How you feel about yourself affects all of your other relationships. Some of you may not be used to the idea that you have a distinct relationship with yourself, but you do. You have a personality and a will; you have a perspective on life that is lived out in how you think, speak, feel, and act. Every day you interact with yourself; you carry on conversations with yourself, verbal or otherwise; you make judgements about yourself and see life from the prism of your own worldview.
Here is an exercise that will provide you with insight on the relationship you have with yourself.
Write your name at the top of a piece of paper. Then number the left-hand side of the paper from 1 to 10. Write down words or phrases you believe describe who you are. Some of you may be able to come up with ten personal descriptions immediately. Others of you may require more time. Give yourself the time to come up with no less than ten.
Next to each word or phrase you’ve written, indicate with either a plus or a minus sign whether the word or phrase – as it applies to you – is a positive or a negative. For example, one person might write “detail-oriented” and mean that as a positive, that they are able to track multiple details at once. Another person might write “detail-oriented” and mean that as a negative, as nitpicky and requiring rigid order. Then, answer the following questions:
- How difficult was it for you to come up with ten words?
- Which would have been harder for you – coming up with ten positive words or coming up with ten negative words?
- How many of your ten are negative, and how many are positive?
- Are positives and negatives evenly dispersed throughout your list, or does one category come first?
- If one category comes first, which one – positive or negative?
People who do not like or trust themselves will tend to focus on negatives when doing self-evaluations. If asked to list personal flaws, they are readily able to do so. If asked to list personal strengths, they often have difficulty doing so. When they are able to come up with a positive, they may qualify that positive by adding that this trait is not as strong in themselves as in other people they know or find another way to devalue it. Some dependent people are unable to come up with a positive word to say about themselves and will simply leave their paper blank.
Over the years, we have been surprised by the number of people who struggle to view themselves in a positive light. Unable to give themselves validation and approval, these individuals are susceptible to giving undue weight to the influence and presence of others. This first Connection Point is a way for you to understand how to view yourself – positively or negatively. Again, understanding a starting point doesn’t mean you have to stay there. Your journey from negative to positive is just the beginning.
Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 37 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.