Do we give ourselves enough credit?

I walked into AP Chemistry on a Monday morning kind of really dreading the two-hour-long test we were about to take. I sat down, assessed how prepared I was—which was very because I studied excessively for that test—and took a deep breath.

Mr. Von Ehr usually gives us a high five before we take tests, and of course on this test he decided that we “had it,” and he withheld his high fives. Another thing Mr. Von Ehr occasionally makes us do on tests is assess our confidence. He also didn’t do that on this test. 

In case anyone was wondering, I was not confident, and I could have really used that high five. 

Instead of focusing on what I did accomplish prior to the test such as showing up to every day of class, completing my homework on time, actively participating in class, and sitting down to study for hours beginning two days before the test, all I can think of is what I didn’t do: request more help, study harder, and study for a longer amount of time. I’m not used to failure. 

So, if I very rarely fail to understand a subject and perform poorly on tests, why can’t I focus on all of the instances in which I thrived? I just received an A on a math quiz; however, I have yet to provide myself with proper recognition—or feel even slightly proud.

An article on the New York Times website states that getting credit for work well done gives your brain good feelings and helps you accomplish more. The article includes an example of companies providing praise to their workers in order to boost productivity and revenue; it relates that scenario to how providing praise for yourself is able to relieve stress and encourage the continuation of effective habits. 

Adding on, the article includes that research has proven humans dwell on failures more than compliments. It states that our ancestors, who were negative worrywarts, were more likely to survive; therefore, our brains are essentially programmed to search for problems and mistakes. The article also says a fair amount of our strengths appear as second-nature to us, so it’s very easy to overlook their value. 

An article on the website Inc refutes this argument by stating that overconfidence is, in fact, dangerous to our lives in various ways. From overestimating your ability levels in a sport, occupation, or on a test to losing money or relationships, overconfidence can easily produce negative effects. The article states you won’t ever realize your full skill level until you’ve made a mistake or encountered an obstacle—and that that’s okay. 

So, if I very rarely fail to understand a subject and perform poorly on tests, why can’t I focus on all of the instances in which I thrived?”

To solve the issue of constantly focusing on the negatives, the article on the New York Times website suggests recording a list of accomplishments daily. The article ensures doing this is one of the most powerful ways to improve motivation, productivity, creativity, and mood. The article says minuscule setbacks can produce a negative impact three to four times stronger than the triumph of a minuscule win; therefore, a list could also be physical proof of your strengths. 

If you’re caught up in the negatives like I am, what a HuffPost article started with cheered me up. I hope it can cheer you up too. 

“In case no one has told you today, you’re awesome.”