Most of us routinely underestimate our talents and skills — not deliberately, but because of self-deprecating habits.
At the extreme, you can become your own worst enemy. But even a little bit of negativity toward yourself can slow you down and cause you to miss out on great opportunities.
Ask yourself if you need to change any of these destructive habits:
1. You don’t believe in yourself.
Self-talk is a strong force, whether it’s positive or negative. If you tell yourself “I’m not ready for that promotion” or “I could never be that disciplined” or “I don’t have the aptitude to be a boss” — if you routinely talk yourself out of your aspirations — you will not reach your potential.
2. You don’t own your unique self.
It’s great to learn from those around you, but never think that what you have to offer is insignificant or that you need to copy someone else’s style or way of doing things. The things that make you uniquely you are what will make you stand out, so honor those things and own them. Mom was right: Just be yourself.
3. You care too much what other people think.
Wanting to be liked and respected is basic human nature. But when you value other people’s thinking and opinions above your own, and change your behavior to reflect what you think others want to see, you’re doing harm to yourself. Nobody else is living your life, so don’t give away the power to guide it.
4. You compare yourself with others.
When you hold the full, complex reality of your life up against the visible surface of someone else’s, it’s easy to come away feeling like less. If you want to compare yourself with someone else, look at those who have less and are struggling — then be grateful for all your advantages and achievements and commit yourself to sharing your blessings.
5. You surround yourself with negativity.
You don’t have to look very hard to find people with issues — there’s always someone ready to cut down someone else’s success or dwell on the unfairness of a situation or workplace. Often what these people are masking is their own fear of failure, but allowing yourself to be exposed to their negativity will have a bad influence on you. Recognize the positive people in your life and choose your relationships carefully.
6. You indulge in pessimism.
If you often catch yourself thinking “I don’t have a chance” or “This will never work out,” you need to shout down that voice before it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. Focus on what you can do instead of worrying about the outcomes you can’t control.
7. You criticize yourself relentlessly.
Self-improvement requires a certain amount of critique — and, let’s face it, we all have flaws. But when you focus on your flaws to the detriment of your strengths, when you dwell on your mistakes but dismiss your successes as luck, you undermine yourself in the worst way. Show yourself the same kindness and respect that you’d show anyone around you.
8. You don’t trust yourself.
Whether your intuition comes from innate talent or years of experience (or both), it can work only if you have faith in it. That doesn’t mean that you don’t question or challenge your instincts — holding your gut feeling up to reality is an important part of discernment. But if you’re constantly second-guessing your own judgment, that’s a problem.
9. You don’t let yourself speak up.
When you quiet your own voice, when you stop yourself from saying what you want to do or asking for what you need, your silence can be mistaken for ignorance or apathy — by others and even by yourself. Even if you feel overpowered, it’s important to say what’s on your mind.
10. You’re no longer curious.
Curiosity elevates us to do great things, and dismissing your own curiosity is an indirect way of holding yourself back. Keep your mind active and questioning.
11. You dismiss compliments.
When you deflect compliments with a self-deprecating remark, you not only sell yourself short but challenge the judgment of the person complimenting you. Accepting compliments graciously doesn’t make you an egomaniac.
12. You limit yourself.
When you feel unworthy or undeserving of success, you don’t even try. The most valuable gift you can give yourself is a wide horizon with room for all your dreams, thoughts, and ambitions.
If you’ve been underestimating yourself, stop your destructive habits and start doing things your future self will thank you for.