Do you struggle to be proud of yourself? Do you play small? Are there times when you’ve downplayed your accomplishments? Were you taught to be humble and not boast?
You may tell yourself, “I am not worthy of the life I want.” That emotional insecurity actually prevents you from creating the life you want.
If you want to begin changing that and learn how to create the life you want, read my post Manifestation Methods. It will teach you ways to create that life.
It’s Ok to Be Proud of Yourself
Now, most of us were taught that if we “talk ourselves up” to others that we are bragging. Think about how often you heard negative things about people who were able to show their pride in themselves.
When you encounter people like that, you probably wish you could be proud of yourself like they are, but that’s a struggle have you. It’s a struggle for a lot of people.
Another possibility is that you might be annoyed by people whom you believe “brag” about themselves. If that’s you, I challenge you to see how you might be envious of their ability to be proud of their accomplishments.
I’ve been on both sides of that. I used to wish I had confidence to be proud of myself like others I knew. Also, I judged those people and called them “braggers” because I was insecure myself.
Emotional insecurity doesn’t just appear out of thin air. It is created over time due to the messages we hear from others from childhood all the way through adulthood.
Explicit vs Implicit Messages
For me, I have heard implicit and explicit messages throughout my life from multiple different “voices.” If you want to learn more about where these “voices” come from and how they affect you, click here to read my post Creation of Negative Self-Talk.
The lessons I was often taught were that I shouldn’t talk much about myself or the amazing things I had accomplished. If I did, then I was self-absorbed.
Often, I was simply trying to get the attention I lacked that all children need and deserve, but that’s not what I’m talking about right now. However, if you relate to that, read my post Emotionally Needy (Emotional Needs of Children Aren’t Met).
As I’ve mentioned many times before, society has gotten a lot of things wrong. Teaching us to play small is one of those.
Keep in mind that I am not referring to people who are cocky. That characteristic usually covers up insecurities, but that’s another post for another day.
What about those like myself who were raised to believe that pretty much anything you tell others about accomplishments of which you are proud is bragging. “Nobody likes a bragger” screams in my head as I type that. How does that affect us?
Struggling to Tell Yourself “I am so proud of you.”
As a therapist, I have seen many people struggle to even believe they have something important or valuable that they have accomplished. Even more so, people struggle to believe there’s even anything within themselves that is of value.
That truly makes me sad because every single person has value. Most of us just take a long time to actually see our value, much less allow ourselves to show others that value. Somehow, we lose the ability to be proud of ourselves as we become adults.
Children are often praised and congratulated on accomplishments throughout their childhood. Yes, I’m aware that there are children who do not get that and that truly makes me sad. However, for this post I am referring to children who receive praise that is “normal.”
Consider how you were praised as a child. Did you get your pictures or papers with good grades posted on the refrigerator? Did you get special treats for playing a good game in a sport? Did your parents tell family members about your great accomplishments?
Why does that stop for many of us as we become adults? Why aren’t we able to have pride in our accomplishments? Why do we downplay the amazing things we’ve done?
In order to answer those questions, we need to look at explicit vs implicit messages. We all experience them from birth through adulthood.
Explicit and Implicit Messages Cause Emotional Insecurity
Understanding explicit vs implicit is fairly simple. Explicit is a message that is given loud and clear. Without a doubt, you know exactly what somebody is saying and you know exactly what he or she means.
Implicit messages are a little more difficult and can be more difficult to recognize. An implicit message is one that is implied, but not directly said or shown. They leave you feeling like something about you or something that you’re doing is wrong.
You may not even be aware of implicit messages that you have received throughout your life. Trust me, though, that does NOT mean that implicit messages did not impact you in a negative way. It’s quite the opposite.
The reason that you may not be aware of the implicit messages you received is that they weren’t actually spoken. The implicit message was still “heard” loud and clear. It was just implied without direct words.
Effects on Children
Yesterday, I was at the park with my toddler. We were sliding down the slide when a little girl entered the play area.
She tripped and hurt her knee. Immediately, her mother ran over to her shouting, “Don’t you cry! You’re fine. That didn’t even hurt you.”
Oh, how that hit my heart like an eighteen-wheeler going two hundred miles per hour. That poor little girl was hurting and she was being shamed for it.
Without even thinking, I went straight over to the little girl and asked her mom if I could help her. The mom accepted my help.
I asked the little girl to push on my hand as hard as her knee hurt. She pushed and pushed on my hand, until her focus was on pushing my hand and not her knee.
As she was drying her tears and getting back up to play, I looked at her and said, “I cry too when I get hurt.” She looked up at me with the sweetest little smile that was giving me permission to show her love in that moment.
Now, before you start thinking that I was shaming her mother for telling her daughter not to cry, that is not the case at all. I’m sure her mother was taught to say that just like I was and almost everybody I know was.
