Dr Joyce Brothers says “An individual’s self-concept is the core of his personality. It affects every aspect of human behaviour, the ability to learn, the capacity to grow and change. A strong positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success in life.”
This just reminds me how many thousands, in fact, millions of people throughout the world there are, who live with little or no self-esteem. It reminds me of the damage that parents have inflicted on their children or that teachers have inflicted on their students or employers on their employees. Even sadder, I see on a daily basis how we, as individuals, not only drive self-esteem from the lives of our colleagues and friends but also from our own hearts.
A few years ago I employed a young lady who I put through a bookkeeping and later on an accounting course. Although extremely bright and intelligent she had not completed matric due to circumstances beyond her control. Having left school a number of years before I met her, I was pleased with her agreement to “go back to studying” and very proud of the commitment she had made. I was so excited about this undertaking that I told everyone who would listen.
She was devastated and insulted! Her take on this was that she had to “go back to school” because she was stupid.
Sadly there are many similar stories such as this one and I was recently reminded of this just last week.
A friend of mine had entered a dance competition. She was nervous and excited as she watched some of the other contestants dance. Her turn came and she executed all her dance moves with elegance, passion and precision. Chatting to her later, while we watched some more of the contestants, she was again extremely nervous and very critical of her performance. I pointed out to her that the lady who was dancing at the time was “out of sync” with the music, her music, in fact, did not match or compliment her costume and her movements were not fluid but stiff and unyielding. My friend turned to me, the pain evident in her eyes and said something along the lines of “I don’t see myself the same way that you see me. I don’t see myself the way anybody else sees me!”
Here is an intelligent, beautiful woman, with her whole life before her and the world at her feet, who does not see her talent or her potential, who does not see her “worth”. My heart went out to her and I was suddenly angered at the person or persons who had caused this pain and damage to her. Her perception was one that she was not worthy, that she was not good enough and this had created her reality.
The true reality is that she will, in all probability win the competition – she’s that good! The true reality is that she is incredibly talented and her potential is huge and she is limited only by her own perception.
The lesson here today is that we, as individuals need to be positive, not only in our own lives but also in the lives of the people whose lives we touch. We need to encourage and uplift the people around us.
In essence, we need to let them look at themselves through our eyes.