Since, childhood we hear the terms ‘pretty’, beautiful’, ‘cute’ or ‘ugly’ being used. So in the early years of our lives we learn that, looks are important. Being doe-eyed, full lipped and having a chiseled nose will make us more likely to become the teacher’s pet, bag more job interviews and get more dates. The ones possessing the blueprint of a beautiful face grow up with an air of superiority.
Despite these biases, you might still hear the most, good looking of men and women complaining; that their jaw-line is weak or their eyes are not ‘large enough’. And that cribbing of our better looking fellow humans, is not always a way to ‘fish for compliments’, it is actual insecurity, because the very thought ‘If only I were better looking’, in essence has nothing to do with your appearance but everything to do with your self-esteem. Here’s what to do, instead of obsessing over your looks, when your sense of self worth is particularly ebbing low:
1. Social mirror vs. True mirror
Sean Covey in his book “The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make”, a guide for teens, talks about two mirrors. One is the ‘social mirror’, which reflects the society and everyone else’s view about you. While, the other is the true mirror which reflects your true self, how you actually are. So if Amy at college tells you your sister is prettier than you, first of all tell yourself that Amy is just one person, entitled to her opinion, maybe someone with a different choice might find you better looking. Also, if your sister is in fact better looking, she might not be as smart or as tall as you, make a note of the other qualities that only you possess.
The social mirror can often show you a distorted image, just like the mirrors in theme parks. You listen to people’s comparisons, criticism and sometimes unfair judgments about you and start believing the negative. This can greatly, affect your self esteem. At such times, it’s necessary to remind yourself of all the strong points you have, list them down because they are internal and stable attributes you posses, as opposed to external ever changing opinions of others; that should not define you.
2. Spend Time with People Who Make You Feel Good About Yourself
Niko Everett in Ted talks, shares the low self esteem she suffered from, until her friend ‘Julie’ told her to ‘meet’ herself and start seeing her weaknesses as her strengths. Too often we start holding ourselves responsible for the misfortunes that come our way; thinking, that they must be due to some fault of our own. Being poor, an orphan, a victim of abuse or suffering from a terminal illness are things we can beat ourselves about but it’s important to remember that, everyone encounters difficulties and they don’t make us better or worse than anyone. If we have survived the rainy patches or are still struggling, we are becoming all the more, stronger and it calls for patting ourselves on the back. The people who make us recall our good points, should be kept close to heart; they are the ones who lift us up when our spirits our down. Such friends are indispensable to our self esteem they turn our face from the flaws to all the beautiful things we overlook, in ourselves. They teach us to be comfortable in our own skins, by showing acceptance towards us, when we have trouble accepting our own selves. The one thing similar in all of us, is our differences they are what actually define us, so instead of being embarrassed about them, we should really be celebrating them.
3. Develop Core Values
Developing core values, like ‘integrity’, ‘sense of responsibility’, ‘acceptance’ and ‘assertiveness’ amp up our self esteem quotient. When we ‘become’ better, we will naturally ‘believe’ ourselves to be better, and as I will discuss later our ‘believing in ourselves’ is indeed the single most important thing on which our self esteem is dependent. Personal integrity entails, living up to our expectations, maintaining certain standards of honesty and uprightness in our dealing with others.
Sense of responsibility, includes not being lazy, owning up to our mistakes and shortcomings; this will increase people’s respect for us, which in turn will make us respect ourselves more too. Assertiveness, or fighting in the face of resistance and standing up for ourselves and those in need will make us come across as a force to be reckoned with will make us come across as a force to be reckoned with, thus, it will help build our confidence. Acceptance of ourselves, does not mean just becoming complacent with our drawbacks but also being happy with the qualities we are gifted with or develop in ourselves. Most people don’t have wonderful things to say to us in everyday life, so if we become overly self critical and start indulging in a lot of negative self talk, we will destroy our self confidence. So every night we should recount the positive traits that we displayed during the course of the day and pride ourselves on them, so that every morning we wake up to a new, more confident us.
4. Have a Life Purpose
Nathanial Brandan in his book ‘6 Pillars of Self Esteem’, explains the importance of ‘living purposefully’. A purpose in life, a goal, gives us something to look forward to. It gives us a ‘reason’ to live, which is beyond ourselves; this reason makes us feel fulfilled and contributes to a higher self esteem. Lack of aspirations leads to demotivation and the feelings of ‘worthlessness’ set in. This is when you dwell the most on your drawbacks and on the ‘not being good enough’s’’ of your life.
If you especially make your ‘reason’ unselfish, like setting aside 2% of your income for the needy, volunteer for an old home or some other social cause you are likely to feel more content and happy with yourself; than if you were to pursue selfish goals only, like being the most socially recognized among your friends. It when we work for the greater good and common causes, when we feel we are contributing to society that we feel a higher sense of self worth and rightly so. It helps us shift our focus from the petty thoughts regarding our appearance to much bigger and important issues. In the process making us realize what truly matters and what does not.
5. Believe in Yourself
After all said and done, the most important thing which it all boils down to is, your ‘belief’ in yourself. If you believe in yourself, you will always look into the internal ‘mirror’ for affirmation. Your self esteem will not be based on the shaky foundation, of seeking validation from others. You become stronger when you look for support from within than without. After all you are your best friend, if you will not believe in yourself no one will. And the thought that nobody believes in you will bring you down, it will become a vicious cycle. If you have good, positive opinion about yourself, you will make others a believer in you too; that in turn will boost your self confidence. Sometimes, you come across very average looking people who think the world of themselves, while reasonably good looking people might be bogged down with the ‘not good looking enough’ syndrome. It is, as you may have understood by now is not about the ‘looks’ but the ‘not being enough’ element, that diminishes our confidence in ourselves. Nail this one, and you are sorted, to achieve whatever you want in life.