Despite all of the evidence of your abilities and intelligence, does part of you believe that you’ll never be enough?

When someone congratulates you or compliments you, does a voice in your head immediately start naming a litany of reasons why you don’t deserve it, telling you things like…

Yeah, but that was just random luck. I didn’t work hard enough. It could have been better. I probably won’t be able to do it again. They didn’t really mean it. I shouldn’t brag. That really wasn’t anything special. Anyone could do that. What if someone finds out that I’m really a fraud? They don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s no big deal. I still need to work on this other thing…?

If that’s you, then I invite you to ask yourself this question:

When you give someone a gift, do you want them to frown, ignore you, or say it’s nothing special?

Or would you rather have them receive your gift with a smile and a thank you?

I for one would prefer the thank you, and I imagine that life would too.

I believe that our abilities, strengths, skills, and talents are gifts that life has entrusted to us, whether through hard work, heartache, luck, study, experience, or the act of being born, and I believe each one of us has a sacred responsibility to reciprocate by acknowledging our gifts.

Self-appreciation does not say—I’m better than you! or I’m more special!

Self-appreciation says—Just like everyone else, I am a miraculously gifted and flawed human. I have areas for improvement, and I have so many gifts I am grateful for.

Self-appreciation is not conceit. Self-appreciation is the skill of giving thanks for who we get to be in this life.

When we acknowledge our gifts, we have an easier time understanding how we’re called to show up for change and which paths might bring us joy.

As botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer writes in Braiding Sweetgrass,

“This is our work, to discover what we can give. Isn’t this the purpose of education, to learn the nature of your own gifts and how to use them for good in the world?”[1] 

And, as healer and dismantling racism trainer, Michelle Cassandra Johnson writes in Finding Refuge,

“It is important to think of oneself as a medicine maker, because each one of us has a gift to offer the collective.”[2]

So from now on, I challenge you to track glimmers of self-appreciation. Here are three practices that might help:

  1. When someone offers you a compliment, notice any initial feelings of discomfort, and then say, thank you.
  2. Keep emails expressing gratitude in a folder and/or a “Done List” of the goals you’ve accomplished.
  3. Learn to articulate your gifts and strengths—you’ll find questions to help you do so in the show notes.

And if you notice yourself wanting to be better at something, that’s great, too! Our skills are not innate. The truth is that with enough desire, time, grit, and support, almost anyone can learn anything.

To cultivate the stamina to learn what we want to learn, we must celebrate our tiny victories. Often the journey to developing new skills looks like a series of plateaus interspersed with occasional upward leaps. On the plateaus, we practice and practice and practice, sometimes with little noticeable change. Then all of a sudden, we have a great big aha! and can do something we’ve never done before.

When we learn to celebrate ourselves, it becomes easier to show up on the plateaus and the dips in the road and to enjoy our leaps forward.

Practice: Your Gifts & Strengths

If you would like to get clearer about your existing gifts, strengths, and skills, I invite you to write down what comes up in response to the following questions:

  1. When do you feel so wholly immersed in the moment that time seems transformed and nothing else seems to matter?
  2. What are you doing when you experience an intense sense of alignment, as if you’re doing exactly what you’re meant to be doing?
  3. What challenges have given you gifts that you long to use to help others?
  4. What skills, strengths, talents, or knowledge are you most proud of?
  5. What’s unique or notable about you?
  6. What’s your most thrilling success or proudest achievement?
  7. What comes to you so naturally that you hardly think of it as a skill?
  8. What strengths are you excited to strengthen?
  9. What do you want to learn in the next phase of your career?

When you’re complete, look over your list and highlight key threads.

If you have a hard time recognizing your strengths, I encourage you to ask a trusted friend or two to answer the questions above for you.

You might also take online strengths assessments to help you discover strengths that you’ve taken for granted.

Keep in mind that these assessments are not static judgments of who you’ll always be; they are snapshots of who you are right now. Your answers will likely change as you grow.

Also, although these assessments might give you insights into which work-life paths might suit you, please know that they cannot offer conclusive answers about your career.

Here are a few that my clients and I have benefitted from:

  1. VIA Character Strengths Test. This free test ranks twenty-four strengths in order from strongest to weakest. It does not give nearly as much detail as the next two, but it is free and only takes five minutes.
  2. Clifton StrengthsFinder. The Top 5 Clifton Strengths assessment shows your top five strengths and offers a detailed description of each.
  3. Golden Personality Profiler. This is an in-depth assessment of several aspects of your personality and is similar to the Myers-Briggs.

May you take joy in all that you are. Wishing you a lifetime of thanksgiving.


[1] Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. (Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 2020.)



Forgot Password?

Join Us