I was chatting with friends last night about how we find it so hard to get a decent photo that captures the real "us" for our websites. We agreed that a great photographer would probably be helpful, but also that it's about relaxing for the shot. Properly. Because if we're the slightest bit stressed, our lips go thin and our face gets tense. And the eyes can't hide how we're feeling inside.
We decided we were obsessing a little too much about our flaws. And we needed to just be ourselves and people will approve or not. To not stress about what we can't control. So we're keeping it real and not photoshopping our photos or posting pictures from decades ago. Not yet anyway!
And it got me thinking about how we judge ourselves so harshly. And how it's worse for people whose whole identity is strongly linked to their external beauty or an image they want to project. Because this can become a huge source of stress. Trying to get that perfect photo ...
Me, I never got that obsessed with beauty. Quite the opposite. When I was young, I thought I was ugly, because no one ever complimented me on my looks. Not like they did my pretty, younger sister. They would compliment me on my brain, my grades, my achievements. So I became obsessed with achievement. And being perfect at it. Yeah, right there was the start of my stress.
I know it's not helpful to praise kids for their looks. That's not my issue. My problem was I'd decided I was ugly and so I didn't feel OK with being "me" as I grew up. I'd made a false assumption and created a severe lack of self-esteem and confidence because of it.
And now, as I look back at those old photos of little me, I can see I was actually rather cute! I just wish I'd known that. Way back when. A lot of wasted time hiding in the background, feeling ashamed of being me ...
Nowadays I'm OK. More than OK. My work with NLP has released those old, limiting beliefs and, with them, the shame and the stress.
So now I appreciate my gifts. I love my big eyes, even if they're a little more lined than before. And by being OK with me as I am has brought out this new energy. A glow that is so much more powerful that physical beauty. Getting old is still a luxury on our planet and so I plan to enjoy the journey. And love my body for getting me every step of the way.
Even if I do wonder at times who that person is who looks back at me from the mirror :)
It is what it is.
I came across a video by Dove about women and their self-perception that expands on my point perfectly. Even though we all put ourselves down about our looks, others will always see us in a better light.
A forensic artist draws a woman's face as she describes it (she's hidden behind a screen). Then a stranger describes her to the same artist, who draws a second image. The woman then gets to see both drawings side by side. The results are quite moving.
Watch the 3 min video here.
Our brains are wired to look for the negative (focusing on and amplifying the things we believe are "bad" and ignoring the "good"). So we all need to work doubly hard to be notice beauty in the world. And in ourselves.
The only answer is to accept ourselves, warts and all. Because others don't really notice our warts anyway. They're focusing on their own warts. Their own dramas.
And when people spend time with us, what they really see is the person inside. Our real beauty within. And true friends really love us for it. And reflect it back.
I also found this 2 minute video showing an alternative view, this time with men. I love the irreverent way that people take emotionally-laden stuff and just turn it on its head.
And it reminds me that I, too, can choose to take myself a little less seriously ....
"... Outstanding in the field of self understanding, freedom and expression ..."
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