Are You Burying Your Light Behind a Mask of Modesty?

Give Yourself Credit


Be honest, have you ever downplayed or dismissed your accomplishments, attributing them to fate, luck or just good timing under the guise of modesty?

For many, this is a common practice and the irony is that they do it even as they endlessly look for ways to bolster their confidence and self-esteem.

Why do we fail to make the connection?

We avoid giving ourselves credit out of misguided thinking that it’s egotistical, but we’re also robbing ourselves of confidence in our abilities. ~Author Unknown

The Language of Modesty

The other day a friend called to share the news that she’d won an incentive. No sooner had I congratulated her than she went into deflection mode. “Well, you know I was lucky because things just came together and of course I had a great team.”

Now, just to give you a little background on this incentive, there were 400 sales managers involved across the country. My friend had just been assigned a previously failing territory so she had that hill to climb on top of being an unknown entity to both her team and her clients.

The bottom line is she worked her butt off for 3 months to bring it all together.

She didn’t just win that incentive … she e-a-r-n-e-d it.

Sadly, my friend’s reluctance to take credit for her work is all too common. Many of us are taught from an early age that modesty and humility are noble traits. Don’t talk about your high grades or achievements because bragging isn’t nice.

The problem is that over time that self-depreciating behavior doesn’t just effectively mask your strengths and abilities from others, you begin to believe it to the point that it becomes who you are, blinding you to your own value.

Give Yourself Credit


I love this quote by actor Peter Dinklage because it beautifully illustrates that one can take credit for their life choices and achievements in a way that is open and honest and yes, even humble.

Are You Giving Yourself Enough Credit?

I’d like to ask you to take a moment to give some thought to your own accomplishments up to now.

Not just the easy stuff you can check off a list, prizes won, honors earned or goals achieved, but ways in which you’ve grown and made a difference in this world because I’m willing to bet that you aren’t giving yourself nearly enough credit.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

The Challenges You’ve Overcome

Think of all the times you’ve stumbled or been knocked down, but got back up. True, relationships have come and gone, but you’ve learned valuable lessons, overcome obstacles, maybe even a crisis or two, and through it all, you kept on going.

The Times You Stayed Strong to Support a Friend or Loved One

It’s easy to love someone when things are going well so give yourself some credit for the people you’ve seen through the tough times. You listened, laughed and cried with them and refused to let them give up on themselves or life.

The Mistakes You’ve Made

Nobody gets through life without messing a few things up along the way and you’re no exception. But a lot of people never take responsibility for their missteps, so give yourself some credit for owning and learning from your mistakes.

The Times You Chose to Be True to Yourself

Think of the times you stood up for yourself, your beliefs and values. It’s so much easier to go along with the crowd, but there have been times when you drew the line and owned your life, no excuses or regrets.

The Times You Tried and Failed

Okay, so you listened to hype telling you not to try but do and so you did only to end up falling short of the mark and ended up feeling like a big pile of crap. Yes, the failure hurt, but give yourself some credit because most people will never even try! They will let their fear, insecurity and lack of belief in their personal power hold them hostage, sometimes for their entire life.

All Your Past Achievements

You’ve grown a lot more than you give yourself credit for. Most of us fail to acknowledge our day-to-day achievements because they seem trivial, and we’re so focused on the busyness of life that we gloss over those events. But these lessons and small wins are critical to your journey because each in their own way contributes to your knowledge, experience, and wisdom.

Your Willingness to Always Give Life One More Try

You learned early on that life isn’t perfect. Not everyone grows up surrounded by a loving supportive family and sometimes life is messy and unpredictable. But life is also full of magic, hope, and possibility. And so, each morning you buckle up and head out into the day, ready to give life one more try.

If you’re still searching for that one thing that has the power to change your life for the better, take a look in the mirror. ~Author Unknown

Have You Been Burying Your Light?

Giving yourself credit doesn’t involve standing in the street yelling hey look at how great I am to get recognition and attention. It’s simply and honestly acknowledging your own value and capability, and embracing the truth that you really are making a difference in this life.

True, if you’ve spent a lifetime downplaying your strengths this may seem like an impossible task, so let me say it for you.

You really are enough. You are full of joy and compassion. You genuinely want to make a positive difference in this world. You practice kindness. You work to understand and appreciate diversity. You are loyal, adventurous, supportive and strive to be better than you were yesterday. You are enough. You make mistakes – okay, sometimes a lot of mistakes – but you own them and you learn from them.

So give yourself some credit, because you really are enough.

Will you be the passenger or the driver in your life journey?
About Marquita A. Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click here.

