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Self-Image? - July 5th 2011, 05:29 AM

In the past year, I've struggled a lot with my self-image and confidence, mainly relating to how I appeared to everyone else (and, at the time, including my girlfriend) as well as how I compared to other people who society had seemed to dub the term "attractive" (in both a physical and emotional sense). I'd always known that attractiveness has different meanings to every person, but it didn't change the fact that there seemed to be a ubiquitous trend for a majority of people to highlight one particular person who was attractive to many, and downplay those who weren't.

I began seeing my girlfriend take notice of the other attractive men surrounding her (we were in a LDR), and even though I know it's only human to notice attractive people, it was a tremendous blow to my self esteem and contributed to my feeling that I simply wasn't piquing her interest enough to have her be as attracted to me as I was to her. I'm no longer in the relationship, but the feelings stuck -- and although I've been working on seeing myself in a more positive light, I always find myself dwelling on the fact that women openly fawn over attractive men, and the average- or below-average-appearing men tend to be left in the dust when it comes to how much attention they get. It makes me feel as though even if I were in a relationship, it wouldn't do anything to change the fact that the girl on the other end will still swoon over some guy she saw in a movie, or at the gym.

I know that physical appearance is only one facet of attractiveness, but it's denial to say that it's completely irrelevant (in most cases).

My problem here is that I've exhausted what I can find on the internet in terms of what people recommend for improving self-esteem, or convincing myself that I actually am attractive, but I haven't found a single method that is effective for me. When I read a suggestion that says, "Write down your good qualities and keep the list on your person for a couple of weeks, and read it to yourself whenever you have self-deprecating thoughts," it makes me feel like I'm just spoon feeding myself confidence -- like I'm burying the issue under a superficial blanket of self-perpetuating naivety. Telling myself that I'm as attractive as the men that women swoon over won't change the amount of attention I receive from those women, and likely, nothing will...but I must stop thinking that because I don't receive that attention, I'll never attract a woman. If only the hindrance of a recurring thought was easy...

So, two main questions:

1. Does anyone else here find it hard to follow suggestions like the ones I described above?

2. For those who said yes to (1)...how did you circumvent the problem? What method did you use that worked better then self-affirmations, to improve your self-image?

Sorry for the long post!
   
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Re: Self-Image? - July 6th 2011, 07:04 PM

1) Yes. I often have difficulty accepting compliments (of any sort, not just appearance-wise), and telling myself I'm beautiful does feel somewhat silly. In all honesty, I don't use confidence-boosting techniques... I have accepted that there are some days when I'm going to feel on top of the world, some days when I'm going to feel "normal", and some days when I'm going to feel like I've hit rock bottom. People's moods swing back and forth, and that's totally natural. My goal is to accept those days, and recognize it's just one day... tomorrow can be so much better!

2) Aside from accepting that I'm in a bad mood (and that tomorrow I'll be in a better mood), I force myself to stop dwelling on my "traits". I stop THINKING and start DOING. What's the point of sitting around all day and telling yourself, "I may not be as handsome as Hugh Jackman, but I have other positive qualities"? If you're not at a point in your life where you can accept those sorts of statements, then you're wasting your time. You can stop wasting your time by being productive and putting yourself to work, whether it's by running errands or starting a project you've been meaning to work on. If you really have nothing to do, then go to the library or a recreational center and teach yourself something new. By doing these sorts of things, you're improving your life... which leads to improving yourself, because it is YOUR life! It's a more indirect way of boosting your self-esteem, and it will take the focus off of YOU and put the focus on what YOU CAN DO.

If I may, I just want to say something else about girls "fawning" over attractive men. Yes, when I see a particularly attractive man, I stop and stare for a bit. But you know what I do after that? I go about my business and call my boyfriend at the end of the day. You are a rare exception, in that you don't pay attention to attractive women. MOST people DO take note of attractive people, because we're biologically "programmed" to take note of attractive people. That's all it is, though... it's noting an attractive person. It doesn't occupy nearly as much "mental space" as you probably think it does. It may for a short while, and there may be some lingering thoughts afterward, but the bottom-line is that an attractive person is just something to look at. So if the women you date can take note of something, then move on, why can't you learn to do the same? If they don't obsess over attractive men all day long, why should you?





   
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Re: Self-Image? - July 6th 2011, 07:36 PM

1.) Yes. I have a hard time with self image. I always have. I've tried all of the usual soulition (Telling yourself your beauitful in the mirror.)
2.) I keep myself busy. I don't stand in frount of a mirror for longer than needed to do my hair. I keep my self busy by doing "projects". I've learned to knit, draw, write, found my favorate television shows. Anything that keeps me from thinking about my image.
   
