Feel Better About Yourself, Honestly and Truthfully

>> Friday

WHEN I FIRST read Martin Seligman's book, Learned Optimism, I took his questionnaire, which is designed to discover if you are pessimistic, and if so, in what way. The questionnaire uncovered a mistake I was making — a tendency to not take credit for good things I did. Up until then, I considered that characteristic a virtue: I wasn't a braggart (read more about this).

But the trait had an entirely different slant after reading Seligman's book. I saw that trait in a new light. At work, for example, I paid attention to the mistakes I made, even if I was doing a good job. I disregarded and overlooked the things I did right and focused my attention on what I was doing wrong.

The trait is apparently driven by anxiety, and it also maintains anxiety. Aaron Beck, one of the founders of cognitive therapy, said this tendency is very strong in people suffering from anxiety. And, in fact, I used to suffer from a lot of anxiety.

I found a simple solution to this problem. The solution counters the tendency to overlook your good works and sends your mind in a healthy direction.

Here it is: Occasionally ask yourself, "What am I doing right?" And really think about it. Try to think of several things you're doing right.

If you are unsuccessful at first — if you can't think of anything you're doing right — just keep asking the question. Don't give up. Persist in asking until you come up with answers.

This exercise is surprisingly relaxing. It will relieve some of your tension. It will help you feel better. It's a relief to realize you've done some things well.

In the car, on the way home from work, ponder the question, "What did I do right today?" Lying in bed before nodding off, ask yourself, "What did I do right today?" What can you take credit for?

Go ahead and feel good. It doesn't do any good to feel like a loser. It accomplishes nothing. In fact, it hinders.

Bragging may be a social blunder, but giving yourself credit in the privacy of your own mind is healthy and anxiety-reducing.

1 comments:

Fred Miller 7:52 AM  

I think it's a matter of maturity-- the ability to accept your own blunders as part of your virtue. Henry Ford is reported to have said, "Those who never make mistakes work for those who do." Whether he said it nor not, I remind myself of it because I, too, review my shortcomings in order to improve myself. But it can take it's toll. Good post. I'll remember to take inventory of my progress, too.

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