A new friend asked me the other day, if I could change one thing about myself, what would it be? In pondering the question to give a sincere response, I realized two things. The first is, I’m a bit leery of this type of question as I feel it can provoke unnecessary self-criticism. Nitpicking flaws is a practice I work hard to avoid (sometimes it’s tough!) and I strongly encourage others to avoid it as well. When someone asks “what would you change about yourself?” it can easily be misinterpreted as “what don’t you like about yourself?” The latter is a question that, in my opinion, yields very little benefit to self-improvement, much less self-esteem. However, my second realization is that there are indeed differences between these two questions, and it is essential to individual growth to acknowledge and understand these differences.
Whereas the first question, “what don’t you like about yourself?” requires a person to focus solely on perceived flaws and limitations, the second question, “what would you change about yourself?” allows the respondent to consider how he or she would like to grow as a person. The second question does not necessarily elicit a look inward at perceived flaws, but rather can be used to highlight strengths and continue to build upon them. The key, then, is a shift in mindset to foster a growth mentality.
While I don’t believe in nitpicking one’s flaws, I do believe it is absolutely imperative to continued personal development to practice focused introspection. Ask yourself, which of my positive personality traits can be built upon to ensure I continue to reach my goals? How can I continue to highlight my strengths? Which aspects of my personality and innate abilities can be further honed so that I may be of more service to myself, my dreams, and each and every person in my life?
For many of us, myself included, these are not easy questions to answer. Seizing the opportunity to focus on self-improvement while avoiding the temptation to focus on perceived negatives is a process that takes continual practice and effort. However, it is well worth it! When we are happy with ourselves, striving for growth and simultaneously practicing confidence and self-love, we are not only happier and more fulfilled, but also better able to serve one another and work towards a better life and world for ourselves and our children. And honestly, what is more important than that?
P.S. – If you are interested in a fun quiz to assess your strengths, you can find one here. Of course, when it comes down to it, a quiz is a quiz. You know you best, so focus on what matters to you! Let’s change the world, friends 🙂