1 September 2019
Why are we Brits so bad at showing off? It’s a sweeping statement but in general, we shy away from praise and compliments.
We’re a nation of ‘stiff upper lips’ who Keep Calm and Carry On. Of self-deprecating humour. And we seem to find it easier to praise others and put ourselves down.
Tell someone that you like their outfit and they’re more than likely to tell you it’s old, or was on sale when they bought it, or similar! Compliment their success, they’ll attribute it to luck rather than their own hard work. We play down our success and strengths, instead of owning them. And we shun anyone we class as a ‘show off’.
Take Megan Rapinoe as an example. When filmed with the World Cup trophy saying “I deserve this,” the US Women’s soccer star was lambasted for being arrogant. The fact of the matter is, she had put in the work, the training, the sacrifice, and she did deserve that trophy. We just don’t like to hear it!
So where do we draw the line?
The danger here is that the single most important part of any success story is belief. Ask anyone who is at the top of their game and they will tell you the same thing. Believing in yourself and what you’re doing is the most powerful tool in the box.
Where does belief come from? Belief in yourself and your goals comes from visualising the end result, from affirmations, from reminding yourself that you are perfectly set up to succeed. Therefore, this British propensity to put ourselves down has the power to massively limit our potential.
I believe that what you say, you ultimately become. Think about it this way, when you face a challenge and you’re nervous, what do you do? I would bet you tell yourself that you can do this, you’ve got this. You tell yourself affirmations to give yourself the confidence to go for it.
Even at a basic level, what you say has the power to impact how you feel and act. For example, when someone asks you how you are and you reply that you’re tired, you are reinforcing that tiredness, you’re reminding yourself that you are tired.
Instead, you could say that you’re great. You’re well. Reply with high energy and a smile. You may feel a far different effect. Tony Robbins calls it ‘changing your state’. Whatever it is called, shifting your body language and communication to the mood you want to be in, you’re likely to shift your emotions to that desired mood.
Self-belief vs showing off
We often let our emotions control us. Think about moments when you’re heading into a situation where you feel insecure. You hunch, make yourself small, and speak quietly if at all. Instead, what if you had open body language, shoulders back and a smile, speaking confidently whether you feel it or not? Would you feel more confident? Whilst you could say this is ‘faking it until you make it’ in fact, you’re not faking it. More often than not in these situations, you know what you’re talking about, you are more than capable. However, your brain likes to trick you into thinking you’re not. When you take control of what you’re thinking, you are naturally going to feel more confident and get a better end result.
Of course, it is not always that easy. Six in 10 women, half of men and one in three millennials, report that they suffer from imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome describes feelings of inadequacy, feeling that you’re not good enough or that you’re a ‘fraud’. So many high-profile people have shared their experience with it, including Michelle Obama – one of the most revered women on the planet. Albert Einstein and Maya Angelou are also noted to have believed they didn’t deserve the attention that their work received.
The irony of this is that it is often the incredibly talented people who are the ones who feel that they don’t belong. Forbes shares some tips for overcoming Imposter Syndrome, and a huge part of this is recognising your strengths and reinforcing them. Leading to more self-belief and confidence.
Our minds have incredible power to make us feel like we’re not good enough, but what if we flipped that? You don’t have to be a show off, but instead remind yourself that, in fact, you are excellent at what you do. You have room to grow and learn, but you’re on the right path and nailing it. Pride shouldn’t be a sin. We should be proud of our achievements rather than shy away from them. We should shout about our successes and celebrate them. Don’t you think?