How we see ourselves plays a crucial role in shaping our lives. Our self-perception can either inspire us to greatness or hold us back from achieving our potential. It can have a positive effect or a negative one. It can empower and encourage growth, or act as a tool to destroy and sabotage everything in our path.
A positive self-perception is usually accompanied by healthy levels of self-confidence. This allows us to experience that spark or excitement when we decide to do something new. It can be the same ‘Eeeeeee’ feeling we have when we go on a first date. When we see ourselves in a positive (not perfect) way, we are more likely to believe in our own ability and draw on what we know, to help us achieve. Our self-awareness is increased and we acknowledge and embrace our strengths and our weaknesses and are motivated to learn and grow.
When we see ourselves in a positive way we are energised and more motivated to reach for our dreams.
It is only natural that our self-perception will vary across different areas of our life. We might believe we are a great employee or worker but not such a great partner.
Most of the challenges arise, however, when we see ourselves in a negative light across the majority or all areas of our life. Self-doubt moves in and we set limiting self-beliefs telling ourselves, ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I can’t do it’, or, ‘I don’t deserve …’.
I have spoken to addicts who have taken this one step further creating a compelling story in their heads that their addiction is who they really are. Part of this is self-justification for not being ready, or wanting, to do what it takes (the process) to kick the habit (the result). Another part is the extreme lack of self-worth that comes with continually feeling the need to numb themselves from pain previously experienced, or avoiding a part of themselves they don’t want to know. Either way, let’s be clear, no one wakes up and decides ‘I think I’ll be an addict…’
When we don’t feel good about ourselves we can’t feel good about others. When we don’t feel love for ourselves, we can’t feel love for others.
When we don’t believe we are entitled (or worthy) to achieve or succeed, never mind having a wonderful fulfilling life surrounded by people that love us, we don’t even bother dreaming. Perhaps this is the saddest part of all.
Sociologist Charles Horton Cooley said the following:
When you wrap your head around this, you quickly realise “that this traps us in a perception, of a perception, of ourselves“. Our identity is created by what we think others think we are (or should be).
If I think you think I’m stupid, then I feel stupid. If I think you think I’m smart, then I feel smart. If I think you think I’m worthy, then I feel worthy.
Unfortunately and often what we think others think, couldn’t be further from the truth.
As humans, we meet people and tend to associate with those that are most like us. We’ve probably all heard the saying ‘If you want to be a millionaire, spend time with millionaires.’ The same logic can be applied to anything. If you want to be an elite athlete then spend time with elite athletes, you want to be a successful business owner then spend time with successful business owners.
There is not enough importance placed on the value of opening ourselves up to new role models, new experiences, and new ways of thinking and being.
For those who have been playing a self-limiting, self-sabotaging record in their head for most of their life it can be difficult to distinguish reality from perception. They have told themselves the same story for so long, that they truly believe it and further believe it is not possible to be any other way.
And so, for those that perpetually live in that echo chamber or that bubble, getting what they truly want is impossible.
So, what if you want to find purpose, master the mind, or just be happy? Surely the first step is exposure.
- Opening ourselves up to new and unique experiences (and role models),
- Embarking on a journey of self-discovery and
- Having a focus on dedicated observation of ourselves.
You can’t be what you can’t see. We can’t know where we’re going if we don’t know where we are right now.
And without new experiences we don’t know what something else looks like, feels like, or what it takes to have it, never mind whether it’s something we truly want or not.
Dalya xx 💙