How You View You

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“Your whole life is a message. Every act is an act of self-definition. Everything you think, say and do sends a message about you.” ~ Neale Donald Walsch

Most of us, I believe, have at least one or two facets of ourselves that we spend considerable time nurturing. They’re often challenging efforts in conjunction with personal growth and development. The other day someone asked what one thing matters most to me? And I couldn’t immediately answer the question. My first reaction was to cite one of my key values but something deep inside said, “you’re warm but it’s not that.” I sought time and promised I’d soon get back to her with an answer.

I’m glad I didn’t rush simply for the sake of proffering an answer. When I later created space to reflect on the question, my mind was all over the map. I began to write:

  • being happy
  • life purpose certainty
  • knowledge
  • fulfilling relationships
  • smiling
  • compassion for others
  • love
  • accepting defeat
  • family
  • to keep breathing
  • learning
  • being passionate
  • mindfulness
  • time
  • being empathetic
  • health
  • life itself
  • curiosity
  • and much more

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It was when contemplating the ‘much more’ that I discovered what matters most to me: A positive self-view. For me, having a positive self-view (others might see this as self-regard or self-concept) means accepting myself for who I am and what I believe in. It means having the courage necessary to make my own decisions and to live life the way that’s right for me.

Absent a positive self-view we tend to compare ourselves to others, feel insecure about ourselves and are too sensitive to the opinions of others (though I admit to being a highly sensitive person). We also make choices based on other people’s expectations rather than what truly feels right for us.

I’ve lived much of my life with a diminished self-view. Sure I’ve been cocky and confident but there were plenty of times when I was concerned about other people’s judgment. Like many people, I’ve come a long way but I’m still working on learning to love myself, unconditionally. And, for me, this is challenging work. πŸ™‚

If a strong(er) positive self-view matters to you, here are three considerations:

  1. Accept imperfections. Perfection is a lofty intention yet you need not start or end there. You’ve heard it before but make doing your best is an admirable goal. Focus on what you have achieved/accomplished and how you can draw on same going forward. Bypass what wasn’t done or ought to have been done differently. And laugh at yourself instead of criticizing.
  2. Be optimistic. Always believe in yourself. Being an optimist doesn’t mean always seeing the brighter side of life. It means to view your surroundings whereby you can maximize your gifts and strengths and minimize your hesitations and weaknesses.
  3. Forgive and forget. Your past can control you if you don’t control it. If you can, forgive past wrongs and move on. If you have a hard time forgiving or forgetting, consider talking through your emotions with a good friend or counselor, but try not to dwell. Allow freedom and new choices to frame your future.

And here’s my invitation: When you view you, what one thing matters most?

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91 thoughts on “How You View You

  1. Eric I could not explain it as eloquently but I agree that feeling good about who the genuine me is, makes me happy. It has taken decades to be comfortable in my own skin but what a relief to have arrived. There are slips from time to time to be sure.

    On another note my apologies as your blog slipped off my reader. Please know it wasn’t purposeful and I am glad to be back.

  2. Great post. A positive self view means there is a harmony between out inner self and our external self. And this radiates all around us, spreading joy and happiness. That adds to the state of happiness.

  3. I have struggled with “self-love” or “positive self view” for most of my life. Like you, I have had moments of cockiness or confidence and the old “baffle them with your bullshit when you can’t dazzle them with you brilliance” moments. Still, to say that “Yes, I am what I am and I am glad” has been a work that is still in progress and I feel I am getting closer and closer to it.

    What matters most is that I matter.

  4. While I talk a big game, as evidenced by my blog, I too suffer from self-view problems. Deep down I do like me though and make no apologies for who I am and how I live my life. This is how I want to do things for me. As for what matters most, I would say that the respect my family and friends still have for me. For me, this shows me I am living my life to the best I can, and those that I love and care for know it.

    • Bravo for liking yourself, knowing who you are, and how you choose to live your life. Solid strengths in/with each of those views. Thanks for sharing what matters most to you; it’s both admirable and inspiring!

  5. Another great share thanks Eric. To me what matters is becoming a better version of myself every month. Quitting and failing are no longer vices but a barometer of pushing myself to try things outside of my comfort zone yet realizing when things no longer serve me. An attitude of constant reinventation has turned out to be the best teacher that I’ve ever had.

