My distorted self-image

Deep ✨

Moving to a new country does lots of things to your daily life. But what I didn’t expect it to do was to change the way I look at myself – not only who I am and my capabilities, but especially my looks. Yes: I am 30 years old and suddenly have the self-confidence of an 18 year-old. Let me tell you what happened.

Southern focus on looks

Dallas is notorious for having inhabitants that focus a lot on their outward appearance. Many people do facials, plastic surgery and have the fake nails and lashes. They also often care about designer clothes and having their hair and make-up done pretty glamorously.

And even though I love how people here dress up and make actually an effort (contrary to The Netherlands) this did make me a little less nonchalant about the way I look, and how I feel like I fit in society. I put a lot of effort in now, and with higher hopes automatically comes a higher risk of failure.

Psychological twist

But what really doesn’t help is that somehow suddenly my brain is only focused on those people I described here. There are a lot of normal-looking people in Dallas. There are a lot of people who don’t have the time or f*cks to give to care a lot about their appearance. There are even more people who don’t have the money to invest a lot into their looks. But somehow, my brain does not register these people. I automatically filter these ‘average’ people out, and only see the very good looking people, because those are the wants I want to compare myself with.

I think this is something a human brain does when you move to another country or even continent. It is human to want to fit in, to compare yourself to others, and see how you relate to society. And it doesn’t help that the only people I am comparing myself to, are people I only see in public or on social media.

Compare to reality

Because this is a very unfair comparison. I don’t know these people, so I don’t know how much time and money it costs them to look like this. I don’t know what they look like without make up, waking up in the morning with a hangover. I haven’t seen them at their worst. But I do know my my worst looks like. So in a way, I am comparing my worst, with their best. And that’s simply disastrous for the ego.

This is also why in The Netherlands, I feel a lot more secure and confident. I have my friends and family there, so I much more compare myself (or measure myself up to) ‘my crowd’. And these are people I know through and through, who I’ve seen without make up, crying, with a hangover, in the absolute worst hours of their lives. And I fit right in there with them!

Add an unhealthy dosis of perfectionism to the mix and you get what most rational people would simply call a purely poisonous mindset. I am so hard on myself that I say and think things about myself that I would never say about my friends. And the worst thing is: no one else really cares what I look like. I’m literally my own worst enemy.

But hey, I’m working on it. Life outside of everything you know comes with weird plot twists I guess. I will practice talking a little bit more kind to my own reflection. And always remember: don’t compare yourself with people you don’t even know!

xx Coco

The difference between ego and self worth

Deep ✨

As humans, we can reflect on ourselves and our actions. We can consciously step outside of ourselves, judge ourselves, and have thoughts and opinions on who we are. We often do this from mere emotion, not ratio or logic. Insecurities, past experiences and how we think other people see us, play a huge role. But there is also room for true and justified estimation (you know the word self-‘esteem’?), from a place of love. Let’s see where these views differ.

Both our ego and our sense of self worth stem from our ability to self-reflect. The first one saves us from future humiliation. It’s the band-aid on our insecurities, that allows us to go out into the world again after someone critiques, dislikes or mistreats who we truly are, at the core. The second one is more silent, but holds our deep truth – that we are worthy independent of anyone’s (even our own!) opinion.

The ego

Your ego is the voice in your head that either agrees with the person who hurt you (‘It’s true, I AM ugly’) or overcompensates to make the thing that hurt less dominant (‘It’s a lie, I’m beautiful, THEY are ugly’). The person who hurt you basically created a small hole that feels uncomfortable, and your ego tries to cover it so you’re able to still go to your job, talk to people and live your life, even though you now have a small hole.

Either, your ego resides in that hole, takes comfort in the pain, and allows you to believe the hurtful thing (for example; that you’re ugly) for the rest of your life. Or it will cover the hole, make sure you believe the exact opposite while still using the same framework, and your ego will ‘save’ you from being hurt.

Funny enough, whatever the ego chooses, if you act from the ego your behaviour will probably look like this: You act like you’re not hurt at all, while you focus and keep questioning on your ugliness or beauty (in the case of the used example). You will judge other people on their ugliness or beauty, and constantly compare yourself to them.

In future situations, you either completely believe the hurtful things that are said to you (because they are in line with the hole you already have) or you don’t even consider their truth because it is scary and you might get hurt (while staying in your own opposite bubble).

Many people who act from their ego, also worry a lot about their identity. They often want to tell or show people ‘what they’re like’, want to define their sense of style or even obsessively stick to ‘being that type of girl’. You know when someone says ‘I am who I am, and I’m not gonna change for nobody’? You guessed it – it’s their sassy ego talking.

Self worth

But what the ego tells you, doesn’t say anything about who you are, deep down, and what you’re worth. The ego is just the good-intentioned but badly-educated friend who gives you a (often false) opinion of yourself, so you can live your life. But what if we didn’t need an opinion of ourselves to be able to go about our day? What if we always knew, deep down, that we are worthy and we are not defined by what other people think about us?

This is where your self worth differs from your ego. Where the ego tells you ‘I’m ugly’ or ‘No, I’m pretty’ – a healthy sense of self worth knows that you are worthy and deserve a good life, no matter what you look like. Where the ego might tell you that you’re not good enough, because someone doesn’t want you in their life or rejects you, your self worth should know that who you are and what you deserve is not dependant on other people, and is definitely NOT defined by someone leaving you.

As humans, we find it hard to not think of rejection, abandonment, judgement or recognition as signs that tell us something about our worth. Because we are social beings, we are programmed to take these things very seriously in order to survive (we need to be part of a group). But this is merely deep-rooted emotion. And these emotions are meant to make us survive, not find objective truths.

When you have a good sense of self worth (yes, you can train this) you’ll even see that getting hurt is not that bad. In the ideal case, you don’t even feel the fear of the ego: because when you know your worth, no matter how other people estimate you, you can take a hit without changing how you feel about yourself. You don’t need to form an opinion on yourself or other people anymore. Because you know who you are without it.

So the next time someone hurts you, try to remember that who you are and what you’re worth is not dependant on anyone else’s opinion of you. And that your opinion of you should be informed by your sense of self worth, and not the ego – from a place of love, not of fear.

xx Coco