For the past month, there has been an ongoing conversation about self-doubt/hatred [insert all the other negative expressions] in our flat.The conversation is spread onto two strains: 1) People accepting bullshit/toxicity from other people and 2) people not giving themselves value and credit. I slightly discussed the first point in one of my previous posts (Link here) and while that topic needs a lot more elaboration, I want to focus on the second point.
I have been talking with my flatmates a lot about the fact that we focus so much on our “failures”, but don’t ever credit ourselves for success. Especially since we have all started a new job back in September and there being a big emphasis on doing stuff we have never done before, we often like to talk about how we suck at things and how again we managed to screw up a cell-culture. I work with people who have been in the field for ten/twenty/thirty years and you know what? I compare my expertise with theirs. I think that I am a failure because I don’t understand things straight away, because I don’t know what “in-situ hybridisation” is, because all I understand from a presentation is the first slide, because this because that because here. Obviously, that is complete non-sense and yet, it is such a natural reaction for my brain to think that way. I started repeating to myself that my lab colleagues have had DECADES of practice and that they had started from nowhere as well and by constantly reminding me of this I started feeling better. And this is something we need to remind ourselves in a lot of situations. Every time we start something new, we need to remember that the people who are good/experts at it, have had more practice and that if we put enough effort into it, we have the potential to become really good at it.
Another thing I try to make myself do is to give me credit for successes and achievements however small they might be. When I make a mistake, I immediately blame it on me and think that I am a failure. When I do something right, I don’t even acknowledge it and see it as normal, as something anyone could do. This is clearly a destructive attitude and has to stop. So now, I try to be happy for small things that I achieve. If something runs smoothly, I applaud myself as that probably required practice and was something I had to learn. Let’s all acknowledge our small victories, aim for more and stop focusing on our “failures”.
Small anecdote: During lab meetings, one member of the lab gives an update on their project. I usually understand very little and that used to be a chance for me to tell myself how stupid I was. But when the time came to give my presentation about my project, people had no idea what I was talking about and kept asking me questions about different things. Though they have had way more experience and know way more than I do about sciences – I was a bigger expert in the topic of my project. So you might fail at things other people are good at, but these people also fail at things you are good at! It all comes down to practice and good effort.
Hope this gives your little tips to improve to a better constructive attitude.