Changing the Way You See Yourself

What tape is playing in your head about who you are?

Do you talk too much or are you too intense? Do you start something without thinking or never finish a single project because you want it to be perfect? What negative image looks back at you in the mirror? Do you want to change it or do you want to keep playing the tape over and over?

I read a book to my kids often called The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen. It’s about a blue fish who swims around all day, being glum and spreading the “dreary wearies.” Despite other fish trying to convince him this isn’t his real destiny, he insists, “this is just the way I am.

Eventually, he encounters a new fish, who, without saying a word, “plants a kiss upon his pout and then she swims away.” This kiss thrusts him into an existential crisis, as he is forced to confront everything he previously thought he knew about himself. For perhaps the first time, he has the tools to stop the “pout-pout” tape playing in his head, and instead, becomes more of who he was created to be: A “kiss-kiss fish, with a kiss-kiss face, for spreading cheery-cheeries all over the place!

I wonder how many of us are willing to change the tape playing in our heads?

Changing The Tape in Our Heads

From a very young age, I had a tape playing in my head that said I was a perfectionist, and this was bad.  Nothing was ever good enough, and as a result, I was too high-maintenance. Others would settle for good enough while I would nitpick, finding ways to make things better. When college roommates made fun of me for wanting to make things better, I thought the problem was me; that I was someone who needed to relax and not make things such a big deal.

When I first took StrengthsFinder in 2002, I had an existential crisis of my own. Like the pout-pout fish, things I thought defined me negatively, could now be interpreted positively.

For example, looking at one of my Themes, Maximizer, I learned that,

People with the strength of Maximizer measure themselves against excellence, not average. At times, excellence is the only measure of success, anything less is not acceptable. A person with the strength of Maximizer looks for excellence and the best around her. She is compelled to discover or maybe uncover excellence, and then refine it and apply it.

To finally have words to express what I had always known about myself started to change the tape that said I should settle for something to be less than excellent. To be sure, there is a maturity that comes with understanding your Themes, and knowing when, what, and how to engage them is part of the battle.

RELATED: Timing and Strengths.

The pout-pout fish was the same fish as he was after the kiss-kiss fish kissed him. The only difference was his mindset. He needed something outside of himself (like taking StrengthsFinder) to shock him into playing a different tape. Rather than continuing to believe this one thing about himself, he transformed into a fuller version of who he was.

Here are three ways to change the tape playing in your head:

1. Get New Friends

They say “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” If true, are the people you chose to spend time with appreciating you for who you really are? Do they understand what makes you unique, different, and strong? Can they bring out the best in you?If not, invest in relationships where you’re expected to live out of what makes you strong.

If not, invest in relationships where you’re expected to live out of what makes you strong.

2. Take StrengthsFinder and Understand your Talents

If you haven’t already taken the StrengthsFinder test, do it now! The language of Strengths is positive and shows you areas of greatest potential. Once you have your results, study the Talents that make up your Themes.

Themes, the building blocks of a Strength, provides greater nuance and clarity to recording a healthier tape in your mind. StrengthsFinder enables individuals to begin a process of understanding their beauty and brilliance.

3. Ask for Help

Asking for help is very hard to do. Most of us don’t like asking for help, especially when it comes to areas of personal growth. Maybe this means hiring a coach, or just finding a friend and asking them to help you walk through this simple activity.

Either way, you won’t change the negative tape without intentionally seeking out resources willing and able to help you change the tape.

RELATED: Understanding your Themes via the Leadership vision Strengths Course.

Your Tape

What tape has been playing in your head and how would you like to change it? If you’ve already been through this transforming process, what was it like? Share below!