Today I took a quiz that is going viral through Facebook. It is the Dr. Phil personality test and by answering ten questions about yourself you can read a description of how others see you. My score on this test was a 41, which has a very nice description attached to it. I was satisfied with my results and thought about how that is how I see myself, so I assume other see me the same way.
I started to think about the fact that at 42 years old I like myself as a person. I’m pleased with how I treat people, the decisions I make, the relationships that I have. Of course there are things to keep improving, from trying to shop less and maybe continually changing the style of clothes or having more willpower when it comes to exercise, but otherwise I’m cool with who I have become. But is this the norm? Do most people like themselves?
You think about the number of self-help books on the market, the quizzes and personality tests that I just took for fun, all of the ways in which humans try to better themselves. I wonder what the percentage of people would be who said they truly like themselves. Are people generally critical of themselves, is this something that comes with age? With experience? Is it directly correlated to a person’s emotional intelligence? What about upbringing?
For me, I was blessed to have amazing parents who raised me with confidence and a strong sense of accountability for my actions. I am far from perfect, but I don’t lie, cheat, steal, or try to intentionally hurt anyone. I grew up with nearly no religion but always around animals and nature and parents who gave me life lessons each and every day of my life. Things like “get your work done before you play” and “don’t do things half-assed” remain part of my work ethic today.
What I did not have was a lot of guilt, not from religion, not from my parents. Not a lot of shame, either. If you screwed up, you got punished, were told the right thing to do next time in a similar situation, did your punishment (usually manual labor versus grounding), and moved on. We were definitely accountable for our actions and raised with strict rules, but never taught to not like who we were as people. There was always an expectation to work hard but never any pressure to choose a certain path or live up to a particular lifestyle that they wanted for us aside from going to college and getting a job.
There was no pressure to do something by a certain age, to have a certain number of children, or life a particular lifestyle. Our parents were not trying to make up for their own lives through our actions; our parents had successes and interests of their own beyond raising children. We were the main part of their lives but not the only thing that they had to live for.
Because of this it never really occurs to me to reflect on whether or not other people like me. I like me, so I assume they do, too. I like most of the people I meet, with a few toxic exceptions who I no longer have in my life. I’ve learned throughout the years that when I start to act in a way where people are annoyed with me or that I start to like myself less that it is because I am in a situation that no longer works from me. I have had this happen in two different jobs and one relationship, where I could see myself changing into a negative and unlikable person and that it was time for me to move onto something different. And once I was out of the situation I was my normal positive self again.
I’m still curious about whether or not I am in the majority or minority on this topic. I hope I’m in the majority. Life is short and stressful enough to go through daily life not liking the person who you are with every single day, who goes with you through all of life’s journeys.