mmm....pond scum
April 23, 2009 7:31 AM   Subscribe

What does a healthy self-image look like?

My self-image, I've come to see, is warped, convoluted, and contradictory. At the same time that I genuinely feel I am the lowest of low, or, as Julia Roberts puts it, "well, lower the fungus that feeds on pond scum. Lower. The pus that infects the mucus that cruds up the fungus that feeds on the pond scum," I desire incessant praise, and constant reassurance, and even believe that I am deserving of everyone's adoration. Gah, I know, it's pathetic. And it's definitely not that I think I am better than everyone else, as most of the time I am consumed by an inferiority complex that impedes my well-being to an unnecessary extent.

I just want to be able to stop telling my boyfriend how amazing he is just so that I can be reassured that, I too, am amazing (and I truly do mean it when I tell him he is amazing, because he really is). I know he does think I am awesome, but I really wish I didn't need to hear it 59,843,584 times a day.

So basically what I would like to know from those of you who have a healthy self-image is:

-What does a healthy self-image look like?
-Have you had to work at achieving and maintaining a realistic, yet positive, self-image?
-How have others' opinions of you (well the opinions that matter, anyway) affected your own opinion of yourself?

Thank you, all, very much.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (28 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
The first real education I got in self image came from a business mentor of mine, explaining his attitude towards people. "If you don't like me, " he said, "fuck you. My kids like me."

It was a glib presentation, but I understood the truth behind it. Part of a healthy self-image comes from correctly prioritizing our metrics of success. Am I trying my hardest to be the best I can be at the things that really matter in my life? If I am, then it's easy to feel good about myself. If not, then some introspection is called for to see where I'm falling short and what I need to do to improve.

Being a Christian, my faith figures very heavily into this equation for me (specifically with regard to continually beating myself up for mistakes). That may not be part of your situation, however.
posted by DWRoelands at 7:53 AM on April 23, 2009 [4 favorites]

I know you're going to get it a lot, so prepare yourself now, but this is the type of thing therapy can help you with.

IANAT, but you sound remarkably insecure and the narcissistic tendancies (believing you deserve everyone's adoration, etc) are just overcompensations.

As for what a healthy self image looks like, to me is confidence that doesn't need external reinforcement. YOU feel good about yourself and that is all the reassurance you need. I think self image has less to do with physical appearance but more to do with the intangible personality elements of a person. Positive self image comes from knowing your strengths, but also from knowing your flaws and weaknesses and still being okay with that. Allowing yourself to be imperfect, physically and practically, is a big part of it I think.
posted by gwenlister at 8:07 AM on April 23, 2009 [4 favorites]

The only opinion that matters is your own.

What helped me was trying to stop wondering at all whether I'm a good person or a bad person or failure or a success. People don't come in categories, we're all a blend of qualities. It's also much easier to relax when you don't go around casting judgments on others--certain actions may be dickish for instance, but when you hear about someone pulling a dickmove don't assume that they are a dick.

Good Intentions may not build bridges, or write novels, or bring fluffy back to life (Sorry Aunt Carol!) but they are enough for me to be comfortable with my own personality. I'm doing my best, and I'm really good at some stuff, and in the end, I am the only me I've got to cheer for you know? It's like how growing up in a town, you don't get to pick your home team. So you can either be miserable or find the best thing about those bums on the field and scream your head off at the games.

Your identity is a puppy that showed up at the door one day. It may be scraggly, and it may even have mange and it shits on the rug, but it's yours now, and it's depending on you, so take care of it.

I'd make a couple more metaphors here but I'm starting to hate myself. Good luck!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:19 AM on April 23, 2009 [6 favorites]

To me, a healthy self image doesn't look like anything in particular, but it sure as hell feels like something in particular. It feels like a huge weight off my shoulders. I suppose it looks very Zen, if I had to say it had a "look".

I have had to work on it, and it's still a work in progress. Every day I do something to keep that healthy self-image up. Sometimes it's just a quick inventory of myself, ending with "Good enough". Other times it's a boot camp operation, where I have to deprogram the negatives that I have let build up and very consciously set to pick apart my own picking, if that makes sense.

It's a mental game. When you have a negative thought, capture it and examine it for a minute. Would you say such a thing to your best friend or your boyfriend? Why is it okay to say that to yourself? Shouldn't you, at the very least, treat yourself better than you would an acquaintance? You would never be nasty to other people, but for some reason we give ourselves full license to crap all over our own self esteem.

