A day ago, I was having an emotional heart-to-heart with a friend of mine who was complimenting me. It made me uncomfortable while it thrilled me, and he said aloud: “You have terrible self-esteem.”
Being told you have low self-esteem (and that it shows) does the opposite of fixing your low self-esteem, FYI.
In the 28 years of my life I have operated mostly under the assumption that upon leaving my home and going out into the world, everyone I encounter is either going to say or think horrible things about me. I assumed everyone felt this way. “Look at how sloppy she dresses, does she honestly think we don’t notice her acne scars under all that makeup? Is she trying to hide it behind her thinning hair?” Everyone on the train, all the people at work, all my customers must constantly be thinking these things.
Never mind the fact that when I go out into the world, I have nothing but sweet and beautiful thoughts for strangers. “The curve of her thighs is so sumptuously beautiful, his tattoos are so artfully done, I wish I could do my makeup like hers, his cheekbones are amazing, I’ve never seen anyone look so good in sweatpants before!” And so on. Why not? They’re all better than me.
Then the epiphany: If I assume everybody is thinking horrible thoughts about themselves, as I do, then maybe they’re all thinking beautiful thoughts about strangers, which I am, and the realization:
Maybe I should be more kind to myself?