Like many others in the world, I have struggled with low self-esteem for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, there have been many times that my feelings of worthlessness have built up so much that I cannot bear to be in my own skin. The negative judgments that I have been told or thought sink in so deep that it seems like the good has completely gone. There have been many things that I have been doing to improve feelings of self-worth over the years, but one of the most important things that I have learned is that if I don’t want to have negative thoughts about myself, I need to stop having them about others.
A counselor once helped me realize that I was putting people into categories the moment that I saw them. My constant judgement of others was causing me to feel the weight of other people’s judgments as well as my own. I would think:
- They are really overweight.
- They are way too skinny.
- They have horrible skin.
- That person has bad eyebrows.
- They are bad with their money.
- They are so immature.
- They are not smart.
- I don’t want to be friends with them.
- I would not want to kiss their mouth.
- They think they’re all that.
I would look at a person and analyze them completely, judging them based on completely superficial attributes. I would convert those judgments into their value, thinking less of someone because of their “unappealing” qualities. In turn, I would look in the mirror and think all of the same things about myself:
- You’re fat.
- You’re so dumb.
- You’re undesirable.
- You’re moody and hard to be around.
- You’re clumsy and nonathletic.
- Nobody wants to be your friend.
After realizing this, my counselor taught me one simple practice that has helped me to change that judgmental behavior. Instead of looking at a person and analyzing everything about them, she asked me to spend the week looking around me and thinking to myself THAT’S A PERSON. NOT that’s a fat person, or a short person, or a dumb person- they are simply a person.
The more that I take a step away from finding the negative qualities in people, the more I am able to see their value. The less that I judge others, the less weight I give judgments about myself. We are all human beings. Our bodies, feelings, struggles, joy, experiences, inadequacies, and strengths are all different, but our worth is all the same.
Controlling my judgments of others and myself is still something that I struggle with every day, but making a conscious effort to recognize the value of all human lives has helped me:
- Improve my self-esteem,
- Strengthen relationships,
- Open up to new friendships,
- And focus on more important things in my life.