Thank you for sharing!

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  1. ikechi

    Hi Marquita

    This is a great Valentine gift and a food for thought. In trying to be modest, we belittle what we have accomplished in life.

    As you brilliantly shared, our lives is not a void, there is so much that we have offered and the choices or actions we have taken have made so much difference.

    Thanks for sharing. Take care

  2. Joyce Hansen

    This is so appropriate Marquita. Being raised to think humility was a virtue, really put a damper on my sense of self-worth. It took some time to find my voice and know that it was valued. It’s amazing to find how these social conventions play out through life. Thanks for another enlightening post.
    Joyce Hansen recently posted…How to Make Your Brain More ProductiveMy Profile

  3. Jacqueline Murray says:

    This is great. Awesome tips to stop and be aware of what you are saying to yourself. It is certainly the year for shining bright and owning your gifts with love and integrity x Thank you Marquita.

  4. Elise Cohen Ho

    I adore this post. What a great reminder of the importance of recognizing and sharing your with with folks.
    Elise Cohen Ho recently posted…In Search Of Amazing Moms For Free FeatureMy Profile

  5. Hi Marquita,

    Every of your assertions in this article is true. The idea of people downplaying their own efforts in making certain achievement a reality is very common. Like you rightly said, we tend to link it to luck or the activities of some higher powers as if without making effort, it would have been possible.

    Acknowledging our efforts in our successes will not only boost our self-esteem, it will also give us the courage to try new things in the future.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us DeeDee, very much appreciated. 🙂

  7. I’m so glad you found value in the article Ruth, and I just noticed the topic of your latest post so I’m coming your way! I will soon be launching a new blog and while I’ve done a lot of the behind the scenes work have yet to select a new theme so I’m looking forward to your tips. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  8. Yea! Thank you so much for sharing your story and insights with us, always appreciated Millen. 🙂

  9. Excellent point Joan! In fact, I have a post coming up all about how sharing our stories can help others. 🙂

  10. I love your story that you were so generous in sharing with us in our collaboration, Women Breaking Barriers, and I hope others found your example of overcoming and pushing through limiting beliefs as inspirational has I have. Thanks so much for sharing and contributing to the conversation. 🙂

  11. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post Suzie!

  12. I think the labels we apply are less important than the meaning behind them Mandy. Fate and luck have somewhat similar definitions. Fate is when something happens as a result of some force beyond your control and luck is defined as success or failure brought about by chance rather than your actions. The one thing they both have in common is that they rob you of your personal power. You say you work hard, and I’ve seen that myself, and refer to being in the right place at the right time. Call it by whatever term soothes your ego, but I clearly see that as purposeful intention. You’re doing the work to create the right conditions, rather than them magically appearing out of nowhere. Thanks for sharing with us!

  13. Yes William, I do know you (at least virtually) and I will tell you that there have been times I’ve used you as an example for why we shouldn’t fixate on one-size-fits-all paths to living. You have found a way to live your life that not only works for you, but motivates you to be your best, and that is something to be proud of my friend whether you’re willing to take credit for it or not. 🙂

  14. Good for you Doreen! It is so true that the influence of our upbringing can make a huge difference. Thanks for sharing and contributing to the conversation. 🙂

  15. Well said Erica! And trust me, I know firsthand how you feel because I’ve struggled with the same issue. I believe, in the end, it comes down to more than just providing our clients and readers with proof of our worth, but genuinely believing that we have something to offer others that will add value – in whatever form that may be – to their lives.

  16. DeeDee Lynn

    Hi Marquita. Being a musician, it’s not unusual for people to pay me compliments. I’m also on the shy side, and I’ve been guilty of saying, “It was nothing.”

    Like the actor above, it’s taken years of training and practice to do what I do. People seem to think that it’s because I have innate talent. Well, I do. However, if I hadn’t taken the lesson, practiced and gone to music college, I wouldn’t be able to do it either

    The downside is that people think I can play anything, which I can’t. I ended up filling in as a pianist for our church Christmas program and I soloist handed me an arrangement of ‘O Holy Night’ that I had never heard or seen before. Not too fun to sight-read a solo accompaniment. I was shaking from stress afterward. Just glad it was the last number!
    DeeDee Lynn recently posted…Aquaponics: The lazy person’s guide to gardeningMy Profile

  17. Ruth Bowers

    I needed to hear this today, Marquita! I’m a little over 50, and still trying to overcome years of conditioning from being told that no one likes a smarty-pants and how did I think I was ever going to get along with people if I didn’t try to fit in. I’m getting better now at accepting compliments and acknowledging my own achievements but there’s still a long ways to go. 🙂
    Ruth Bowers recently posted…[Friday Five] Five Tips for Choosing a New Blog ThemeMy Profile

  18. Millen

    Love this post, Marquita! And it has really hit home for me as someone who was programmed to be humble from a very early age. I still have challenging time mentioning my impressive (yes, dare I say this 🙂 ) educational credentials and many achievements… I want to be ‘relateable’ instead of ‘lucky’…
    And your excerpt about overcoming failures – “Yes, the failure hurt, but give yourself some credit because most people will never even try! They will let their fear, insecurity and lack of belief in their personal power hold them hostage, sometimes for their entire life.” – has resonated deeply with me.

