The High School Test: Self-Regard, then and now

27 May

Here’s a question we can all relate to: Have you ever known people who you really admired, wanted to be friends with and wondered how it was possible they did so well? One of my good friends back in high school was such a talented young woman, and I often found myself wanting to equal her abilities. I was a good student (back when intelligence was determined solely on IQ), but always just a little shy of measuring up to my friend’s grades.

Thirty some years later, not long after our 50th birthdays, I met up with that same friend. And you know what she said to me? She reminded me of how I was part of so many organizations, and was so involved all the time. She admired traits in me that today I consider personal strengths, and back then had no clue existed!

Cam and AngelaAs we flipped through old pictures, it just made me laugh to realize: Camille of 13, 14, 15 was really cute! And you know what, she had high EQ too.

If only I’d been able to realize it back then. But for me as a teenage girl – I was never pretty enough, never popular enough. . . but today, over thirty years later, I feel beautiful, I love my career, and life feels good. Okay, there are good and bad days, of course – but I can look in the mirror and love myself in a way that is light years beyond Cam of grade nine.

Do you feel the same way? Are you surprised at how cute you were in high school? Or how your talents and unrealized assets are now at the core of your current successes?

So what changed? It’s called self-regard, and it’s a huge aspect of self-perception.

What is self-regard? 

Self-Regard can be defined as the ability to respect and accept yourself as basically good. Those with good self-regard are able to recognize and appreciate their strengths and to accept their flaws without shame. It is important to be able to recognize strengths in order to know how to use them. While accurate and reasonable self-criticism often leads to self-improvement, excessive self-criticism, or shame, paralyzes. People who react to their short-comings with shame tend to avoid noticing or thinking about them in a constructive manner.

High Self-Regard will also support you in your efforts to examine your own thoughts critically. You can tolerate recognizing your own errors without falling apart. This skill allows you to make rapid, mid-course corrections.

Self-Regard, like Emotional Self-Awareness, is a building block skill of EQ. Reasonable Self-Regard allows us to tolerate the self-criticism inherent in any self-development process.”

Here’s a bit of honesty. I’ve been working on my self-regard for quite some time. If you’ve been reading along, then you know my history of being a single mother and navigating a new city. There have been wonderful NLP exercises that have really helped me strengthen that self of confidence within myself. I’m going to give you one of my favourite exercises that I often use with clients. (Having worked with high-level leaders, I can tell you this much: everyone, at every level, questions their self-worth and capabilities. Strengthen self-regard is a great way for us, particularly women, to improve our self-perception.)

cararesourcesSo here’s an exercise from our NLP tool box, to couple the Emotional Intelligence concept of self-regard, is an exercise called Dock of the Bay, which was created by Richard Bandler (and I’ve tweeked it only a smidge). Relax, read along, and repeat as much as necessary. This exercise calls upon referencing someone you really admire – because chances are, if you admire those traits within another person, you’ve got aspects of those characteristics within yourself too.

“It begins with the visualization of a beautiful day, in the bay, with a long dock.  You are sitting in a comfortable Adirondack chair. The air is filled with smells of your BBQ in a distance, and your favorite drink is next to you. You notice that across the bay from you, you can  see  a person that looks and sounds just like you in every way. That person is not you, but someone who is exactly like you sitting across the bay. He or she quietly sits there, enjoying the day.

As you observe this, you notice that someone is approaching you from the left. And as you turn your head, you see a person that you either know personally or not, but one that you admire, for whatever reason, come before you. And just as they stop in front of you, they disappear, leaving behind only their shoes. You step into those shoes and absorb the positive qualities of that person, the qualities that you desire, into yourself. This can take a minute or more, but feel that quality in you, make it your own. When done, a second person approaches from the left and they too, disappear right before your eyes, leaving their shoes behind. Stepping into the second pair of shoes, again, take the time to absorb the qualities you admire, fully integrating them with your own. A third person approaches from the left and they too, disappear leaving the shoes behind. And again, step into those shoes and take in all the qualities you love, making them your own.

Now give yourself a moment to breathe in all those qualities and attributes that you absorbed, feel them within and own them. They are now yours, gifts from the three individuals that you admire. When you feel those strengths fully alive in you, lift your eyes to see the person at the end of the dock, the person that looks like you and sounds like you and call them, motioning for them to come closer. And as that person that looks and sounds like you comes closer, wrap your arms around them in an embrace, and hold them close, all the while integrating them with you, and all those great qualities that you now have from others shoes. Thank the three individuals and acknowledge that you have fully integrated the abundant gift.”


This is an exercise you can do at anytime, anywhere – just take a moment and visualize. Give it a try and see how you feel. I’d love to hear your experiences.

Till next week,



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