Reapeat after me:

I am a hot shit. I am a sexy bitch/bastard. I am the cat’s ass. I’m the best thing since peanut butter. I am the queen/king of my universe. My flaws are miniscule, and I will banish them from my thoughts. I have the power to make people’s lives better right now, at this very moment. I am my own biggest fan. I have a lot to offer. I am proud of myself for __. I am a fricken’ superstar.

Lather, rinse, repeat. And repeat. And repeat. It will stick. It will work. It's brainwashing, in the best possible sense.

Also, cutting others some slack, that is, being less judgmental of others, really goes a long way in loving yourself. If you are able to give others what you yourself need, a pat on the back, some acknowledgment that they are good and loved, some forgiveness or overlooking their flaws, things like that...this will shine out of you, and it will feel so good.

I finally got a handle on this loving yourself thing, and it's like having a billion dollars that you just want to give away to everyone else. Good luck, Anon, this can be done.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 8:44 AM on April 23, 2009 [13 favorites]

The old favorites, Feeling Good by David Burns, MD, and Facing Codependence by Pia Mellody, will be very helpful here. Don't assume that Facing Codependence is only about family members of alcoholics, because it isn't. It's all about having healthy boundaries and self-image.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:48 AM on April 23, 2009 [3 favorites]

I think it mostly is acceptance. Acceptance of others as they are, and yourself as you are, and being okay with all of that even when it's not ideal. I don't agree that it's a bunch of mantras you repeat to yourself about how awesome you are--it's just acceptance of the fact that I'm generally great, but sometimes I can be a jerk or petty or jealous or mean or inconsiderate. Acceptance that I usually try to do my best, but sometimes I fall short--and forgiveness when that happens. Acceptance that my boyfriend is awesome, and I DO deserve that, even though I'm not perfect (despite how wonderful I think he is, he's only human, too).

Therapy can help create this acceptance. So can meditation. I recommend both.

It's also about prioritizing the opinions of others, as DWRoelands said. There are some people who will not like you for no reason at all, and there's nothing you can do about that. Their opinions don't count at all. There are some people whose praise will be a struggle to earn, but you have to determine whether their opinions should count--your critical mother? Your boss? Your partner? Your kids? Your friends? Those opinions should be weighted appropriately, and they'll be different for everyone.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 8:55 AM on April 23, 2009 [3 favorites]

What does a healthy self-image look like?

I would say a healthy image of anything is an accurate one. Self-image is your model of yourself, so a healthy self image is an accurate understanding of your relationship things that aren't you. Very meta, very important. All but the simplest organisms have some mechanism that delineates "me" from "not me", even if it's simple as reflexively discharging foreign matter, as it's essential to survival - mammals have particular advanced mechanisms, and humans are extreme examples within our class. Our self aware notions are pretty diverse in their sophistication and explicitness - right now it's apparent to me that I'm sitting, but before I started thinking about it there was no internal verbalization of that belief, and now I'm that I'm thinking about thinking about sitting in a chair (this recursion could go on for a while, but not indefinately! Which is interesting, if you think about it... that at some point you can't explain where your thoughts or volitions come from, but I digress (perhaps despite myself!)).

Anyway, beliefs like "I'm sitting down" or "that man in the alley wants to hurt me" are obviously important to our well-being. A belief about one's own capabilities can also be important - if I erroneously think I can win every time at blackjack, that I'm a brilliant surgeon, or a talented singer bad things could happen. So beliefs about self ("self-image") can't be done away with entirely, but sometimes I think we get carried away conceptualizing and start believing things that prevent us from doing as we think we should, creating cognitive dissonance).

Let's say you think being a doctor is the only way you'll be happy, but you also think you're incapable of becoming one. One of these beliefs needs to change, or you'll be miserable. Maybe you really aren't capable of being a doctor, in which case you need to understand that your happiness is not contingent on it. But maybe you aren't as bad at medical school as you think, you're just distorting reality to preserve your negative self image. Therapists who practice cognitive behavioral therapy are all about identifying illogical patterns of thought like this so that they can be avoided. This book, which I've only ever flipped through, is recommended on AskMeFi all the time, and may be worth a look for you.

Have you had to work at achieving and maintaining a realistic, yet positive, self-image?