    Yes, I am a risk-taker, which means, I got a lot of feedback from a few flaps… Yet, I also achieved a lot… So, acknowledging and celebrating my WINS is in order! 🙂 THANK YOU!

  19. Hi Marquita 🙂

    Loved this post! Yes, I can totally relate to all of your points and I only have to look in the mirror if I want to know how to change (love that quote).
    We do need to learn how to not be so modest and learn to share our value….because you never know who you are going to help 🙂
    Joan M Harrington recently posted…What Does Success Mean To You?My Profile

  20. Great post, Marquita. Thanks for the early Valentine. As you know, I’ve overcome some barriers in life and I’m finally able to acknowledge that I’m allowed to take some credit for them. I think the hardest thing for me has been to put my failures behind me. You can’t hit the rewind button. When I see where I am in life today, I may not be a millionaire but I have a very good life, wonderful friends and family. I’ve worked hard at these relationships so I’ve earned and deserve their love, too!

  21. Suzie Cheel

    Marty so true and speaks right to my heart. these words You really are enough. You are full of joy and compassion. You genuinely want to make a positive difference in this world. You practice kindness…. if we all believed this we could change the world/ So stepping right into that space so i make an even bigger difference xxx
    Suzie Cheel recently posted…Amazing Moms: Mother’s of the 21st CenturyMy Profile

  22. Mandy Allen says:

    I believe I am often in the right place at the right time, do I think that fate or luck? Well, maybe, but it is my own talent and confidence that enables me to take the opportunities that arise, and that isn’t fate or luck. I agree with the quote, a lot of people work very hard to get where they are, and I too have worked hard and are able to recognise that, but I also believe that being in the right place at the right time is an asset that we have no control over, so that is fate or luck whichever you want to call it.

    Enjoy the journey!

  23. William Rusho

    Good post.
    You know me though, what I am made up of. I have an aversion to take any credit for what I do. Being humble, being critical of myself pushes me constantly to be better.
    When I was in the military, I had to too many friends who took a different step then I did, did one thing different than me, and they are no longer around. It is luck, it is the grace of God, that I am here to do the things I do. Maybe this is also why I am unable to take credit for things.
    William Rusho recently posted…Medieval/Renaissance Faires 2017My Profile

  24. Great post, Marty. I think I am guilty of having too much confidence sometimes, so I doubt I could ever be accused off being TOO modest. I think that having that confidence has helped me persevere when things get tough, and has helped me stay focused in my dreams and goals. I have my father to thank for building that confidence.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…surviving the impact of cancerMy Profile

  25. Erica says:

    I think little girls are especially taught to be modest. The word brag has such a negative connotation. So it does become an easy habit to downplay our successes. When becoming an entrepreneur, I had to learn to better talk myself up. It still feels weird to tell people about my accomplishments. But if I don’t do it, how will potential clients believe in me? This is an important post and something many of us need to work on.

  26. Good for you Sushmita! It takes courage to decide to own your life, but it is definitely worth the effort. 🙂

  27. I’m glad you enjoyed it Bola. Re your point about sharing your light “as long as I’m not seen as boasting.” Just something to think about … who would make that determination? What if someone else’s definition of boasting is admitting that you achieved something – even if you did it in a humble way? Will you avoid taking credit for your accomplishments so that someone else’s damage ego is not affected? No matter how humble you may be, there will always be someone out there who resents anyone who succeeds, that’s simply life. Again, just something to think about. 🙂

  28. I’m so glad you found value in the post Jen. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and contribute to the conversation. 🙂

  29. You are welcome Chery. 🙂

  30. That’s wonderful Donna! You DESERVE to be acknowledged for all that you do to help others. 🙂

  31. Sushmita

    Amazing Post!
    Yes, I agree I had been burying my Light until one year ago.
    Finally, I have started projecting it out.
    Sushmita recently posted…10 tools you need to know about, for Effective Social Media Marketing.My Profile

  32. Bola says:

    This is a great Valentines gift Marquita! I’ve decided to let my light shine this year as long as I’m not seen as boasting. We downplay our achievements because of this. Thanks for sharing

  33. Jen Monks

    I am saddened when someone I’m talking to says they were just lucky when referring to an award or accomplishment. Own it! Being proud and happy doesn’t make you a braggart. Thanks for the poignant reminders.