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Re: Self-Image? - July 7th 2011, 01:07 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by PSY View Post
..My goal is to accept those days, and recognize it's just one day... tomorrow can be so much better!
I understand what you mean with your answer to the first part. However, lately, a day that I feel confident about myself has become rare, and most of the time, I'm either too busy to care, or so convinced by my own insecurities that it's hard to just say, "Tomorrow will be different." I know what you're trying to say, though, and I appreciate it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PSY View Post
Yes, when I see a particularly attractive man, I stop and stare for a bit. But you know what I do after that? I go about my business and call my boyfriend at the end of the day. You are a rare exception, in that you don't pay attention to attractive women.
I never said that I don't pay attention to attractive women...but I pay barely any attention whatsoever (with respect to staring in awe) to women I'd normally consider attractive when I'm in a relationship with one. Perhaps that makes me a rare exception, but in that case I'd rather be abnormal than otherwise. It makes me feel more secure in my relationship when my girlfriend is the most beautiful girl to me (both on the inside, and outside).
Quote:
Originally Posted by PSY View Post
MOST people DO take note of attractive people, because we're biologically "programmed" to take note of attractive people. That's all it is, though... it's noting an attractive person. It doesn't occupy nearly as much "mental space" as you probably think it does. It may for a short while, and there may be some lingering thoughts afterward, but the bottom-line is that an attractive person is just something to look at. So if the women you date can take note of something, then move on, why can't you learn to do the same? If they don't obsess over attractive men all day long, why should you?
I'm sorry if I implied that I think that women are "obsessing over attractive men all day long"; I didn't mean for it to seem so hyperbolic. However, it goes without saying that there are a lot of women (most, from what I can tell) who don't feel any hesitance to publicly announce who they think is attractive. There's nothing wrong with that, really. And guys are no exception. But, the former case is what's relevant to my insecurity -- it doesn't really make any difference to me if I hear two guys talking about how attractive a certain girl is. However, I do get just as irritated when I hear that type of discussion coming from guys who are in committed relationships.

I'm not sure how insecurities work for you, Robin, but for myself (and many others) it involves a vicious mental cycle of self-deprecating thought and reinforcement, which usually comes in the form of our manipulating something to seem like it's reinforcement. It's not something I can choose to put on pause, evaluate, and turn around on a whim -- it's an entire thought process. If I had the choice of either continuing to feed my insecurity, or stopping it entirely, I don't think I'd be here...
   
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Re: Self-Image? - July 7th 2011, 02:05 AM

I know insecurities can't be put on "pause" and that you don't "choose" to feed your insecurities. I cringe when people say things like, "Snap out of it," or "Just stop doing what you're doing," in regards to mental illnesses of any sort. Most people do have SOME periods of relief from the cycle, though, where they can take a step back and recognize something isn't right. They can try and identify how the cycle starts, what keeps the cycle going, and how they can try and stop the cycle once it has started. That's basically what cognitive therapy is: a psychological professional shows their client how to alter their way of thinking about situations. So if I seemed to imply that you should just talk yourself out of it or magically stop feeling a certain way, I do apologize. That wasn't my intention at all. I am, however, trying to help you think about the situation in a different way, from a different perspective, for those times when you aren't so caught up in your way of thinking that you can't comprehend any other way of thinking.





   
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Re: Self-Image? - July 7th 2011, 03:04 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by QuantumModulus

Does anyone else here find it hard to follow suggestions like the ones I described above?
Not really but I take a different view. If I'm told something negative about my person, I turn it into a positive by considering that if I address it then I've overcome a hurdle. For me, addressing it involves either "fixing" it or ignoring it as too insignificant to worry about. If I'm told something positive, then it stays positive. In other words, I make everything positive but don't do so by thinking of what all my positives are because the concern is the particular negative so anything else is irrelevant and just paints a pretty mask over it. In life, I'd rather deal with it even while it's rough and dirty as opposed to waiting until it has a pretty mask. From doing this for such a long time, anytime a new negative emerges I can recall many or all of the former negatives to tell myself I've overcome this enormous hurdle, it's not a problem to overcome this new hurdle that's tiny by comparison. Consequently, from turning all negatives into positives, keeping positives as positives or ignoring negatives, it gives me a very strong self-image and high confidence. It enables me to be better at putting things on a conceptual pause, work them out then return to a conceptual resume.

