How do you tell someone their self-worth shouldn’t be based on what someone else thinks? How do you get that through to them?
I was recently scrolling through Facebook and saw a friend post photos of herself on there. She has been publicly struggling with the fact that she’s lost some weight and doesn’t feel like herself. Her photos were beautiful and she looked great in my opinion, but she commented on them that her husband is what makes her beautiful.
To clarify, it does not say “My husband makes me feel beautiful,” but rather “he makes me beautiful.”
You might think I am grasping at straws here, except this isn’t the first post to indicate her self-worth is based solely on her husband’s opinion.
For that, I am sad.
I used to seek this same kind of validation from people. My dad was absent in my life as a child and I remember taking up musical instruments (he was a musician) because I thought if we had something in common it would make him come around and pay attention to me. When I was 9 or 10, I memorized a song word for word to prove that I could do it like my dad, who never used sheet music and always played by ear. It didn’t help. Eventually, I stopped caring and moved on with my life, but I know the feeling.
It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized (and honestly, it’s still a work in progress) that what someone else thinks of you does not dictate your value. If someone else doesn’t think you’re beautiful, it doesn’t make you ugly. If someone thinks you’re untalented, it doesn’t mean you don’t have skills.
I know how soul crushing it can be to care about someone and love them so much and have them turn on you, which is exactly why it’s critical that we build self-esteem not from what someone else says, but from within ourselves. So much of this is easier said than done. It’s concerning because in many ways, this can become an abuse tactic. If you let someone have the power to influence how you feel about yourself individually, they can control you. They can make you feel like nothing or like everything in the span of a few short sentences. It can cause you to do things to gain that affection back and cause them to do things to manipulate your affection toward themselves.
Obviously not every situation is like that. You can’t make a blanket statement across the board and say it applies to everyone. I feel beautiful when my husband tells me I’m beautiful. I also believe he finds me beautiful more often than he tells me that to my face (this could all be my own delusions, but I am happy living with them). I also know that there are days when I am really feeling myself or my outfit or my hair and I feel beautiful and nobody needs to tell me that to realize that’s the vibe I’m putting off to the universe.
I’m so happy her husband makes her feel beautiful. It makes me sad that it appears as though she only feels beautiful when he tells her that, but I know so many of us feel the same and maybe just don’t vocalize it. It’s easy to pick away at yourself and your reflection in the mirror. It is so much harder to find things you like about yourself and stop using qualifiers in front of them. You don’t need to qualify what you like about yourself. If you like it, it’s enough. You’re enough.
If our self-worth is based solely on the affections of others, if something waxes and wanes, we don’t know how to react. We combust, become even more self-deprecating and it’s not healthy. We’ve all got to do a better job of finding things we like about ourselves and playing up those talents.
At the end of the day, the best thing we can do is build each other up. How we make others feel about themselves is a direct reflection of who we are as a person. Empowered people, empower people. Go empower someone.