    • Thank you, Marc. Your term: a better version of (your)self is one that I believe many seek. Kudos to you for pursuing an attitude of constant reinvention. In addition to that being a good teacher, it’s essential for positive and constructive change. Here’s to your experiencing more!

  6. Wonderful post. Being empathetic is high on my list, and being kind. Looking over your list as I have gotten older all of those things are things I try to keep in mind. It is good to see them on the written page!

  7. Eric, this is a treasure chest of wonderful observations. I love how you point out the optimism is not the wearing of rose-colored glasses, but rather it is making the determination to work with what is available to you and to turn it into the best that it can be. Best, Karen

  8. Thank you for sharing here Eric. Its interesting how “what matters most when I view me?” has changed over time.
    “I”, “me” and “mine” are becoming less important. When I look in the mirror I see myself as a reflection of everyone. Just as when I look at others I see a reflection of myself.
    Maybe I need to get new contacts!

  9. I’ve found I try much harder to change my imperfections rather than accept them. Perhaps, it’s more of a struggle…some things end up in self-defeat while I benefit at other times. Some traits are easier to accept while others have given greater value to relationships by my change of perspective or how our use these traits in conjunction with self-view or interaction with others.

  10. My imperfections are my perfections; given the wisdom of honest insight. I do not recognise perfection in any sense human or material, for there is only imperfection and the journey of improvement. So therefore we must love our imperfect self yet at the same time deny it and seek a better, improved self, which we must then in turn deny as we progress on our journey of life.
    I suspect for many people the concept of loving their obvious imperfections may seem incredible, but it is a necessary first step on the long journey of personal improvement we all must take; maturity is in the mind, body and soul. However, if you were to ask me if I loved myself I would vehemently and honestly deny it, maybe that is why my journey of life, has never easy……
    Yet another thought provoking post Eric, thank you…..

    • I believe your journey as described, Paul, is one many people travel and acknowledge in terms similar to yours. Of all your thoughtful sharing, the word that strikes a chord with me (and perhaps others) is “progress.” That is measurably what our journeys are about. Appreciate your creating time to add richness to this virtual discussion.

  11. These are wise, introspective words given here, Eric. They are comforting and accepting. It was just the right combination to help me feel good about my choices and myself. I value curiosity and empathetic thoughts shown through actions.

    • Thanks, Robin. I trust and hope that you always feel good about your choices and your self. After all, you are the owner of both. πŸ™‚ Good to learn that you (and others) also value curiosity and empathy. We all need too!

  12. πŸ™‚ I love this. And I am the most imperfect person you’ll ever know that admits it out front. Optimistic? How could I not be optimistic with all my flaws? Of course I am hopefully optimistic… and a realist. Forgive? Hmm… that is harder to do completely but I have let go of things I have no power over. The things I can, I fix. You have stirred my thoughts… πŸ™‚

    • I challenge you on being the most imperfect person I know, Jackie. You haven’t met me. πŸ™‚ To your acknowledgment, forgiving is challenging, especially if an act has deeply hurt one physically, emotionally or mentally. I’m with you on the matters I can fix, I do!

  13. A positive self view leads to all the other important things you listed as important, don’t you think? I feel closest to my authentic self than I’ve ever felt in my life but will be on this journey for the rest of my life. If I’m not careful I can fall into the trap of wanting what others have or wondering what they think? Never helps and never gets me where I want to go. Thanks for another great post, Eric.

    • I applaud your recognition, Jer, and agree with you that any of us can default into places we’d rather not be, if we allow our awareness to lapse. To Dale’s above comment, “What matters most to me is me.” If we keep this in mind as we journey forward… πŸ™‚

  14. A thought-provoking post. You put it so well. I am late to finding a positive self image. For too many years I felt less important than other people. I don’t know if it was things that happened to me, or just wisdom with age, at last I know I am only as important as anyone else. For me, the most important thing is to be happy. And each of us has our way of getting there. Thanks for being a guide.

    • In part, your comment demonstrates why I like the saying, better late than never. πŸ™‚ Here’s to the wisdom that has come with age and your awareness of how important being happy is to you! My pleasure to help as a guide though I always believe each of us are our own best guides.

