“You cannot be fair to others without first being fair to yourself.” – Vera Nazarian
Are you quick to criticize others? Do you find fault in the smallest things? It might be that you lash out at others to mask what you don’t like in yourself.
And that’s not fair.
It’s not fair to you most of all, because you’re capable of so much more that you’re not giving yourself credit for.
If fairness is important – and it’s a highly desirable trait – what can you do to start being fair to yourself so that you can be fair to others?
This isn’t a trick question. It does, however, deserve some careful thought.
What is Fairness?
What does it mean to be fair?
When you consider a solution to a problem, several options or approaches likely come to mind:
- You might brainstorm and arrive at these, or they may be suggestions from trusted advisors, friends, family members, co-workers or someone else.
- Some you might toss out immediately as unworkable, impractical, too costly or time-constraining.
- Other ideas you may mull over for a while before deciding which category they fall into: toss, analyze further, modify or use.
When weighing the pros and cons of each possible solution, giving credence to fairness should be part of the equation. Often, however, it’s not. Instead, other considerations take precedence, such as expediency, return on investment, instant recognition, catapulting to the top or edging out someone or something else.
Ask yourself, is that fair?
Don’t Sabotage Yourself by Being Unfair
Why do people fail to give themselves a fair chance? Why have you done this? Is it because of a feeling of inferiority or that something’s lacking? Is it that you never received encouragement as a child, have a history of mistakes or failures, or never believed enough in yourself to take a chance? Any or all of these could be underlying contributors to a lack of self-fairness.
And they’re all examples of sabotaging yourself by being unfair – to you, most of all.
Steps to Take to Be Fair to Yourself
But this tendency to self-sabotage can be overcome. You can learn how to be fair to yourself. It just takes determination and practice.
- Think first. The next time you want to take an action and think about what it is you’re going to do, take a minute to think how this proposed action is fair to you – before you proceed. Are you doing yourself justice? Are you taking advantage of strengths and abilities you possess but haven’t allowed yourself to pursue? Or, are you doing what others tell you without any thought to whether it’s fair or not? Figuring out your underlying motivation will greatly aid in your goal to be fair with yourself. You have to know what’s driving your behavior before you can change it.
- Commit to self-fairness. When you insist on fairness to yourself, you’ll radiate that sense of fairness to others. Indeed, after you diligently practice fairness, you will find it easier to be fair in your dealings with others. For example, instead of demanding employees stop everything to jump on a project you deem important, you’ll consider whether this is a fair request. This means putting yourself in their position, to understand how your request affects them. If it’s not absolutely critical, you may decide to alter the due date or timetable for completion, allowing for other high priority items already on your employees’ work schedule to continue. The positive reinforcement you’ll receive from grateful employees will add to your recognition that being fair to others starts by being fair to yourself.
- Put yourself first for a change. Often, you’re the last person on your list. Everyone else’s needs are tended to before you even think about taking care of your own. That’s definitely not conducive to overall well-being. In fact, it sets you up for disappointment, increased tension and stress, and a general malaise and dissatisfaction with life. On the other hand, when you take your own needs into consideration, in conjunction with or ahead of those you know you need to attend to, you’re inserting balance into your life. After all, you need to do what’s right for you in order that you can do right for others.
- Model fairness to others. Be a leader who models fairness. This type of leadership is inspirational and motivational. When you show others that fairness is important in all dealings, and being fair to yourself is part of that, you’ll be demonstrating an admirable trait of effective leaders. If you need any help with this, take a lesson from some of the world’s most respected leaders, from Winston Churchill to John F. Kennedy to Mother Teresa. They not only knew what was fair, they embodied fairness. Others, seeing such leadership, were inspired to insist on fairness in their own lives.
At the heart of living a vibrant and purposeful life is a fairness to self. Being fair to others will naturally ensue.
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