Loving Yourself: Why It's Harder Than it Sounds
Have you ever noticed how little children are so proud of themselves for doing the smallest of things? They can get extreme joy out of putting on their own clothes, feeding themselves, or taking a few steps. They are constantly celebrating themselves, and why wouldn’t they? Good parents realize the importance of building esteem in young children, so they readily praise them for their accomplishments, regardless of how small they may be. How many times a day does a parent praise a young child? “You’re so smart.” “You’re so pretty.” “Good Job.” “I love you.” It would be pretty hard to keep track. From this constant positive feedback, children learn to praise themselves, even outside of the presence of a parent.
But once they get older, and start to adopt the dominant views of society, that constant celebration can quickly become constant criticism. Those childhood victories give way to doubt and insecurity as they begin to learn that it’s not normal to like yourself that much. That statement may sound harsh, but think about it. How many people like themselves in their entirety, warts and all? And how easy is it to like yourself entirely when you’re constantly bombarded by messages telling you what isn’t right, what you shouldn’t like, how you should look, and how you should think? After a while, self doubt and criticism become a normal part of your daily routine: Get up in the morning, take a shower, complain about your flaws, and go on with your day.
The prescription drug companies represent a billion-dollar industry that makes its every dime from convincing people that there’s something wrong with them. Want to lose weight? Want to gain weight? Want to sleep more? Want to sleep less? Want to think more clearly? Do you think too much? Want to relax? Want to get focused? Are you sad? Too happy? Too tired? Too energized? The list goes on. While some people do have serious medical and psychological problems, others are merely looking for quick fixes for their insecurities. Studies have shown that some placebos have been just as affective as actual medication. Why is this? It’s because it’s not the medication that always solves the problem. It’s what the medication represents. These little brightly-colored pills represent happiness, and for some people, the idea itself is enough to solve their problems.
The placebo effect proves just how strong our minds are. People heal themselves of their ailments just by believing. Just as positive thoughts promote healing, negative thoughts create sickness, the same sickness that causes eating disorders and cosmetic surgery obsessions. If nothing else, cosmetic surgery has taught us that, whatever our physical flaws are, there’s a doctor with a knife ready to fix them. Like medication, cosmetic surgery can be helpful at times. Some people have extreme physical defects that need to be fixed, but others use it to infuse themselves with a superficial sense of self esteem. So many of us don’t know how to accept and embrace our uniqueness and "flaws." We just know how to chase a false image of perfection. We pursue scripted, computer-generated, hand-drawn, representations of what we think we should be, forgetting that perfection is reserved only for the Creator, and that our flaws are what make us beautifully human. It is that pointless pursuit that creates and intensifies our insecurities.
As we worry and complain away the years, we forget to acknowledge our greatness.Your penetrating eyes, your brilliant smile, that full head of hair, your cute feet, your wonderful mind, those dancer’s legs: Whatever it is that you like about yourself, cherish it. Chances are, if you’re like many other people, you don’t spend nearly as much time thinking about your positive qualities as you do the negative ones. This over-concentration on the negative paints a skewed mental picture of who we are and what we look like. These pictures can be toxic to our self images and thinking. I’ve seen lots of older people look at pictures from their youth and remark on how good they used to look. When I hear that, I can’t help but think if they thought they looked that good at the time, or if they were like many of us nowadays and focused on the negative even then. It’s a shame when you don’t notice your beauty until it’s gone. Realize and accept it now. If you feel you need to make some healthy personal appearance changes, make them, but don’t define yourself by them. Physical beauty is temporary, but beauty that emanates from your spirit is lifelong.