  15. Like you, I would want to contemplate on this. I wouldn’t be able to come up with ‘one’ thing. And I would like to be fully at the point in my life where I lived my life completely true to myself. I know I’m not there. Yet. But it’s a continual process. I do feel good about believing I can improve on who I am and what I have to offer. Another great post Eric. Always leave me thinking…..

    • Happy to have you join the rest of us as we journey through continual process — and progress, Colleen. Here’s to your ongoing thinking, contemplating and getting to know and appreciate yourself even more!

  16. Again, Eric, you are speaking my language πŸ™‚ …

    In Indian Philosophy, our true self is pure, untainted, unchangeable and completely passive. It purely witnesses the world, via the vehicle of our body and mind. It is pure consciousness or awareness.

    Having such qualities makes the self a truly positive entity. It is completely beyond suffering. It is just the eternal witness to our countless births and rebirths.

    What causes our suffering is ignorance. Which basically is driven by the ego. The ego makes us misidentify ourselves with that which is temporary, i.e. our body and mind and that which suffers, not the true essence of our being that is our eternal spirit.

    All three of your points are ways to annihilate the ego and hence allow us to return to the natural state of spiritual bliss, rather than the unnatural state of suffering. Acceptance of imperfections, positive outlook and forgiveness all contribute to the release from suffering by the destruction of the ego.

    To me this would be the one thing that matters the most: Not letting the ego get the better of oneself. Ego leads to ignorance which leads to suffering.

    Different words, same message πŸ™‚

    • Different words yet understandable and appreciated words, H. Thank you for sharing and enlightening from an Indian philosophy perspective. I agree that it is our body and mind that suffer, disallowing our true essence to prevail. Your “what matters most” is a view I had not thought of; now I am. πŸ™‚ Thank you!

  17. Great post Eric! This is such an important and often neglected topic. I have also lived much of my life with a diminished self-view. I just keep reminding myself, that’s not how God sees me every time I think it these days. It has gotten much better. He loves us so much and we are all made to do different things. This post is a good reminder to see the value we all have. I appreciate you, my friend. Thanks for sharing this.

  18. As always Eric you give us plenty to think about.. And I don’t think I could answer the question you pose either with just a short sentence.. And yet I could answer it in one word..
    What matters most.. Is ME.. though often we put ME last because we think it correct to put others first..
    Yet if we put Self first, took care of our bodies, treated ourselves kinder.. I would think if we revered life and respected ourselves more, then surely it should follow that we should then respect all others..

    Yet so many view themselves as imperfect.. And hold self doubt and dislike themselves, which often then lead to behaviours that extend out in frustration and anger lashing out at others..
    We blame society, yet what is society except a reflection of self?..

    I know I am on my Earth Journey and discover New things about myself every day.. And each day I adjust and realign myself I guess as We each of us Change as we grow..
    But one thing is for sure.. Each day as I wake up.. I like ME a little more and more πŸ™‚

    Have a wonderful week Eric.. And again I waffle on… as my ME thought think aloud..

    • BINGO, Sue. You, Dale, and wheremyfeetare (above) are on the same page. A good perspective page. Your reference to a “reflection of self” is a poignant view, one worthy of reflection. Thanks for your thoughtful comment and here’s to your liking your self a little more each day.

  19. Another great post, Eric. Thank you. I particularly like this: “Allow freedom and new choices to frame your future.” I’ve come a long way too, but still feel like I have a long way to go. Ah well, it’s all part of the journey. πŸ™‚

    • Perhaps we ought to consider giving ourselves credit and a back pat for how far we have come and look less to how far we have to go. Many people have made so much progress yet don’t pause to reflect and appreciate the work they’ve done on themselves. I agree it’s all part of our individual journeys, Robin, yet I am going to celebrate all of my to-date growth. And then see what unfolds. πŸ™‚

  20. What one thing matters most to me? Happiness. I share the Dalai Lama’s view that the goal behind all goals is Happiness.

    We desire what we believe will bring us Happiness. We form relationships in pursuit of Happiness. If we decide to be a dutiful daughter or loving mother or televangelist or organic farmer . . . it’s because we feel, at some level, that stepping into those roles will make us happy. If we find that we are NOT happy, inner conflict replaces inner peace.

    Food, people, music, nature, acceptance of self . . . these textural elements add delight to life. Without them, our Happiness would diminish in large measure.

    But without Happiness, none of them would have meaning at all.

