Today’s Insecurities Become Tomorrow’s Strengths
When we learn to love ourselves
What do you see when you look in the mirror?
If the first thing you notice is imperfections rather than the human staring back at you then your relationship with you needs work. Homing in on details prevents you from seeing the big picture, which is the whole person standing in front of you.
Because you are more than a zit on the chin, a forehead wrinkle, or a couple of gray hairs. Taking such a reductive view of yourself means you’re unlikely to be much kinder toward fellow humans. While the tendency to zero in on flaws can be helpful when dealing with products or copy, it promotes intolerance when applied to people. Everyone has moments when the vision in the mirror isn’t the most pleasing morning greeting.
If you’re anything like me, the reaction ranges from hilarity at what my hair can do overnight when left to its own devices to a wince of pain. Because my eyes look sad most of the time, an inevitable consequence of my current circumstances. But I never have anything less than curiosity and compassion for the mammal in the mirror.
Compassion means feeling another creature’s pain and seeking to remedy it.
When you genuinely want to help, you’re driven to find solutions, which is where curiosity comes from. Intellectual enquiry is the first step toward improvement and change. It is a habit worth developing instead of dismissing yourself or others based on arbitrary value judgments.
A zit on your chin doesn’t take anything away from your humanness any more than sad eyes do. And if you don’t know what to make of yourself because something has done away with your self-esteem — like mental illness or an unfulfilling relationship — ask a friend what they see when they look at you.
I was blind to my sad eyes for the longest time because I couldn’t voice the distress within during the five years I lost to major depressive disorder. It took a friend to point them out, and when they did, I was finally able to access all that I had repressed, and start figuring out how to supersede it all.
The best mirror isn’t always a reflective surface on the wall but other people.
Self-awareness is a prerequisite for self-love.
You need to know exactly who you are, darkness included, to be able to accept yourself. As what bothers you most, your insecurities are the building blocks of self-awareness. None of us are ever ignorant of those. Instead, they often take up considerable mental real estate.
An insecurity ceases to be a weakness the moment you acknowledge it.
Being naive for example means you’re vulnerable to being taken advantage of. Once you’re aware of this, you can make sure you systematically question others’ motivations to ensure you keep yourself safe. You can create a new habit to insulate yourself from the deleterious effects of this particular shortcoming. In turn, this new habit can help you build more self-confidence, which accrues the better you know yourself.
Self-love is a process, that of cracking yourself open and taking a long, hard look at what you find until you no longer shy away from or reject what bothers you. It is how you become wholly human and get to inhabit the skin you’re in with ease instead of reluctance. Self-love equates complete and unconditional acceptance of the person you are right now rather than who you were or who you would like to be.
The willingness to be honest with yourself is key.
Attempting to override your insecurities with tall tales won’t work.
You can’t remedy crippling imposter syndrome by suddenly declaring that you inspire yourself. Some lies are just too big to swallow and all that will do is make you feel more like a fraud, trapped in a prison of your own making. Lies dilute your sense of self rather than strengthen it, and they can also alienate your peers.
When you have no idea who you are, how can anyone else ever know you?
In an age of self-aggrandizing personal branding, much is being made of finding one’s authentic self. We are encouraged to embrace hubris and arrogance until we become our own superheroes, mighty and perfect in every way.
The path to self-love isn’t paved with lies or redacted narratives.
Having the humility to face up to who you are, warts and all, without seeking to conceal any of it is formative and can teach you how to open your mind.
And keep it that way.
Love is the greatest gift you can give yourself, one that ripples out to all those around you.
I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.