Do You See Yourself the Way Others Do?

By on July 1, 2011

By Linda Menesez, M. S.W., L.C.S.W.–

How do you see yourself? Do you judge yourself harshly – or with acceptance and pride? Does the way you see yourself match with how others see you?

I ask these questions because of something that happened the other day. I met with a small group of friends, who are also local businesswomen. Just before we were ready to end our time together, one of the women leaned over to give a compliment to another. Let’s call the one woman Sally, and the other Vicky. Sally turned to Vicky, and said, “I really admire how you ______” (To provide privacy, I’ll leave this part blank). Vicky seemed to not be able to take this in. Instead of saying, “Thank you, Sally,” she gave her own negative view of what she had done. The rest of us all sat there feeling very surprised at how judgmental and self-critical Vicky was about something we saw as being very positive. We assured her that her view wasn’t how we saw it. She looked a bit confused, but took time to digest this new piece of information. Hopefully, it will help her begin to see herself in a kinder, more accepting way.

It brought up the idea for all of us about the possible difference between how we see ourselves, which creates an image of how we think others see us, and then the reality of how they really do see us. We have all created certain stories in our minds of how things are, based on our world view! We accept whatever we’re thinking as being real and true. What if our perception has us way off base, though? My friends and I agreed that we wanted to explore this further the next time we get together.

If we see ourselves as somehow being defective, or not what we think we should be, that’s how we believe others see us too. Our inner critic begins to work overtime! Because we’re judging ourselves harshly, we make an assumption that others are also finding fault with us, and with our actions. Can you see how this kind of thinking can get in the way of all kinds of relationships, whether business or personal?

Our inner critic is so subtle! It often speaks in such a hushed voice that we might not be aware of it at a conscious level. It can become debilitating if allowed to continue unchallenged. Over time, as we hear its constant negative messages, it becomes all too easy to start believing them. We may hold back, unwilling to risk moving forward. Afraid to take a chance on making mistakes, we stop growing. Our steps begin to falter. If we lack the confidence to do the things our hearts desire, we become frustrated and resentful. In our frustration, we often begin to pull away from those very people and experiences that we want and need the most in our lives.

Having a close friend, or small group of friends, who are able to openly engage with each of us, can provide us with a different framework from which to view ourselves. A negative self-image can become dislodged if we’re willing to step out of our comfort zone, and begin to honestly connect with others from our true-self.

It doesn’t help us, or help the world, for us to live small! We each have gifts within us, which we’re meant to share with those who might need them. Please don’t block your own light. With the help of a friend or two, you can begin to let it shine! You’re unique and special just the way you are. So step forward and celebrate you! It’s never too late to live from your own authentic self!

Linda Menesez, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.: I’m a Santa Barbara counselor, helping busy people learn ways to lower their stress and improve their overall quality of life. I specialize in empowering women, who focus too much on the needs of others, to recognize the value of self-care and nurturing for better mind, body, and spirit wellness. Her website: http://www.counselinginsb.com/.

About Linda Menesez

Linda Menesez, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.: I’m a Santa Barbara counselor, helping busy people learn ways to lower their stress and improve their overall quality of life. I specialize in empowering women, who focus too much on the needs of others, to recognize the value of self-care and nurturing for better mind, body, and spirit wellness. Her website: http://www.counselinginsb.com/.

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Do You See Yourself the Way Others Do?