Have self-confidence based on your best points

It was my first year of high school teaching in a small parochial school with very high standards. I was intimidated and worked late in the night to prepare my lesson plans, and still was nervous when it came time to teach.
More than anything, I wanted to make a positive impression on my fellow teachers and earn the trust of my students.
Little by little, I gained confidence. The students seemed to like me and my peers were respectful. But there was still one very serious problem. I was specifically employed to teach business but also was assigned some sections of English and Grade 12 economic geography.
I was okay with business and English but knew absolutely nothing about economic geography. I didn’t even dare to pull down the teaching maps for fear my incompetence would be obvious.
Then a wonderful thing happened. I was given an opportunity to spend some time in the office in exchange for my geography class. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance.
There, I was comfortable with my skills. I did typing, a little bit of filing, and basically managed the office. Alone in the office most of the time, I held everything in the strictest of confidence. Except, that is, for one breach.
In the files, I very quickly noticed my own file folder. I knew better than to read that file. But still, I succumbed.
Now 50 years later, I remember just one thing from that folder–the recommendations from my two major professors.
One said, “She’s not a very good student but she’s a wonderful person. You’ll enjoy working with her.” The other professor said, “She’s a very bright student but she’s absolutely impossible to work with.”
At that point, I had to decide whether I was a poor student and wonderful to work with. Or conversely, whether I was a very bright but difficult person. Thus, at the beginning of my career, I was forced to face two radically-different assessments of my skills.
And in a way, both points of view had some merit.
I could have easily exaggerated my bad points and dwelt on them. But at age 21, I wasn’t about to let someone else’s negative opinion ruin my prospects. So fortunately, I chose to focus on my good points.
You can always take the negative in life if you choose but with just a little more effort you can choose the positive. Psychologist Dennis Jaffe, author of the book “From Burnout to Balance,” says being positive is a choice we make.
Constantly thinking of ourselves in a negative light is also a choice–a choice that leads to low self-esteem and depression. A choice that has a profound effect on our physical and emotional health. A choice that leads to failure and unhappiness.
Says Jaffe, “You can’t go around blaming the world for your happiness. If you’re unhappy, it’s your choice.”
Throughout life, we are confronted with both positive and negative assessments of ourselves and our skills. Sometimes the negative seems to outweigh the positive and we become depressed and self-critical.
“When you find yourself being self-critical, write down a list of positive things about yourself, and things that you would like to happen,” says Jaffe.
“Place the list where you can read it often and try to repeat these affirmative messages to yourself several times a day.”
So which will you choose? The negative or the positive. Unhappiness or happiness. It’s entirely up to you.

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