Looking within ourselves is not often second nature to us. When we’re young, we get into the habit of looking to our parents and peers for recognition in order to validate ourselves – it’s how we tend to learn about the world around us and our place within it.
In our structured school systems, we’re used to waiting for a teacher’s approval and recognition and rarely learn to actually recognize ourselves. Doing this often led to accusations of arrogance rather than self-empowerment.
Our Culture Teaches Us to Focus On Our Weaknesses
It’s this early structure in our culture that limits our sense of discovery about our inner selves. But it also transcends throughout our lives through our general mindsets on self-improvement.
When we talk about improving ourselves, it tends to come from a space of lack. We sense we’re not doing something right or we’re heading down the wrong life path and it’s usually in these circumstances that we feel the need to improve the flaws that have taken us there.
When we ask for feedback, more often than not it’s our flaws and what’s not good enough that’s highlighted rather than what we did well. The danger of this comes when our strengths aren’t celebrated and instead neglected in a way that is never developed into great ones.
What Recognition Does to Our Brains
Recognition from others can be important but not when it’s your only source. Recognizing our own achievements and strengths is much more powerful than any outside validation.
Studies show writing down and recognizing our accomplishments, no matter how small, actually creates activity in the reward circuitry of our brains. Dopamine, along with other key chemicals, is released causing us a sense of energy around our achievements and allows us to get that feel-good factor.
This is why waiting for recognition from others can be futile. It may seem positive to get that feedback and validation from other people but when it doesn’t ultimately come from within, it can wear off easily. When we do well, often we’re the first to notice and we can overestimate how much others care about our accomplishments. This is why you shouldn’t wait for recognition but instead feel the power of recognizing yourself.
How To Recognize Your Own Achievements and Gain Empowerment
Write Down 3 Small Achievements Each Day
We can go through our whole day and assume we haven’t achieved anything but this is never the case. Even the smallest things such as meeting a new person, walking 10 minutes more than usual or helping a stranger should be considered accomplishments and celebrated.
Writing down at least 3 small achievements each day can get us noticing that we do achieve more than we think. And it’s the collection of these small achievements that add up to the huge successes.
J.K Rowling spent many years achieving small tasks before she became hugely successful. Persevering with writing every day with the odds seemingly piled against her would have been extremely hard with no outside validation and constant rejection from publishers. Instead, she took note of how well she did every day and how much closer she was getting to accomplishing her goal.
For Every Weakness, Write Down a Similar Strength
We can easily focus on our weaknesses but a good strategy is to counteract any weakness with a strength. In other words, putting a positive spin on something seemingly negative. This helps you see the glass half full and see strengths that you haven’t necessarily recognized.
If you’re an over-thinker, write next to it that you’re detailed-minded. Being a perfectionist means you take pride in attention to detail. Having a tendency to be over-eager means you’re passionate.
Writing these down enables you to see things from a different perspective and you’ll recognize not to dwell on weaknesses as completely negative.
Don’t Play the Comparison Game
We are all victims of comparing our lives to the success of others. But this causes us to focus from a space of lack and stops us from seeing what we do have going for us.
We have to remember that everyone is on their own path and at their own pace. Most of the time we only see a small fraction of someone’s life so it’s futile to believe someone is ultimately doing ‘better’ than us. Social media presents us with this constant opportunity to see a small window into others’ lives but be aware that feelings of envy are pointless and diminishes our sense of achievement. Don’t get sucked into the comparison game.
Keep Listening But Remain Detached
The modern world has a competitive nature about her. We feel we need to be the best, and to do so, struggle and strive to be better – but at the cost of what? The feedback we get tends to focus on the negative but the key is to be able to filter out the helpful from the unhelpful.
It’s up to us to decide what is constructive in our growth and what is just unnecessary. Don’t get caught up dwelling on other’s opinions about you but instead accept if it’s something you genuinely want to work and focus on or not. Recognizing this from within rather than relying on outside validation will help you grow much more quickly and in your own way.
So, while being recognized for your achievements will give you a boost, it has the danger of being very conditional to your sense of worth. By learning to celebrate and recognize your accomplishments from within, you will move forward and grow in much better ways than you thought.