Finish this sentence: I wish I was a person who was more:____________
Did you mention a specific quality when you finished that sentence? Was the answer something like loving? Or patient? Or creative? Or accepting?
A few weeks ago I shared my favorite qualities with you. The qualities I like in myself and other people. And I promised a Part 2 to tell you how you can develop qualities that you want but don’t yet have.
Let’s talk about that now. Have you identified qualities that you want but don’t yet have?
How do you know that you don’t already have those qualities? Maybe you do – at least a little? That’s interesting to think about, right?
The secret that I shared at the end of the last qualities post was that thinking about our own qualities and other peoples’ qualities are just our thoughts.
Measuring your Qualities
There’s no objective “truth” to identifying and measuring your qualities. It’s all comparative. And who knows if you are using the same scale for yourself and your qualities as you use for other people and their qualities.
So, if you wish you were a person who was imaginative or quick witted, maybe you already are and you just haven’t found examples of that to give yourself credit for.
But, let’s say someone might have a little resistance to agreeing to that idea. Maybe someone’s thinking: I want to be patient, but I’m just not a patient person. That’s ok! I’ve got some suggestions.
Suggestions to Develop Qualities
I thought of 5 different suggestions you could try to develop qualities you think you don’t have yet – or strengthen them, if you recognize that you probably do have some level of the quality, but maybe it’s not quite as strong or as prominent as you would like it to be.
Believe You Can
The first suggestion could be the only one you need. It could be a game changer immediately.
It’s believing that you can develop this quality – and that might even include believing you already do have the quality.
Depending on what quality you’re working on, you could tell yourself that it is innate- that all humans have this quality naturally, and so do you.
Now, you just need to find examples of it to strengthen your belief.
Or, if that’s really a bridge too far, and you really don’t believe you have the quality yet – believe that it is possible to develop. And not just possible in general, but possible for you, personally. Then again, be on the lookout for examples and evidence that you are developing that quality.
I just want to keep bringing up the “quality secret” that I shared at the end of the My Favorites Qualities post. Your belief about qualities that you have are just your thoughts!
That’s why this suggestion – to believe – is the first one and the most important one!
I am suggesting that you change your thought about yourself and this quality that you have in mind.
There may be some strong resistance here. There may be a quality that you want for yourself, and have always wanted, but always knew you just didn’t have. It would be impossible to believe that you could develop.
If the resistance is so strong that trying to believe that you can have this quality just seems like wishful thinking, you can borrow someone else’s belief until you have your own.
Imagine what someone in your life, who loves you, would say about the possibility of you developing this quality.
If you asked your mom, or your best friend, or even just a kind stranger “do you think I’d be able to become more _________? What do you think they would say? They would say “of course you can.” They might even say “you already are _________.”
This doesn’t just have to be an imaginary exercise. You can actually pause from reading this and call or text or go check in with someone right now to hear their actual response.
In fact, ask me right now: “Bex, do you think I can develop this quality?” Yes. I really think you can. I really truly do believe that.
So, if you can’t believe this for yourself yet, borrow my belief, or someone else’s while you work on releasing your resistance to believing it.
Thoughts and Actions
I’ve got 4 more suggestions about how you could develop a new quality for yourself. The first one I gave you is a thought to start thinking intentionally and these next 4 suggestions are all specific actions you can take. But again, it’s so important that you believe, or are open to believing, because otherwise, if you’re feeling any resistance, you might be taking these following actions from that resistant feeling and that probably won’t get you the results you want.
The 2nd suggestion of how to develop a quality is for you to get curious about how. Consider what might work for you. How might someone go about developing this quality?
The important part of this “how” question is not deciding that the first idea is the make-or-break idea. The important part is the curiosity! It’s letting your mind be open to possibilities and ideas you may have never considered before. It’s imagining combinations and making associations that are a little out-of-the-box.
For example, could you “fake it til you make it?” If you’re trying to develop the quality of having a sparkling sense of humor, could you think of jokes and tell jokes and laugh at jokes, even if they’re not especially funny (or if you don’t entirely get them) just to open your mind to the possibility that you could become someone with a sparkling sense of humor?
A little word of caution here: a lot of people don’t like the phrase “fake it til you make it.” They think it implies being fake. I’m not suggesting that. I don’t want you to be fake. What I do want you to do is “try on” what you would be like if you were already what you want to be in an authentic way. And of course, it’s new and different and unfamiliar, so it will feel uncomfortable at first -that’s to be expected, and totally fine! Just continue acting as if while you learn and figure things out and find what does click for you. And before you know it, you won’t be faking anything and you will have made it!
Start Small and Develop
Another way you could be curious about how to develop a quality you want for yourself is to think of the smallest way you could start this. So, start small and develop as you go. Back to the sparkling sense of humor example, maybe you don’t want to invest in joke telling and stand up comedy routines just yet, but you’re ok with inserting some funny rhymes into some of your conversations with people you really like. A few funny rhymes here, a little tiny joke there, a longer story with a drawn out punchline down the road. You can grow this quality even if you start with the tiniest increment at the beginning.