  21. I’ve found in recent years that becoming more self-aware of my own motivations and observant of the message I’m delivering that I’m pretty much of a hypocrite and a purveyor of artifice. It’s quite uncomfortable recognizing the drivers behind my actions on about a 3-second lag.

    I’ve caught myself in acts of blind sexism twice this week, the sad part being that I recognized it moments later the first time and still did it again later. I doubt anyone noticed in consciously, but still…

    • Ah, but being uncomfortable is useful awareness. The mere fact that you recognize this in/about yourself is a great place from which to launch anew. You and we are works in progress, yes? And you’re working it. πŸ™‚

  22. Eric I love those three. I believe kindness and compassion are my two. But sometimes they work at my disadvantage as the people around me (not family) but in the community know me and I have had to learn to say no to many things. Im a sucker for volunteering which is okay I like helping out. But now realise there is always someone else to step up if you cannot help.

    • To your acknowledgment, Kath, we who radiate kindness and compassion are often challenged with saying no. It’s part of our essence to want to give and be there for others. Once we realize, as you have, that life and activity goes on absent our wanting to be present, we gain both a different perspective and comfort in knowing we can simply channel our energy and efforts elsewhere. And in that view, I believe many people gain more clarity about who they are.

  23. Eric, this is wonderful. I feel as if you were writing my experience. There is something of all of us in this…if we are honest with ourselves. I, too, am a HSP. I know, understand and embrace it now and along with it, I embrace me. By the way, Neale Donald Walsch is among my favorite authors. I attended a retreat with him in 2009….life shifting for me. Thank you for this “heart-full” post. πŸ™‚

    • Warmed, Carrie, that some “heart-full” words served to remind you (and perhaps others) to embrace “me.” I’m reading and sensing other comments that are in this vein. Always appreciate your thoughtful reflections!

  24. Is it not wonderful that the most innate answer to your question might always be “to have a positive self view” whoever “self” might be…I believe that fundamental “self” is divine and therefore intrinsically positive and composed of Light and Love. Therefore, the question “what matters most to me” ends up depending on how I define “me”… Is that the egotistical me or the fundamental divine me? I hope that does not sound like spiritual gobbledegook… it was not meant to be!

  25. As I weave through many valued and uplifting comments, I come across yours. The light through which you see and appreciate “self” is both grounding and refreshing. I like it! And you, however you are defining you. πŸ™‚ I view your comment as enlightened rather than spiritual gobbledegook.

  26. “Forgive and forget” has been perhaps the most surprising and refreshing experience I’ve made (and had)… And it is difficult, even though I 100% believe that in the long run it is the best. Sustaining anger by not forgiving can be so comforting at times, which makes it difficult to let go ~ but a strange peace that comes with forgiveness allows the mind to forget and find some pretty neat & incredible things in life that otherwise I would have missed. Strange how that works πŸ™‚

  27. Agreed, in the long run it is the best. What I have found considerably challenging is forgiving when I am the one at fault or who has, unfortunately, initiated something I later lament. I have this tendency to flog, rather than forgive myself. I find forgiving others much easier. To your point though, once I muster what it takes to forgive me, it does open some beautiful doors. Maybe not so strange. πŸ™‚

  28. Excellent and practical post. Forgiveness is essential to moving forward and making room for something even better. I’m not so sure about forgetting. I believe we need to remember the lessons learned without dwelling on or beating ourselves up about our mistakes. We need to let go of toxic resentments, but there are lessons I want to remember with compassion.

  29. I’m so happy to have discovered your blog through Robin’s Breezes at Dawn. I admire that quality of seeking time for a deeper answer. Impulse control is a bit hard to come by here at times. Like the thought that went into your choices.

    • And how good it is to have you visit, Gunta. Thank you for creating time to read the post and share your kind comment.

      As an aside, I relocated to the NM High Desert from Seattle. I know the OR Coast well, having camped along it many summers as a child. Appreciate your photos as they rekindle fond memories.

      • I’m getting to camp and kayak the southern portion of the OR coast in my second childhood! Spent roughly 14 years in the high desert of northern UT, but couldn’t seem to shake that yearning for the sea. So glad you’re enjoying my photos of my Pacific coast.

      • We often settled at the Tahkenitch Lake Campground, a few miles north of Reedsport. Such amazing dunes trails through the conifers! And then opening up to the vastness of uncluttered stretches of Pacific coast. And the agate hunting was unrivaled!

