- Mental Health
How to feel good about yourself without bragging or fishing for compliments
We all have those moments when we need a little boost to our ego
Okay, let’s see a show of hands from those who have ever felt unappreciated. I’d raise mine, but it is hard to type with your nose. Yes, I could raise both hands, both feet (I’m sitting, unless you thought I was just that talented) and any other available unoffending digits in a resounding, “man, what have I done with my life that makes it worth living,” attitude.
Lately I have felt a huge burden to prove that I am someone special. I have multiple skills and talents that largely go to waste and I’m tired of volunteering those skills and not getting pay or recognition. Does that make me a bad person? Probably so, huh? Well, not bad, just misguided and delusional. Very few people get the respect and recognition they deserve, and let’s face it folks, a 25-cent colored piece of paper with some black ink and a gold embossed sticker that says, “YOU’RE GREAT!!!” just doesn’t do it for you once you have passed the age of seven or so, but thanks guys and that 12-cent raise I got this year really makes up for it! Really. I can buy two more packs of noodles per paycheck with that windfall.
Remembering your glory years, often makes you feel the best has already come
Here’s the deal. I was an average high school student, same for college. Went back to university to take a few courses and ended up having a stellar second run: Dean’s List, Who’s Who, Honor Student, Inducted into two honor societies, one in biology, one in psychology. My senior thesis was selected to be presented before the Florida Academy of Scientists. I was editor of the student paper. I ran the student photographic services. I got elected president of the honor court. People called me madam president. It was cool. I won a lot of awards. I was GREAT!!! No really… (BIG SARCASTIC GRIN). It sure felt that way though, even though I can’t help feeling that I just took on the persona of Donald Trump there for a moment recalling those events of eons past.
I sort of understand why people relive their athletic or military days and how older adults recall their accomplishments of youth. When you see some old guy shuffling across the parking lot in ragged clothes carrying a grocery bag full of day-old bread you never think that he could have one day been a movie star or an Olympic gold medalist. You just see some poor guy who didn’t take good care of himself and mismanaged his money and his life. That’s what we do as the human race, we make spot judgments and often those judgments stick and we get pigeon holed, like a honey bee shoved in and capped so we can’t move until we mature enough to break free and become part of the hive, still feeling like there is something more, but if we leave the hive we are going to die, so we better do what we are expected to do and not venture past the realm of possibilities. That’s how I feel now.
Comparing yourself to others or feeling forced into an image of what you are not can be damaging to your psyche
If your friends have nicer homes, are married, have families, are better hosts and hostesses, or generally make you feel like you don't measure up to their level of sophistication it is easy to feel you are not as good as they are. You might blame it on their looks or their money or who they know, but you instinctively wonder why you do not possess those same skills and if it is your fault you do not have them or whether the universe just sees your corner of the world as its litter box and their corner of the world as the full length, fluffy, quilted bed.
No matter how many people tell me I am good at something, all it takes is for one person to criticize me to make me feel bad about myself or worse yet, let pride and arrogance make me defiant and defend myself even if I may indeed be wrong. It’s not a good way to feel and on that same note, I have to watch myself that I don’t feel “happy” when that person is criticized by someone else thus making me feel vindicated in thinking their judgment of me was in error.
I’ve talked to friends who feel the same way. Sometimes it is parents who treat their children unfairly, comparing them to others. “Oh, are you still dating that girl?” a mother might say to her son as she goes on to state, “I never thought your younger brother would get married before you did and they have two children now…” The implication being that there must be something wrong with you for not being able to be like him.
Don't let others suggest your best is not good enough. You are not a super hero, you are a human. They will just have to get used to it.
If I could count the number of times a task master at work has told me, “Well, if you can’t do it, we can hire someone who can,” I wouldn’t have enough fingers and toes to keep record, but I am sure they could hire someone with 12 toes who could, unlike me, the failure, who could not pick up all three phone lines at once while writing a detailed budget analysis report and babysitting their two year old who is currently draining the water cooler tank and playing dinosaurs on top of the billing papers where a tidal wave of mountain spring water is about to wipe out the entire village and my patience. Maybe there is some two headed, four armed, twelve toed person out there who could handle doing three jobs at once and not show signs of stress, but I really kind of doubt it. Still, because I am perceived as incompetent, I feel hurt.
When people tell you that you are not good enough or that you need to do better, when you are already doing your best, it is not necessarily you who has the problem. You cannot be the perfect person others want you to be anymore than you can be the perfect person you desire to be. We have good days and bad days and sometimes we are going to be sub-par and other days we are going to blow the lid off that cookie jar and bake up a storm, but it is okay to say you're just not cooking with gas some days. Don't blow up and storm out. Remind the person that you could do a better job with some help and cooperation from them or the company.
