In my mind there are three kinds of people when it comes to self image. There are those who think they are better than they are, there are those that see themselves pretty much as they are and those who see themselves as less than who they are.
The ones with too high of a self esteem tend to believe they, their skills and talents are much greater than they really are and as such are more valuable than others. This most likely can be so for a number of reasons. They might honestly believe they are better than others. They might also be insecure and use it as a means of protecting themselves or to make themselves feel better or more important or lastly as a façade hoping to gain acceptance or an advantage.
I believe there are pros and cons to having such a self image. From a positive standpoint, having a well or over developed self image might actually enable the individual to achieve things they might not otherwise be able to. Their apparent high self esteem and positive self image might make them appear to be a better candidate in a job interview as they would appear well suited to advancement and taking on new and difficult challenges. People who surround themselves around that person might feel like they have their proverbial shit together and as such would the cool ones to hang around. They are also the ones who usually end up running things.
From a negative standpoint, they might simply be self absorbed, selfish or egotistical individuals or not truly the person they purport to be. In addition, as they have often overstated their abilities they might not be able to back up their talk and be able to walk the walk so to speak.
Those that see themselves pretty much as they are and how others see them are a pretty rare breed indeed. They are as they say, “what you see is what you get” folks. They are comfortable in their own skin and honest about their shortcomings as well as their gifts and talents. They generally make good, honest and loyal friends and should be trusted.
These individuals are probably not the ones who end up running big businesses or the world for those very reasons and generally aren’t the fiercest of competitors nor are they likely to be the biggest risk takers.
Those with either an under-developed or negative self image often discount their value or don’t feel they are capable of, or deserving of, greatness or success. Even though they may be very talented and capable, in an interview those things might not come across and they might be rejected even though they might be the best candidate. They might not also fulfill their potential as a result and still others may simply give up because they figure why bother.
Some, on the other hand might just be humble, self-effacing types who are afraid to boast, or they might also have come to be that way because of being degraded or discouraged along the way which has broken their spirit. Either way, other might not be able to discern the difference and try to take advantage of their apparent weaknesses.
Surprisingly though, in order to try and prove themselves to others, they often become fierce competitors and the type who try to overachieve.
As I take an honest assessment of myself I believe at times I have been all of the above for one reason or another. As a child coming from an abusive and negative home environment, I came away from it with a very poor self image. It left me feeling like I was a bit defective and not all that talented. As a result, I found myself always trying to prove myself which actually made me a fierce competitor. To mask my poor self image I compensated at times by acting like a bit of a know it all to the point of sometimes seeming cocky which both helped and hurt me.
Over time and after much self analysis and personal growth and maturity, I’ve found myself moving more towards the middle and have a much better overall self image and feel more comfortable with who and what I am. Along the way, I have fortunately received help and support from friends and family who have been honest with me about how they view me both from a positive and negative viewpoint. I also realize I will always struggle to a degree with my self image and that there’s always work to be done, which I believe is a good thing.
While I am starting to become more and more cognizant of my gifts and talents though, sometimes I still need to be reminded of them. With regards to my surfing, I know I surf pretty well especially at my age but as I generally surf with really good and much younger people I tend to often measure my ability with theirs which while I know isn’t great.
During a recent session with a great group of really good surfing buddies, My friend Donald said, “I don’t know if you realize it but you are not your everyday surfer. You are really good”. Donald’s comments though very positive and heart warming, came as a bit of a shock to me. After thinking about it though I finally came to the conclusion that he wasn’t just trying to be nice and that what he had said was true.
For years I was a professional snowboard instructor, and a lead one at that, but as most of my compatriots were younger than me and very talented, I tended to downplay my abilities. Last year, after a long absence from the slopes, I found myself struggling a bit with my form. It took me a while to regain it and as I thought about what I used to do on the slopes with ease, I finally realized I was in fact a really good snowboarder.
I guess the point to all of this is, (I know it often takes me quite a bit to get to the point and I apologize for it) it takes all kinds to run a world. We actually need all three kinds of people or we’d all be clones and the world most likely wouldn’t run as well or as interesting.
Bottom line though, it’s important to be at peace with who and what we are and accept our gifts and talents. It’s even more important though to be true to ourselves and always trying to learn, grow and be the best us we can be and most of all not sell ourselves or others short or be judgmental of others.
Thanks for checking in and I Hope you have a great week.