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The Art of Boasting

Photo by JUCO
A man can not be comfortable without his own approval. ~Mark Twain

Piling into her lavender Honda with her white terrier scrambling over us in the back seat, my grandmother would turn down the stories on tape my sister and I listened to religiously and tell us that it was time to boast.

What followed was usually always the same; we would squirm uncomfortably in our seats, hoping that we could somehow quickly change the subject.

But my grandma has always been an incredibly persistent woman, so we would reluctantly appease her request.

The art of bragging — or boasting as she insisted on calling it — was something she instilled in us grandkids from the time we were small, repeating time and again how essential it was to be able to confidently state what traits and accomplishments we were most proud of.

While we may have welcomed the activity when we were under the age of six, as we got older there was very little we were willing to share on the subject.

In my mind I knew that there were things about myself that I loved, but saying them out loud seemed counterintuitive to what society had told me was proper. It was ok to accept compliments from others. I just wasn’t suppose to compliment myself — especially in front of others.

It just didn’t feel right.

So in order to say within our carefully constructed box, my sister and I would resort to bragging about things we could care less about.

“I like the color I chose to paint my toenails,” “I’m proud of the way I treat my classmates,” etc. etc. etc.

Since that time I can say with certainty that my confidence has grown, but I still am very much aware of the stigma surrounding bragging and I’m a pro at watering down any compliment I receive by handing the accolades off to someone else.

In some half-formed memory of my youth, I remember being told that bragging made those who didn’t have what I had feel bad about themselves — like building myself up was tearing someone else down.

While there is certainly a difference between bragging about a job well done at work and the amount of money you have in your bank account, I don’t think bragging deserves all of the negative sentiment that it has received.

It’s simply about the intention behind it.

When I have sense of pride over something I have done well, I want to share it because it feels good to have someone to celebrate with — not because I hope to accentuate the lack that someone else is feeling in their own life.

We have launched campaigns centered around boosting the amount of self-esteem our young people have, then we tell them it’s best to keep confidence quiet.

Why can’t we instead let them shout it from the rooftops?

Here are five ways you can start to shine your light for the whole world to see.

Tip #1 – Start Out Small

Don’t feel comfortable boasting out loud yet? Then get yourself acclimated with the best parts of you by writing down all the things you are proud of on a piece of paper.

Step out of your comfort zone and restrain from censoring your thoughts. This is just for your eyes and there’s no need to feel the guilt you might normally feel entertaining these thoughts.

If you’re feeling really bold, hang up the list somewhere visible. You deserve to be proud of who you are every single day.

Tip #2 – Make Your Own Celebration

Often times we wait for someone else to pat us on the back and validate our worth. Then, when that doesn’t happen, we let accomplishments fall to the wayside without the proper acknowledgement and celebration.

So create your own celebration. If you can become your own cheerleader and support system then you won’t have to replace your elation with the disappointment of unmet expectations.

Take yourself out to dinner. Buy yourself a bottle of wine. Treat yourself so that you can feel the magnitude of your own greatness.

Tip #3 – Accept All Compliments

When someone hands you a compliment, only two words are necessary — thank you.

Most of us like to follow up compliments with conversation filler statements; the ones that allow someone else to take the credit or compliment the person back or explain to the compliment giver why we really aren’t deserving of such niceties.

Stop that. It’s an insult to you and to them.

If accepting a compliment feels unnatural and uncomfortable, sit with it — it’ll pass and then you’ll be better prepared to accept the next one that comes your way.

Tip #4 – Give Others the Opportunity to Boast

My grandma has forever changed the way I see myself because of the boasting exercises she forced on me as a child. She showed me that it was ok to applaud myself. In fact, she expected it of me.

So pass that sentiment along. Encourage those you care about to share their accomplishments with you. This creates an environment where it feels good to be confident — and how can that be a bad thing?

Tip #5 – Recognize You Are Great Now

We tend to avoid looking at how spectacular things are in the moment because we are future-oriented beings. The same thing applies to boasting.

We don’t want to point out how things currently stand because we believe that we will be “better” when we accomplish x, y, or z. The thing is, what you have accomplished today was likely your “x, y, or z” of the past, so it must be celebrated. And you must be celebrated for making it happen.

Don’t wait for circumstances to change or events to happen to boast about where you are and all that you have done. Today, you are perfection.

~~~

Last weekend I went to see my grandmother, now a few years older with more wisdom than I can ever imagine having.

While we all spoke around her about what was happening at work and who was up for a promotion, she said with great pride in her voice, “Well I never graduated from college.”

I smiled knowing exactly what she meant — she always took the path less traveled and she’s proud off all the experiences she gathered as a result.

Even now she never shies away from boasting. And that makes me proud to be her granddaughter.

> How about you? What are you proud of about yourself that you’ve been too shy to admit? Share your thoughts and proud moments with us in the comment below. See you there!

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About the author

Kayla Albert is freelance writer intent on living life deliberately. You can follow her at Confessions of a Perfectionist. If there's a writing project you'd like for her to tackle, visit her website at kaylaalbert.com

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6 thoughts on The Art of Boasting

  1. What a grandmother to have !! Such a sweet story. I am learning to acknowledge self, to believe, and whilst this is an internal process, it is the next step to state it out aloud !! thank u for this wonderful article. God bless.

  2. Robert

    I have to first admit that I did not read the entire article through. I am not quite sure I agree with its message. I’m sure your grandmother is a wise woman, who knows what she is speaking of. However, I believe there is a lot to be said about humility. It is perfectly fine to be proud of your accomplishments, and even stand proud to be a good human being, but I believe those feats will speak for themselves and not need boasting in order to get one’s point across. I have seen the horrors of some who give themselves too much credit, it is not something I care to partake in or associate with. Reach for your goals and accomplish what you can (and it is perfectly fine to change those goals midstream and go a different direction, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) and treat all living life with respect, and then there will be no need to brag, your life will speak for itself.

  3. she

    This is encouraging for those who need it, those who do will use it.. thank you

  4. I was walking down the hall and I overhead a conversation. I heard the one person say to the other:

    “I’m so proud of that part of my life.”

    I remember thinking, what a powerful statement. And way to “own” her life.

    I instantly found myself flashing through my life, asking the question, “What parts am I proud of?”

    While I found a few, I was wishing I had more at my finger tips.

    I like the way you shared your story and your grandmother really did a wonderful thing, for you, and anybody who reads this post.

    BTW — Fantastic quote on the lead in … I’m an avid quote collector so I love when I see great quotes in action.

  5. What a lovely post – and such a contrast to how many people are raised! So many children are taught the ‘don’t blow your own trumpet’ line and confuse confidence with arrogance. I work with so many successful people who still can’t bring themselves to openly recognise their accomplishments for fear it makes them arrogant – thank you for such a refreshing alternative point of view (I might print this off and show it to one particular client who’s really struggling with this issue right now.)

  6. This post and the comments were thought provoking.

    I think it’s a good thing to own, share, and be proud of your accomplishments.

    That said, there is a line. You wouldn’t want to walk around solely harping on your successes as that would get irritating.

Your thoughts?

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