I have never been accused of having low self esteem, though it has occurred to me that because I share more of my inner world on this blog than people see in my daily life, I may seem to have lower self esteem than I actually do. Not that it matters, because the reality is all that matters, but if it is my intention to be useful or helpful by sharing my own experiences then I don't want to give inaccurate or imbalanced impressions. I wrote recently about my experiences accepting my body and I attempted to distill a lifetime (48 years) of experience, thoughts, strategies and conclusions into that one post. After, I wondered if what some people read there lead them to feel the need to tell me that my body is a good body and possibly even a better body than their own in some ways so I should not worry.
I can only say, Thank you, for the kind intentions, but don't do that to yourself. To some degree we could all do that. In everything we will be able to find someone who we can perceive as better than we are. And you know how that proverbial grass is always greener. There was a time in my life when I actually wished for a bigger bust and fuller arms. I even wished for a thicker waist. I thought I was skinny, unfeminine and badly proportioned. I can only laugh at that insanity as I got what I wished for and have not found it to be any better.
We may see others' features as perfect or flawless when of course they are not, or if they are close to it in one feature they will surely have one or two features they dislike. I have never met a person, male or female who didn't have at least one feature (s)he saw as flawed or undesirable. What matters is how much we focus on that. The strategy I tried to present was what works for me to shut down the negative words by retraining my brain to have a different thought. I don't try to convince myself I am beautiful or perfect but to replace "those arms are fat" with "I like those arms"
The person who those arms belong to, the person inside this body, I like very much. She is familiar and comfortable and I am at ease with her. She has strengths and she has flaws and I am comfortable with all of them even if I set out to grow and improve in some way. If asked to rate my self-esteem I would predict that it is average/adequate though not necessarily high. I think this is just fine. I am not convinced high self-esteem is a virtue and I know that my levels of self-esteem fluctuate in different areas. I think I do often have an attitude of humility which gets mistaken
for low confidence. I personally think that I am pretty awesome, but I
tend not to assume others think so. This does not translate to low self
esteem as much as to self sufficiency, though it also doesn't mean that
I don't appreciate being appreciated. If you are like this too, don't
let others convince that you have to become some sort of cheerleader
for yourself. We all have different ways of being.
I set the bar high in most things and am inclined to think that if I can
reach the bar then it was set too low. Again, I don't think this is
necessarily a bad thing. I don't beat myself up over it, I just keep
trying to get better and as a writer and artist I want to strive to improve constantly, but I don't want to get discouraged. That means I need a balance of satisfaction with my own work along with some dissatisfaction, some sort of desire to do it better next time. It is quite typical of me to to go back and forth feeling satisfaction in my work and then thinking no, it is crap, and then perhaps altering it a little and liking it again. If I didn't go through that process of thinking it is crap, I would not strive to improve it, and I would not really know if it could be made better or just different or if it works best as it is already.
Confidence vs Courage: These two look similar but are different internally, largely in how much or what type of thought goes into them. When you act with courage you have said to yourself, okay I've done this before or had some experience with this before, I know what to expect, I have some sort of plan of attack, so I can take this on. It will probably turn out okay and if not, I can survive that. Confidence is a bit more vague, more connected to thoughts such as, I'm awesome so I can do that. It is a belief in oneself, a faith, and the very definition of faith is belief without evidence. It is not a bad thing, but it may actually be more difficult to sustain. I am inclined to think that finding your courage is more long lasting. If you know that you have survived something before, or even thrived, you can take it on again.
One of my own personal strategies for taking on difficult things is to find a way to relate it to an experience I have already had and then using that, imagine the worst that could happen. I then figure out how I would cope with that worst thing. Once I have a plan or strategy in mind I can tackle the task much more easily.
We talk of body confidence but I wonder if what we really want is the courage to accept and like our bodies. Given that we live in a culture that tells us what the ideals are and points out to us how we don't live up to that, there is a risk that if we like ourselves anyhow, if we dare not to hide our flaws, we might be ridiculed, scorned, or disapproved of. Body confidence is the courage to cope with that. To learn to care less and hopefully not care at all. It is the courage to like yourself in an environment telling you that you are not likable. It is knowing there is no such thing as perfection and that we are all good enough and having the courage to act accordingly. I intend to aim for the courage to like my body as well as I like my non-corporeal self. For me, that has always been a little bit harder but I've come a long way.
Gratuitous cat photos: Naughty and Nice
Strategic use of cuteness to cover up for the naughtiness.