Saturday, May 14, 2011


     When the people who love us give us compliments, we seem to take them with a certain grain of salt, but when complete strangers make a positive observation, we walk a little taller and puff full of confidence for having been recognized. Why is that? It seems like it should be the opposite. If those who know us best think we are beautiful, particularly clever or stylish, intuitive, wise, or talented, that seems meaningful. They know us inside and out and see that we have unique-to-us positive features. And yet, we often discount that. We blow it off. We think to ourselves, "She has to say that," which, of course, she doesn't. But then, someone who doesn't know us at all comments that we are fit or strong or calm in a heated situation or look especially pretty or handsome and we think, ah-ha. I am fit and strong. I am pretty. I am handsome.
     And the opposite holds true as well. One quickly spoken negative comment from someone we don't know can pop our self-esteem bubble entirely and deflate us indefinitely. All the positive information we know and experience about ourselves is completely dwarfed by one small negative comment from an entirely unknown source.
     In all of this we give too much power to other people, and too much power to strangers in particular. It seems important to develop an honest opinion of ourselves, to know where our weaknesses lie, as well as our strengths, maybe most importantly our strengths... to know how we are intelligent, how we are beautiful, how we struggle and what inspires our growth; to know that when we feel good in our own skins we emit an energy which is attractive to others. And then, when anyone, whether they be familiar or unknown to us, comments on our energy or physicality, we can say internally, "Yes! Thank you! I feel good and it must show," or recognize that our edge or tension is spilling over and make the appropriate attitudinal adjustment.
     But we must not let others determine for us what is best for us, or who we are. We must not let them convince us of something we seriously doubt. It's the ultimate con job, and we do it to ourselves. Others are useful for heightening our awareness to our own internal state and the way it is projecting into the outside world, but that's it. The internal state is up to us.

I will thoughtfully consider all the feedback I receive today and be honest about my inclination to blow both the positive and negative commentary of strangers out of proportion. What matters most is that I know who I am.