Compliment Your Mirror

We live in a competitive society. People compete in organized sports, we want the most prestigious career, the biggest SUV, the fanciest house, the most desirable spouse, and the most popularity and fame.

I know, this is not big news because this observation has been commented on for many years. It does seem like this competition has become Super Bowl level during the past few years. It’s as if we are mistaking conceit for self-esteem. The belief seems to be, the person with the most bragging points wins. A casual scroll through social media seems to affirm this observation.

We can tiptoe around the elephant in the room–vanity–for only so long before we decide to take a break from the rat race. We remember there is a probing question that we can ask ourselves about this endless competition–Who are you trying to impress?

I’ll hypothesize that, unchecked, this competition produces status anxiety. Is the desire for glory and reputation ingrained into our DNA or is it culturally learned behavior? Surely society derives great benefits from work that we consider prestigious, such as medicine and law, but those fields are planted with land-mines. I know people who work in dentistry, nursing, and pharmacology who feel deeply fulfilled in doing their work. However, I’ve had conversations with acquaintances who have impressive careers but are profoundly unhappy with their work.

Pondering these situations, I wonder who we think is judging us and our careers. Are they old schoolmates, siblings, and colleagues? Do we consciously want to give them such power over us? When it comes right down to brass tacks, do they honestly care? If so, why do we care what they think?

Does social prestige equal healthy self-esteem?

There are other things we worry about that can affect how we feel about ourselves. Does our weight and body type conform to society’s ideals? Do we have nice hair and a pleasing face? Certainly it’s smart to be mindful about being overweight or underweight as these conditions affect our health. We can also notice whether or not these concerns have become obsessions. Basic care and hygiene aside, why worry about impressing people who may not even like us?

We look in a mirror and notice features that seem like flaws. This is basic, normal behavior for all genders. If we check out our appearance in a full-length mirror we’ll notice other things that we believe other people will dislike. How often do we base our self-esteem on our outward appearance? Is our self-esteem actually conditional self-love?

Is it possible that high self-esteem is overrated? When does high self-esteem cross the line to narcissism? I don’t have definitive, objective answers to these questions. These are highly subjective judgments. Psychological professionals probably have a much better handle on them than I do. That said, I believe it’s healthy to ask those questions about ourselves for our own sakes.

Time after time we come to the conclusion that self-acceptance is the best foundation for healthy self-esteem. We can look at ourselves in the mirror and accept ourselves the way we are–warts and all. A compliment to the mirror is in order. The mirror can be a catalyst for honest self-reflection.

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes entertainer Jay Leno. “I think high self-esteem is overrated. A little low self-esteem is actually quite good. Maybe you’re not the best, so you should work a little harder.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Contemplation, Health, Meanderings, philosophy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Compliment Your Mirror

  1. David Davis says:

    I’m sure all these mental quirks are rooted in biology. Survival instinct gone awry.

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