What are green flags and how can we identify them in ourselves?

Why it’s so important to pay attention to our own green flags and how to spot them

We all have green flags. This is why it’s time to get comfortable identifying them. 

If you were asked to describe the best things about yourself, what would you say? How easy would you find it to pay yourself a compliment?

It’s true that many of us struggle when it comes to expressing our own triumphs, even when we’d be the first to point them out within someone else.

As therapist and coach Bobbi Banks points out in a recent Instagram post, while we often talk about green flags in relationships and friendships, we rarely turn the focus on ourselves.

It’s somewhat understandable that we might be apprehensive about identifying our less-desirable red flags (though it’s true that we all do have them), but why are we so reluctant to shout from the rooftops about our green ones?

What are green flags?

Green flags are exactly what they sound like: positive signifiers within yourself or someone else.

Examples provided by Banks include holding people accountable for their actions, speaking up despite fear of rejection, keeping the promises you make to yourself and not letting people cross your boundaries.

She also suggests that showing compassion to yourself and others, learning from past unhealthy behaviours and allowing yourself to be vulnerable are important green flags.

When we know what attributes we prioritise within ourselves, we can also use this to inform our relationships with the people around us. However, identifying our own green flags isn’t meant to be performative. While these qualities may make us a more attentive partner or better friend, the key is to be aware of our own value.

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What are green flags and how can we identify them in ourselves?

Why is it important to recognise our own green flags?

Naturally, recognising the good parts about ourselves is a healthy ego boost, but it can also be important for our wider emotional development.

“Self-awareness allows us to know ourselves, our triggers and therefore we can respond in a more informed way compared to someone who does not have that self-awareness,” explains Puja McClymont, a life coach.

“We can reflect on our behaviour better, so if we think we did something out of character or could have hurt someone’s feelings, we can say so without taking it personally.”

According to McClymont, some of the best green flags within ourselves include self-awareness, listening skills and compassion.

Listening takes patience and time to master but can be highly effective in relationships of any kind,” she says. “When you listen, you allow the other person to speak freely without interruption.

Compassion allows you to listen without judgment. It means that when you’re talking to someone, you don’t make judgments about them, their behaviour or what they’re talking about because you don’t have the full story. Compassion paired with listening is a strong skill and brilliant green flag to have.”

In a world where we’re constantly trying to optimise, improve and expand ourselves, perhaps we should be cutting ourselves some more slack after all.

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Images: Getty