We repeat what we are taught and it becomes our natural “go-to” without thinking about it. The mother thanked me for helping her daughter.
She said, “Who are you and where the hell did you learn that?” I just laughed and told her that I’m a psychotherapist. I told her I’d never had a child push on my hand like that, but it popped into my head, as things often do. I thanked her for allowing me to help her daughter.
The mom thanked me again and said, “I’m stealing that. It really worked.” She then said it was interesting that I told her daughter that I cry when I get hurt.
We had a brief conversation about mom being in therapy herself and was trying to learn how to do things in a better way for herself and her family. My hope is that mom continues doing her work in therapy and that maybe that little girl learned a small lesson that it was ok for her to cry because she got hurt.
So, let’s take a look at the explicit vs implicit messages that were at play there. The mother told her daughter, “Don’t you cry.” That was an explicit message.
The implicit message in “Don’t you cry” was that if she cried, then she was weak and there was something wrong with her. That’s a pretty damaging message for a little girl.
It’s also one that could possibly stay with her for the rest of her life. I just hope that my implicit message in my explicit message, “I cry too when I get hurt,” told her it’s ok to cry when you get hurt.
This example is one that I’m sure you can relate to from your own childhood. The phrase, “I’ll give you something to cry about” also pops into my head. I never heard that exact explicit message, but I know many people did.
There is almost always an implicit message when somebody gives you an explicit message. We’re consciously aware of what we are being told with the explicit message.
However, the implicit messages can be more subconscious and just as damaging. Nobody escapes explicit or implicit messages. The point of this post is for you to recognize the explicit and, even more so, the implicit messages you’ve received throughout your life.
Examining Messages Throughout Your Life
Take a moment to think about what those messages were that you received. How did they impact you? Did you change the way you did things? Did those messages prevent you from being your authentic self?
I’ve examined the explicit and implicit messages I received throughout my life. The biggest one to me was regarding my physical appearance.
If I was going to leave the house, my mother would say, “Don’t you want to put some make-up on? You might see somebody you know.” That’s not really an explicit message, but the implicit message was one that I heard LOUD and CLEAR for many years.
The implicit message was that I was not pretty. The effects of that implicit message were huge for me. I spent years piling on tons of make-up, straightening my super curly hair and dressing up wherever I went.
When I think back to those years now, I both laugh and have sadness. I laugh because I can’t tell you the last time I dressed up. It’s been quite some time. “Dressed up” for me now is a pair of jeans and a cute shirt with flip-flops or loafers.
The reason it also makes me sad is that I spent years feeling ugly and hiding behind nice clothes and a bunch of make-up. I can truly say that I have healed that now.
I wear very little make-up, if any at all, and I wear what is comfortable to me. Usually, you will find me in yoga pants, a tank top and flip-flops with my curly hair flowing wild and free. I learned to love myself in the ways I feel comfortable.
Hopefully, you’ve got a good understanding now about explicit vs implicit messages. I encourage you to write down the ones you’ve heard throughout your life. It can help you see that maybe somebody dumped their emotional insecurity on you and that you never deserved that.
Now, switching gears to another topic that I often hear people say after accomplishing a big “thing.” This topic is a result of the emotional insecurity, that I just previously mentioned.
Often, I hear, “Well, it’s really not that big of a deal because so many other people have done the same thing.” Hmmm…so I suppose they don’t deserve to tell others what they accomplished either? They don’t deserve to say, “I am so proud of you,” to themselves?
Wrong! That belief is so wrong and so damaging. However, when you have emotional insecurity, you don’t believe that you have a right to be proud of yourself.
The reason you have that emotional insecurity and struggle to be proud of yourself is that other people dumped their issues on you. If this feels like what happened to you, I encourage you to read my post, Not Good Enough Stuff Explanation.
When you have the belief that you are not worthy, it can take a lot of hard work and time to change. There’s no secret weapon or simple A, B, C steps I can tell you to change that. Hopefully, this post just makes you aware of why you struggle to be proud of yourself.
I am So Proud of You
For now, I want to tell YOU that I am so proud of you for simply reading this because it means that you are willing to heal. If you are ready to do the work for that healing, read my post 5 Important Steps to Finding a Good Therapist. A good, licensed therapist can help guide you towards healing emotional insecurity.
As always, please comment below if you found this post helpful. Share with our NGES community what explicit and implicit messages you’ve received throughout your life and what you’ve done to heal and change those.
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This site is only intended for people who are truly willing to look at themselves with an open mind and have the ability to truly be vulnerable with themselves and others. Please understand that this site is in NO WAY THERAPEUTIC ADVICE. However, this site can be very beneficial in learning the causes of your Not Good Enough Stuff. This site is not intended to provide replace medical or psychiatric treatment. Mary Beth HIGHLY RECOMMENDS finding a licensed therapist to help you process the information from this site and all that you learn about yourself. Visit Psychology Today to find a licensed therapist in your area.