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  • James McNeil

Three obstacles that can lead to poor self-image

In the first two chapters of Finding Your Personal Mission, the focus is on overcoming an obstacle many people face; impostor syndrome. The root of impostor syndrome is a poor self-image, and today I’d like to discuss a few things that can lead to that poor self-image.


Comparison: The idea of “keeping up with the neighbors” is so prevalent today that we often can’t imagine life without it. The neighbors got a new car, so we need a new car. The neighbors took a vacation in Cancun, so we need to as well. I could go on, but you get the idea. The concept comes from the base idea that we need to do as well as others, so we compare our lives to theirs. Social media has made comparisons explode. We go on social media sites, and we see people that we like living “their best lives,” and we start to wonder why not us.

“Well they’re smarter than me.”

“Well they’re better looking than me.”

“Well, they deserve it, and I don’t.”

STOP THAT. Comparison is the thief of motivation and joy. Not only are you making an unfair comparison, but you may be comparing your weak points to their strong ones. Or you could be comparing your chapter 1 to their chapter 20. In any case, stop comparing yourself to others.

Cloudy views of yourself: Comparison feeds this in a huge way. When you compare yourself to others, you can forget what you bring to the table that is very valuable. It’s easy to sweep these under the rug when you see other people as better than you. But what do you bring to the table? Maybe you’ve got a talent for organizing things. Maybe you’re an excellent writer. Maybe you’ve got fantastic talent in the kitchen. What do you do well? (Note I did not say well compared to others. Don’t forget comparison is the thief of motivation and joy.)

Going it alone: For years, I thought I needed to go it alone. I had convinced myself that as a veteran, I needed to make things happen myself. I had completely forgotten the things the drill sergeants taught us about having a battle buddy and needing one to make it through the challenges of life (particularly basic training, but it continued afterward). Now I have a small core group of friends who know how to keep me in check. There are no “lone rangers” that will overcome obstacles like impostor syndrome. If you want to do this, you need a team. Find people who are like-minded and surround yourself. You’ll be surprised by the difference it makes.

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