Why limit one’s self to the useful tools associated with ‘good’ qualities like bravery or emotional understanding? Embrace your full potential and hone in closer on your prey by also making use of the tools offered by ‘bad’ qualities, like overconfidence and Machiavellianism.
Going on a tangent from last week’s post – Narcissism: The Cure for Anxiety? – I considered the idea that some may have read my love letter to narcissism and considered such a trait off-bounds when it comes to positive self-improvement. I feel that many would read such ideas and would immediately reject them based on the preconceived notion that traits like an overly high self-worth and selfishness are wholly bad and, therefore, should never, ever be aspired to.
My counter-argument to this is, in short, that it isn’t all so black and white. Despite their negative stigma, these aspects of self all have their advantages and disadvantages in different people, in different states of mind, and in different situations.
Pry Belief from Function
If a belief about yourself or others does not aid you in some way, why even have it to begin with? It’s the proverbial thorn in your side when it comes to how it can negatively affect facets of life which are important to you. This belief in question affects your functioning, and does so negatively, so is it not worth working to be rid of it?
On the other side of the coin, what if you identify a possible belief about yourself or others which, if held, will benefit you in some way or another? Does it necessarily matter if said belief is actually true?
Depressive types often believe that they are worthless even when reality does not conform to this outlook, it then continues to manifest itself in negative behaviours which further attempt to make this self-belief a reality. By this logic then, why not adopt the self-belief that you are worth more than everybody else? Your behaviours will become bolder, more assertive, and more demanding of respect. These actions then contribute to a higher self-worth, higher self-esteem, and a more positive outlook in general.
It’s all about internalising self-beliefs which are of great use to you, not about which beliefs are right or wrong. It’s worth thinking about the fact that you do not need to verbalise or tell people about your self-beliefs, you simply act as if they were entirely true. You don’t tell people you are worth more than they are, you act as someone who values themselves for what they are.
Bury the Stigma
Taking selfishness as an example, it is often used derogatorily as an insult on one’s character. In most modern conversations, anyone labelled at selfish is thought to be self-absorbed, uncaring, and cold. Why should this be the case?
This stigma associated with words like selfishness is unfounded as each and every one of us is selfish every single day.
Do you buy and cook food for yourself? You’re selfish.
Do you regularly practice personal hygiene? You’re selfish.
Do you take a job or course? You’re selfish.
Do you own personal belongings? You’re selfish.
And all this and more is entirely okay!
The point is this, internalising self-beliefs which are negatively viewed is not necessarily bad if it serves your intended function. Do you want to do more for yourself? Embrace selfishness. Do you want to exude a confident aura around others? Embrace overconfidence. Do you want to become less emotional? Embrace a lack of empathy. It’s not about becoming these negatively charged traits, it’s about reaping the rewards of letting these constructs interact with your sense of self.
Forget what others and society think is a ‘good’ or desirable trait, take whatever you need to achieve your desired function and discard whatever is not helping you.
Mould Yourself Into Your Ideal Self
With this tool of thinking in mind, you could potentially mould yourself into whatever type of person you want the world to see. Big changes to something so core as to who you think you are are usually not quick and are seldom easy. With every decision, action, and reaction, you would have to answer the question of: How would the person I want to be take action in this situation? Eventually, this becomes a force of habit, then you begin to identify when these situations arise.
When you do begin identifying these scenarios, you now remember almost instinctively how your idealised self would act, then you model your actions accordingly. Before you know it, you stop acting the way you used to in these situations without thinking. It’s at this point that you realise that you have fully internalised the benefits of a helpful self-belief and no longer have to even entertain that inaccurate belief anymore. Your actions and the fruits of these actions now become your positive feedback loop in continuing personal development in your chosen sphere of self-improvement.
Can you identify a ‘negative’ trait you want to work to internalise? How do you imagine it will benefit you in the long-term?