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Live for yourself

Live for yourself
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Surround yourself with people who celebrate your strengths, not your weaknesses Many people have pre-conceived images about themselves that are...

Surround yourself with people who celebrate your strengths, not your weaknesses

Whenever I meet someone, I feel that the person would get bored in my company. I get tensed thinking how do I make them feel happy about meeting me. I guess that my face doesn't show a normal expression when they see me. They observe my face and move away from me. Help me to deal with this?

- Vijaya, Warangal

Don't be too dependent, don't be addicted, don't live for someone else. Don't give someone all your emotions... else you risk that one day of misunderstanding, a manipulation or just the script of time will hurt you.

Always have time for yourself.

“Always live for yourself” - Dr Hemant Mittal

It seems that you are preoccupied with your poor self-image and all your issues are mostly related to that. In any meeting or conversation, people do not look for specific aspects like body language or facial expression. In fact, people just want an interesting dialogue. The language, content etc., also make an impact. But you are more conscious about one particular aspect like your facial expression or body language, this preoccupation itself may result in uninteresting conversation and in turn lead to boredom.

Basically people with negative self-image don’t like themselves much. They find flaws in themselves and feel ashamed, embarrassed and even angry towards themselves.

Many people have pre-conceived images about themselves that are different from reality; otherwise known as a self - image problem. This incorrect image of your looks is loaded into your mind as soon as you meet a person. At this point you might start to think of your looks in terms of the image that you have in your mind and you think that the other person won't like you because you are not good looking while in reality your looks may be much different than this self conceived notion!

Sometimes an individual perceives himself/herself as ugly even when others see them as beautiful. This anxiety compels them to experiment with their looks to change that and eventually that may result in sad outcomes. Recently a renowned actress Anushka underwent cosmetic surgeries and dermatological treatments which played havoc on her natural beauty.

How does the problem orginate?

The problem of negative self image has its origin during the childhood of the person. If a child repeatedly received negative or faulty criticism about self from elders or other significant people these words would cause the child to develop the same image about himself/herself.

According to Ryan Howes, PhD, psychologist, writer and professor in Pasadena, California, “Deep down we’ve all constructed an idea of who we ‘should’ be: how we should look, act, think, feel and be regarded by others.” Not meeting these “shoulds” can have a negative impact on self-esteem.

According to a new study by researchers at Bradley Hospital, Butler Hospital and Brown Medical School adolescents with negative body image concerns are more likely to be depressed, anxious, and suicidal than those without intense dissatisfaction over their appearance, even when compared to adolescents with other psychiatric illnesses.

A healthy body image in childhood can lay the foundation for good physical and mental health later in life. Unfortunately, an unhealthy body image in childhood can have long-lasting consequences.

What causes poor body image?

Many factors like criticism (friends poking fun of you or often criticised by elders), incorrect evidence (I am worthless because one doesn’t say ‘Hi’) and Media (showing unrealistic models and concepts) develop poor self image in adolescents.

There are many forms of negative thoughts which reinforce and maintain negative body image. Some of these include:

  • All or no thinking - where it's 100% - or nothing at all. All or no thinking is thinking in absolute terms; For example - "All of my friends are gorgeous, and I look awful".
  • Selective attention - this is a biased thinking, where you pay attention to things that support your negative view of yourself.
  • Discount the positive - If you get a compliment from someone, you discount it, "they don't mean that, they're just saying it because they feel sorry for me".
  • Mind reading - You somehow convince yourself that you know what other people are thinking.
  • Negative belief systems - Belief systems are the root cause of negative thoughts which occur in everyday life.

Some examples of belief systems that can cause negative body image are:

  • Only charming people can create interesting conversations.
  • Only fair complexioned people are loved by all.
  • Others do not like my company because I can’t talk properly.

Dealing with poor self -image:

  • Deal with dysfunctional thinking - Addressing corrosive thoughts play a critical role. Focusing only on failures and developing self doubts repeatedly can result in low self esteem. Strategy for this is to investigate the thoughts for accuracy.
  • What evidence supports my thinking?
  • Would others say, is this true about me?
  • Does feeling this way make me feel good about myself or bad about myself?”

This also includes replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. Create and use factual and meaningful self - statements.

  • Work on improving yourself: No one is more conscious of your physical appearance and your body language than you. When you look good, feel satisfied about your methods it changes the way you carry yourself and interact with other people. Discover and learn good body language. Be open to feedback, evaluate yourself and change accordingly. Practice good posture.
  • lCreate visual cues: Visual cues provide perspective and help you curb negative self-talk says psychologist Serani. For instance, she suggested leaving positive notes around your house and keeping inspiring quotes on your desktop. Stay alert and fight negative self talk.
  • Redefine failure and keep trying: When you have low self-esteem, it’s common to think of yourself as a complete and utter failure. But failure is a part of success, and failure doesn’t characterise you as a person or determine your self-worth.
  • Soothe yourself: many psychologists emphasise the importance of nurturing yourself. Feed your mind, body and soul in ways that make you feel special. Celebrate your smallest achievement. Discover and pursue your passion. Make a list of ‘why I like myself’!

Seek positive support:

“Surround yourself with people who celebrate your strengths, not your weaknesses,” says psychologist Serani. Doing so not only feels good, but it also “helps solidify positive thinking,” she said. Many experts say that meaningful and supportive relationships and real face to face interactions help a lot.

  • Remove your negative self - esteem: Ignore any and all destructive criticism or insults, including any from your past. Your opinion of yourself is the most important opinion of all, because you know yourself better than anyone else. Create daily affirmations and gain confidence with small steps. Learn to appreciate and reward yourself.

  • Don't worry about being ‘perfect’: Aiming for perfection in life is harmful because the term means different things to different people. Nobody is perfect in the eyes of everyone else. Instead, seek to achieve goals.

Be relaxed. Enjoy the company of others. Don’t think about your expressions or body language. Learn new ways to communicate and accept yourself. You are what you are. Never be harsh on yourself. Everybody is perfectly imperfect. Good luck!

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