IT'S TIME TO ACKNOWLEDGE OUR STRENGTHS

Why do we find it so difficult to acknowledge our strengths? How do we begin to own our good qualities?

OUR STRUGGLE WITH SELF-WORTH

Why do we find it so hard to acknowledge our good points and the positive qualities that others see in us - or even that we see in ourselves, but don't feel we can talk about? It's so easy to discuss our faults and failings, but so very difficult to talk about what we're good at.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post on creating a 4 Sentence Eulogy and the point of the exercise was to write down how you'd like to be remembered. Basically it was about our legacy and the good we'd like to leave behind - in other words, the positive points about ourselves that we hope others see and remember us for. It was a much harder task than I expected (and some of the other contributors felt the same way). To put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write about qualities we see in ourselves is really challenging.

TALKING OURSELVES UP

I don't know about you, but all through my childhood and into my adult life, it was seen as hugely vain to "talk yourself up". You would NEVER say "I'm really good at ......" or "I'm a great......." or "Did you see how well I did at .....?" It was big noting yourself and frowned upon by everyone. You didn't want people to think you were blowing your own trumpet. I don't even remember my parents or other people praising any qualities I had, or any achievements I made - I think the idea was that they didn't want to make you big headed or conceited. 

We were all very good at admitting our faults and failings, I could tell you all the areas I was lacking in, all the things I couldn't do well, all the areas I'd like to be better at, and all the parts of my character that were less than lovely. But..... I couldn't have told you a single good thing about myself without feeling like I was bragging or puffing myself up. Why was this the norm for most of us? Why did we all believe that we weren't allowed to speak about our good points, but it was okay to be "honest" about our lesser qualities?

Maybe you don't hear all the good things people say about you because you're too focused  on the bad.  Maybe you're a lot more wonderful, beautiful, and special than you ever give yourself credit for.

THE FLOW-ON EFFECT

The flow-on from all those years of hiding our light under a bushel is that it's still almost impossible to state our character strengths without feeling awkward. I found it difficult to think up what my good points were - did I even have any good things about me that others would remember when I was gone? Looking back on my younger days I started wondering whether I'd been a good parent? Did I invest enough into my children? Did I tell them how special they were? Did I fail them in the same way I'd been failed - in that I didn't know how to speak to them about (and grow) their self-confidence and knowledge of their great character traits?

I'm hoping that my own lack of self-confidence hasn't been passed on. My daughter-in-law tells me she envies my son and daughter's autonomy, and independence and confidence - so I'm hoping that I played at least a small part in creating that in them, and that they wouldn't struggle to come up with several good points about themselves if they were asked to name a few. I genuinely believe that their generation is much more self-possessed than their parents' era - and that's a really good thing.

AN ONGOING CHALLENGE

Some of the other bloggers who shared the eulogy writing post with me, said that they found it really hard to write about their good points or to even dredge up good points they felt comfortable writing about. They were all really pleased with the outcome from finally putting something together, and I'd like to hope that this will be the beginning of a change in mindset where we allow ourselves to be proud of the women we've become. From there we can develop and grow our strengths into a legacy that we'd be honoured to leave behind.

For absolute Ground Zero, I'd like us all to be able to reel off five things we like about ourselves without having to stop and think about it too hard. To have five qualities that we see in ourselves unapologetically - things that are true and that we're proud of - character traits that we can continue to grow and develop. So, if I asked you - "What are five character traits that you're proud of?" could you answer me within a minute or so? If not, maybe it's time to sit down and think about why it's so difficult.

LEAVING OUR LEGACY

Nearly two years ago, I wrote a post about naming something about yourself that you're proud of and I thought I'd figured all this out, but obviously I still have a long way to go. I think a starting point would be to ask others what qualities they see in us. Even the idea of doing that makes my heart beat a little erratically - who am I to ask for compliments? What if I don't like what they say? What if they haven't got anything to reply with? There's a thin sliver of anxiety that runs through the whole idea of being vulnerable enough to ask what others think isn't there? But, maybe it'd be a good jumping off point.

So, I'd like to challenge you to think about five qualities you'd like to be known for and whether they're part of your character and personality already or whether you need to do some more work on them. Or perhaps you're brave enough to "phone a friend" and see what they say about you? Or maybe you need to ask why all of this feels difficult and awkward? I know I'm asking myself a lot of these questions at the moment - maybe it's part of my Midlife Metamorphosis?

I know it sounds fake but you really do have  a lot of silent lovers on this planet who look at you and wish they had your smile, or your hair color, or your humor, or your intellect, or your intentions, or your heart, your manners, your eyes, your ease.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Does any of this resonate with you? Do you find it extremely difficult to acknowledge your qualities and what you excel at? Or are you super confident and able to articulate your strengths easily? If you are, then maybe you have some tips you could leave for me in the comments section on how you got to this point - because I'd love to know and learn more. And I'd also love you to tell me the 5 things you like about yourself in the comments.

RELATED POSTS


Why do we find it so difficult to acknowledge our strengths? How do we begin to own our good qualities?


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49 comments

  1. I recently got an astrology reading (on line, recommended by a blogging buddy) and it was amazing how accurate it was about me. And interestingly it listed my "unique gifts" as part of the write-up. It was kinda neat to have a "third party" point them out. I've also been working on releasing my self-limiting beliefs and part of that has included creating empowering beliefs which highlight my strengths and talents. I'm working on believing them, and yes, it's still really hard to brag about them!

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    1. Hi Pat - I hope you're going to blog about it all and share your 'unique gifts' with us as inspiration for finding our own. I think it helps when other people tell us something nice about ourselves - it opens our eyes a little. My DIL told me I was vibrant when we saw them last - it made my day!

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    2. What I love about these things, Pat, is that whether you believe in astrology or not, it gets you thinking about yourself and looking at qualities you have or would like to develop in yourself.

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  2. Hi Leanne, This is a point that surprised me when it surfaced during the Eulogy ‘assignment.’ This was the first time I sat down to write something nice about myself. Yet, I find it very easy to find the good in others.

    I had to click on “hiding our light under a bushel....”. An interest way to put this. My daughters tease me how I often say, “just remember I am not perfect.” Part of me hopes that they can be okay with acceptance and not always feeling they have to measure up to the impossible, the perfect. I see with certain children how they happen to have the best of both their Father and Mother, especially in families with a great deal of dysfunction. They turn out okay.

    The “You’re you” brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful.

    When I think of Leanne, I think of genuine, vulnerable, caring, smart, funny, thoughtful, asks the difficult questions, changes people’s lives. I know you have changed mine. xx

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    1. Erica thank you so much for those lovely words at the end - your generosity of spirit always humbles me and makes me want to be a nicer person.

      I'm really hoping we managed to instil more self-confidence in our kids than I had - and I think we've been pretty successful in that area when I hear them speak about themselves and their lives. It makes me so proud when I see them doing well - and achieving more than I ever imagined for them. Not perfect - but definitely very good human beings.

      The light under a bushel thing is biblical - so it comes from my Sunday School days x

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    2. Leanne, Returning from #MLSTL and sharing on SM. Thank you for sharing some powerful, thoughtful perspectives last night. xx

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  3. Hi, Leanne - I fully agree that acknowledging our strengths out loud (or in print) is important to do. As I was fortunate to part of your 4-minute Eulogy group, I already have my answer. As I dislike beginning with a blank page, as you suggest here, I chose to 'phone a friend' (aka ask my husband). I highly recommend this exercise for all. It was much more difficult than I thought that it was going to be. It was also extremely thought-provoking and rewarding.

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    1. Hi Donna - you were lucky Richard was so forthcoming with his descriptors for you - and there were many more than five that he came up with! My husband tends to turn the question back onto me and tell me that I need to look into myself to find them - he's probably right, but I'd much rather someone gave me a list to make it a bit easier! I am amazed at how hard it is to come up with kind words about ourselves and yet so easy to list the not-so-great stuff.

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    2. Thanks, Leanne - I will let Richard know your kind comment. Richard has greatly enjoyed our SS challenges. He truly is a silent member! Looking forward to chatting soon!

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  4. This was an interesting challenge but a really cool one at the same time & I'm so glad that I did it. I beat myself up a lot, but taking that one step back and looking almost as a bird would at myself it was easier to see my strengths - and there were more than I thought there were.

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    1. Hi Jo - I think you're right about doing it a little bit objectively - it reduces the second guessing and justifying or over-analysing. I actually did a "find your strengths" quiz or two to come up with a few when I wrote my previous post. I was surprised that I needed someone to tell me anonymously what I already knew about myself but wasn't game to claim.

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  5. I really enjoyed this post Leanne and the honesty you share with your readers. I too find it hard to say positive things about myself for fear of being taken as vain or worse! You've articulated it very well in your post and the quotes especially the You're You, resonated with me a lot! Five things are quite hard: I am proud of myself for my sense of compassion, my quirky way of looking at life, my blog - but that's enough for now!!! You are honest, caring, empathetic, fun and a lovely friend. Great post xx

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    1. Hi Deb - why is it easier to find five nice things about others and so hard for ourselves? You need to add warm,caringand smart to your list - and thank you so much for the lovely descriptors you've given me xx

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    2. Thanks Leanne!! I like your added words :) I have shared for #mlstl (sorry for being late this week, a lot going on!) Hope things are going well and I always enjoy reading your words and hearing your thoughts.

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  6. I've written about this a couple of times before. In rap there's a thing called a hype man. I think we all need to be our own hype man. Or as I like to put it, we all need a little Kanye in our head...Nice post #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Lydia - sometimes I think I need a chirpy little cheerleader following me around chanting my good points to remind me (less weird than Kanye!)

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  7. Hi Leanne, I think articulating our strengths is very different from bragging. I'm confident and able to articulate my strengths (and weaknesses). My zest for life cuts off negativity pretty fast. My self-confidence comes from trying new things and keeping on learning. My life experiences have taught me to seize the day and enjoy life. #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Natalie - you are rarer than you realize - women in our age group often struggle with being able to articulate their strengths without feeling awkward in the process. I think we all need to take a leaf out of your book and allow ourselves the grace to say what we're good at and just enjoy being so self-confident.

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  8. Leanne, the vanity rod was prominent in my home and boasting was condemned. I think our parents were fearful that we would become self-absorbed and take life and our talents for granted. Their focus was on work ethic, moral behavior and discipline. It never seemed to occur to them that praise and recognition guided us and raised our confidence level so much more than pointing out faults. I raised my daughter to be aware of her value, advocate for herself and still maintain a degree humility. I am really happy to have gotten parenting right (along with a few other things), but that is all I will share for now.

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    1. Hi Suzanne - I look at my children and am so amazed that we created these confident people who are achieving all they set their minds to. I think encouraging them and articulating their strengths often really has an impact on their self perception. I'm so glad the lack of confidence stopped with me and didn't pass on to the next generation. Isn't it lovely to be able to look at our children and feel so proud to have parented them? x

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  9. So much to think about in this post Leanne. I found the 4 Sentence Eulogy too much of a challenge. But you now have me thinking. I have been able to come up with 5 positives. Negative self talk seems to be ingrained into our generation. My children, I know, are much more confident than I was. I feel that is one of my big successes in life.

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    1. Me too Jennifer - to see my kids thriving in ways I never dreamed of for myself makes my heart both happy and sad - sooooo happy for them - and a little sad for what I might have accomplished with a little more encouragement and positive input. But such is life and it's never too late to challenge ourselves to be our best - I'm hoping there's still more for me in the years ahead.

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  10. Hi Leanne, I wasn't really expecting to think of this today! I definitely couldn't come up with 5 qualities in a minute. I guess I'm a good listener. I often get told I'm very caring. I'm really struggling to think of anything now! I guess I need to work hard on this. Thank you for reminding me, regards Christina

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    1. Hi Christina - I know exactly where you're coming from. I struggled with it so much that I had to Google search a quiz to find my five! Isn't it a little bit sad that we can reach our 50's and not have those five qualities instantly at the tip of our tongues? But it's never too late. And I'm loving your confidence with where you want to take your blogging journey - much more proactive than I've been!

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  11. Very hard to do this ... I've never heard anyone talking themselves up that didn't sound naff and narcissistic. Surely to know them is enough! #MLSTL

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    1. You're right Enda - but I'd be happy to just know mine without having to stop and take a quiz to figure them out! I think blokes are a little more self-aware and less self-sacrificing than their female counterparts in my generationn - so maybe that helps?

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  12. What a great post. We find it so easy to look at someone else and declare their great qualities, but so much harder to look at ourselves. But I will tell you that I know that I'm a caring person who takes care of others, I am a good friend who listens well, I have a great sense of humor and prefer laughing to anything else, I'm empathetic and try to understand that someone who is yelling at me might be in the middle of the worst day of their life, and at 59 I've learned that life is far to short to worry about what others think about me. It's too bad that I didn't have that skill when I was in my teens and twenties.

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    1. Hi Jennifer - now I want to spend a day or two with you (at least) you sound like the perfect friend and confidante! I think the qualities that include empathy in all its different facets are huge assets to have. I'm still working on that area - but the last few years of work taught me a lot about empathy and how to use it productively and not allow it to be sucked down a destructive road by someone who was overly dependent on support.

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  13. I think I'm abnormal because I could list my qualities and strengths quite easily. Where I feel I differ is how others see me. People that don't know me always seem to think the worst of me or think things of me that are completely untrue. I have no idea why that keeps happening to me over and over again, but it does.

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    1. That's really interesting Amy - quite different to what I would have expected - maybe you need to give them the url for your blog and let them get to know you better? Well done on being able to be so self-confident despite the negativity you're surrounded by.

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  14. I am much better at this than I used to be. I think conquering some pretty big challenges in my life over the recent years lets me know I have strength, resilience, a capacity to care, self-worth and empathy for others. I will miss linking up here at #mlstl and hope that you might continue to link up on Mondays for #lifethisweek. Thank you for sharing the love in the linky space called #MLSTL Denyse

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    1. Hi Denyse - I'll definitely be visiting you on Mondays to stay in touch. I'm so pleased you've managed to maintain the momentum with your party. Sue and I feel like we've reached the end and we want to stop before it becomes too much of a chore. Keeping in touch is so important though - so I'll be partying with you each week into the future. x

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  15. Hi Leanne, yes, it's going to take me more than a minute to tell you 5 character traits that I'm proud of. I guess I've still got some work to do on myself. Thanks for this post, it's something that I needed to hear! :-) x

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    1. Hi Cheryl - you need to start with resilience, courage, optimism, friendliness - and the list would continue from there. The life you're living is so intriguing for the rest of us who sit safely at home - so you're definitely an inspiration. x

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    2. Oh, Leanne, I'm very close to tears, thank you.xx

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  16. Hi Leanne, I have popped in again, as I've just heard that #MLSTL has now finished. I don't know how, but I missed this announcement during the week. I feel very sad that it's over but understand that nothing lasts forever. I wanted to say thankyou so much for the time you have put into making the link up possible. I've met some wonderful midlife bloggers, for which I'm very grateful. xx

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    1. Hi Jen - we're finishing it at the end of August - so we only mentioned it briefly in the latest MLSTL party and we'll put it in again over the next two. I know what you mean about the great friendships and connections, but Sue and I felt it had run its course and wasn't quite what we wanted to do any more (although Sue is now thinking about running it monthly???)
      I'll still be following a lot of those who link up and will visit to comment and say hi - it just takes the weekly pressure off for now and that's what we both needed for different reasons. xx

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  17. I can relate to much of what you say, Leanne. I grew up thinking it was unattractive to "toot your own horn." My mother, however, was free with compliments, so that helps me see that I have special, positive traits. I just have a hard time saying them out loud (or writing them down, as the case may be). If I were to say five things I like about myself off the top of my head, they would be 1) My ability to stay calm and think things through before I react; 2) my willingness to be honest with myself and strive for improvement without beating myself up over imperfections; 3) my ability to look for the good in others and get along with most everyone; 4) my open-mindedness and desire to learn; 5) the way I take care of myself--mind, body, and spirit. That was a little more difficult than I expected! Thanks for suggesting the exercise.

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    1. Hi Christie - well done on being able to name five - I had to take a quiz to figure out what some of mine were! I think having a parent who is your cheerleader when you're young makes a world of difference and I truly hope that's what my children can say about us as parents throughout their lives x

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  18. I'm getting more sure of myself with age, but I think it's mainly a matter of I'm less willing to let anyone take advantage of me!

    Di from Max The Unicorn

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    1. I think we all feel a little bit that way Di - passively sitting back and allowing ourselves to be walked over is definitely a thing of the past!

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  19. This absolutely resonated with me. Thank you for sharing. One to come back to, for sure.

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    1. Melissa I look at all you're achieving and I think you're the poster child for being able to work with your strengths and make amazing things happen x

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  20. Leanne, you always make me think when I read your posts. That's one of the reasons I love this blog so much. Being self-confident without being over-confident is a balancing act for sure. Even more for women than men. When we name something about ourselves we are proud of, we are going against all those years of being warned about bragging.

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    1. Exactly Laurie! It's so ingrained to negate any compliments and to talk ourselves down. I'm finding it such a difficult process to learn to say what's good about me and not feel like I'm blowing my own trumpet. I guess these lessons take longer to learn if you've been locked into a mindset of "humbleness/self doubt" for decades.

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  21. Hi Leanne, if I may I want to quote Erika, 'When I think of Leanne, I think of genuine, vulnerable, caring, smart, funny, thoughtful, asks the difficult questions, changes people’s lives. I know you have changed mine.' I would say that is so true of you, so thank you. We will feature your post in the next Blogger's Pit Stop.
    Kathleen

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    1. Oh Kathleen thank you so much - I appreciate that coming from you (as well as Erica) and makes me think I still need to do a lot of work on myself to be able to hear stuff like that without immediately wanting to deny it. I hope I'll keep growing in all those areas and be able to own them one day x And thanks so much for the feature x

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  22. It's good to take a look at ourselves as if we are observers. That's something my husband taught me. It takes some of the 'awww' out of it. Glad to know you are continuing to link up!!

    Thanks for linking up this week for #LifeThisWeek. Next week the optional prompt is 34/51 Self-Care Stories. #5. 24.8.2020 and I hope to see you there. Take care, Denyse.

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    1. Hi Denyse - of course I'll be continuing to link up - the fact that you've managed to keep your party going for so long is such a statement in regard to your diligence and willingness to invest in helping others x

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