By Zara Maqbool
Since my three years in the field of counseling most of my clients, peers and students who I have come across find accepting and loving themselves the hardest. Its so natural to judge ourselves for everything ranging from how we look which none of us pause to think was not in our control to start with or for what we have achieved in life or simply any small or big choice we make. The internal critic is so actively putting us down and not allowing any space to love ourselves or even accept ourselves for who we are.
The recent death of Sridevi made me immensely sad at many levels but primarily after hearing that she had been a person with very low self-esteem and had been harming herself by exposing herself to different weight reducing medicines and getting plastic surgeries done, really made we wonder if beauty lies in the eye of the beholder or its our own eyes that refuse to recognize our own external and internal beauty. It felt so sad that such a pretty and talented woman was so unhappy. I read articles stating that its the society which made it tough for her and left her no choice but to work hard in maintaining her looks. But I don’t agree because I feel its her own eyes that refused to accept herself or refuse to see how beautiful she was in spite of how she looked physically.
As parents, we actively work on making our children learn to respect and love others and all the time most of us are conditioning our children to have an external locus of evaluation. But we end up missing such an important point that unless we teach them to love their own self-first, accept and tolerate it, how it can be translated to others in a genuine way. A client of mine with extra ordinary beauty and brains sat before me crying her heart out on how she hated herself and no one can relate to why she would feel like that as apparently she seemed perfect. But she told me how her mother always wanted her to be perfect and driven by the need to get her mom’s acceptance all the years of taking care of her physical looks and excelling in other things in life still did not get her acceptance by the perfection driven mother or by herself. She still feels she is “not enough.”
If this is not cruelty by parents, I don’t know what is. But now as adults, we have to actively practice self-acceptance and love. Take time out and talk to whom you see in the mirror every day for 5 minutes. Tell this person you love her or him and say the words out loud every day till you start believing them. ‘I am okay and perfect just because I am.”
Before I could be empathic and accepting of others as a counselor, I tried to give this unconditional positive regard to myself first. I stopped judging myself for everything that went wrong around me and told myself that I am not responsible for making this world a perfect place. As a wife and mother, I am not the same person anymore. Now if the lunch gets a little late because I got home late from work I don’t allow the internal critic to start shaming me for being a poor homemaker but I simply tell myself, ‘I am ok and doing the best that I can.’
Let’s stop blaming others for making us feel the way we feel and build our own internal resources that externalizes the internal critic for good and make us love and accept ourselves for just who we are!