In your looks? In your grades? In the groups you’re a part of? All too often, we define ourselves by external factors such as how we look or what we do. We form our opinion of ourselves based on others’ perceptions of who we are and end up basing our worth on how well we measure up to cultural standards.
Deep down, however, we know that our identities extend far beyond societal circumstances. Who we are cannot be defined by external factors, but can only be found in our unique, internal character – that which far surpasses and outlasts a mere reputation. Though our bodies will age and our situations may change, the beauty of our intrinsic worth and value is imperishable.
After all, when we think of the people whom we love the most, we don’t dwell on their looks, their job, or their friends. Rather, the closer we are to them the more we appreciate their essence instead. Whatever outer flaws or imperfections our friends might have disappear altogether as we get to know them more and see their inner character for what it is.
While we overlook the outward circumstances of those we love, however, we don’t often allow ourselves this same grace. Instead, we focus on our reputations and let others’ opinions of us shape who we think we are and should be. Imagine how beneficial it would be though if we granted ourselves the same love that we give to our friends and sought to appreciate ourselves for all that we are – without comparison. Perhaps if we learned to celebrate the uniqueness of both ourselves and those around us, we would be reminded of how precious and beautiful each human life is – including our own.
As the writer Haruki Murakami put it, “A person learns how to love himself through the simple acts of loving and being loved by someone else.”
What is an area in which you know you don’t love yourself well? What can you do to begin to change that?