Our daily lives consist of absorbing unrealistic expectations from media for what we should look like, how our romantic relationships should be, and even what we should be doing between the sheets with our sexual partners.
Media (and social media) can make us feel unattractive. Models and actors are attractive, of course, but now even our friends on social media have photoshopped their pictures to perfection, often making us feel unattractive in comparison.
Lots of evidence shows that the more media we consume with attractive people in it, the worse we feel about ourselves. But because we don’t want to give up our addiction to media — an addiction that provides us with companionship, entertainment, and so many good memories — we don’t quit.
One of the ways we can better accept ourselves is to identify and challenge our negative self-talk. We always have these inner monologues chirping away at us, interpreting the events happening all around us. For many of us, this self-talk is mostly negative.
For example, we might think, "I’m ugly" or "My life sucks," when we watch TV shows or look at our social media. Or we might think, "He hates me," if a friend posts a picture of a fun time that we weren’t invited to.
In addition to negative self-talk, we can also easily slide into the habit of focusing on our weaknesses instead of celebrating our strengths. We all suck at things. In fact, we all suck at most things, and that’s OK. But it can really get us down when we focus on these things instead of focusing on what we’re good at.
I sometimes put myself down, because I’m not great at maintaining friendships long-term. It’s true. I’m an introvert. I don’t like texting and often feel shy about asking people to meet in person. But if we get down on ourselves regularly for the things we’re not good at,
What else stops us from being ourselves? Mostly, it’s our fear of what other people might think about us if we showed our true selves. For example, maybe our friends all have the same opinion about a political topic, so we decide not to share our different points of view.
It’s human nature for us to want to show the best sides of ourselves. And holding back our opinions occasionally is a necessary part of life — in fact, it can help make our relationships a bit easier and more enjoyable. As social beings, we have all navigated the challenge of balancing self-expression with social harmony in our face-to-face interactions.
Another important step to being ourselves is showing our vulnerability. Most of us, myself included, don’t really want to show the parts of us that we don’t like — the parts that scare us or make us feel ashamed, embarrassed, or weak.