I think it's better to diminish self image, to have fewer beliefs about this thing you call you. Egotism is a trap, regardless of whether your valuation is positive or negative, it's the valuation itself that leads to problems. The kind of beliefs about self I mention above ("guy in the alleyway", etc) are needed, but you should look carefully at beliefs like "I am a [good/bad] person". Who are you [good/bad] to? What difference does it make?

How have others' opinions of you (well the opinions that matter, anyway) affected your own opinion of yourself?

It's important to care about what other people think, but not what other people think of you. Ultimately, it will come down to my valuation, right (deciding what to value, ah, that's quite a tricky issue, but beyond the scope of this post)? If someone tells me I'm a jerk because I criticize someone's signing, their opinion alone shouldn't matter, but it should give me pause and prompt me to look at whether my actions have been consistent with my ideals. Beyond that, let it slide.
posted by phrontist at 8:59 AM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

criticize someone's signing should read...

criticize someone's signing

but whatever, "signing" works too.

posted by phrontist at 9:01 AM on April 23, 2009

posted by phrontist at 9:02 AM on April 23, 2009

Try this: every time you find yourself about to ask for reassurance or praise, just don't. Practice holding your tongue and not saying anything. Even if this means you have to stop praising your boyfriend for a while. Anytime you are about to say something that is fishing for a compliment or for reassurance just don't. You won't catch it every single time, but really make an effort until you are catching nine out of ten.

This is how most people live. They want the affirmation and the praise, but they don't need it. They can live without it. They stop themselves from asking for it, because biting their tongues leads to more productive, healthy relationships. Remember that almost everyone has the desire to do what you're doing; the difference is that they are able to restrain themselves and replace external approval with internal.

If you practice living like that you get two benefits. First, you stop dragging your relationships down with neediness. You may feel needy, but you aren't affecting other people and you aren't damaging relationships. Second, by accomplishing this change in how you interact with people you will see that you ARE capable of change, that you have really significant willpower, and that maybe you are able to replace the external affirmation with internal. You CAN reassure yourself. This is a powerful realization and is one of the central pillars of a positive self-image. When you can reassure yourself you don't need to seek praise from other people.

An added bonus- you might have trouble believing any good feedback you get because when you demand praise and reassurance you might be more likely to get false reassurance- people will just say you did fine or you look lovely to get you to stop bothering them. When you aren't demanding praise, you tend to get genuine praise. People will tell you that your work is outstanding because they mean it, not because you demanded that they tell you it.
posted by ohio at 9:15 AM on April 23, 2009 [12 favorites]

Note: I am not a therapist and this is not meant to replace therapy or any other advice that people are giving above. Just one trick to jumpstart your healing.
posted by ohio at 9:17 AM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

"How have others' opinions of you affected your own opinion of yourself?"

Others have alluded to this, but here's the more direct form: you are not capable of receiving (internalizing) the affirmation of others, so there can never be enough. In the handful of people I've known who have exhibited this tendency, the genesis always seems to lie in an unloving or abusive parent; this doesn't absolve you, as Potomac noted, you do own your scraggly dog. The books Sidhedevil recommended may be helpful, but I second Peanut in that therapy is probably needed. Why? because this is a "dyadic phenomenon" which has likely been active for a decade at least. It may be possible to work this out on your own, but it usually takes more time.
posted by fydfyd at 9:18 AM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Peanut, I'll respectfully say that when you feel lower than pond scum, "just accepting yourself" is pretty hard. Starting out by actively getting rid of shitty thoughts about yourself is a good way to feel empowered. You might call it a mantra, I call it being nice to myself.

Therapy is basically someone mirroring your own thoughts back to you, helping you see them from a different angle. Everyone should have a therapist, hooray therapy! but if that's not an option for some reason (and it often isn't), you have to take matters into your own hands.

It's less about "telling yourself how awesome you are" (though that's definitely part of it) and more about not shitting on yourself and when you catch yourself doing it, replacing those ~not good enough~ feelings with "Hell, yeah I'm good enough".
posted by Grlnxtdr at 9:19 AM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

ohio's suggestions are EXCELLENT.

Recognize that even though you're complimenting your boyfriend dozens of times a day doesn't mean that he takes all those comments seriously. I don't mean that he doubts your affections, simply that he's over-saturated with it and complimenting you back has become a habit rather than something he wants to do.

This is the 'false reassurance' that ohio mentioned. People will placate you so they can get on with the conversation; they don't want to circle your issues with you.

