Some random thoughts about self-image

I started to think, towards the end of the school year, that the things people seem to like about me don’t actually feel like me. I don’t really have any idea why this is. All of the interactions where I get the sense I am connecting, I am creating a positive relationship experience, those are times when I don’t feel like me. I feel like I am on autopilot.

I don’t think I am just being a people-pleaser in those moments.

I have no real explanation for the not-me-ness of my interpersonal successes.

Related to this, I have also been thinking when I see a picture of myself or hear my own voice, I hate it. I hate what I see and hear. I think I am ugly and that my voice is unpleasant. I don’t have any idea whether people would generally agree with this. I imagine, more objectively, that I am average in looks. I think a lot of how attractive we are is not about our physical attributes, but about our facial expression and body language anyway.

I don’t know why I think this either. I have more in the way of guesses about this. It occurred to me when I was writing this little paragraph about this, that if you are videotaped performing sex acts as a child, if your voice is recorded while you perform those acts, the fear you feel about that is probably going to take the form of disgust.

Disgust is related to fear. It tells us, this is dangerous, stay away from it. It’s different from the fight or flight of fear, because not every kind of danger is the type of danger that can physically attack you and overpower you. There are dangers you can avoid just by not touching them.

Whatever emotional abuse I suffered that would affect how I see myself, this has to be the most potent: your image is dangerous, the sound of your voice is dangerous.

I should step back for a minute and just say again, as an explanation, that I have worked hard at removing all judgment in my mind. They are just thoughts and feelings and perceptions and they are all okay. Sometimes they are painful, but that’s okay.

It relates to my idea that the larger problem I have is a lack of connection in my mind between thoughts and emotions, between emotions and events in my life. It isn’t what I think that’s the problem, in my view. It’s how I think.

It goes against what, psychologically, I have really been taught. The problem I was, in a way, told I had was that I had the wrong thoughts and feelings. I felt guilty when I hadn’t done anything wrong, for example, or I had low self-esteem.

Now, I don’t believe that. Whatever is in my head is okay, I believe. But I need to understand it. There need to be connections between ideas, between thoughts and feelings and decisions. I need to know why I am having a perception that I am having, or why I feel the way that I do, because then I can do something about it. When I approach it from the perspective that having a particular thought or feeling or perception will be intolerable or unbearable, then nothing further can be done about it. I am just locked into a battle in my own mind that’s ultimately a waste of time.

So that’s my idea. Not everyone shares it. But it makes my own mind feel safer to me to be in, like I have looked under all the beds, perhaps found some spiders and maybe even a few snakes, but no monsters. It’s okay to move around up there, even if the things I find in my mind make me really sad sometimes. It frees me up to think. There is some pretty painful stuff up there, but there are ways to live with it.

Meanwhile, I forgot where I was going with that, but what comes to mind now is that it’s not really necessary for anyone to hate me for being ugly. The quality of our relationships really have much more to do with our behavior, how we treat people, whether we are considerate and respectful of others, whether we try to understand the experiences of others or not.

I am not saying I am really ugly. That’s a matter of opinion and I am sure people have different opinions about it. What I am saying is that, in reality, it ought to be possible for someone to feel warmth and have good thoughts about me even if I am ugly.


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