Most of us take pride in doing something well, in using our skills and abilities effectively, in handling a difficult situation with grace or tact, in accomplishing something challenging—or in doing the many tasks, chores or “have to’s” that define our lives, our careers, our homes and our families.
But that’s not what we tend to focus on. We most frequently focus on problems, what we’re worried or anxious about, what needs to be fixed, what we need to do next, how we screwed something up or how we could have handled a situation better.
In other words, we see the mistakes and the problems. We don’t tend to spend much time paying attention to what we have done right, or how we have made ourselves proud. This tendency makes us focus on the negatives—and ignore or minimize the positives. And this makes the vast majority of us feel like we don’t measure up or that we’re not very good.
What if we reversed this tendency, and decided to pay more attention to the positives—in essence deciding to look at how and when we feel proud of ourselves—for what we do, for what we say, for what we experience and for what we accomplish? What if you were proud of yourself every single day for a multitude of things done right? What if you gave the positives as much (or more) attention than you did the negatives? You would feel more prideful, wouldn’t you?
Here’s how you could feel more pride in yourself:
- Make an extensive list of what you have accomplished, experienced or put effort toward in the past year that you’re proud of. Then look at the past month. Then the past week. Now look at what you have accomplished or experienced in the past 24 hours that you are proud of, appreciative of or grateful for.
- How have you survived adversity, rejections, disappointments and difficult challenges? What inner strength do you have that permits you to overcome setbacks and to be able to bounce back? Where did you get such inner strength and resilience?
- How are you skillful with people? With whom do you offer compassion and empathy? Whom do you encourage, support or cheer for? Which people consider you their allies or friends? What do your friends like about you? How did you acquire such social grace and people skills?
- What are your skills and strengths in a romantic relationship? In which situations do you exhibit romantic artistry? What has your spouse or significant other complimented you on, and what does s/he find appealing about you?
- What do you do that the rest of us would consider courageous, gutsy or heroic?
- How are you taking care of yourself? Are you fitting in time to exercise, go to doctor’s appointments or treat yourself to vacations? How do you nurture or pamper yourself? How do you nurture and pamper others?
- What are your strengths at work? Where do you shine with competence or skill?
- What do you do that’s playful or fun?
Every night, when your head hits the pillow but before you fall asleep, recount everything that happened to you that day that you’re proud of, appreciative of or grateful for. You’ll find that there are multiple things you’re proud of yourself for—that you just weren’t paying attention to.