It works the same way with others' compliments and opinions of you. Ultra-frequent compliments are nice but they won't be sincere. The occasional, unsolicited compliment is what you ought to pay attention to. You may not get one every day but they will feel more genuine and fulfilling.

Healing is a question of 'mindfulness' and it does sound like you're getting there. Consciously acknowledge how you feel when you accept someone's comment at face value and don't go digging for more, more, more. Literally say to yourself "hey, that approach feels more calming." Notice how you feel when you give in to that need for immediate reassurance. Say to yourself "oh, that feels frantic and needy." It may seem silly to have a dialogue with yourself but it becomes a helpful habit after a while. Also you will never be lonely :)
posted by cranberrymonger at 9:27 AM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nthing therapy as a good option here - an abusive home growing up plus many years of untreated depression equaled a very unhappy harperpitt for a long time. After eight months of therapy with a mindblowingly good therapist, I'm starting to finally jump on board the Self Confidence Train.

During that process, one technique really stood out as helpful for me - maybe it will be helpful for you, too.

Instead of thinking about myself as big gross shitty nasty worthless me, I tried to step outside of myself and pretend - even if I didn't believe it - that I was looking at a dear friend or a child I was responsible for. So every time I thought about what a piece of crap I was, I turned that statement on its head and pretended it was being said about a kid or a friend.

Would we put up with anyone saying that to someone we loved or were responsible for? Hell, no. It's like a litmus test: if it would make you angry to hear it said about someone you love, then you don't deserve it for yourself.
posted by harperpitt at 9:57 AM on April 23, 2009 [3 favorites]

Remember, the other side of this is that you are actively putting yourself down. You are telling yourself, probably *many* times a day, that you are scum or worse. It sounds like you put yourself down internally, then look for external reassurance.

One way to go with this is to stop the internal put-down voices is to actively challenge them. Next time you catch yourself telling yourself that you're stupid or should be ashamed of yourself, stop a moment and ask if that's really true. Are you stupid? Have you gone to school and succeeded in some way? Do you have a job you do well? Have you ever known anyone who's really stupid - are you as bad as that guy? Go through this process and chances are you'll come to the conclusion that you're probably NOT stupid at all. Challenge those inner voices!

If you go into therapy, you'll probably discover that you know who those inner voices are - you'll be able to contextualize them and get out from under their influence.
posted by jasper411 at 10:16 AM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine has a great phrase for this state of mind: "I'm just the little piece of shit the world revolves around." Sometimes repeating it to myself helps me stop the navel gazing and the endless self analysis of my oh so fascinating faults and tragic mistakes, because it's f'ing boring to be so self involved. Focus outside of yourself, on somebody else, on anything else. You are extraordinary in some ways, just lousy in others, probably ok in most. Whatever. Just like everyone else in the world. You don't need to be perfect to deserve love and happiness.

Also, I recommend getting a dog.
posted by tula at 10:50 AM on April 23, 2009 [2 favorites]

Seconding that nothing will ever be enough. Specifically, no amount of reassurance from other people will ever be enough. You're trying to fill up an abyss by throwing teaspoons of sand into it. The necessary prerequisite to stopping is to fully realize the futility of reassurance.

While mantras and other self-talk may help, I've found it much more helpful to focus on myself as little as possible. Walk the dog, go smell the flowers, go for a bike ride, volunteer at a food pantry, clean your house, visit an elderly neighbor. Let your thoughts go - your thoughts are the problem, thus the answer cannot be found within them. Meditation is great for practicing letting go.
posted by desjardins at 10:58 AM on April 23, 2009 [3 favorites]

You got some good advice already. I'll just add: focus on the 'realistic' part, rather than thinking in terms of absolute negative/positive, pond scum or awesome.

Healthy means balanced, means knowing your limits and faults as well as your abilities and talents and virtues.

Also, attitude is reinforced by behaviour and viceversa. When you have an excessively disparaging view of yourself, counterbalancing it with excessive self-praise is not going to help much in the long run. You need to see yourself doing things that put your view of yourself into perspective. A simple action or change in your life that would give you measurable results, and your mind will instantly tell you 'that's a good thing you did', and it will become a chain reaction.

Think of it not as "working at self-image", but, working at, well, just... life.

Other people's opinions do matter, of course, we all need feedback on what we are doing, and we all need some support, we are social beings. But you'll be able to best take what's useful, criticism included, only when you develop a more balanced view of yourself. And then like ohio said above, genuine feedback will be incredibly a lot more helpful than constant reassurance.

