your overall health.
Regarding relationships, only you can decide who to share your life with and who to love. If you feel you are going to make a remark, change it. Turn a negative into a positive. It will benefit the recipient of the positive comment and help you accept your flaws on the journey of liking you.
Though we all share many similarities, we are also unique. Our environment and upbringing all impact the person we have become; however, we all can change, adapt, and grow. Whether you are old or young, tall or short, there are many things we cannot change and rather than focus on the negative, focus on the positive.
We are all amazing and capable of so much; however, the journey to like who you are, starts with a few words ‘I believe in me.’
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