The doctor said to me one day in therapy that he was angry with himself for being so reticent, so shy at parties. He watched other single men holding court, while he was relegated to the background, never sharing the spotlight. He felt like a faded wallflower. He felt hopeless about ever attracting a woman to love him.
He did concede that people would seek him out for in-depth conversations, and he was never left standing alone at social events, far from it. Nevertheless, he felt second best for failing to be the raconteur, the teller of wild stories.
I wondered how being the ‘Spotlight King’ would fit with being a General Practitioner. Have you met the health professional who tells you all about their health problems, their personal life, their latest car? No matter how entertaining the story, it’s still most times not what the patient needs.
Check the photo at the top of this page and name the best tool. Which is numero uno? Obviously the answer will be job-specific. Hammers are ideal for joining pieces of timber with nails. So should we then say that an axe is a useless, stupid tool, and fling it with gleeful vigour onto the rubbish heap?
My great-listener GP client came to see that the very characteristics he so despised about himself at parties made him a much sought-after doctor. They also eventually made him a caring partner as well. I love Cinderella endings, don’t you?
Comparing our characteristics to those of others is a recipe for misery. The envy this engenders is completely unnecessary when we consider there are also aspects of ourselves that the other person may lack. Lots of times which is best is merely a matter of taste, comparable to ice-cream flavours.
How often have your criticised yourself mercilessly? Felt like throwing yourself out with the bathwater because you failed to live up to some kind of expectation, and then made this the whole basis of your worth as a person?
Abandon what you ‘should’ be like and deal with what is. Positive self-regard does not involve being good at every single thing, nor being better than everyone else in a certain area. Rather it involves recognising your strengths, enjoying them, and playing to them.
Professor Martin Seligman has demonstrated this concept quite clearly with great research back-up. You can read more about this on his Authentic Happiness website or in his book of the same name. The website even has free questionnaires to help you discover your ‘flow’ areas, if you need a nudge.
I sometimes have nightmares where everyone in the world is an extroverted, loud, party-loving comedian. It makes me want to run screaming with hands over ears to a deserted beach.
Think about the people in your life and how you value their differences. I am guessing they don’t all have to be good at every single thing to be valued by you.
What are your signature strengths? And what are you willing to leave to the experts? Can you embrace yourself as you are today?
Happy accepting! Alanda