A few weeks ago, in the Bright Ideas and Brainstorms post, I told you how one of the bright ideas I’ve implemented lately that I love so much is the intentional practice of giving myself credit.
Let me tell you – it’s working! The more I give myself credit intentionally, the more I notice the unwanted default habit sometimes popping up of discounting myself.
So, today, let’s compare and contrast credits and discounts.
We all probably have a basic idea of what these terms mean in accounting, or math, or even our own personal financial situations.
Maybe when we get money – like as a gift, or payment or paycheck, we credit that to our bank account and feel flush. We know we have money in the bank. We know we’re fine and can cover what we need to.
When do we think about discounts? When we want something to be less. We ask for a discount on a product at a store when we notice a flaw. Or, if we’re buying something from a personal seller, we might ask for a discount – just to see if we can get the price lower. Why not?!
What Credits and Discounts Mean to Self Worth
What do credits and discounts have to do with our daily mindsets and perspectives – and, in a bigger sense, what do they have to do with our own self worth?
In finance, we could make the case that giving credit or having credit means giving or having something of value. And giving a discount would mean taking something away, marking it down to a lower value.
Even though that’s a very simplistic explanation, and I’m sure some economists or marketers or analysts wouldn’t agree with my over simplification, it’s basically true of our own opinion of ourselves. When we give ourselves credit, we have a higher self worth. When we discount ourselves, we lower our own perception of our self worth.
What?!??! Have I just blown your mind?
When I made this comparison for myself, I kind of blew my mind a little! Especially because I thought “wait – is that simplistic? And can that actually be true? That when we discount ourselves we’re lowering the value we see in ourselves? If true, then this is an urgent bad habit to remedy!
How, When & Why You Give Yourself Credit
We can give ourselves credit regardless of if anyone else knows about it or if anyone would agree with us.
We can give ourselves credit for the tiniest, most insignificant things as well as the big things. So, yes, of course you deserve credit when you pass the bar exam and when you close on a house and when you get married.
And, you can also give yourself credit when you remember to take the reusable grocery bags into the store with you, when you say thank you to a stranger when they were polite and when you took a breath instead of saying something snarky when your partner made a dumb joke.
You can decide what is credit worthy in your own life. My advice to you is to be extremely generous! I don’t think there’s a downside.
Ways to Give Yourself Credit
I have a few suggestions of how you can build the habit of giving yourself credit. A few that I’ve been doing myself and one I haven’t personally tried yet but I’m sure it will work. So, try these out and report back to let me know if they do or don’t work for you.
The first one is the idea I already mentioned. Prompt yourself to notice what you deserve credit for- either while journaling or with an alarm throughout the day.
I love journaling and I’m such a big journaling advocate that I recently opened a journal and notebook shop! So, of course one of my proven suggestions is that you give yourself credit while journaling.
You can do this randomly and sporadically while you’re doing your regular writing. And, you can sprinkle little specific prompts in the blank pages of your journal to remind yourself to give yourself credit for specific things- like 10 things I deserve credit for this past weekend or 5 things I deserve credit for as a sister, or as a member of society, or as a partner. Or whatever applies to you!
A Routine of Giving Yourself Credit
You can also create a routine of giving yourself credit. Last year I described how I have a monthly interview with myself with specific questions I answer each month. In the past few months I’ve added a question about what I deserve credit for. It’s been really interesting to see how I answer that question every few weeks.
Here’s the suggestion that I haven’t personally tried yet, but might be perfect for you if you’re not a journaler. Set a reminder on your phone to stop and give yourself credit. And now that I’m describing this method to you, I can think of so many variations! You could send yourself a time delayed email that will show up in your inbox some random day inviting you to think about what you deserve credit for. You could schedule a little meeting for yourself on your calendar to consider what you get credit for.
You could use the same phone reminder at the same time each day, or you could randomize the time and the subject so today at 3:33 you’re listing things you deserve credit for from this morning and tomorrow at 10:10 am you’re remembering the things you deserve credit for in 2020. Just get super creative! And it doesn’t have to rely on technology with phone reminders and emails. A sticky note on your fridge or mirror or dashboard will work just fine too! (By the way, I also love colorful sticky notes and strongly encourage their use at every opportunity).
Another fun way you can give yourself credit is to thank yourself.
