Unlocking Beauty Within; Embracing Your True Self through Others' Eyes

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Self-perception and Perceiving Oneself

"It is good to see ourselves as others see us. Try as we may, we are never able to know ourselves fully as we are, especially the evil side of us. This we can do only if we are not angry with our critics but will take in good heart whatever they might have to say."

This lesson seems to continue to present itself lately. Self-perception and perceiving oneself as less than one truly is. This phenomenon is prevalent in today’s culture, often driven by societal pressures and unrealistic standards. The Dove Beauty Sketches campaign is a profound example of this, aiming to highlight how people tend to be overly critical of their appearances due to societal pressures and ideals of perfection. It focused primarily on women though this affects everyone, especially youth, who are learning to identify and define who they are. This campaign is such a great example of the experiences I’ve witnessed and been akin to lately. It emphasizes the importance of self-love, embracing individuality, and recognizing that everyone has their unique beauty. It raises awareness surrounding the harmful impact of the pursuit of modern perfection. This phenomenon can contribute to the development or exacerbation of various mental health issues.

The Beauty in us through others' eyes

The ways this pursuit can affect mental health, self-love and self-esteem:

    • Low Self-Esteem: Constantly underestimating oneself can lead to chronic low self-esteem. This negative self-view can impact overall self-worth and confidence. Making it difficult to engage in everyday activities and pursue personal goals.
    • Depression: Negative self-perceptions ais closely linked to depressive symptoms. Feeling inadequate, hopeless, and unable to meet societal standards can contribute to feelings of sadness, helplessness, and worthlessness associated with depression.
  • Anxiety: The pressure to conform to unrealistic ideals can create anxiety about one’s appearance, achievements, and social interactions. Constant worry about not measuring up can lead to generalized anxiety or specific anxieties, such as social anxiety or body dysmorphic disorder.
  • Eating Disorders: Unrealistic beauty standards can contribute to developing eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, or binge-eating disorder. Individuals may resort to extreme measures to achieve the desired appearance, leading to physical and psychological harm.
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD): Perceiving oneself as less attractive or flawed can contribute to body dysmorphic disorder, a mental health condition characterized by an obsessive focus on perceived physical flaws, even if they are minor or nonexistent.
  • Imposter Syndrome: Feeling like an imposter or fraud despite external evidence of competence can lead to constant stress, anxiety, and fear of being “found out.” Imposter syndrome can hinder personal and professional growth.
  • Perfectionism: Constantly striving for an unattainable standard of perfection can result in chronic stress, anxiety, and burnout. The fear of making mistakes or not meeting expectations can be overwhelming.
  • Social Isolation: Negative self-perceptions may lead to social withdrawal and isolation. Believing that one is not good enough to interact with others can contribute to loneliness and deteriorating mental well-being.
  • Self-Neglect: When individuals feel unworthy, they may neglect their physical and emotional well-being, further exacerbating mental health issues.
  • Negative Coping Strategies: Individuals may resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse or self-harm to deal with their negative self-perceptions and emotional distress.

Perceiving Ourselves as Less than We Truly Are

The tendency to perceive ourselves as less than we truly are can be a combination of psychological, social, and cognitive factors. Key reasons to be aware of why this can occur: 

  • Social Comparison: People often engage in social comparison, where they assess themselves about others. Social media platforms provide a constant stream of carefully curated images and lifestyles, leading to unfavourable comparisons and feelings of inadequacy.
Loving yourself as much as others
  • Unrealistic Standards: Society often promotes and glorifies unrealistic standards of beauty, success, and achievement. When individuals feel they fall short of these standards, they may develop negative self-perceptions.
  • Confirmation Bias: Our brains are wired to notice and remember negative experiences and feedback more than positive ones. This bias can lead us to focus on our perceived flaws and overlook the positive aspects of ourselves.
  • Inner Critic: Many individuals have an inner critical voice that magnifies perceived weaknesses and downplays strengths. This negative self-talk can erode self-esteem and lead to underestimating one’s capabilities.
  • Cognitive Distortions: Cognitive distortions, such as all-or-nothing thinking or magnification of negatives, can skew our perception of ourselves, making us ignore positive qualities and achievements.
  • Perfectionism: Striving for perfection can lead to a constant feeling of not measuring up. Perfectionism sets impossibly high standards that are nearly impossible to achieve, causing individuals to undervalue their actual accomplishments.
  • Imposter Syndrome: Many high-achieving individuals suffer from imposter syndrome, believing that their accomplishments are the result of luck rather than their abilities. 
  • Attention Bias: We tend to pay more attention to negative feedback or criticisms, which can overshadow positive feedback and reinforce a negative self-perception.
  • Cultural and Family Influences: Cultural norms and family dynamics play a significant role in shaping how individuals see themselves. If one’s upbringing emphasized self-doubt or downplayed achievements, it can contribute to underestimating oneself.

Overcoming Negative Self-Perception

Overcoming the tendency to perceive ourselves as less than we are requires self-awareness, self-compassion, and a shift in mindset. Some ways we can help address the issue:

  • Show and tell people how much you care: We all need a reminder now and again, to see ourselves in a better light. 
  • Media Literacy: Promoting media literacy and critical thinking can help individuals better understand and evaluate the images and messages presented in media, reducing the impact of unrealistic beauty ideals.
  • Promoting Diversity: Celebrating diverse beauty and showcasing a wide range of body types, ethnicities, ages, and abilities can help challenge narrow beauty standards and promote a more inclusive view of beauty.
  • Self-Compassion: Encouraging self-compassion and self-acceptance can help individuals develop a healthier relationship with their bodies and appearance.
  • Educational Initiatives: Schools and communities can implement educational programs that address body image issues, promote self-esteem, and provide resources for seeking help when needed.
  • Positive Role Models: Highlighting individuals who have defied conventional beauty standards and achieved success can inspire others to embrace their uniqueness and challenge societal norms.

Developing a balanced and realistic self-perception has many layers. Acknowledging strengths, practicing positive self-talk, seeking professional help (when needed), and surrounding oneself with a supportive and uplifting environment. Challenging negative thought patterns and embracing a more accurate and positive view of yourself can elevate you and your community. Small actions everyday change our world!

I have no affiliation or connection to DOVE unilever and is meant for informational purposes only.

The tools or information on this site does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the this Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call a professional.

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The views and opinions expressed in this blog are purely, and entirely, my own. I do not claim to be, nor make an effort to be, an expert on a certain topic, product, or service.  I will only endorse companies, products, and services I believe are worthy of endorsement, and serve to enhance the experience for my readers.  All product or service claims should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.



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Leigh Craig at river photo by Emmy @sadinthegarden

Leigh Craig

Certified C. Hyp. RTT® Hypnotherapist, Coach & Bioenergetics Practitioner.

Ever evolving imperfect human. A passionate seeker of knowledge, creator, writer, artist, herbalist, healer, entrepreneur and mother.

Leigh Craig @inviteyourpower © All Rights Reserved.