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Sometimes after a breakup, our confidence can take a tumble, and we lose sight of the things we are good at.

I always admire people who are proud of their talents and achievements. 

A few years ago, I listened to an interview with Quentin Tarantino. The radio hosts asked if he was surprised that his scripts are used as case studies in degree courses, as examples of great contemporary literature. In this instance, many of us would downgrade our achievements and self-denigrate. However, Quentin’s response was something like, “No, I’m not surprised at all. I’m proud of my scripts”. It was refreshingly honest – not conceited, not arrogant. He was simply taking credit where credit was due.

The interview made me think about the times I’ve heard people put themselves down when they have received praise for creating something wonderful. It seems our default position is to shy away from taking credit and avoid feeling proud of our achievements.

So why is this? OK, no one likes an arrogant, conceited pork chop who puffs their chest and struts around with an air of superiority over everybody – but surely that doesn’t mean we need to deny our individual greatness. Why is it so hard to honour our own talents? Why do the majority of us struggle to admit to ourselves and others that we have unique gifts?

Here are some tips for owning your unique “good bits”:  

  1. Quit self-denigration. When we receive a compliment, our knee-jerk reaction is often to deny the compliment and put ourselves down. For example:

“I love your dress today”
“Oh, this old thing”


“You did a great job writing that report”
“It was nothing”

Instead of automatically pushing the praise away (and in doing so pushing away the person who paid the compliment), acknowledge it… even if it’s just saying “thank you”. You could even elaborate, “Thank you. Yes, this dress is one of my favourites” or “Thanks – I was happy with the outcome of the report too”. Neither of these responses sound arrogant or conceited – they are just agreeing with the positive feedback.

2. List all the things you are good at. We all have unique talents, so take time to work out what yours are. Write a list of all the things you’re good at and the things you have done well. You may notice patterns in some areas and this will guide you to define your true strengths. Include everything, however large or small. If you’re struggling, ask someone who knows you well and who you trust to help you. We are often our own harshest critics, and sometimes others can see our talents more clearly than we can.

3. No more comparisons. Most of us are prone to view our outputs and achievements in relation to those of others. However, this is often unhelpful – we see other people’s final result without seeing their challenges and mistakes along the way, and this can make us feel inadequate. So start evaluating yourself as a standalone person – not in competition with anyone else. Look at your results and talents through your own eyes. Are you happy with the outcome?  Do you like it? If so, nothing else matters.

4. Explore, develop and grow. If you think you’re good at something or you have potential – cultivate, investigate or practice it further. Realising and expanding on your talents is a great way to develop as a person and improve your self confidence.

5. Share the love. When you notice someone’s achievements, strengths or unique talents, let them know. Authentic and enthusiastic praise is a great motivator for others and it’s a lovely thing to give – they’ll feel good and you’ll feel good too. A win-win!

I thought I’d share one of my favourite quotes relating to stepping up and acknowledging our strengths. Next time you’re putting yourself down or hiding from your unique talents, please bear this in mind:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson

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