This article continues the subject begun last week, looking at areas where having a low opinion of yourself can really damage your chances of living a happy, healthy and fulfilled life. Please read it carefully and take seriously what it says. And don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Are you very concerned about your weight and your physical appearance? Are you constantly trying to change what you weigh and how you look? Why? Just to keep up with fashion (an interesting reason in itself) or because you believe that your present appearance is inadequate in some way, that it really damages your assessment of yourself or other people’s estimation of you? Do you judge other people solely on how they look? I doubt it. So why should they judge you on your appearance alone? Is that really how you judge yourself? Most of us were not born with the physique of a supermodel, and if you saw one without the clothes, the make-up, the hair-do and the air-brushing you might be shocked, and decide that this is not how you want to look after all. Not to mention the fact that if your bone structure makes you a 5’5” (1m 65cm) size 14 you cannot turn yourself into a 6’2” (1m 88cm) size 0. There are things about our appearance we cannot change, and somehow we have to come to terms with them.
Perhaps the problem stems from a casual or teasing remark made to you by someone whose opinion you valued when you were a child. Perhaps you are still haunted by a comment about the size of your nose or your feet, or the colour of your hair. The quality of your life doesn’t depend on these things unless you let it. And it is important to remember that definitions of beauty and acceptable appearance vary from time to time and from country to country – there is no universal standard. (A personal, trivial example: while my grandfather was offering to pay me to have all my hair cut off – it was long enough to sit on at that time – Italians in the village where I was staying were following me around stroking my hair and saying “Belli capelli! Belli capelli!” What right did any of them have to comment? Should I have taken any notice?)
If your problem with your appearance concerns your weight and is affecting your eating pattern then things could become more serious, even life threatening, and you cannot ignore what is happening to you. It is important that you seek professional help immediately, possible through your doctor or by getting in touch with Birmingham Counselling Services as the first step. This is not solely a problem with your appearance.
If any other concern about how you look is in danger of becoming an obsession please consider getting in touch with Birmingham Counselling Services so that one of our qualified and experienced counsellors can support you in working through this difficult issue.
Do you find that you frequently run yourself down to other people? Do you find it easier to talk about things you consider to be your failures than anything else about you? What are you doing – trying to ensure that they can’t form a good opinion of you? If so, what is going on? What is your fear? Are you so sure that they will despise and reject you in the long run that you are trying to make them do it from the beginning? Certainly the ability to laugh at ourselves can be an attractive quality, and most people don’t enjoy listening to a long boast about all the things we are good at, but there is a middle way. If you have a balanced view of your strengths and talents and the areas where you don’t shine, and you are able to be honest about yourself and with yourself, it has to be easier for you to make your way in the world and for other people to see you as you really are. Is that scary? Is that what it’s really about? If people have a low opinion of you when you have given them good reason that’s one thing. It’s quite another if they form a low opinion when you have let them see you more clearly.
A further thought – a self-deprecating sense of humour is fine, and it will stem from a secure sense of self, not a feeling of worthlessness.
If anything you have read, either this week or last, touches a nerve or rings a bell, please consider getting in touch with Birmingham Counselling Services. We have a team of fully qualified and highly experienced counsellors and psychotherapists, any of whom would be glad to support you as you look at this aspect of your life. You can get in touch with us via our website: www.BirminghamCounsellingServices.co.uk or by calling 0121 314 9903.