Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Be Kind to Yourself

Every year, my company sponsors a 4-day family vacation trip to Florida. We all go together and have a great time with our families, and it really gives us all a chance to connect (there are only 13 employees) and get to know each other better.

After last year's trip, we were looking at photos from the trip on the big screen in the conference room, and there was a somewhat close-up picture of my profile, hair partially covering my face, my big Jew nose front and center. I was embarrassed when the photo popped up, and in my typical self-deprecating fashion, said, "Man, check out that nose!"

Here's the thing--I wasn't embarrassed of my nose. I've always loved my nose because I think it's unique and it's a nod to my Jewish heritage. I was embarrassed because for the 2-3 seconds the photo was on the screen, I was the center of attention. I was so worried about potentially unflattering photos of myself showing up on the screen that I became ashamed of any photo in the slideshow. I had to be sure to get in front of any potential flaws someone might notice, and let them know that I was already fully aware. I couldn't let anyone get the idea that I actually liked the way I looked! It was disaster control, without the disaster.

I was cleaning up the folder with all the photos from that trip to put on our company server, and when I came to that picture, I just stared at it, analyzing every detail. Then it hit me.

It wasn't me in the photo. 

You guys, it was my boss's daughter. We're the same age, with similar coloring and similar features, and in being so utterly concerned with the chance of an ugly photo of myself being visible on a big screen for all to see my flaws, I didn't even notice that the photo wasn't of myself.

I instantly felt horrible for insulting her photo. When I looked at the photo again post-realization, all I saw was a happy woman smiling at her son. Yes, her son was in the photo too and I still thought it was me! I couldn't believe that I'd commented on her photo like that; if I'd known it wasn't me, I never would have thought those things because they simply weren't true.

And therein lies the crux of this idea of being kind to ourselves. Why did I think it was okay to talk about myself like that, to think such negative things about my appearance? Yet, once I realized the photo wasn't me, a switch flipped and suddenly I thought it was a beautiful, candid photo? If I wouldn't say or think it about another person, why is it okay to say or think such things about myself?

I learned a huge lesson that day about practicing kindness and self-love. If you wouldn't say it about another person, don't say it about yourself. We have to be kind to ourselves before we can be kind to others; even more importantly, we have to love ourselves before we can love others. 


  1. Very good point. We are often our own worst enemies. But how embarrassing for you!!

    1. Haha, no kidding! I try to tell myself that I said it quietly enough that maybe nobody really heard me, though I'm not quite convinced of that.

  2. Oh boy, I know how that feels cos I have been there befoe.
    But, yes valid point about #selflove. :)

  3. I realized that I was saying negative things about myself in the family 4th of July pictures. I think your are beautiful. I wish I could come to that conclusion about myself.

  4. Very good point about being as kind to yourself as you would be to others! And fingers crossed no one else heard you. ;)

  5. Wow, what an experience!!

    I love the sentiment of "disaster control without the disaster".

  6. Ouch! How embarrassing and yet such a great example of why we shouldn't talk to ourselves that way. I have the same automatic cringe reaction to any photos of myself so I probably would have done the same. Was she in the room?

  7. :-( I like your self-awareness about how you wouldn't have criticized it if you had known it wasn't you, and how you rush to name your flaws so others know that you are aware of it already. I do the same!


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