It's like being given 200 envelopes with letters and told to stuff, address them and lick the stamps and seal the envelopes with your own saliva when the mailman arrives in ten minutes and they "have to go out today!!!". You might be able to get it done, but you could have done it a lot faster and more efficiently with a computer, labels, and postal meter with self sealing letters that were handed to you two hours ago, not ten minutes. Let's focus on the real problem and from all outward appearances, that would not be you!
Often people treat you badly to prevent losing their own preferred status
I worked at a show barn one summer. We were without a stable manager for six weeks and despite a few lazy clock sitters, we all got along well and did a good job, but the higher-ups perceived we needed someone to order us around or we would not have the sense to get the work done, so they hired this nasty excuse of a human who did her best to make us look stupid and incompetent.
Within a week three of four employees quit, but I'm a stickler and had no other income so felt I didn't have a choice. They hired two new people to replace the three that left. They were the laziest, most incompetent people I had ever met, making the last two lazy guys look downright diligent.
Before the manager came, I had been ordering the feed, deworming, treating injuries, giving the horses their shots and doing fencing repairs as well as grooming a dozen horses and training and schooling a young horse with attitude and an older horse that had been manhandled and fearful of most humans.
When the new manager came all that was taken away. I was deemed incapable of giving shots as she was trained as a vet tech. She spooked the older horse I had worked so hard to retrain and blamed me for his jumping back as she flipped a blanket in his face without warning and nearly injured us both with no apologies. On top of everything else, she demanded we wash all horses daily, whether they needed a bath or not.
One day she decided to punish us, for some unknown reason and forced us to pull all the water buckets out of the stalls, scrub them and refill and return them. Since most of my buckets were cleaned daily, it only took me 20 minutes to do the job, Meanwhile my coworkers were not even a third of the way done, talking and taking their time to avoid more unnecessary chores later.
The Cro-magnon cousin refused to believe I had done the job properly and went around inspecting each bucket. The horses were still in their stalls and one had dipped a piece of hay in the bucket so the woman blew up and demanded I go back and remove all the buckets out the stalls and do them over again "properly". I placed my hand on her shoulder and stared her in the eye and said, "It is one piece of hay. If I cleaned every bucket every time a horse dipped it's slobbery muzzle into the water, we would never get any work of any importance done around here."
That was pretty much the beginning of the end for me as I was later fired for refusing to "obey a direct order". I imagine had she commanded a firing squad, I would have been sentenced to death as well. If you are wondering, the order was to hose off a horse in a muddy pit we used to water down hay in a ten gallon bucket for a horse with respiratory issues. The main wash rack was being used by frantic riders being ordered to shampoo and hose each horse as if they would die and melt to dust if not bathed within ten second of their saddles being removed.. I took my horse in the stall and used a bucket and sponge to remove the two small sweat marks under the saddle. I refused to make the horse stand in the muddy pit and told the woman if she really wanted him to get a full body bath, we would wait until the wash rack became available. She called me an f---ing idiot in front of the riders, screamed that I was undermining her authority and some other choice curse words and I was let go with a rather hefty unemployment payment awarded for being terminated without cause... take that cro-girl.
About three weeks before that, I was asked to go pick the main boss up from the airport but cro-magnon felt this was too important a job for a minion such as myself and went to get him in her $40,000 dually truck with the chrome wheels. I got a phone call about a half hour later from the boss wanting to know where I was. I explained what had happened and he told me to come get him anyway. We found out later the bad boss had been involved in an accident while speeding to the airport and was out of commission for a few days. It was all I could do not to cheer.
I know I am wrong in comparing her to a less intelligent human or maybe I am insulting early hominids by comparing them to her, but no one deserves to be treated like dirt EVER!!! If people are that insecure in their position and do not respect the value of those working with them, then they are not worth your worry. It is better to be poor and out of work than stuck with someone who constantly criticizes you and blames you for things they did wrong, not you.
It took me a long time to find a new job, but I did and while it wasn't perfect, it gave me the freedom to use my abilities and think for myself without being ordered about and micromanaged. It makes a world of difference when someone is comfortable enough with who they are, not to destroy who you are to make themselves look better!
In a perfect world, those who treat others badly would have to experience life from the point of view of the people they care little about
One of my fantasies has always been to become rich beyond compare and buy out all those corporations I and my friends have worked for who treated their employees so badly and then give these “rulers of the world” the option of taking a 50 percent salary cut and working under the people who work for them or getting fired and never being to work at the corporation again or be eligible to collect retirement. Oh, I have seen it all. Two years before retirement benefits kick in, the worker with 22 grueling years of work experience is laid off because the company is “downsizing” and needs to keep its profit margin so is laying off all “non-essential” personnel. Well now, don’t you feel special?