  34. Chery Schmidt

    Good Morning Marty! What an awesome post as usual! This was a great early Valentines Gift! Thank You.. Chery :))

  35. Donna Merrill

    Hi Marquita,

    I love this post and thanks for the early Valentine’s gift of your encouraging words.

    I needed this article especially at this time when I’m running around doing tons of things. I sometimes forget to take a moment to acknowledge me. Before I wrote this comment I sat for a while and thought about things.

    Thank you so much….you just made my day!

    Donna Merrill recently posted…Infographics – The Best Way To Boost Your BlogMy Profile

  36. Well said Lea! I’m glad to hear that you are willing to own your achievements. 🙂

  37. I love you Mark, but I’ve got news for you. The vast majority of my readers are women between 35 and 50 who are strong and doing the work to break through their barriers of limiting beliefs. Sharing some of those stories was the whole point of my eBook Women Breaking Barriers. You ought to read it, you would be impressed. 🙂

  38. Good for you Jeri! I’m much better at it now than when I was younger, but there was a time when I was the one deflecting compliments. If I can get over it, anyone can. 🙂 Thanks for contributing to the conversation.

  39. I saw many of the same things RoseMary, but I do believe things are changing and more women are learning to stand up for themselves. The stories in our recent Women Breaking Barriers eBook is a good example of that. 🙂

  40. I’m so glad you enjoyed the article Phoenicia. Knowing your story, I couldn’t help but think of you when I was writing today’s post. 🙂

  41. Lea Bullen

    Hi Marquita,
    I think luck is best reserved for things that are beyond your control, like winning even a couple of bucks with quick pick numbers from the lotto. But if you’ve put in effort it’s not luck at all. You did that work the contributed to that outcome.
    I can be very modest at times but it usually isn’t about what I’ve done, I typically down play how big it was.
    Lea Bullen recently posted…3 Things to Remember When You’re Really Going Through ItMy Profile

  42. Mark

    Talk about a truly evergreen subject M!

    This would definitely be one of them! Your post definitely had my mind racing, think of growing up, and that rather standard advice, we all seem to have gotten, from practically every authority figure we looked up to!LOL!

    Even though you’re encouraging us to acknowledge certain things we’ve accomplished more M.

    I suspect, the vast major of your readership, for whatever reasons, will still be reluctant, and feel slightly guilt ridden, about doing so!LOL!

    I love and totally agree with your perspective on it.

    Toot your horn, just a little bit, every now and again!LOL! Thanks for sharing, another fascinating and extremely engaging post!

    Hopefully, your sound advice will be applied, on some level or another.
    Mark recently posted…Who Says Small Business Service Providers Can’t Benefit From The information Business?My Profile

  43. Jeri

    I think women tend to downplay their strengths a lot more than men, which is a shame, but part of the bigger picture of cultural conditioning. I’ve rarely attributed anything in my life to luck because it’s been an unlucky life in many ways. Everything I have, I have worked very hard for and do not think twice of owning up to that.
    Jeri recently posted…#AuthorInterview: Colleen M. StoryMy Profile

  44. Yahoo to the power of the positive!
    Your suggestions are great starting places for any of us who don’t take enough credit when it’s due us. I saw a lot of this in corporate America. Women, myself included, working harder than the men and getting less credit–even when it was available for us to claim.
    Humility is one thing, being a braggart quite another. Facts speak for themselves.

  45. Phoenicia

    What a great post Marquita!

    Where do I start? I totally agree that failing to acknowledge our achievements is like robbing ourselves. Many a time we do not need to scream it from the rooftops but simply pat ourselves on the back; quietly and discreetly.

    I grew up being told it was wrong to boast. I barely had the confidence to; whether about my appearance or achievements.

    I am learning to take compliments without reverting to “oh I did not pay much for this” or “we all did well – not just me”. It has been a journey and I still find myself rushing to take the focus off of myself. It makes me feel uncomfortable as 1. I dislike boasting and 2. I was invisible as a teenager due to bullying and being quiet. It goes against my nature to be at the centre of anything.

    I agree with the actor’s quote that one should not call themselves lucky when they know they have put in hard work. It devalues all they have done.

    Thank you for sharing this article. It has given me food for thought.

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