I thought about it for a little while. “No” I decided. “I don’t think I’d like to meet myself, because I don’t think I’d have a very good impression of myself”.
I would see a small and unruly woman (one who could easily be mistaken for a teenager), with messy hair and sometimes inarticulate way of speaking. I’d probably like the fact that she’s small and not intimidating to stand beside, but I’d feel a bit uncomfortable at how quickly she speaks and that she’s probably – no, definitely – thinking things she’s not saying.
After long enough, her good manners, initial enthusiasm and ‘best-selfness’ would give way to introversion, revealing bouts of silence and seriousness, and her opinions would come off as unsolicited advice.
That realisation, my friends, was a bit sad. Would I really not like myself if I saw me walking towards myself today? Would I really see so much to criticise or dislike?
Perhaps. Or, probably, actually. Sean’s question revealed that I’m more critical of myself than of any other person in the world. And also, that it’s very, very important to be gentle and generous when we’re forming opinions of people – including ourselves.
Our conversation prompted me to realise that I already practice some good habits. For instance, I realised that when I see a stranger in the street, I look for something to admire in them. Perhaps it’s the movement of their hair, their confident stride or the attentive way they’re talking to their child, for example. I rarely look for faults first.
So maybe, if I afforded myself the same kindness I do to others, I’d see a petite woman with friendly eyes and a friendly smile instead? Perhaps I’d appreciate the fact she was keeping the conversation going for the sake of the more-shy party, even if I didn’t quite catch every word she said?
I certainly wouldn’t think that her legs were too short or ‘chunky’, or dislike her nose or think that her hair wasn’t silky enough. I wouldn’t dislike her for eating a huge breakfast, and I most definitely wouldn’t mind it if she relaxed enough around me to reveal her less cheery self.
I’d probably be a lot kinder on myself than I am right now.
But what about you? If you were to meet yourself for the first time, would you be critical or open-minded?Would you really find so many things to dislike?And if so, might you consider being a little more generous with yourself and others from now on?
Clearly, I have a bit of work to do on my self-esteem right now, making a habit of extending kindness towards myself as well as others. What about you?