Emulate Other People
The 3rd suggestion I have for you about how you can develop qualities in your life is to emulate other people. Last year I did a podcast episode where I advocated for comparison! I argued that comparison can actually be a source of joy in some cases and this is the perfect example.
If someone else has a quality that you value and want for yourself, can you figure out how they developed it? Can you see how they exhibit it? Then can you develop and exhibit it in your own way? By noticing the quality in other people, and emulating them, you can develop this quality for yourself.
The 4th suggestion for you to develop a new quality is to experiment. As an example, let’s use the quality of being creative.
Can you do creativity experiments for yourself to see if conducting those experiments makes you believe you’re more creative or more imaginative? What would an experiment in being creative look like for you?
You could experiment at a paint night with your friends. You could experiment with starting a garden – and, keeping it on the small side, just plant one seed and water it regularly to see what happens.
Part of experimentation could include routine practice. Let’s keep using the quality of being creative as our example.
Before we keep going, let’s check in and get on the same page:
What do you mean by the quality of being creative? Do you actually mean being talented? Notice the difference between the qualities of being creative and being talented. Both are great qualities to develop, but just be clear about what you mean so you can routinely practice what you want.
If you want to develop your creativity, you could decide to create something new each day as a routine. And because you’ve differentiated it from being talented, it doesn’t have to be good, or beautiful, or special. It just has to be something new that you created that didn’t exist before. Can you see how routine practice in this area can quickly develop into something much bigger?
Ironically, the final suggestion I have for you is not final at all. It’s: don’t stop.
Never stop – this includes never stopping to develop the qualities you currently don’t have yet and also, never stop considering new qualities for yourself. It is an evolution!
How long do you give yourself?
I don’t know if there’s a correct answer to knowing how long it will take to develop a quality that you want. But what I do know is that if you think you should have developed it by now or if you think you should be better at it than you are – that’s not helpful and will actually probably hurt rather than help the development of that quality.
For example, if you’ve decided you want to be more accepting and less judgemental of other people and you think it should take about 3 months to develop that quality. If, at the 3 month mark, you still notice you’re judging other people and you blame and shame yourself for not being more accepting by now, that’s not great at all.
Who knew how long it would take? And how are you measuring success?
Instead, you could say: “well that’s a surprise! I thought it would take me about 3 months, and here I am 3 months in and I’ve barely developed this quality at all, maybe this is going to take longer than I initially thought.”
Let’s go to the “dark side.” Do you have any negative qualities? I just mentioned the quality of being judgmental. Do you find yourself noticing negative qualities in other people?
Maybe you know someone in your life who is pushy, or too intense. Do you think there are people you work with who are inconsiderate? It’s possible you even think you’re boring at times.
We might all agree that these could be considered negative qualities and therefore unwanted. Classifying a collection of actions as qualities is just thinking. Labeling someone as inconsiderate is your thought about them. They may not agree that they are inconsiderate.
Reminder of Relevant Posts
This is a perfect time for me to remind you of 2 more relevant posts I wrote last year where I described the Everything and Nothing theory and why, I think, some words are just nonsense. If you haven’t seen those lately, I highly recommend you go back right after this and check them out.
The reason I’m reminding you that your label of someone else’s quality is your thought is to remind you that you get to choose what you think about other people. So, my suggestion will always be for you to intentionally choose the thoughts that serve you the best. If thinking someone else is inconsiderate is helpful to you, go on thinking it. But, I bet, thinking that thought is more confining for you and I’m pretty sure it creates resistance for you, so since you have the choice, why not opt for something else?
You Spot It, You Got It
One other point about recognizing negative qualities in other people is to think about the phrase “you spot it, you got it.” When you notice that someone else is pushy, or intense or inconsiderate – is the reason that their behavior is catching your attention because you are seeing yourself reflected in their behavior in some way (because remember, according to my theory, everything is always about you!)
And I don’t want to ignore the question I brought up earlier: what if you see negative qualities in yourself that you don’t like about yourself?
All the suggestions I shared about how to develop new qualities could probably work here too – the first being: notice what you’re believing (or not believing) and tackle that first! Then go ahead and create a routine, start small, experiment, model yourself off of someone who doesn’t have the quality that you don’t like. And just keep going!
Noticing Qualities in Other People
I have one final consideration to bring up when it comes to noticing qualities in others. Do you recognize and value qualities in other people and then discount them in yourself?
Are you using one set of expectations and standards for yourself, while allowing so much more grace for other people? Qualities are so subjective. One person’s cheapness is another person’s frugality or resourcefulness. One person’s kindness is another person’s “people pleasing.”
Just notice how you are classifying, and what emotion you are attaching to, all the qualities you think about.
To summarize, I think there are at least 5 ways you could develop qualities you don’t yet have (or use these ways to get rid of qualities you don’t want).
You can believe you can get (or get rid of) that quality, become curious about how, emulate other people, experiment, and never stop.
Yes, there may be negative qualities – in ourselves and others- just be super intentional about how and when you’re using those “negative” labels.
So, in short, if you haven’t already decided this, maybe a quality you want to start (or continue) and never stop working on is being intentional.
Other Posts/Episodes Mentioned: