Some week ago I received praise from a colleague as to my ability to handle certain tasks at work. I became moved and felt very happy and also surprised, because I did not see myself the same way my colleague did. Later, I reflected on the event, and I have come to see how these reactions of happiness and surprise, actually indicates a deep seated insecurity.
I look at it the following way. If I would have been secure within myself, if I had recognized my weaknesses and strengths, and known what I was capable of, would I then have reacted the way that I did? The way I see insecurity is that it has a lot to do with undermining, devaluing and diminishing myself, and hence because of this, missing/not seeing WHO I AM. Thus, when someone else comes into my life, and tells me that I am really good at something, I get thrown off my feet with gratefulness and satisfaction. The real question though is why I have not accepted and allowed myself to give these expressions/words to myself – why wait for someone else to do it for me?
In Sweden we have a mentality called the “tall poppy syndrome” – which means that if you do acquire skill/status/money or similar above the average, it is seen as bad and socially unacceptable to speak about it and recognize it. This mentality pervades in the Swedish society. It is thus interesting that, many rich people in Sweden, live as if they had an average income. This mentality obviously becomes a problem in the sense that excellence and success many times, at least silently, is shunned and repressed – and if someone does reach excellence – he or she will not speak about it. However, suppressing stories of success actually depraves everyone of the opportunity to grow and learn through the example of another.
From what I can see, I have internalized this tall poppy syndrome because fact is that I am very good at my work, I am thorough, I am self-reliant and assertive in handling my responsibilities – though – I have not recognized this for myself. And obviously, this tendency of mine, to not see and evaluate myself, and give me credit when credit is due, also has the consequence that I am not as open to seeing and recognizing my weaknesses. Because, what is the point of changing a weakness into a strength if I do not recognize it for myself? Then it is better to keep everything average, takes less effort.
Another consequence of me not recognizing what I am good at, my successes and achievements, is that I do not want to recognize such in others as either. Instead, when another achieves, grows and expands, I become jealous, and feel bereft. And then I want to bring another down to the level of average, in the belief, that this is what I am, and that I cannot become more. Though, what is missed is that I can obviously learn and become inspired by the successes of another. And the expansion of the life of one person is not only of value to that particular individual, as we live in a interconnected reality – and hence – when one of us becomes better – this will ripple into the lives of everyone else as well.
Thus, insecurity, it is when I do not give myself credit where credit is due, because I believe that I am not worthy/respectable/good enough to do it for myself. And then I instead wait and hope for others to do it. I strive and fight to achieve some form of recognition, all because I did not give it to myself. A solution that I see for myself when I receive positive feedback, is that instead of going into a feeling of happiness, pride and joy, to instead look at the feedback objectively – to bring it within me and then see if I agree with this feedback – and if I do – to then recognize my ability/skill/success for and as myself.
And then, I can expand this point even more, by then looking at how I can improve/move/further/strengthen my point of success even more. Because why accept myself to be satisfied with being really good at something, when I can most likely, become even better at it? And further – to also push myself to recognize my weaknesses, and actively practice changing these weaknesses into strengths. That is how I can start recognizing myself instead of needing others to do it for me.
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