Researchers claim that the number one reason why people leave their jobs and their marriages is because their spouse or their supervisor does not identify with them as an equal and does not appreciate the effort they put into the relationship. If you do not feel valued, you are being devalued. It's one thing to pay people low wages, another thing to take away their ability to feel like they are part of the company rather than a cog in the wheel that is easily replaced with another cog so there is no need for kindness or caring.
I don't want to brag but...sometimes it helps to pull out your old awards and pictures to remind yourself that you have done some pretty interesting things
Why do we feel the need to brag and fish for compliments and if people paid us attention to begin with, would we really feel the need to do those things?
I am of the opinion that most braggarts become braggarts because it was and still is, the only way they can get attention. It’s like when you are writing a resume to get a job. You don’t say. I worked a drudge job for ten years making poverty wages with no sick day or holiday pay. You don't tell them that you waited two years for the person ahead of you to retire so you could get their job only to discover they "phased out" that position and gave you that person's responsibilities to add to your own but did not increase your pay, title or hours.
No, instead you say. I was instrumental in maintaining a 400 person data base, updating filing systems (also known as putting 300 strewn files on the floor back into their proper places), creating templates for special business projects (creating photo birthday cards for the boss’s kids parties to which you were never invited) and training new employees on the proper use of office equipment (showing the mechanics how to put the paper facing toward the wall in order to FAX the actual invoice and not the back side of blank paper).
Those who fish for compliments are almost as bad, (but not quite) as braggarts. It’s like hanging around a five-year-old saying, “LOOK AT ME!! See what I can DO!!!” Insecurity is not a good look on an adult. Women swishing their newly dyed hair and saying, “oh, my pants are so loose since I started dieting and lost three pounds. I guess I will have to go buy new clothes now or these old things will just fall off me!” As I resist the urge to say, “oh don’t worry, you’ll gain another ten pounds back in about two weeks anyway, so why bother?” knowing this is generally truth, but also knowing the truth will not really set you free, it will just get you in a lot of trouble mostly.
It’s hard to feel good about who you are all the time. Most of us are in jobs where we are not appreciated for what we do. Our families may think it is our job to do the things we do for them and that we actually like doing it, which may be true some of the time, but even perfect parents get tired of parenting and need a break and a show of appreciation from ungrateful kids.
When we don’t have the energy to pursue hobbies and goals after work or school or our life is so busy taking care of other people’s problems that we don’t have time to focus on what we want in life, it is easy to get depressed and feel trapped and want to take it out on everyone we perceive has trapped us into this lifestyle.
Changes at work, losing a friend or a pet, having problems with things that keep breaking down and needing repair, are all likely to take a toll on our psyche. If we want to be graceful hosts and entertain friends at our house, but are embarrassed to let the post person up on the porch to deliver a letter because of the clutter and the unmown grass (thanks, cheap lawnmower for breaking down yet again when you are needed), then we may feel it is all our fault. Would be nice to have a nanny for the kids, a housekeeper, a cook, a yard big enough to park a car in. It’s easy to feel less-than when you compare yourself with those people who present the perfect picture in public and to blame those perfectionists for your miserable state of being, but let’s be honest, even if they never existed on the planet, you would still be a miserable person, because you have allowed yourself to become that way.
Being off and on again miserable myself, I can’t tell you how wrong you are and that if you could only be like me, you too would be happy and free of the control of others. Even if we won the lottery… even if we played the lottery, we would probably still be miserable with wealth and power and still want more. I mean, my goals would take about a hundred thousand trillion to achieve and even then, if a tornado strikes, or there is a drought, my plans to create a peaceful, nonviolent, equal treatment to all planet could be foiled. Like saran wrapping them would be any better, though. You get the point. Money is not the answer. Changing how we perceive ourselves and others is a step in the right direction.
You are going to be challenged and stressed and face tasks that seem too monumental and face people who would be glad to see you fall because it would prove their point that they are better than you after all. This is life for most of us in the real world. The real world is that thing your teachers and parents warned you about when you told them you were going to play for the NFL and win the Super Bowl or become the next Brittany Spears or whoever else pop star that hasn’t killed themselves with drugs and alcohol these days, because they were miserable too. The real world is not nearly so pleasant as the imaginary one you thought it would be.
My imaginary world existence included being the world’s best loved animal trainer; a veritable Dr. Doolittle who could talk to animals. I would give Jane Goodall a run for her chimpanzee’s bananas; the real-world currency of the great apes these days. I was going to write and photograph for the National Geographic in my spare time after finding a cure for the common cold and creating a rechargeable solar powered fuel cell capable of providing all the world’s energy needs, as well as build my own Utopian community where everyone shared knowledge freely and no one was mean to anyone or thought themselves higher or treated others as beneath them. It was a good plan I thought, but apparently real-world reality is tougher to overcome than I imagined.
