How big a difference does it make to you how other people think of you? Some people seem to be born with enough self confidence not to be bothered by what other people think of them. Good for the confident people of the world. I wish I was always one of them. I am significantly less effected by what other people may be thinking than I used to be, but I am still still becoming increasingly comfortable with how other people view me.
Making sure that I am doing my best to be kind, thoughtful and humble has proven to be a reliable source of confidence. Another reliable source is discovering that differences between people are truly insignificant. Being different does not mean someone else is more or less than you or I. And our differences certainly do not mean that one of us is right or wrong.
What a relief! All being different means is that we are different. Being different is OK. Look around, differences are all around us. So why is it that people who are considered different are often looked down on, teased, ridiculed or even bullied?
I’m OK. You’re OK.
Back in 1967, Thomas A. Harris MD wrote a book with a title that sounds like it would eliminate self consciousness as well as feelings of superiority and inferiority. The book, I’m OK, Your OK sold millions of copies in several different languages. If I could have named that book, I would have named it, I’m Not OK, You’re Not OK, that’s OK.
Seriously, we are going to meet some people we won’t think are OK. And chances are good that some people will not always think you are OK. That’s OK. As long as we conduct ourselves in ways that are not impinging on someone else’s pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, what right does anybody have to think that somebody else should fit into their idea of what is OK?
Differences can be a problem because society can make us think that “successful people” always fall within certain parameters. When they are exposed to these subtle and some not so subtly expressed ideas, the easily impressed can think that comparing themselves to others and placing themselves and others on a type of social ladder is normal or expected. With this type of thinking, weak, overweight or socially challenged people are frequently scorned or disregarded. As a result, people who fit into one of these categories feel less then their peers and expect to be treated as less than, which can be a self fulfilling prophesy.
Self Esteem and Relationships
Plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz, author of Psycho-Cybernetics describes patients suffering from low self esteem wanting to be operated on to cure a real or an imagined disfigurement. Sometimes fixing the blemish cured the person of their low self esteem. Sometimes counseling them convinced them that their real problem was in how they thought of the supposed blemish. And sometimes fixing a real disfigurement did nothing to improve the patient’s self esteem.
Dr. Maltz’s patients whose self esteems didn’t improve after their physical defects were corrected obviously had self esteem problems that were rooted in their thoughts about themselves. They imagine themselves in a negative light. Napoleon Bonaparte once wrote that “The human race is governed by it’s imagination.” Since our imaginations have the power to create worry and fear, why don’t we redirect that same power and use it to see ourselves in a positive light?
There are plenty of examples in sports of people using their imaginations in a constructive and positive way. Consider a golfer who takes imaginary swings at a golf ball before stepping up to the tee. And consider a boxer shadow boxing before stepping into the ring. Instead of spending time worrying about negative results and fearing unwanted conclusions to your life story, imagine things turning out the way you want them to turn out.
Since our imaginations can affect the outcome of what we’re doing, even resulting in self fulfilling prophecies, why not imagine ourselves successfully interacting with others or successfully doing whatever it is that we want to do?