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That's What I Like About Me: Accepting Your Strengths

Therapist Julie Hanks, LCSW, Owner and Director of Wasatch Family Therapy shares tips to accepting your strengths and improving confidence!


Ask yourself the following questions: What are 5 things I dislike about myself? What are 5 things I like about myself? Which one was easier to answer? If it's easier for you to say what you dislike about yourself, you are not alone. Often it is much easier to identify our weaknesses, faults, difficult traits than to acknowledge our strengths and positive characteristics. Here are some common barriers that may be preventing you from seeing the good in yourself:


" You worry about what others will think of you.
" You have been socialized to minimize your positive    traits.
" You want to point out your weakness before    someone else can to avoid ridicule.
" You define yourself in terms of "either or" (I'm    good OR bad, fat OR thin, smart OR dumb).
" You don't feel worthy of positive feelings about    yourself.

How to Accept Your Strengths:

Listen To & Accept Compliments
If you find it difficult to identify your strengths, start listening to and accepting positive feedback from others and let it "sink in". It's often easier for others to see your strengths than to see them yourself. Notice themes in the compliments that others give you. For example, do others comment on the calm way you handle your children's emotional outbursts, or the warmth you exude when talking with others, or your ability to be diplomatic in difficult work situations. Listen to the positive things that others are telling you and consider the possibility that they are true!

Understand Difference Between Confidence & Pride
Many women fear that owning their strengths will lead to becoming prideful or conceited. Confidence and pride are not synonymous. Pride is putting self ABOVE others, confidence is self EQUAL to others. Confidence allows you to genuinely feel good about yourself and present your best self while generously acknowledging the wonderful and unique characteristics of others.

Recognize Your Unconditional Worth
Every person has intrinsic value. Our worth doesn't go up or down based on our positive or negative traits or behaviors. Your strengths don't increase worth just as your weaknesses and limitations don't decrease your worth. "A person's worth is contingent upon who he is, not upon what he does, or how much he has. The worth of a person, or a thing, or an idea, is in being, not in doing, not in having." - Alice Mary Hilton

Use "AND" Instead of "OR"
Often recognizing your limitations can lead you to discount your strengths, as if you have to choose one or the other. Having limitations doesn't negate your strengths. People aren't strong or weak, good or bad - you are BOTH. Recognize that everyone has strengths AND limitations. Allow yourself to acknowledge your limits AND strengths.

Challenge Your Inner Critic
The majority of internal self-talk is negative. Become more aware of the negative messages you tell yourself and challenge those negative thoughts. Ask yourself, "If I said that to a loved one, how would they feel about themselves?" It can also be helpful to identify the origin of your negative messages and discover that the critic isn't really your voice, but an internalized message that your received from someone else. Try replacing, or at least balancing, the criticism with positive thoughts that acknowledge your personal strengths, gifts, and talents.


Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW, founder and director of Wasatch Family Therapy, specializes in psychotherapy with women and couples. She is passionate about women's self-care and emotional health and frequently presents workshops to women's groups around the country.

Visit www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com to learn more about counseling services or email julie@wasatchfamilytherapy.com. You may also know Julie as an award-winning singer and songwriter. Visit www.juliedeazevedo.com.

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