Hiding your true self? Focus more on your talents

Orange and white fish peeking out from behind plants

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

If you’re hiding your true self from others, rethink your strategy. To reach full potential, you need to focus more on your talents.

Some people are naturally great at promoting themselves. They enjoy telling everyone about what they’ve been doing. In the process, they broadcast their successes, great and small.

Now this can be entertaining, enlightening, and even inspirational, with one proviso – that they show personal modesty. Or at least, that they give credit where credit’s due.

Dismissing your successes

Unfortunately, you may not be so keen to be the centre of attention.

Chances are you dislike revealing your talents. You fly under the radar, hiding your true self, and let others take the limelight. But half the time, you know more than they do.

Yet, you still downplay your own skills, abilities and talents. In fact, you tend to dwell more on your negatives than your positives.

Failures are easy to remember

Could you list 100 positive qualities or situations in which you’ve done well?


But you could probably reel off 100 defects or mistakes in an instant.

For example:

things you did wrong

things you regret

character flaws

personality defects

what you said and shouldn’t have

what you didn’t say and should have

things you did and shouldn’t have

things you didn’t do and should have

ways you offended others …

Interesting, don’t you think? Faults come to mind quickly

It’s much easier to remember perceived faults than positives.

But how does this help you? And how does it hinder you?

Sometimes you may not think about those negatives much. When you feel good about yourself, they fade into the background.

But when you feel less confident or out of sorts, they reappear. 

Unfortunately, modern life gives us plenty of opportunities to feel inadequate. Most people feel tired, stressed or low in mood several times a day. That’s when things can fall apart.

Continual negative self-talk

You may not realise, but just below your awareness, your self-talk continues all day. It’s like a monologue commenting on how you’re doing, how you’re looking, if you’re coping, and what others think of you.

Sometimes the thoughts are OK, or even positive. But often, they’re negative. All day. All night.

Sometimes you’re aware of these thoughts. But most of the time you’re not.

The negatives add up over time

You may be dwelling on your “failings” more than you realise. While this is going on, it’s hard to focus on what’s good about yourself.

Keeping a positive image when you’re feeling down takes effort. And it’s easy to feel bad about yourself and your life. That’s when you need to start focussing more on your strengths, and stop hiding your true self. 

Aim for a realistic self-image

It’s important to have an accurate view of yourself.

Healthy self-esteem means being comfortable with your true self. That means accepting all parts of yourself, good and not-so-good.

It doesn’t mean you have to like everything about yourself. You many know you need to change some aspects of yourself. But you don’t give yourself a hard time about it.

For instance, if you’re naturally an introvert, you don’t try to turn yourself into an extrovert. You accept your good qualities, while developing the social skills you need to interact with others. But you don’t feel any need to apologise for who or what you are. 

1 Accept yourself as you are

With a realistic self-image, you accept who you are at this particular time. You still basically like yourself as a person overall, even with your faults. And you know you’ll work to change those less positive points.

But when you’re down, it’s hard to remember anything good about yourself.

You can’t see yourself in perspective. And so you dwell on your negative side.

You only remember the bad things you’ve done. You also overlook anything that you’ve done well. You’re probably far harder on yourself than is justified.

And that won’t help your mood improve!

2 Identify your strengths

So doing an inventory of your strengths can be helpful. If you stop hiding your true self, you’ll remember all the good things you’ve done, and your positive qualities.

Reading a realistic list of positives about yourself every day is helpful. It’s not big-headed, because you’re reading a list of things that are true about you. You’re not shouting this from the rooftops to show off. No-one else need know what you’re doing or saying to yourself. 

By doing this, however, you’ll see you have a reserve of unused qualities and abilities.

And you’re not defined by things that didn’t work out.

3 Nurture positive qualities

If you want to nurture your positive qualities, you can. And you can develop these to reach your goals.

You’ve learned hundreds of skills since birth. You know how to talk, get dressed, write, and do simple math. You know how to use a toaster, a stove, mobile phone, computer or car.

If you’ve learned these, you can learn other, more meaningful things, and you can work at becoming the person you want to be.

Anyone can change their behaviour if they work at it.

Know yourself

Firstly, it takes self-knowledge. That’s where a realistic, accurate self-assessment is important.

It’s a simple acceptance of the reality of your situation. Where you are at this stage of your life.

It summarises what’s OK about you and your life right now, and also what may need to change.

You can use it to develop your roadmap to a more fulfilling life.

Start by developing your self-confidence. Don’t keep hiding your true self. Focus more on your talents. Learn how to begin with an assessment of your strengths.

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