How do you see yourself?
Maybe you think you are loving and empathetic but a bit too impatient?
Perhaps you feel that you’re driven and ambitious but scatter-brained and disorganized.
Have you ever considered why you see yourself the way you do? If you reflect on it, you’ll likely conclude that how you see yourself has a lot to do with how you think others see you.
Those others could be your boss, the media, your parents, your spouse, your siblings.
But really, what do they know?
You know more about you than anyone else. Yet we let how we see ourselves, our self-image, be dictated by others' opinions of us.
The thing is, how you see yourself matters A LOT. It influences what kinds of jobs you take, what you buy, who you spend time with and how you spend your time among many other things.
How you see yourself dictates how you create your life.
There are many inside-out ways to change your self-image. You can work on re-framing your thoughts, behaviours and actions.
But for today, I want to focus on the outside-in ways we can change how we see ourselves…
When my late husband initially became ill in 2007, his parents and I basically lived in the hospital for four months straight. We went to a house we had rented to change and rest but came right back. We ate most of our meals at or near the hospital.
When I first arrived in the city where my husband had become ill, I’d brought one suitcase. I had no idea what to pack but because I worked in the fashion industry I somehow combined summer dresses and light cardigans along with my jeans and hoodies. For most of the early days in the hospital I stuck with a jeans and hoodies uniform. After all this was a serious situation. My husband was sick and it was not the time to care about how I looked. Of course, my heart wouldn’t have been in it anyway.
But after about a month there, an aunt of my husband came to visit. I lamented to her that I hadn’t packed properly - I had a few jeans and hoodies but then all these summer dresses that I couldn’t and didn’t want to wear.
Her response surprised me (at the time). She said, “Kena, why don’t you wear your dresses? You’re allowed to feel good.”
The next day I put on a dress and headed into the hospital.
While I might not have felt quite “good”, I definitely felt better. I felt more myself. I felt a little more confident when speaking with the doctors. I felt a little bit lighter.
I saw myself differently too. I saw myself as a woman who was grounded in herself despite the storm around her. I saw myself as a woman who knew that what we were all going through was temporary (one way or another) and that what was important was that I showed up for myself, making it easier for me to show up for my husband and family.
All because I put on a dress instead of sweats.
There are three main external things that can affect how we see ourselves:
- What we wear (our style)
- Our immediate environment
- The people we spend time with
Sometimes we think we need to change how we see ourselves first before we feel comfortable making an external change. But as Kristen, a woman in my group pointed out, think about what happens when someone goes through an external transformation like on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy or my personal (now long gone) favourite, What Not to Wear (I miss you Clinton and Stacy!). Making a change on the outside can change how we feel about ourselves on the inside.
This week in Be All You Are (my group program) I challenged everyone to take an action towards raising their standards in one way across these three areas.
For example, this could look like booking a manicure appointment (or making a standing monthly appointment!), finally tidying your desk and adding some fresh flowers and making a coffee date with that inspiring person you keep serendipitously running into.
I’d like to give you the same challenge.
How will you increase your standards thereby elevating your self-image across your style, your environment and the people you spend time with this week?
Let's start taking back how we see ourselves.
Kena Paranjape, Founder, All You Are
PS. We are on Week 5 of my Group Program, Be All You Are. Inside a warm, safe, non-judgemental environment we work on stepping into our individual authenticity, creating a life that feels in alignment with who we are and opening ourselves up to unlimited possibilities.