I have discovered that there is often a dramatic difference between how others view us and how we perceive ourselves. About a month ago, I participated in an exercise that asked me to enumerate my strengths. It took me a long time to think of what I am particularly good at (I could have easily written down at least two or three items for every other person there), and then it occurred to me--- one thing I am really good at is making it appear that I am confident in whatever I am doing or have agreed to take on.
On the surface this appears to be pretty deceptive. I have, however, learned that my dedication and willingness to jump in and get things done is a skill which other people often associate with me. On the outside, I project this positive, can do attitude; meanwhile on the inside, I am a mass of quivering doubt and insecurity.
Then I got thinking, are we all like this? Does everyone project one thing to the public while our internal voices are questioning our abilities, skills, or even intelligence.
Based on exploring the idea of personal expectations in a post a few weeks ago, I ask myself, do the beliefs we have about ourselves rule both of these worlds? I expect that I am able to do difficult tasks because I am by nature an optimal, realist (my own invention which is a combination of optimist and realist). I am willing to take on these jobs, because, in the past I have been able to pull it off, and I have always appreciated a good challenge. But, internally, I start questioning and doubting. I won't digress into the interior dialogue; trust me when I say these innate conversations can be pretty discouraging and even petty. Despite this internal negativity, I am always, somehow, able to pull out the optimistic side and get the job done.
Then I think about the part my ego may be playing in all this. Not only is our inside self different from our outside being, but our out in public self is very different from our at home, private self. We choose what we want people to see. In public, I choose to project the confident, decisive self instead of the wavering, insecure self. Because, I will get more done and people will appreciate my ability to positively contribute to my community. Hence, my ego gets fed with positive feedback.
And there we are, back at personal choice. Making decisions that impact other lives as well as our own is something all of us have to come to terms with. Yes, being true to yourself is important, but when a particular behavior will hurt someone else, it is never a good option.
Being pleasant and upbeat are choices I make on a daily basis because I like having the positive attributes of honesty, integrity, empathy, and willingness to work hard associated with my name. I also appreciate how my work can affect someone's day or life. The act of spreading good vibes isn't a sacrifice, it is an honor.