Self-confidence: it’s not big-headed to own your positive qualities

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Can you take pleasure in what you’ve achieved? Do you have the self-confidence to own your positive qualities? Sadly, many people don’t. They hide or downplay even minor successes or skills.

Fear of appearing big-headed

Sometimes they don’t want to seem “full of themselves.” Or they don’t want to make others feel less successful. Often they think it’s selfish to focus on themselves.

Well-meaning parents instill the following types of messages into their children, and especially girls:

Always think of others before yourself.
Don’t draw attention to own your success, even if you’ve worked hard.
Support others and celebrate their success instead.

Parents worry children will get conceited with too much praise. And in a way, they’re right.

Empty praise leads to conceit

Over-blown praise for little or no achievement can inflate egos. Children praised like this start to believe they’re special, with little basis in reality. They can become self-centred and lack empathy for others.

However, moderate praise for effort is fine. So is feeling pride in your own skills or qualities.

1 It’s OK to feel proud of yourself

Moderate pride in yourself is empowering. It encourages you to build further on your positive qualities. You can see yourself learning and growing as a person.

A boost to self-confidence helps you reach mastery in your interests.

So relax and own your positive qualities without guilt.

2 Shed unhelpful messages

First, you may need to shed those unhelpful messages learned as a child which hamper many people. It’s hard to reach your full potential when you’re humble. And only a few years ago, successful women had to be self-effacing, to prevent a backlash from male colleagues. Even now, many women talk up men’s careers ahead of their own.

But times are changing.

3 Claim your successes

Everyone has the right to develop their capacities and positive qualities, and to claim their successes without guilt.

This is true for good cooks, great parents, kind volunteers or top executives. No matter who you are, you deserve recognition for your skills or deeds.

Have the self-confidence to own your positive qualities.

4 Be tactful and empathic as well

But what about your duty to be mindful of others’ feelings? You may worry that you’ll be hogging the limelight by talking about yourself. Or big-noting yourself when mentioning something that went well.

Remember, you can be tactful and empathic, and still own your successes.  Anyway, you’re unlikely to brag if you’re so aware of others’ feelings.

Of course, there’s a sensible balance. Believing in empathy, consideration and modesty is admirable.

But that doesn’t mean you have to negate your own qualities.

5 Keep your self-respect

However, some people take the need to be modest to extremes. They feel duty-bound to eradicate their own pride or satisfaction. They bury their own talents and build up others instead.

In the process, they totally negate their own identity.

So keep your self-respect, even if you want to be modest about claiming your successes. But also be curious – what makes you so determined to refuse to acknowledge your own abilities?

How does this make your life, or the life of any other person, better?

6 Learn flexibility

You may be living by a rigid and inflexible rule you were taught earlier in life.  

But using one rule for every situation is usually unhelpful. It often backfires.

Part of the skill of living is being flexible. That lets you choose from a wide range of behaviours, so you can then work out the best way to act in any situation.

This means you can decide how much or how little you’ll share about yourself, according to each situation you’re in. 

For example, you may let those who’ve also succeeded in some way know all about your successes, while being more tactful with others still struggling to establish themselves. 

7 Act according to your values

How you behave depends partly on your values. If you’re concerned with making others feel uncomfortable by talking about your successes, you may be a thoughtful and considerate person.  

Imagine a world in which everyone else was as caring and empathic as you are. Caring people like to see others flourish and be excited about life. So would they want you to deny your good qualities, in order to make them feel better?

Of course not.

8 Aim to reach your potential

They’d want you to take pride in your abilities, and to reach your full potential. It wouldn’t matter if that meant being immersed in art or astronomy.

But you can’t reach full potential without building on various strengths and abilities.

So first of all, you need the self-confidence to own your positive qualities, and to accept your skills and successes.

9 Develop personal strengths

Stretching your skills also stretches your personal qualities. As you learn, you develop perseverance, dedication, curiosity, and problem-solving skills.

These and other qualities can enrich your life. And if your life is enriched, you’ll enrich the lives of others.

If you’re happy, others around you experience more happiness as well. It’s a pleasant form of emotional contagion.

If you deny yourself this growth, you limit your ability to help others. You may also have less resilience when things are tough.

10 Share a little about yourself

Being reticent about yourself can be a habit hard to break, but being overly modest can even do you a disservice.

Others may feel you keep them at a distance. They don’t really know who you are or what you’re interested in. They may decide you’re not their type of person.

So you may find it harder to develop friendships.

11 Let others recognise your positives

And there’s a more practical side to being upfront about your own strengths. If you don’t highlight your positives, employers may not recognise your skills. So they may not offer you any work at all. Or you may be given more basic tasks than you’re capable of.

Others may also take advantage if you don’t speak up for yourself. They may exploit your silence and claim your work as theirs. They’re assuming you won’t complain if they infringe on your rights.

So learn to speak up to claim your own skills and achievements.

12 Enjoy your wins

It’s rare to receive sincere praise when you’re an adult who’s done well. Everyone is too consumed in their own worries to notice or bother to comment.

So give yourself some well-earned praise when it’s appropriate. Have the self-confidence to own your positive qualities and successes.

It doesn’t matter how small your achievement is. It’s your little win. Enjoy it. And share it tactfully with trusted friends, family and colleagues.

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