Quote:
Originally Posted by QuantumModulus View Post
I pay barely any attention whatsoever (with respect to staring in awe) to women I'd normally consider attractive when I'm in a relationship with one. Perhaps that makes me a rare exception, but in that case I'd rather be abnormal than otherwise. It makes me feel more secure in my relationship when my girlfriend is the most beautiful girl to me (both on the inside, and outside)
...
However, I do get just as irritated when I hear that type of discussion coming from guys who are in committed relationships.
What is it that irritates you when you hear people in a committed relationship talking about someone they see as attractive? Do you feel they aren't as secure in their relationship?

Quote:
Originally Posted by QuantumModulus
it wouldn't do anything to change the fact that the girl on the other end will still swoon over some guy she saw in a movie, or at the gym.
This seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy for defeat because when you make these comparisons between you and the buff guy in the gym or in a movie, you further the social gap. As a result, it's harder to step over the gap and put yourself in that position, such as working out at a gym.

Have you tried using this social gap as motivation like I described above?


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Re: Self-Image? - July 7th 2011, 04:47 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Man And XX Master View Post
Not really but I take a different view. If I'm told something negative about my person, I turn it into a positive by considering that if I address it then I've overcome a hurdle. For me, addressing it involves either "fixing" it or ignoring it as too insignificant to worry about. If I'm told something positive, then it stays positive.
I completely understand what you mean. I suppose, though, that the most common difference between men who are generally considered average, or below-average, in attractiveness, and those considered generally attractive, are features that one can't necessarily modify and turn into a positive if considered a negative (i.e., facial structure, bone structure -- which may make certain muscly looks appear brute, etc.). I see why you'd prefer your current stance to the directly self-affirming one that most people advise today, though.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Man And XX Master View Post
What is it that irritates you when you hear people in a committed relationship talking about someone they see as attractive?
I suppose it's just that I immediately put myself in the position of the other person in that relationship, and how I'd think if I had heard the same thing coming. Nobody (to my knowledge, I could be wrong) feels particularly upbeat or receptive to the thought of his/her partner being attracted to other people and noticing enough to comment on it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Man And XX Master View Post
Do you feel they aren't as secure in their relationship?
Of course not! What I said applied to my relationships and me only -- and although some may agree with my position, based on what I've seen, my view is certainly not universally applicable. There's no doubt that there are some people who are completely secure in relationships in which that takes place, and it's fine -- but I just know that if I were in a relationship, I'd like to not think that my girlfriend was ogling other guys and chatting her friends up about it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Man And XX Master View Post
This seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy for defeat because when you make these comparisons between you and the buff guy in the gym or in a movie, you further the social gap. As a result, it's harder to step over the gap and put yourself in that position, such as working out at a gym.

Have you tried using this social gap as motivation like I described above?
I suppose it is; you're right. I hadn't considered that 'gap' before, it was never really apparent to me.

I haven't really tried using the difference as motivation. Right now I'm not really at the liberty of using the gym on any regular basis, and I highly doubt that I'll be in a major motion picture any time soon -- what other methods do you think there are for shortening this 'gap'? And if those don't work, then might it possibly suggest that the thing separating the generally "attractive" from the generally "average" is something that a person can't change (like what I mentioned earlier)? Something to think about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PSY View Post
I know insecurities can't be put on "pause" and that you don't "choose" to feed your insecurities. I cringe when people say things like, "Snap out of it," or "Just stop doing what you're doing," in regards to mental illnesses of any sort. Most people do have SOME periods of relief from the cycle, though, where they can take a step back and recognize something isn't right. They can try and identify how the cycle starts, what keeps the cycle going, and how they can try and stop the cycle once it has started. That's basically what cognitive therapy is: a psychological professional shows their client how to alter their way of thinking about situations. So if I seemed to imply that you should just talk yourself out of it or magically stop feeling a certain way, I do apologize. That wasn't my intention at all. I am, however, trying to help you think about the situation in a different way, from a different perspective, for those times when you aren't so caught up in your way of thinking that you can't comprehend any other way of thinking.
Don't worry about it; it's all good. I understand what you're saying. There are the occasions when I do feel unfettered by my insecurities, but they don't last very long. I can't really identify any ways through which I can change the way I think about these types of things, and can't afford a psychologist right now, but it's the absolute worst when you have the insecurity, acknowledge its existence as well as its irrationality, and still can't shake it. I've got some ideas about why I feel so stuck in this mindset (how it began, at least), but knowing the origins doesn't seem to help me in reversing it. Sigh. If only this were projective geometry...

Thanks everyone, I appreciate your input thus far.
   
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