Oh, and take consolation in this scientifically proven fact: no one who actually is 'pond scum' - people who are truly horrible and vile - ever asks this kind of question. Real pond scum tend to think very, very highly of themselves. Inferiority complexes only happen to people who have at least the redeeming quality of self doubt. Start from there.
posted by bitteschoen at 11:02 AM on April 23, 2009 [2 favorites]

-What does a healthy self-image look like?

Hate and reassurance free. You can look at the mirror and see yourself as you are, all the pluses and minuses and think "The total package is good." You know you're not the greatest person ever, but you still know and believe that you are great, despite whatever faults you may have.

A healthy self image needs to be told they're amazing at sometimes, but it doesn't need it multiple times a day, especially over minor stuff.

-Have you had to work at achieving and maintaining a realistic, yet positive, self-image?

Find something you're good at and do a lot of that. Sure, you may not be President, but X thing is something you know you can do well, so that boasts your image of yourself, to know that there are things you can do very well.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:17 AM on April 23, 2009

Grlnxtdr, in my experience it was impossible to go from thinking "I'm pond scum" to "I'm hot shit. My flaws are miniscule, and I will banish them from my thoughts. I am my own biggest fan." Totally impossible. Taking the small steps of accepting that yes, I have faults (as does everyone) and those faults are acceptable to me and to others, and that even considering those faults, I still deserve someone to love me was a really necessary step.

I agree that those "not good enough" feelings need to be replaced, but repeating the opposite phrases as brainwashing didn't work for me. It didn't feel authentic, and there was just no way to go from one extreme to the other and have any lasting impact (if you've seen Sunshine Cleaning, the scene where Amy Adams is alone in the hotel room illustrates this perfectly). I understand that it's difficult to just accept feelings, but I strongly agree with many fields of therapy and with Pema Chodron's writing that sometimes feelings just need to be felt, sat with, and accepted before they will go away. And it worked for me with better results than anything else I'd tried.

Different strokes for different folks--we don't know which train of thought will be most helpful to the OP.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 11:22 AM on April 23, 2009

it took me a long time to figure this out, but here's what helps me. it's already been touched on in other responses, but it's worth repeating. basically, i give everyone a fair shot to like me (by being nice and generally friendly to them.) if they like me, good. if they don't, i just assume it's them and not me and I don't worry too much about it. just like how in your daily life, focusing on the positive while minimizing the negative is good- you can do the same with people. get your confidence from the people that are supportive of you and jettison all the crap from people whose opinions shouldn't really matter to you. i used to get all bent out of shape when i thought certain people didn't like me. then it finally dawned on me that I didnt like THEM- so i stopped caring! i realize you didn't really address whether other people are contributing to these thoughts you're having, or whether they are coming entirely from within. but in any case, when you stop worrying what 99% of people think of you, its a huge weight off your shoulders. Of course, you should care about the opinions of those closest to you (that other 1%.)

i also agree that you sound like you suffer a bit from narcissistic tendencies and some counseling may be helpful. don't let it get you down, counseling is great. I know that it at least partially helped me get to the point where I am now (as I described in the first paragraph.) recognizing that you have this behavior in the first place seems like a great step. i have few friends who suffer from the same sorts of thoughts/behaviors and I wish they would realize how destructive it is and try to get help for themselves. Good luck.
posted by lblair at 11:39 AM on April 23, 2009

for better or worse, praise is one of the most manipulative tools available to people. there's nothing wrong with enjoying it, but don't ever take it too seriously and don't let it get to your head. i mean, look at how you use praise with your bf. isn't it possible others may be doing the same with you?

a paradox: every person on earth is extremely insignificant in the grand scheme of things (and yes, this includes political leaders and nobel prize winning scientists), but the seemingly smallest actions and intentions can make a huge impact.

if you want to truly help yourself, begin by truly wanting to help others as well.

you will find that these ego-rooted concerns about your self-image will dissolve and become, over time, irrelevant to how you feel and what you do.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 12:00 PM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Part of being a grown-up, instead of a needy child, is the ability to soothe your own insecurities and anxieties. It's not fair to demand your partner soothe every anxiety or neurotic thought. The more you beg for reassurance and praise, the less closeness you will build with your partner. True intimacy and closeness comes when two adults are in a relationship.

