This is it ladies; the last – and probably most impactful – of my recent wellbeing series. This one is for every woman who frequently, or occasionally fails to see herself as beautiful and/or smart and talented.
Check out this image I saw on a friend’s social media page recently:
The dialogue in the above image really resonated with me when I saw it. It had been just a few days earlier that I had had what I call one of my “ugly days.” You know, the kind of day when you wake up and without intending to, mentally bash yourself the minute you see yourself in the mirror. No matter how hard you try, the ugly thoughts taunt you through the rest of the day. On days like that I’ve tried filling my head with positive affirmations and reframing my mindset, but always, it’s the negative thoughts that prevail and come out on top.
Something else I sometimes struggle with is the simple act of believing what someone else sees in me. I see plenty of other women do it too. In fact, just last week someone close to me was offered a job that she isn’t technically qualified for, but the potential for her to learn and grow into the job was recognized. As confident and capable as I know this girl is, her immediate reaction was one of disbelief, disbelief in herself and in her ability to deliver.
Why do women – in general – have such a hard time seeing in themselves what others see in them? I’m no expert but social and mass media obviously play a huge role in how we feel. You’d have to be living under a rock to escape the hundreds of daily ad impressions that pop up on the internet and other media outlets. Social media alone, excluding ads, is mostly just a showcase of beauty and success images. It’s hard to feel good about yourself when it seems as if everyone else in the world is nailing it and you’re not!
The good news? It ain’t true my beautiful and talented friends!!! While it IS true that the best looking girls receive the most opportunities, the most friends, and even the most pay – according to statistics – such girls are the exception. And good on them, if besides good looks they have genuinely worked hard to achieve great things! As for the rest of us, lol, we can take solace in the fact that modern psychology gives us an excuse for our self-deprecating behavior! Apparently, it is completely normal, as in, simply human nature, to care more about losses than wins!
You’re wondering what the heck losses and wins have to do with self-perception, aren’t you? Good question…… and the answer, is that we tend to care more about our weaknesses and flaws, and less about our strengths and talents. Our strengths and talents are not the problem; our flaws and weaknesses are! And because problems potentially lead to “losses,” they draw our time, energy, and attention to them. We become so intimate with them that eventually we stop seeing all the wonderful things about us. The end result? A very skewed image of ourselves, that unless controlled and put back into proper perspective, dredges up…..you got it…..those darn “ugly days.” Or, if not “ugly days,” then “loser days.”
Oh, and the reason we don’t see flaws in our friends, is because the loss/gain concept is a completely personal thing. Losses only matter when they affect us directly; we aren’t as concerned with the worries of our friends. That’s not to say we don’t care about our friends, but we can love them without taking on their burdens. That also leaves us in a position where, because we are not as intensely focused on their flaws and imperfections as they are, we’re able to see a more balanced and complete picture of them. Hence when we pay them a compliment, or see something amazing in them, we genuinely mean it.
All of this is unhelpful of course, without knowing how to refocus our lenses! I’m still a work in progress myself, so can’t say that I have any great advice, but hopefully some of you will chime in to let us know what has worked for you.
As for myself, something I try to do and have mentioned before is to accept compliments. Years ago, I made a pact with a close friend to stop brushing off compliments with a negative response. We both agreed that we would resist the urge to say anything at all, except “Thank you!” That was a great idea, but it hasn’t stopped me from focusing on my flaws. Maybe the next logical step is to actually consider the validity of the compliment?
I’ve been told for example that I have a beautiful smile, so maybe the next time I look in the mirror and see ugly dark circles under my eyes I’ll look for the beauty in my smile instead. Or maybe I’ll choose to start looking in the mirror for the cute figure I’ve been complimented on, instead of looking critically at the muscles that I’ve been told make me look “masculine.”
And what about the girl I mentioned earlier, who is scared to accept what is potentially a great job opportunity, because she can’t bring herself to believe the observations made about her. If she could switch off the self-doubt for just a moment, and do an honest assessment of the praise given her, she would probably see that it matches up with prior work and personal accomplishments.
The other simple – and usually effective – approach I sometimes take, is to put nice clothes on, fix my hair, and apply a little makeup (or a lot, lol). When I’m not in work clothes, I’m usually in work-out clothes. And in workout clothes, I am most comfortable but don’t feel attractive. It’s amazing how much better I feel about myself when I take a little time to care about my appearance. Even better, is scheduling a girls’ day-in/night-out! By that I mean planning an in-house spa day (nails, face masks, hair and make-up), followed by a fun night out – looking damn gorgeous and glam – with your favorite girlfriends.
Because as you know – and confirmed by the image above – girlfriends will lift you up and love on you like you totally deserve.