In my last post I started the process of trying to uncover how I really feel about myself. My “self Image”.
I didn’t get very far and I’ve spent the past couple of days trying to determine where to start or how you go about such a thing without a year’s worth of visits to the local psychoanalyst. I’ve settled on using the variety method, meaning I’m going to try a variety of methods and hope that something clicks.
One method will be an open and hopefully honest look at my appearance and how I feel about it. We all want to be something more or better than we are or to at least live up to what society tells us attractive people should look like, so I can tell you before even starting that I won’t have any problems finding what my physical flaws are. I’m hoping I can do this without a) getting too focused on everything that is wrong with me or b) trying too hard to convince myself that I have really great features. I don’t want to be disillusioned too far either direction. I want to feel like I have a realistic image of myself. At the same time I want it to be my image. I could stand in front of my partner or a friend and say ok, be honest, tell me everything good and bad about my appearance. 1) that would be painful for me to do. Seeing your own flaws is hard, hearing someone point them out is even worse yet. 2) it wouldn’t be “my self image” based on what I believe is beautiful and unique. It would be based on their ideas of what is attractive and appealing or not. The real purpose here is to find out how I feel about myself based on my own beliefs and perceptions. In the end I think it boils down to a sense of self. Does it really matter what other people find attractive or is it fundamentally about how we stack up against our own ideas of what’s physically attractive? I believe that it’s how closely our self image matches our own perceptions of attraction that determines how confident we are or are not in our own skin.
Sure, there are going to be people who feel differently. Who may find us far less attractive or far more attractive than we see ourselves. That’s personal preference. But how we see ourselves is what drives our behavior or our responses. Here is a quirky example of how our perceptions of attraction contribute to our thinking and our actions. During my partners history of infidelity you would think that I would look upon each woman with the same set of emotions, but I don’t. Those women who do not fit MY definition of attractive have affected me differently than those I feel have some level of attractiveness. If I found the woman plain and non-descript, I felt less threat. I also felt more confusion and more offended, as in “how or why would he choose to sleep with that woman when he has me?”. If the woman was directly opposite of me then I dissected those differences, constantly searching for something I might not have but should. Or trying to determine the appeal (other than variety) of our two extremes. If the woman was attractive I felt more threat and did more analyzing of what he found in her that he isn’t finding in me. What parts of her he liked better or wished I could have.
I’ve studied many factors in affairs. I know love is not always the motivation. I know that a man doesn’t necessarily have to find a woman exceptionally attractive to have sex with her. In fact, it seems the criteria is often simply that he doesn’t find her repulsive. Sometimes she doesn’t have to turn him on, as long as the sight of her doesn’t completely turn him off. Anything is fair game if sex is the motivation. I also know that even men who have exceptionally beautiful women at home, can still stray. In all these regards it’s futile to dwell on and compare my physical appearance to other women. But I still do and so does every woman ever cheated on, and 99% of all women whether they have been cheated on or not. Why? Because the space between the standards we allow ourselves to accept as the ultimate definition of beautiful and the way we see ourselves, leaves us vulnerable.
Isn’t it funny that we can look at hundreds of different women and we can say, she’s attractive. Oh and her? Yes, she’s also attractive. Such pretty eyes. This lady here? Yes, such beautiful hair. That one? Such a perfect body. We can look at literally hundreds of women, perhaps only a fraction of them actually meeting our precise definition of what truly beautiful means, and yet we can believe each of them to be beautiful. We can recognize beauty in others even when it doesn’t measure up to our perfect vision. Yet when we fail to measure up to the perfect vision we are much less kind to ourselves. Much less likely to use the word beautiful. And isn’t it also strange that you cannot isolate any one woman as the most beautiful woman in the world? Take this actress or that model and regardless of how perfect they may seem, place another seemingly perfect specimen beside her and you realize that beauty cannot be contained and defined in just one form. That there are endless combinations and themes and hues to beauty. Yet, again we place ourselves beside that example of perfect beauty and we beat the bloody hell out of our self image for failing to match up to every aspect of it.
I want to figure out my perception of beautiful and I want to figure out what things I feel I lack. Where am I less than beautiful? Then, perhaps I can determine what is realistic to improve upon and what is silly to focus on. Maybe I can learn to recognize the power of my own beauty without regard for how another person makes me feel. Isn’t it true no one can make you feel something? We take on the feelings ourselves or we allow ourselves to wear the prejudices and opinions of others.
The goal, I think, should be to form a more realistic vision of beauty and an acceptance of our own beautiful features along with our flaws. A kind of comfort in ourselves that is more unshakable from the opinions of others when we’re able to remind ourselves that it’s really our own definition of beautiful that we measure ourselves against.
This is where I will start my next entry; defining what I “personally” find to be beautiful in a woman. Defining how I believe I compare to that. Then perhaps looking at whether there are things I can truly improve on. Preferably things within my power as opposed to focusing on those things that cannot be changed.
Following that phase I’ll later try to look at the personality traits I feel are positive and those I feel may be hurting me.
Lastly I hope to define where I want to be in life and then do a comparison between that and where I am today.
When all of this is said and done I hope I will have a clear vision of how I feel about myself. My self image and my level of confidence. From there I can determine the things I need to change in life.
Before I wrap this up I want to be specific about my goals. What are they and why am I trying to create this process for myself?
My goal is to live life with as much energy and passion as I can. To be comfortable with myself, to maintain happiness and contentment with myself and my life. To be the best me I can be, according to my own beliefs and values and dreams and to discard all other unnecessary baggage along the way.