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Issue 11 November 2006

Sanity Saver #13: Recognize Your Strengths

The vast majority of us think that through criticism or judgment we can shame ourselves into being different. But this rarely works. Most people don’t respond well to disparagement; in fact, they usually become defensive and resistant. We’re no different. In order to make the changes necessary to create greater balance in your life, you have to shift your position from focusing on your flaws and shortcomings to recognizing your strengths, talents and positive qualities. You have to create a foundation of love and support.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you become a Pollyanna, but that you have a balanced, compassionate view of yourself. Let me put things in perspective. Everything you’ve done, everyone you’ve loved, every mistake you’ve made, every obstacle overcome, is part of the person you are today.

The reality is that change occurs most readily from a foundation of acceptance and support. A committed, nurturing relationship with yourself is essential. The only way you will create a life you love is one caring, compassionate act at a time. You have to love and appreciate yourself into wholeness.

We spend far too much of time focusing on our flaws, shortcoming and imperfections. It’s time to recognize and embrace at least some of our strengths as well.

We’ve all heard people talk about someone being conceited, getting a swelled head or being stuck on herself. In other words we’ve been discouraged from not only singing our own praises, but from accepting compliments. How many times has someone paid you a compliment and you simply accepted it? Come on now, fess up. Probably rarely, if ever.

In most cases we make excuses and give a litany of reasons why we don’t deserve the compliment. Someone tells you you’re a good cook and you immediately respond "Oh it was nothing. You should come over when I really have time to prepare." A friend comments on how nice you look and you say, “You must be kidding, me? I look like a cow.” When you reject someone’s compliment you’re in effect discounting the other person as well as yourself.

Consider for a moment how you respond when a friend gives you a gift. We are usually appreciative and express our gratitude. Well consider a compliment a verbal gift. Accept it graciously and allow it to sink in.

It's time to stop eating humble pie. We must become more comfortable with receiving these flattering remarks. Let yourself enjoy the friendly praise of others. The next time someone pays you a compliment practice saying “thank you.” Nothing more. Don’t worry. It’s not likely that you’re in danger of becoming conceited.

For more information on 30 Days to Sanity please visit www.30daystosanity.com.