Key Point: My relationship with my mirror has its ups and downs. I still occasionally stand in front of it, even though I’m likely in the last quarter of my life, and wonder, “why?” Essentially, I’m still asking myself if I’m “good enough,” and/or disgusted with something more trivial, like wishing my “expanding belly and love handles would magically dissolve.” Anyway, those are very private and personal moments. Do you have them? For me, they are often more acute when I’ve faced some real or imagined rejection. So, I’m continually learning more about myself, and how my thinking helps me show up or not as a leader. Subsequently, I believe there is something important about connecting two very important concepts: Having a growth mindset and embracing self-acceptance.
Carol Dweck‘s work at Stanford regarding having a growth mindset is so vital. As an example, her more recent research involving romantic rejection reinforces that people with a growth mindset (versus fixed) are more optimistic that rejection won’t necessarily be a pattern in future relationships and that their own personality traits can change with practice. People with a growth mindset also pause to think about what happened that wasn’t about them. What were the situational factors that might have led to this outcome? What was going on with the timing or with the other person? People with a growth mindset plod on with optimism, look forward and are more confident in the “next.”
In Nathaniel Branden‘s superb book, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, he notes: “Self esteem is knowing that something will hurt and will be painful, but you will proceed anyhow because deep inside you, you know that it’s practice and exercise. Similar to how muscles need training to grow, the soul needs practice to grow. Practicing, whether you fail or succeed builds your confidence and self esteem”.
One of Branden”s big six is the practice of self-acceptance: “The willingness to own, experience, and take responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, and actions, without evasion, denial, or disowning – and also without self-repudiation; giving oneself permission to think one’s thoughts, experience one’s emotions, and look at one’s actions without necessarily liking, endorsing, or condoning them; the virtue of realism applied to the self.”
Branden goes on to say: “We can run not only from our dark side but also from our bright side—from anything that threatens to make us stand out or stand alone, or that calls for the awakening of the hero within us, or that asks that we break through to a higher level of consciousness and reach a higher ground of integrity. The greatest crime we commit against ourselves is not that we may deny or disown our shortcomings but that we deny and disown our greatness—because it frightens us. If a fully realized self-acceptance does not evade the worst within us, neither does it evade the best.”
So my argument for your and my continued personal growth (regardless of our unique stage in life and personal development), is to practice the daily application of a growth mindset along with embracing full self-acceptance. It improves the quality of conversation we have with our mirror. As I’ve noted many times before, the conversation is the relationship and the relationship is the conversation.
- Refuse to be in an adversarial relationship with yourself. Heed Branden’s advice when he notes: “Self-esteem is an intimate experience. It occurs in our inner most being. It is what I think and feel about myself, not what someone else thinks and feels about me.”
- Consciously practice embracing a growth mindset AND self-acceptance. Remember that ‘practice’ implies a discipline of acting in a certain way over and over again – consistently. It is a way of operating day-by-day, in big issues and small, a way of behaving and being. It’s the journey that never ends and of course, that is paved with gratification, happiness and hope.
Growing self-acceptance in The Triangle
One Millennial View: I recently heard an interview where the beloved Bill Murray said that his late SNL co-star, Gilda Radner, used to walk into interviews with the mindset that she already had the job. A sense of, “well of course you want to hire me and I belong here.” It was a recipe to her success. It’s no secret that confidence is one of our most desired traits, and although the mindset isn’t always easy to achieve, it’s always worth pursuing and constantly improving.
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis