IF YOU DON'T LOVE YOURSELF...NO ONE ELSE WILL!
There is no body like you in the whole world, just that thought should make you very happy!
For centuries, society has been fed with all kind of books talking about how to regain your self-esteem, and indeed, some of these publications, have improved thousands of people's lives, snatching them from their “state of self pity” forever. However, low self esteem is not a disease that can be cured, instead it has been defined by studies as “a disposition that a person has, which represents their judgments of their own worthiness”.
In other words, people is convinced from birth, that “perfection” is directly related to the way they look and act, according to a “pre established” pattern, in order to fit in society. Once we become teenagers, and we have a lot more interaction with the real world, we become more and more aware of our imperfections, and more eager to fit in that pattern of perfection, in order to be accepted.
Someone, for example, that has been criticized, made fun of, and ridiculed since they were little kids by family members, will enter that “real” world, with an already weaken ego, easy to be manipulated and eventually subdued by others. Taking in consideration that self-esteem is the need for respect from others, and the need for self-respect or inner self respect, then it is a fact, that self-esteem has to be built up practically, as soon as we are born.
Carl Rogers, a highly recognized psychologist, states that "Every human being, with no exception, for the mere fact to be it, is worthy of unconditional respect of everybody else; he deserves to esteem himself and to be esteemed". And it is a fact that parents who encourage their kids to voice their own opinion freely and respectfully, and who teach them how to trust their own judgment through life, help them build up a stronger self esteem. Teaching our kids to believe in themselves is not an easy task though, especially if they have to interact with other people, in a daily basis.
They continuously receive messages, like a brainwash, about how the "perfect" woman or man look like: they have to be "beautiful", slim, and the description goes on and on. So whatever happened to the ones that might not be perfect but still are beautiful? The ones that are not slim, or maybe have different features than a Barbie or a Ken?
Self-pride should be solely based on the fact that we are all individually "unique". There are no two people alike, even twins have different features which make them identifiable, even if the resemble almost 100% physically.
Sometimes, for a parent keeping their kids from falling in this unfair "stereotyping" becomes a daily battle. My parents, for example, never made any differences among us. We were 6 sisters and one brother, and I was the oldest one of all. I always considered myself the ugly duck in the family. My sisters were beautiful, and me? Well, I was not very tall, I had thick glasses, acne, and a rebellious long hair.
The boys in the neighborhood were all after my sisters, and I didn't have my first boyfriend until I was 18 years old. My parents though, did everything they could to help me overcome my low self esteem: they put me on contact lens (as soon as they hit the market), they took me for nice hair do's all the time, and they kept encouraging me in every way they could.
By the time I was 23 years old, married and on my own, I felt like a sailboat in the middle of a terrible storm. I had all the tools I needed in life: a good education, I looked great, but I never felt like I did fit anywhere. Today, after 2 divorces, two children and three grandchildren, I still have that feeling sometimes. My parents did a great job with me, but I never really understood why I had to "correct" myself in order to be accepted by others, and be happy.
After reading many books, and self studying myself, I discovered that a person can build a strong inner self esteem, without needing continuous positive praising from others, in order to reassure self confidence. It takes a great knowledge of what we are capable to do, and what we are not. Accepting ourselves with all our virtues and defects, makes us stronger and wiser. I still vulnerable and fragile against criticism, but I have learned to take what I can use in a positive way to improve myself, and the rest? I just dispose of it.
THE OSTRICH SYNDROME
So, I wasn't "perfect", and no matter what I did in life, I was never beautiful, or slim, or "cool". I remember I used to isolate myself a lot. I was that kid trying to hide in a corner, while the others played at school, and the one who remained sitting down, grabbing a drink all night, while my friends danced and flirted with the guys. I was also the one who felt different, and very lonely. I could never compete with my siblings or my friends in popularity, however through the years, I was told by my few real friends that I was a very "special" person, strong and charming. The truth is that everyone has a different perspective of themselves, than the one others have of them.
I was watching a program on TV the other night, where an artist was painting portraits of people, based on the description that friends and family gave him of that person. Then he would make a portrait of the person, based on their own description (the artist couldn't see the person). As a result, the description made by the friends and family, was always more favorable, than the one taken from the person on the portrait. In other words, we usually see ourselves worse than anyone else.
Based on this fact, we tend to isolate ourselves from others, because we think we are ugly, or stupid, or worthless. We think that the less exposure we have to the world, the more protected we'll be from criticism, and therefore, the less hurt we'll get.
Like the ostrich, we hide the head under the ground so we won't see what is around us. However, we still exposed to criticism. It will get to us somehow soon or later! Through a comment from someone we thought did appreciate us, the media, or we will just look at ourselves in the mirror, all depressed, careless and sad, and we will get even more depressed.
Hiding is not the answer! According to Sigmund Freud: "The depressive has suffered an extraordinary diminution in his self-regard, an impoverishment of his ego on a grand scale....He has lost his self-respect".
LEARNED HOW TO ACCEPT AND LOVE YOURSELF
This is not an easy task, low self esteem develops a thick callus on our soul through the years. Besides, the fact that no matter how bad we want it, we don't look perfect as the world pretend us to be, doesn't help at all in the process of accepting ourselves. Secretly, we steel seeking for the other's acceptance, and the criticism is our worse enemy.
This is the time when we have to reflect. Instead of just holding an imaginary shield over our head against the world, we need to stop and make an honest examination of our abilities, virtues, physical features, and find out what really makes us feel good. Make a list of all these things, and in the other hand, make a second list of all your defects, and whatever you would like to be. Now, start scratching all those things you want to be, but that won't make any difference in your life for you to be truly happy. For example: you have small breasts, and you even thought once, to operate them and make them bigger to be more liked by men. Ask yourself: Is it really worth to do this? You need to think if you really want to have this operation, just to be happy with your own body, or just to please someone? There are other factor involved too, a breast enlargement also means more weight for your back, to wear certain clothes to adjust the size of your new breasts, and maybe even looking for a more comfortable position to be able to sleep.
If you are over weighted, which is a very common consequence of low self esteem, and if you are not happy with the way you look, don't lose the weight just because you want to look better for others, do it only if YOU WANT TO DO IT, and do not expect any positive praise from others. Do it for your health, do it because you feel that you might be missing activities you like, do it because you want to defeat obesity, but don't do it to please anyone. I learned through the years, that no matter how good you look, and no matter how bad you want to impress someone, they are never happy.
The only opinion you should really care about..it's YOURS!
If you are happy with yourself, then don't worry about what others think about you, and if you are not happy with yourself, then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
TEACH YOUR KIDS WHAT "PERFECTION" REALLY IS
Something I will always regret is, to have fallen for the "perfection" myth, when I was raising my kids. I always wanted them to be the best on everything, and I pushed them to the limit to make them successful. Now, I wonder if I really went too far. My daughter, for example, was always a beautiful little girl with an overweight problem. Trying to help her I kept her on a diet, and one of the things I remember, was a Halloween, when instead of giving her candy, I made her a funny face made out of all kinds of fruit. Years later, she did remember that, but not like a happy memory. I noticed how she never lost the weight, and sometimes I wonder, if maybe it was my fault, because instead of encouraging her to lose weight, I was just kept reminding her, that she had a weight problem.
Today, she is a very perseverant young woman and a great mom for her kids. I did teach her though, that being a good parent is not just giving them all they want, but teaching them how to face life in the future. Praising your kids all the time is good, but it creates a false sense of perfection, which is barely impossible to maintain in real life.
Make them also aware of their imperfections, teach them how to overcome them if possible, and if not, teach them how to accept them and use them to their own behalf. For example, my son was always a very strong young man, stubborn like me to the point, that he always had to have the last word. Today he is a State Attorney, he just addressed his stubbornness to the right career. My daughter never could make it to the cheerleader's team, but her strong character and kindness, turned her into the great nurse she is today.
I never considered myself a perfect mother, actually there were tons of things I wished I would have done differently with my kids, one of them is that leading to perfection is absolutely wrong! It is better to encourage them to do their best on whatever they do, and if at the very end they don't succeed anyway, at least they would know that they did everything they could. Sometimes, something are not for you, no matter how hard you try. That is just life.
Teach your kids to accept themselves for who they are, and not to live by what other people think about them. It is not worth! Remember, being different from each other, is what really make us beautiful. No one is perfect, and as a matter of fact, IMPERFECTION is what being humans is all about, is it not?