by Susan S.
We don’t see ourselves the way others see us.
We feel awkward. Inadequate. Unlovable. And we continually beat ourselves up, saying we should be funnier, smarter or nicer. If people criticize us or yell at us, we believe them. We analyze everything we say and do, and use it as evidence that we should feel bad about ourselves.
What if we had a way to begin to see ourselves as other people see us? What if we could start to challenge those negative beliefs?
As you begin co-counseling, you can gain insights about yourself by listening to others. You’ll hear your “client’s” negative beliefs about herself, but you as the outside observer will know them not to be true.
Your client might say, “no one likes me, and I’ll never have any friends.” You know that your client is actually a very loving, caring and funny person whom you enjoy talking to. As counselor, you’ll support your client’s need to be heard about these beliefs, while reassuring her that it isn’t the way you see her.
Meanwhile, the wheels may begin turning in your own mind. You might think, “If this wonderful person has such an untrue view of whether she is a worthy friend, maybe my own thoughts about being unlovable aren’t entirely accurate either?”
These negative thoughts can run very deep, especially if we were rejected or treated poorly by family, friends or spouses. When others we love or admire put us down, their words can leave a scar that never seems to heal, and we seldom pause to ask whether what they are saying is true.
At the same time, we have a tendency to blame ourselves if others treat us poorly. We use this as further evidence that we are bad people. We are conditioned by society that “it takes two to tango.” If we see someone yelling at another person, we find ourselves wondering what the recipient did to deserve it. But no one deserves this type of treatment, and we should not blame ourselves.
I first began to understand this when I heard a person talk about feeling unloved by his parents. As the outside observer, I know this person to be very deserving of a parent’s love. It dawned on me: How his parents treated him had absolutely nothing to do with his worth as a human being.
Once I had this realization, others followed. What I have thought about myself has never been true, and if others treat me poorly it doesn’t mean I deserve it or that I’m a bad person.
It’s not an easy or quick process to reconsider your deepest beliefs. But by hearing the disconnect between what others think about themselves and what you think about them, you can begin to see the truth about yourself.