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Are you Falsely Humble?

by bevbarnes on February 27, 2013

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When I was watching the Oscars this week, I thought – how come there isn’t an Oscar for other professions? Best Life Coach? Best Teacher? Best Reiki Healer? Best Accountant in a non profit?

Wouldn’t that be amazing?

I’d skip the designer dresses and jewels and have people wear the outfit they traditionally go to work in. I’d get dressed up in my best coaching outfit – yoga pants and a comfy top and crocs and be sitting in the Life Coach section. We’d all be selecting tarot cards and laughing and getting intuitive hits about the speeches.

I digress.

Imagine being recognized by the world, for your life’s work.

Remember Sally Field’s You like Me speech in 1985. Sally Field a brilliant actress had no idea that people appreciated what she did. It was her second Oscar and only then could she really believe that she had been recognized for her gift.

It is so hard for so many of us to give ourselves credit.

If you were raised like I was, then you believe that you need to be humble. You don’t call attention to yourself. You don’t sell yourself or promote your talents. You hope that somehow people will find you and you believe that if you are really, really good, you’ll get noticed.

This is a little problematic if you are self-employed and want to make a living.

I decided at a young age that saying great things about me was bragging, egotistical and distasteful. So I didn’t. I’ve been ultra-humble my whole life and proud of it.

And then one day, my mentor Martha Beck said to me “False humility is just as ego-based as constantly telling people how great you are.”

That gave me pause.

Could I be falsely humble? Could you?

How do you know if you are being falsely humble and what do you do about it?

Did you know that one of the leading causes of occupational stress is a lack of recognition? Maybe your false humility is contributing to a lack of recognition – that you need – and the lack of which causes you increased stress.

If you are falsely humble, here are some tips for turning this around:

1. Examine where you are being falsely humble.

You’ll know that you are being falsely humble when you get frustrated when you see other people talking about how great they are. Where does this manifest for you? In your work? Promoting your work or field? In your relationship? With your children? Where do have the most discomfort – the most frustration that people aren’t really seeing how great you are?

In what parts of your life do you not tell others what’s great about you and wish you could?

2. Change the story that you are telling yourself.

Don’t focus on why you created this story about being ultra humble, just remember that it is a fairy tale that you have created.

My story used to be: I have to hide who I am or else I’ll be attacked/criticised/other people will be jealous/I won’t be loved…yada, yada, yada.

What’s your story?

Now my story is: I’m a change agent in the world and people need what I offer, so I choose to stop making them guess if I can help them and tell them how I can.

3. Evaluate your own work as if you were a neutral observer not a critic. This is easiest to do if you have a concrete representation of what you do: a video; a recording or a written document.

I did that this week. I listened to the recording of a class I’d given a while ago – my Define your Difference Class. It’s a free giveaway on my website. As I was listening I heard this really passionate, warm, knowledgeable, wise, inspiring woman.

It was me! I laughed to myself because I wanted to hire me to mentor me.

4. Get feedback. Ask your clients and the people you serve or your co-workers what insights and aha moments they’ve had as a result of working with you. Your self-concept comes from both how you see yourself and how others see you. You might believe that what others think about you is unimportant in the scheme of things but us humans do need feedback from others to develop and shift our sense of self.

As synchronicity would have it, I got a call this week, out of the blue. It motivated me to write this blog. It was an unexpected call from a beloved past client. She said these words to me:

I want to thank you for being so wise, being an amazing mentor, for the value you give in your blogs and articles, for you huge heart, for being open and kind. I see your genius spreading in a big way in the world.

I practically fell off my chair. Maybe I am doing something important. Maybe people really need what I offer. Maybe I’m really good at this. So then I took the next step.

5. Pay it forward. Give someone else feedback. Let people know how much they have helped you. Let them know exactly what is so great about them. This is probably in their blind spot. It may be obvious to you, but not to them. I paid it forward. I wrote a note of appreciation to someone who unbeknownst to her, had been a mentor for me.

That’s when this became so much fun. And it all started to feel soooo good.

Appreciate yourself.

Appreciate someone else.

Talk about what you are good at.

Share your gifts with the world.

It’s just about as good as getting an Oscar.

I LOVE hearing from you.  Let me know below on the blog if you struggle with false humility.  How do you deal with it particularly in your career?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda Ford February 28, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Bev, your free class–Define Your Difference–was a fabulous class. One of the best I’ve heard!

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Bev Barnes February 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Thanks Linda! I always appreciate your wonderful feedback. xoxo

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