I’m Kiwi. I live in England.
These two facts mean that it is culturally ingrained in me that I SHALL NOT BE PROUD OF MYSELF. I shall never say that I am good at anything, I shall never appear to believe in myself, and above all, I shall never, ever, EVER boast.
Further, praise for others shall be muted, put into context and, preferably, sandwiched in between a couple of negatives.
Have you heard the above phrase?
Basically, when someone says anything even vaguely self-congratulatory (for example, “Yeah, I was pretty pleased with my time in that race actually”), a raised eyebrow and curled lip is aimed at them, together with a sarcastic “Er – rate yourself!”. Potentially followed by a giggle, which may or may not be “with” the subject, but is designed to prevent the subject from being able to protest against the phrase without coming across as a humorless git.
I HATE this phrase.
it has the effect of bringing someone down from being justifiably proud of themselves to being mildly humiliated for absolutely no reason
it’s mindless and usually uttered without any thought whatsoever as to the veracity of the provoking statement
it’s a very sly put-down, because it’s said with the appearance of humor
because there’s no real substance in it, it’s impossible to argue the point
it stops conversation in its tracks
I am completely at a loss to understand why anyone would ever utter such a drivelling phrase, designed to put someone else down and take away their happy buzz.
However, it’s not just this phrase. Essentially, in the societies I’ve lived in, the culture is very much slanted against being proud of yourself. But why?! Take it from me, there’s so much negativity out there that if you’re not proud of you, no-one else is going to be!
For me, being proud of myself is pretty much the only motivator that will get me to go. If I’m not proud of myself at the end of a training session, a race, a day’s work, a project I’ve undertaken or just a Friday, then what’s the point of repeating it? There is none. However, it can be really really hard to focus on the good stuff I’ve done, especially being a nitpicky Virgo internally, and being faced with a general culture of negativity externally.
So how to counter it?
I can’t remember which interview I saw it in, but P!nk once explained that when on tour, she and her crew sit down and each of them gives one example of something they’re proud of themselves for. Daily.
I think this is awesome. It’s so so rare for us to sit down and think of things we’re actually good at, or have done well, or are just generally proud of, let alone vocalize them to others. But doing it is such a boost.
However, since most of us don’t have the facility to sit in a group of people bragging, why not write it down?
One nice thing about praise – people might be slightly embarrassed to receive it (we are Brrritish!!) but they will always be pleased underneath. And praise is like presents – the more you give, the more you receive.
It’s gotta be genuine though – but that isn’t hard. People are pretty awesome – but habitually and culturally we focus on the bad and only tell people when they’ve done something wrong. I catch myself at this all the time, especially at work (even though at my work there’s a remarkably positive culture) where it’s easy to just take people’s good stuff for granted.
When you do something you feel was good – remember it! Make a little mental note of that warm fuzzy glow and hold onto it.
It’s really easy to bypass the good stuff in ourselves, just as it is in others.
surround yourself with positive
As a general rule, all my friends are super-positive people, as are my work colleagues (at both my jobs) and my coaches and other sports buddies.
That’s because I’ve chosen them to be that way … as I’ve explained before, I have an extremely fragile ego, so being surrounded by negative people doesn’t really work out for me. I’m too much like a sponge – I absorb attitudes and realities from those around me.
create your own positive culture
So many people mention to me how unfriendly Londoners are. No we aren’t! Really! We’re really nice, honest**.
As an example, in the street next to my work, I am on first name terms with the guys in two of the newsagents, both Starbucks, the Tanning Shop (yes, my guilty secret is out), Herman ze German, the cafe over the road, the guys at the fresh fruit stall and the girls at the flower stall, the tailor and drycleaner, Pret a Manger, and the pasta shop. Oh and one of the ladies in Holland & Barrett. And all the gym staff, obviously, but that’s two streets over. And I’m talking about a seriously busy street in the dead centre of London.
So how can we be unfriendly?! The answer is that we’re not in the least bit unfriendly – we just take a bit of time to warm up. You’re never going to get to know us unless you try … but most people won’t. They take others at face value, and don’t even try to get something positive out of daily interactions. But if you do put in a tiny bit of effort, honestly, the rewards are massive – you find yourself smiling and chatting away for a few minutes which always leaves you with a tiny smiley glow. I like a tiny smiley glow. It makes my daily interactions, positive, rather than neutral or negative.
do something that makes you proud
I love teaching pole-dancing and burlesque. Let me explain why. Generally speaking, the girls who come along – contrary to popular belief – aren’t the most outgoing girls, or the fittest, or the most confident. Really.
Usually, the girls who come along are those who don’t have a lot of confidence and are looking to boost it by doing something that takes them out of their comfort zone. It’s the strongest of girls that can do this, especially when – as is so often the case – when they first come they don’t feel good about themselves at all. However, by the end of a few weeks, they’ve completely transformed into a person that they like a lot more. Honestly. Don’t believe me? Try it.
It doesn’t matter what you try – it doesn’t have to be pole, or burlesque, it could be running a race or doing free-running, or doing an art class, or anything at all that you didn’t think you’d be able to do. That’s ’cause it’s not about the subject matter per se – it’s ‘about achieving something you never thought you would. And that is A.MAZ.ING. Doing anything you didn’t know you could do makes you realise that there’s so much MORE out there that you can do – even if it’s stuff that in your wildest dreams, you never imagined you’d be able for. But I bet you can!
so … rate yourself
I will – thanks! As should you. And you and you and you. Oh, yes, and you there over in the corner, hanging your head and looking down at the floor.
RATE YOURSELF PEEPS!
** I consider myself a Londoner after being here for 12 odd years and almost speaking properly now **