Thank yourself and specific parts of you for what you’re doing. This idea came up in the most fun way. My friend Connie and I were having one of our lovely phone conversations and we were commiserating about how crazy our brains can be. Why do our brains go to the worst case scenarios? Why do our brains come up with all sorts of crazy fears that we don’t really need to be scared of? And somehow we got on the topic of positive reinforcement for our brains – so why don’t we notice when our brains do really good things for us – instead of always remembering and noticing the unwanted behavior.
So we started saying things like “good job brain for coming up with that great idea!” and “Thanks brain for remembering to grab the sunglasses for this walk.” Or whatever big or little thing we could give our brains credit for in that moment.
And then… as we always do on our talks- we went off on a tangent and started thinking about other parts of ourselves we could thank- like our eyes – thanks eyes for seeing this path that I’m walking on, and all these pretty flowers in these bushes. And thanks eyes for seeing this biker who’s coming towards me so I can step out of her way.
Will you try this? Can you imagine yourself thanking your brain, and your eyes? You can even thank your eyes for reading this right now! Thanks Eyes!
In real estate and property ownership, we have the concept of appreciation and depreciation, meaning something can go up in value with time or lose its value over time.
Let’s be intentional about applying this concept to ourselves too! Let’s try to always be in appreciation of what we do, how we are, how we look, what we have.
And, let’s be aware of when we switch into depreciation. What are the events and justifications for moving things into the depreciation column?
I’ve heard people say
“I’m too old…” “I’ve gained weight”
Or “I’m broke…”
Or “I’m not tech savvy…”
So, in these examples, someone could be using an age, a measurement of weight, a balance in a bank account or an inventory of skills known compared to skills not known to influence their own perception of themselves, to influence their description of their self worth.
The Connection Between Depreciation and Self-worth
I realized the connection between depreciation and self-worth when I thought about someone I know who’s always making little mean-spirited jokes about herself. Of course I know they are just jokes. Of course I get that this is a specific type of humor. And, it’s not lost on me that it is called self-deprecating humor.
Why would we ever do this? On purpose? Regularly!?
I’ve heard the suggestion to use self-deprecating humor to break the ice when you’re introducing yourself to someone or at the beginning of a speech. And I can see the one-off value of that because I do agree that laughter and humility can help people let down their guards and open up.
But, if you use self-deprecating humor as a standard gimmick, would you consider cutting back? Or experimenting with going cold turkey to see how it feels?
(and here’s a cute and ironic little confession- I thought it was self-depreciating, but apparently it’s self deprecating – and my google doc pointed out my error and corrected me! Thanks google doc! And thanks funny brain for that silly misunderstanding).
The Downside of Giving Credit
Resistance Check time – do you notice any “but, but, but” coming up as you’re hearing my theories and suggestions?
Maybe there is a downside?
Maybe people can give themselves too much credit. What would that look like? Someone who’s totally conceited? Someone who is full of themselves? Someone who frequently tells other people all the things they get credit for?
Ok, yes, I’ve met people like that too. And we can all make up our own judgments and stories about those people. And we can decide how much of our time and attention we want to give those people.
And, I wonder if they are maybe overcompensating for their own discounted thinking?
I haven’t fully formed my opinion yet if we can give ourselves too much credit- honestly and authentically. I kind of doubt it – and I’m open to being convinced, so if you have a strong stance on this, please let me know.
A Real Life Example
One day, earlier in the morning as I was journaling, I wrote that I didn’t like how I looked (because I was thinking about recording a video later in the day) and I accepted it. I wrote “well, this is how I look.”
Then, a few hours later, I looked in the mirror to pull my hair back and again noticed some mean little thoughts popping up about “bad hair day.” These were tiny little depreciating thoughts – so subliminal, so normal, so quiet – but I caught them! Probably because this work has been on my mind so much lately. So I said “thank you hair! Thank you for being here! Thanks for being pretty! Thanks for being blonde! Thanks for being cut in a cute style by my stylist, Cindy. I immediately felt more hopeful and lighter. I still knew I would look however I would look in the video – I wouldn’t look better than how I actually did look – but, suddenly – I felt better! And I’m 100% sure that makes a difference in how I show up on camera, and in life too!
So maybe I’m completely ridiculous for talking to my hair while I look in the mirror. You know what? I don’t care! It was fun. It made me feel good. It lightened my mood. So I’m recommending it!
In short, this whole episode is a recommendation to give yourself credit. Appreciate your self. Notice when you discount yourself and cut out any self-deprecating humor if it’s a habit.
What have I left out? What am I overlooking? How do you do this in your life already?