Perfect celebrities, athletes, and musicians adorning the covers of magazines may cause us to view ourselves in a negative light if we aren’t paying attention. First of all, the perfection in the magazines is flawless, in large part, because of computer software that softens and brightens the images. Thighs are thinned. Complexions are smoothed. Wrinkles erased. We set ourselves up for failure if we make a habit of comparing ourselves to this type of impossible standard. Comparing ourselves to others, in general, is a bad idea.
In my 20s I didn’t even realize it, but later discovered that I was in the habit of minimizing my good qualities and gifts from the Universe, and highlighting the desirable qualities in others. I would focus on the worst in myself and compare it to the best in others. I wasn’t seeing things accurately. No one is “all good” or “all bad.” Although I wasn’t even aware of what I was doing, I compared the beauty or intelligence or creativity of others against something in myself I didn’t like – focusing on imperfections in myself. I chased perfection and consistently ended up feeling empty and not good enough. I gradually learned how to tweak my self-talk, but in my 20s, my self-talk sounded something like this:
“Mary is so smart and pretty. I wish I were as good looking as she is. I’m 20 pounds overweight, and my hair looks awful,” or
“I’m no good with money. I will never be able to afford to buy my own home. Why can’t I be good with money like Karen is?”
I gradually learned to incorporate a more balanced conversation in my head. I was discovering the way to become my own loving parent. I was firing the critical parent who lived in my thoughts and brought in a kinder, more supportive parent to replace her. This is not just “positive thinking.” Straight positive thinking always feels like a lie to me and, therefore, does not help me. What helped me the more I practiced was to have a more realistic dialogue in my thoughts. Something like this:
“Yes, I do admire Mary’s beauty and intelligence. Those are wonderful gifts given to her by the Universe. Speaking of gifts, I’m grateful that I have the gift of empathy and the gift of being an excellent listener,” or
“Yes, Mary is truly beautiful. And so am I. I may not have the long, thin legs Mary has, but I have a nice smile that shows my true beauty and I really like my new haircut.”
Of course these are just examples of self-talk, but you get the idea, don’t you? It takes practice, but it works. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Your “self” needs you to speak kindly and gently on your behalf.