So, as I drag out my old trophies and mementos, certificates of achievement, report cards, photos of me with friends doing fun things together and creating lasting memories, the tons of medals and faded ribbons that you can’t wear anytime outside of Halloween or Tacky Tuesday parties, hoping someone will be mildly impressed that you did have skills, back in the day, once upon a time, I wonder if I will ever feel good about who I am now or if I will look back when I am much older and think that I really had it going good. Why couldn't I see that?
If you are feeling underappreciated and unnoticed by friends, coworkers, loved ones, family, or you are feeling controlled by outside forces you cannot shape to your benefit, then you are not alone. Very few people feel good about who they are all the time. Today’s incredible achievement may seem like nothing at all in a week. You can’t be super person all the time, but you can strive to lift others up when you feel they are pounding you down. That may seem like throwing fuel on the fire or brown-nosing or being dishonest to manipulate and control others, but if done in a genuine spirit of love, it is actually rather rewarding on its own.
You will never be able to best a braggart, but you can spot their weakness (fear of rejection, the need to be right, afraid of losing, ashamed to share a bad past) and rather than use it against them, create an atmosphere where they are accepted despite their demeanor.
Be firm in protecting your own ground. If a bossy person tries to tell you how to tie your shoe laces as if you are too stupid to know how to do it on your own, feel free to look them in the eye and say, “my rabbit knows where its hole is, does yours?” in a sage voice of wisdom and at the very least, they will keep their mouths shut and their attention off you while they try to figure it out without looking stupid themselves. You can have fun with it really, just don’t be mean or cruel because that will backfire on you and make you feel bad about yourself again after you let it sink in and sometimes instantly depending on what kind of a person you are.
I find myself wanting to let people know that I am smart. That I went to grad school even though I couldn’t afford to keep going and did not see a future I would enjoy if I continued to pursue it. The only thing I really ever enjoyed doing was writing, training animals, taking photos and problem solving as well as analyzing data and coming up with effective solutions for creating better environments and attitudes!
Oddly, I could not find anyone hiring in that department! Oh well, writing is cathartic. It helps you see your weaknesses and strengths and helps you share a part of you that may actually resonate with someone else and help them to see that what they are going through is actually rather normal, despite what “loved ones” might claim to the contrary.
Sharing your skills is a good thing. Bragging about them is not, but it's hard not to "remind" people about your accolades and accomplishments, because you do want to be seen as more than what others perceive you as being and it is fun to see how impressed other people are when they learn about the things that you did! Just try to keep your bragging rights under control and give ample room for others to brag on themselves or if you know them well, let others know how great they are and save them the problem!
If you are feeling unloved and underappreciated, start complimenting others and letting them know how much you appreciate them!
If you are feeling unloved and underappreciated, try to be more loving and appreciative of others. Ask them about their lives and their goals and their greatest achievements of the past. Sometimes just thinking about what you used to do in the past and loved can encourage you to take it up again in a modified role in your present life. Did you use to paint, draw, write songs, sing, play a musical instrument, play a sport, volunteer to help others or even cook a special meal or treat for someone? When was the last time you made someone pancakes with bunny ears, or took blueberry muffins to school or work to share with friends? Maybe you can do that again. Join a group, train for a walk or run, take up a sport or do a new class you never tried at the gym or even teach a free class at a local church or community center.
Doing good things to help others is the best way to feel good about yourself. It’s easy to feel beaten down by others and want to strike back, if not physically, by undermining the evil-doers demands. People are not slaves to be ordered about. Even if someone is paying you a salary or gave birth to you or pays your bills, it does not give them a right to treat you like they own you.
Ask others to help you, don’t tell them to do it for you. Respect and allow others to have freedom and give them an opportunity to shine at what they do best rather than keep them subjugated beneath you so that they feel smothered and unable to be who they are capable of being.
Life is not perfect and neither are humans, but everyone should be treated as if they have importance in the world. Get to know people and you will discover they may have many hidden talents. Appreciate them and encourage them and there will be no need for them or you to brag or fish for compliments, there will be plenty of praise to go around to everyone and really, appreciation and acceptance are the best trophies anyone can acquire in life.
Take the time to notice five things someone you live or work with has done that you admire and let them know that you are impressed with what they do. If you feel uncomfortable saying anything directly, then simply say thank you if they do something to make your life easier. Buy them a little treat or make them something they can use. A little appreciation and respect go a long way toward making people feel loved and valued and when you invest that love in others, you will find it returns to you in great multitudes and makes you even more likely to see the good in people and the good in yourself.