Stop Down-Playing Your Abilities!

If you’ve read anything from the Fringy Bit before, I hope you have seen that I am generally pretty compassionate and gentle.  I could count on my 2 hands how many times I’ve actually told a therapy client what they need to do, deferring instead to exploring options and insisting on self-determination. 

I’m going to break with that tradition for this blog.

I’m going to tell you exactly one thing that I think you should do.

In fact, I’ve already told you in the title:  Stop Down-Playing Your Abilities!

I cannot count the number of gifted or talented people who, in my therapy room, have minimized their accomplishments and talents.  Now, I think you also probably know that I’m not a huge fan of over-emphasizing accomplishments or believing accomplishments create worth, but I do think it’s important to allow yourself space to feel proud and accepting of what you can and have done.

I get it.  Nobody likes a braggart.  I am not encouraging you to be a braggart.  I am encouraging you to confidently, and humbly, claim your abilities. 

Just because something is easy to you doesn’t mean it is less valuable.  Just because something is easy to you doesn’t mean others can do it, too.  Just because it’s your job doesn’t mean your commitment to that job wasn’t exemplary.

I’ll be honest, my best friend called me on this a few months ago, myself.  Remember her, the one who is miraculous with my differently wired children?  I was several months in to this blogging thing and still having a hard time identifying as a writer.  I had a book contract, a growing blog readership, and yet could not claim to be a writer.  “Anybody can do this,” I said.  “It really isn’t that big of a deal,” I said.  My normally calm and tender friend looked me in the eyes, raised her voice, and said, “Oh just shut up!” in the most well-meaning sort of way.  She spoke truth to me that day.  The false humility I was voicing was really insecurity.  It was really that same old “hide-yourself” demons playing with my mind.  Hiding myself doesn’t serve anyone.  And, the truth is, not everyone can write.

Just like not everyone can build a house.

Not everyone can bake a scrumptious, moist cake from scratch.

Not everyone can farm.

Not everyone can lead.

Not everyone can speak in front of a large crowd.

Not everyone can write code.

And it’s time we stop pretending that they can.  Claim what you are good at.  Take pride in it.  Know that it doesn’t make you better or worse or more worthwhile than anyone else, but it does make you different.  It even makes you special.  If you can landscape and garden, then you are special.  I can’t.  If you can understand tax law, then you are special.  I can’t. 

Again, I get the hesitation because you don’t want to be perceived as arrogant.  First of all, some people will perceive you as arrogant whether you are or not, whether you claim your talents or not.  They are insecure, themselves.  Second of all, arrogance involves trying to prove your talents.  Trying to lord it over someone.  Putting other people down in an attempt to build yourself up more.  Arrogance is the opposite of confidence.  It is insecurity trying to throw on the mask of over-security to defend one’s inner vulnerability.  Acknowledging, accepting, confidently claiming yourself and all the traits, gifts, talents, and skills that make up yourself, is not arrogance.

This minimizing of your talents and accomplishments has to stop.  It minimizes you.  It minimizes your impact on the world.  The funny thing is, the more you can comfortably acknowledge your abilities, you actually give permission for others to acknowledge theirs.