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Many of us are plagued by a nagging sense of inferiority. This erosive feeling is especially prominent in our twenties and thirties.
As we look into the mirror each day, we see faults in our facial structure. Our noses are too big. Our eyes are too widely spaced or too narrowly set. Our hair is thinning or graying. The color isn’t quite right. Our skin is blemished. We are too short or too tall, too fat or too thin. We aren’t as smart as we’d like. A few more IQ points would be helpful. Or, our memories aren’t as good as others. We haven’t accomplished our goals and lack the money our siblings or friends are making. We don’t manage our time well. We aren’t as athletic as others. The list goes on...
These “inadequacies” create a sense of inferiority. We feel less than whole, flawed, and discontented.
One of the things I’ve learned in life is that with age, all these things become less and less important. We begin to overlook them, ignore them, or, better yet, just forget about them.
As a result, we become more and more comfortable with our bodies and who we are, what we have accomplished in life, or what we haven’t managed to complete. We begin to live life more fully, less encumbered by those things that burdened us for many years.
Part of the reason for mellowing out about our “faults” such things is that we become resigned with the fact that we can’t change them, so why worry about them?
Another reason is that we gradually learn that friends and loved ones — people who matter in our lives — rarely judge us as harshly as we judge ourselves. The faults that we think others will notice go unnoticed. If we treat others well — with love, respect, and kindness — they don’t care one bit about our supposed inadequacies. People are fundamentally more interested in the way they’re treated — loved, respected, admired, and so on — by us, not the fact that our eyes aren’t the perfect color or our hair is graying or we’re thirty pounds overweight and not a candidate for Mensa.
If you are suffering from chronic dissatisfaction with yourself, try fast-forwarding your mind to age 50 when none of this will matter anymore.
How do you do this?
One way is through internal dialogue: Simply remind yourself when you are feeling inadequate that it doesn’t matter. People that matter in your life will accept you for whom you are.
If you treat others well — with love, respect, kindness, appreciation, and admiration — you will receive those gifts in return from them, many times over. The way you treat others is a reflection of how you feel about yourself. The more you love, respect, appreciate, and admire yourself for who you are, what you have done, the adversities you have overcome, the more you have to give back.
In a previous blog, I suggested one path to a better you (and a better life) is to create a list of all the things you like about yourself. It may be difficult at first, especially if you have been hypercritical of yourself for many years, but start it any way. Record your ideas down in a notebook, then read them just before you go to bed every night. Ponder over them, just to let the reality sink in. Smile a little as you learn to love, respect, and admire yourself. This simple exercise has the power to slowly create a much happier, healthier, and fuller you.
Contributing editor Dan Chiras is a renewable energy and green homes expert who has spent a lifetime learning life’s lessons, which he shares in his popular blog, Dan Chiras on Loving Life. He’s the founder and director of The Evergreen Institute and president of Sustainable Systems Design. Contact him by visiting his website or finding him on Google+.