Last year, a company created the video below titled “Loving Ourselves the Way We Love Others is Beautiful.” The premise behind it was to ask people what they love about themselves and then ask people what they love about someone else. As you can see, the result if that people didn’t hesitate to answer when they were asked what they love about someone else. But they struggled to list qualities about themselves that they love.
Why is it that other people see us differently than we see ourselves? It all boils down to how we form and maintain our perception of self. As we move through childhood into adulthood, we create personal narratives, stories that are woven into the fabric of who we are and how we interact with the world. These stories are influenced by everyone in our lives—teachers, friends, family, colleagues and significant others—but we aren’t fair to ourselves in how we process this information.
Unfortunately, we tend to recall and dwell on negative moments more than the happy ones. Praise is fleeting, but we keep negativity alive by ruminating on our worst moments. This habit affects our self-esteem.
Of course not all our narratives are negative or harmful, and—more good news—we can change our stories, especially if we step back and look at ourselves through the eyes of people who know us well.
Does the person you think you are match the person your friends, family, colleagues and others think you are? Let’s find out.
Adjust Your Perspective
Make a list with two columns. What are your best qualities? What do you love about yourself? Write those down in one column and then, in the other column, think about how others see you. What would they list as your strengths? You’re the only person who is going to see this list, so don’t be shy. But do be fair and honest with yourself.
Once you’ve finished both columns, compare the lists. Are there any discrepancies? If so, why? Are you holding onto stories about yourself that aren’t true, complete, fair or constructive?
We have thousands of thoughts every day. (Some claim we have as many as 70,000.) That’s a lot of chances to lift your self-esteem or crush it, so try looking at yourself through the eyes of others—and focus on their positive view of you.