You will limit the amount of high-quality people that will want to associate with you if you continue this behavior. If you think so poorly of yourself, and are needy, you may attract people that will use or mistreat you. Or, they may have mountainous issues of their own with little to give.

I like Ohio's idea of not acting on every twinge of anxiety. Try hard to wait out the anxiety or neurotic thoughts that pop up. Besides, it doesn't look like the many compliments and reassurance are doing much to make you feel better about your self or your relationship, so why continue?

A healthy self-image to me is being okay with myself. I like myself for who I am and don't hold myself against impossible standards of perfection.

Back when I was more anxious and insecure my husband gave me some good advice: "Act like you belong." It worked for me when I was anxious about not fitting in. In your case, behave in a way that says you're worthy of an adult relationship and do not need constant soothing from others to feel good. Of course, the "fake it until you make it" advice is simplistic and naive. I do think it works to get yourself through some anxious times and is worth trying. Talking to a therapist is something you should seriously consider.

Good luck.
posted by Fairchild at 3:48 PM on April 23, 2009 [8 favorites]

Tell yourself how amazing you are instead of wanting to hear it from him or someone else. Everytime you do something awesome, something challenging, something good for someone else, everytime you make someone laugh, stop for a second and recognize that. Other people will see it too and will come out and say it eventually. Just don't sit around waiting for people to compliment you, compliment yourself first.

Smile at yourself in the mirror.

posted by KateHasQuestions at 4:09 PM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Do you believe that all people are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights?

If you don't necessarily believe in a Creator, I could rephrase this: Do you believe that all people are equal?

It's such a part of our cultural fabric (in the US at least) that people are equal that we don't think about what it implies that often. So I'm going to ask again: do you believe that all people are equal?

Really, do you?

Because if you do, then that's the foundation on which to build your self-image. If all people are equal, then it's impossible for you to be worse or better than anyone else. It doesn't matter how you feel. It doesn't matter what you did today. It doesn't matter what your boyfriend says. It doesn't matter what opinions others have of you. All people are equal. That's it.

If you like this line of reasoning, then you could try using it as a reminder. You think, "Wow, I didn't do the dishes today, I sure am a shitty person." Then you tell yourself, in reply, "No, I can't be a shitty person, because ALL PEOPLE ARE EQUAL.* I'm as good and as bad a person as everyone else."

*Note: yelling at self is permitted if phrase yelled is ALL PEOPLE ARE EQUAL.
posted by medusa at 4:49 PM on April 23, 2009 [2 favorites]

The advice from others is right on, and I don't have anything to say, but I suggest you run away from all those magazines with covers touting articles on how to be (choose several): better looking, better dressed, more successful, better in bed, thinner, better organized, the list is endless. There's a whole industry out there hoping you'll feel needy enough to buy whatever they're selling. If you're feeling rocky or need assurance, that's not the place to get it.

I like the suggestion of looking at yourself clinically: take a good look in the mirror at who you are as your real image may not match who you think you are. If the real image isn't what you want (eg., attention getting clothes or not-attention getting clothes), change it to look like who you want to be.

Now look inside: do you have a goal or three? If yes, do you have a plan to get there? If no goal, then, and this is the hard part, think about what you'd like to do/be in 5/10 years. I've found working towards a particular thing, whatever it is, takes some of the anxiety out of life, esp when you can tick off a box on your path towards your goal. Pond scum fungus doesn't do goals but you can. And, it doesn't have to be a 'make a million a year goal', either, as that's not for everyone, but something reasonable (not something that takes 12 years of university if you hate studying.) Somewhere in your heart, you'll find something that resonates, and you will have a thing of your own which gives you inner security. That way, if someone insults/underestimates you, even if you can't tell them what you think, you'll know in your heart who you are and what you're worth. Oh, and allow yourself to fail sometimes. We all do. Be kind to yourself.

I prob have the inside/outside parts in reverse order, but hope you get what I'm trying to say. And, remember that most of the world is so wrapped up in themselves and their problems/anxieties, that they don't see other people and haven't a clue what's going on inside you head. People tend to take other people at face value, so you can grow into whatever role you choose for yourself. The only opinions that matter to me are mine, my DH's, and close friends. Other than that, the world can go whistle.
posted by x46 at 12:32 AM on April 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, that should have been 'anything profound to say.'
posted by x46 at 12:34 AM on April 24, 2009

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