        Another here with a strong water affinity. I regularly find myself needing a water “fix.” Revel in your camping and kayaking. πŸ™‚

  30. I think that at this stage in life it is important for me to let go of the need of wanting to understand the way reality works. Basically it comes down to letting go and letting be.
    great insightful post Eric

    • Good of you to stop by, Pieter. Thanks for creating time to read and add your wise perspective. Your “letting go and letting be” view is one to which I wholeheartedly subscribe. Looking forward to following PNCO and its stories/images. Cheers!

  31. A good question to start the new year! I’ve lived a long time and the one thing that matter most to me is fulfilling a purpose to inspire and support others,through the blog site, Before Sundown remember what made you smile. It’s an opening of welcome sunsets and inspiration in writing for others.

  32. This post brings great contemplation! If I were to answer the question that was asked of you, what one thing matters most to you, my answer would have been peace in my heart. And then I saw how that answer reflected what was going on with me for so very long: not feeling peaceful inside. And the reason the lack of peace stood out so much is because over the past 2 years (approx.) I’ve experienced more peace inside than ever before (with doing healing work on myself).

    And along the way, positive self-view has come more and more. Specifically, doing hypnosis work around personal boundaries and body image has been huge in increasing my positive self-view. Taking care of myself is a big priority. I realize that when I’m better, my family and everyone around me is better. Wonderful topic today.

    • Thank you for stopping by and sharing a glimpse into your personal life and experiences, Susan. I am jazzed by your awareness! So many people desire the inner peace that you have worked to create in your life. By your admission, you’ve ‘done the work’ which is essential to yielding desired outcomes. Extreme self-care when coupled with a positive self-view can be both nurturing and inspiring. And it sounds as if it is for you. πŸ™‚ Kudos on your well-earned growth. May the coming new year continue to create opportunities for you to love yourself even more!

  33. I love this post! Thank you for writing it. The starting quote is perfect. I have been fortunate, since changing my job field this last April, that I have been able to let go of somethings that were weighing me down and that has vastly improved how I view myself and my surroundings. I don’t know how long it will last, but I intend to ride it for as long as possible. I find I have been able to work on the things that I’m good at and letting the things I’m not so good at take a back seat and being humble when they pop up every so often, because they are after all learning experiences. I have become stronger in myself and feel that as long as I can stand behind what I do and say and feel good about it, then the opinions of others come second. And with all of this I am more than happy to share my good vibes and round and round the positivity goes.

    “Shoot for the stars…You may end up with your ass in the trees, but at least you’re off the ground!” – Unknown

    • Hey Neo! πŸ™‚ I’m detecting a shift in your thinking and writing; a positive shift. It is encouraging to learn that you are becoming mire happy with sharing your good vibes. Indeed, when we do, the positive energy becomes cyclical and one can simply ride in that flow. As to your thought/observation that “the opinions of others come second,” I’ll invite you to consider that the opinions of others don’t matter. they truly don’t. Thanks for creating time to read and share your good news, DT. Your closing quote is great. πŸ™‚

      • Oh absolutely (Thank you for noticing!)! I had an “A HA!” moment around the time I changed jobs. I realized one day that I could either focus on the negative things (most of which I had no control over like where the oil companies decide to “lose” their product) and be a grump, or I could focus on the good things and things I could control, like cleaning up the myriad of trash that was outside my apartment complex. It’s very much an off shoot of the good ‘ole “Be the change you want to see in the world” But when I worded it the other way to myself it became more than just words and I was able to feel it. πŸ™‚
        Please don’t get me wrong, “second” is way far down. Because the more I care about the thoughts/opinions of others, the less I care about mine. I’ve seen first hand what that looks like. And the more I believe in mine the more I believe in myself and I feel more capable and interested in branching out and trying new things. More confident, I guess you could say.
        And you bet! I plan on being on here much more! I’m always so bewildered when I come back to this site, why I left for so long! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me and be encouraging! πŸ™‚

      • You are welcome. Having traveled a similar path and taken on some of the same ‘work’ I can, with a smile say, Good on you, Grasshopper. πŸ™‚ We who have chosen this journey and have committed to heightening our awareness, are not only growing but we’re adding worth to ourselves and in the process, others. Onward, aware and pleased one! πŸ™‚

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