Change How You Perceive Yourself
And Love Who You Are!
Dr. Michelle Kmiec, Founder OHH
We are our own worst critics, and this generally stems from distorted and negative self-perceptions. In hopes of protecting ourselves from “ridicule” and the “judgments” of others, we try to cover-up what we believe to be our personal flaws. We also attempt to conceal our so-called imperfections so that we do not subject ourselves to them every time we encounter our reflection.
Over time, it’s easy to see how you could dislike the “you” that has developed over the years – the person you allowed yourself to become.
So what do I mean by that?
Often times, the way in which you feel about yourself is the result of what other people have told you. Whether intentional or not, their words may have left scars that have yet to heal, and this can affect your inner sense of well-being on many levels.
- Perhaps there was a bully that told you that you had big ears, and whether or not true, you held on to that belief and for decades made it your own. As a result, you may have chosen not to wear earrings or avoided a certain hairstyle you liked. Maybe you even wore hats so often that your closest friends wouldn’t recognize you if they saw you without one.
- Perhaps you were told that you have a ridiculous laugh. So over time, you began to laugh less and less, denying yourself the freedom and the pleasure of pure honest laughter.
- Perhaps you were told as a child, or even as an adult, that you are fat and ugly, and so today you shy away from social activities, and at times people in general.
It is extremely difficult to process words that are directed toward your character and physical attributes. It’s hard enough when it comes from strangers, but when these words come from those who you hold in the highest esteem and/or from those who proclaim love for you, these harsh words and judgments often result in a change of character and/or behavior because you allowed yourself to believe them.
After all, someone who cares for you certainly wouldn’t lie to you, right?
Then as times goes by, you find yourself holding others accountable for your many insecurities:
- You blame the bully for your low self-esteem
- You blame the stranger who said you had a ridiculous laugh
- You blame your parents for your weight issues
And though the opinions of others can indeed be hurtful, it is critical that you remember that they are simply just that – their opinions based on their perceptions. More importantly, are these individuals truly responsible for your self-doubts?
Remember, you always have the choice to accept or deny whatever is thrown at you, even words. The longer you hold onto the sentiments of others, the more difficult it is to experience the freedom required for optimal health.
Now it is time to let go of the judgments directed at you and change your perception of yourself to ensure lasting positive changes as you move forward in life.
With that said, let’s begin an activity that can help you not only love yourself again but also love your appearance!
Love Who You Are Activity
Along with a notebook or your journal, find a quiet and safe place where you feel secure and relaxed. Prepare to spend a few hours minimum. It’s important that you not rush these activities. Give yourself the time you really need to work through them. And lastly, have an open mind!
Begin by writing down ten physical characteristics of yourself that you believe to be undesirable – that you personally dislike or find embarrassing.
Start with what you consider to be the most significant and end with the least significant. For clarity, rate how you really feel about each characteristic on a scale of 1 – 5. (5 being the most displeasing.)
- I feel my laugh is annoying and too loud. I rate my laugh as a 5.
After you have noted ten physical characteristics you find dissatisfying about yourself, try to remember who (even if it was you) first made you aware of each attribute and under what circumstances.
- I remember clearly that it was that day in fourth grade when the class bully made fun of my laugh because he said, “I sounded like a donkey”.
Now it’s time to get to the bottom of how and why you feel the way you do so that you can finally let it go!
After you have established who brought these characteristics to your attention and under what circumstances, write down two emotions associated with each, and why you believe you have attached the particular emotions to the characteristics.
- I feel embarrassed by my laugh because it stands out and people look at me.
- I feel shame because only an ugly person could have such an ugly laugh.
Observe the physical characteristics that you have perceived as undesirable and come up with two positive attributes about them followed by positive emotions(s). Look at each of them individually and focus on the beauty and only the beauty. No matter what you initially feel, allow yourself to perceive the beauty.
- My laugh is unique to me as my fingerprint, and when I think of it that way I feel empowered and special.
- All laughter, including mine, is beautiful and if there is one thing we need more of in this world is laughter! And that makes me feel hope!
Lastly, go back and once again rate how you really feel about each characteristic on a scale of 1 – 5. (Remember a 5 is most displeasing.)
I have no doubt that your rating will much better!
Isn’t funny how over time, we sure do have a knack for overinflating so-called negative attributes about ourselves? But the good news is how relatively easy it is to turn it around to one that is more positive.
Now I don’t know about you, but doesn’t that feel so much better than the negative examples?
Furthermore, and more importantly, which sound more like the truth?
Remember, you can choose how you perceive your reality! So why not choose to change your perceptions of yourself and love who you are!
Here are a few questions to contemplate after completing this activity.
- How did you initially feel about focusing on physical characteristics that you perceive as less than desirable?
- What did you learn about the origination of your perception?
- How did it feel to change your perception and see only the beauty? Was this difficult for you, and if so why do you think that is?