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Unique, Not Special

By: Kari Mika-Lude

Oftentimes, we are our own worst enemy.  We belittle and berate ourselves, blame ourselves for things we could not have foreseen or prevented, and then we wonder why we are left feeling defeated and stressed.  One of the most common ways we do this to ourselves is by personalizing things that just aren’t personal.

For example, let’s say you send an email to a potential employer about a job posting.  You are really excited about the job opportunity and are eager to hear back.  You begin checking your email every few hours, hoping to see a response in your inbox.  A few days pass, and still nothing.  Where does your mind go with that?  More than likely, you are telling yourself that you were an idiot to think that you could ever get the job, the person reading your résumé is laughing at you, and you should just crawl into a hole and never come out. 

On the other hand, if it were your friend instead of you, you would probably be more rational and remind your friend that hiring decisions are seldom a quick process and that he or she is a competent and capable individual well-deserving of such a job. 

So why do we personalize the impersonal?  It only serves to drive us crazy, so why do we do it to ourselves?  To put it in the words of Dr. Patrick McGrath (2006), an industry-recognized expert, “People with anxiety and stress often think they arespecial – they think the rules of the world apply to them differently than the other 6.5 billion people living on this planet” (p. 16).  If it’s your friend applying for a new job, they are certainly qualified, and the delay is to be expected.  But when it’s youapplying for a new job, the delay sends your mind racing to the worst-case scenario because you believe that somehow a company’s hiring process applies to you differently than everyone else.

So my challenge to you is this: Accept the fact that you are just not that special.  I anticipate that this statement can feel pretty harsh, so let me qualify it by saying that you are, however, unique, with your own set of strengths and gifts, and you have value as an individual.  But you are not special, as the rules of the world apply to you the same way as everybody else.  So slow down, take a breath, and sit with the idea that while you are unique, you are ultimately no different than the other 6.5 billion people on this planet.

McGrath, P. B. (2006). Don't try harder, try different: A workbook for managing anxiety and stress. USA: Author.


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