• We are programmed to believe that we are only as valuable as others value us
Last week, my article on Kenya’s innovation advancement received more positive comments and feedback than I could have anticipated. Which is odd, as I had droned on about accepting the positive things out of a country we so wilfully tear down. I imagined that most Kenyans, like myself, find themselves on this browbeaten path of self-criticism and pessimism.
It is not just a quality Kenyans share; rather, it’s a common flaw among people. We only value ourselves as others value us and we recognise flaws faster than we recognise strengths. Through life, we are perpetually seeking something better; we want to be better, to do better and have the best. However, to want better means that we are unsatisfied with what we have at present.
Those of us who watched the TV series Prison Break (which is everyone) will remember T-Bag’s famous quote about the captivity of negativity, “We are captives of our own identities, living in prisons of our own creations.” In my opinion, no truer words have ever been voiced on a fictional TV series.
Humans have wired themselves into seeing a negative thing that often needs to be worked upon to become ‘better’. For instance, if we put 100 people in front of a mirror and ask them to share with us what they see, majority of them will report on their flaws and body image insecurities. This only reinforces the idea that we see the negatives first before we learn to appreciate the good that we have.
Most of the feedback I received from last week’s article highlighted one key aspect: it is good to remind ourselves of the good every so often. This goes to show that positive thinking is not within our wheelhouse. It is something we remind ourselves to do every time we feel defeated. Why, then, don’t we reinforce positive thinking as the main outlook of life?
For starters, there is a lot of stigma imposed when a person is perceived to be confident as a result of positive thinking. Society does not allow us to say we are beautiful until someone says it to us first. Believing that you are better than someone at something is seen as arrogance. Confidence in our abilities is regarded as vanity. We are programmed to believe that we are only as valuable as others value us.
Over the years, I have had to work hard to get to a point where I live my life revolving around the power of positive thinking. Some tools and practices that have helped me towards my journey to positive thinking include the law of attraction. I have found it to be a true and tested principle that encompasses all the doctrines of the physical and spiritual world. What you think, you are… It is as simple as that.
Secondly, it is important to remind oneself of how far you have come rather than how much more you have to do. Appreciation of what we have reminds us of where we started and how much we have achieved thus far. Even though we might have further to go to achieve more, it is good to remember the small achievements that we often tend to overlook.
Finally, learn to value yourself first. Your self-worth should not come from how others value you; rather a person’s perception of view should not have any consequence on the way you value yourself. This practice might be difficult to implement in your life but it is the most useful. Most conservative societies expect us to wait for validation from others, but we are the masters of our own lives. We should be the only ones to dictate how good we feel about ourselves.