Whether it’s fleeting self-consciousness or paralyzing anxiety, once the balance of power between self-perception and reflected self-perception begins to shift in favor of the reflected, we begin venturing ever closer to the edge of a slippery slope. The onset is triggered when healthy reconsideration gives way to crippling self-doubt. Thoughts begin to manifest themselves as an undermining inner voice that represents the part of us that has turned against ourselves. It longs to rob us of our joy and enthusiasm, to break our spirits, and turn us into fundamentally one-dimensional people. It goes without saying that this is a true testament to human complexity and the innate ability we have to create and maintain obstacles in our lives as a means of self-sabotage. I’ve come to think of that inner voice as the enemy within. More often than not, we tend to be our own worst enemy and harshest critic. It is so easy to see the beauty in everyone around you, yet impossible to acknowledge that any exists within yourself. I always find it amusing when someone catches me staring at myself in a mirror and accuses me of being vain or narcissistic. Despite what may seem like egotism and conceit to an outsider looking in, my purpose for doing so couldn’t be any more to the contrary.
The desire to improve one’s self aesthetically, or otherwise, is what I believe to be an inherent and inescapable part of the human condition. However, there is a fine line between self improvements and unhealthy obsessions. Sadly, most people will spend their entire lives balancing on the precipice of an endless downward spiral. Even sadder still, a great deal of them may lose their footing at one point or another and, in doing so, themselves.
In a perfect world we would learn to just accept who we are and value our imperfections as much as we do our perfections. We don’t really live in a perfect world though do we? In reality, we exist in a state of perpetual war against ourselves. It’s a purely psychological battle being waged internally with no clearly defined enemy. A swami once said: “The hardest enemy to fight is the one who has outposts in your head.” It is only when there is no enemy within that the enemies without cannot hurt you.
I’ve often heard people attribute their lack of self-confidence to society and its arbitrary standards of beauty. They allow those standards to completely define their value as human beings. We tend to forget that the way we think of ourselves sets the standard for others. If a person’s self-worth is hinged on what other people think of them, and they live only for their reflection as seen in the eyes of others, then they are doomed to a life of emotional disruption and dysfunction.
In the end it all comes down to a single truth. Your worth can only come from one place and that is from within yourself. Thinking you are worthy, makes you worthy. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. Tell yourself that, and then remember that you are the beholder. Challenge yourself to find beauty where others have not, including in yourself. Don’t be surprised when after you’ve discovered it, others also begin to take notice. That, after all, is the beauty of love…it grows.