Erik Dominguez, public speaking and storytelling coach with Speak Up Stories, encouraged our Powered By Purpose Speaker Series attendees to share - publicly - something they like about themselves for 30 days. He took on the challenge himself and shares what he learned from his experience in this guest blog.
Last month, I spoke about Purpose Driven Stories for the Powered by Purpose Speaker Series. I opened with the story about how my sons and I have been reading "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz and how I paused when we got to this section:
"Be impeccable with your word. This is the first agreement that you should make if you want to be free, if you want to be happy...Use the word to share your love...Tell yourself how much you love yourself. Use the word to break all those teeny, tiny agreements that make you suffer."
I then challenged both of our sons to say one kind thing about themselves TO themselves.
And that's when the spiral began.
If you have small children, you know this meltdown. It is a slow squirm that goes from discomfort to tears. These little men, ages 7 and 9, had already created a story within themselves that they could not speak kindly about themselves to themselves – especially in front of other people.
Seeing this was heartbreaking. Here were two of the kindest, strongest, most loyal, loving, funny, joyful people I have ever met, and they could not bring themselves to say one thing they liked about themselves.
That sparked a habit of daily "likables" in our household. Likables are one thing you say to yourself about yourself in front of someone else. Also, it gets to be different every day.
In my talk, I invited the audience to go on a 30-day likable challenge – either in person or on social media. I committed to the challenge, as well. And it was a lot more difficult than I thought. Here were the three main lessons and takeaways from posting, publicly, something I liked about myself for 30 days.
There is a lot more to like than I thought.
The first few days were easy. I know the qualities about me that make me shine. And then...a wall. What else is there about me? What other value could I possibly add TO myself? That caused me to dig and remember the kind things that OTHERS have said about me.
My instinct is to dismiss when people compliment me. Why? They are speaking their experience about me TO me. I get to be GRATEFUL for what they see in me! And I get to see those qualities in myself, as well.
It turns out, there is a lot more to like than I thought!
This is not just about me.
The times in my life that I have been most dangerous are when I felt the most vulnerable and weak. I looked to others for my validation and constantly drained them when they didn't fulfill my emotional needs.
We get to say nice things about ourselves TO ourselves to recognize our impact in the world! It is not about falsely inflating our sense of self; it is about filling our emotional buckets to be confident we have the tools and qualities to lead others.
I cannot speak, lead, care for my sons or my partner, love my family, or contribute to my community if I am operating in a deficit. And I certainly can't do any of that if I can't appreciate the person I am.
Being liked gets to be fun!
Like most, I spent most of my middle school and high school years begging to be accepted and liked. Spoiler alert: it didn't bring me joy. It was usually a struggle that ended in a minor, momentary reward.
I spent a month really examining myself through a positive lens, appreciating the nuances that make me...ME...and being curious about how I serve others in the way I show up in the world.
It wasn't always easy, but it was FUN! We put a lot of stock in the emotional battles and journeys that we go through to overcome obstacles – and rightfully so. Those get to be celebrated!
But so do the little moments, quirks, qualities that make us exactly who we are.
I challenge you to go on that journey. And when you hesitate, when you don't feel like exploring, and when you second guess your value remember the words of the great Mrs. Whitch from The Wrinkle In Time when she said: "Do you realize how many events and choices that had to occur since the birth of the universe, leading to the making of you just exactly the way you are?"
And exactly the way you are is very, very likable.
Erik Dominguez, founder and public speaking coach of Speak Up Stories, is an immigrant who grew up between two cultures and mixed messages. The familiarity he had with speaking fears fueled him to learn and share tools to help overcome those obstacles. Find out more about Speak Up Stories, and Erik, at speakupstories.com.