Robert Burns wrote: “Would but God the gift tae gi’e us, tae see oorselves as ithers see us.” (Better work on that spelling, Bobby!)
Being the consummate egoist, I’ve often rather coveted that ability, though more careful thought, and reflecting on just how deeply I loathe myself at times, dissuades me from putting in a formal request. We all want to be liked, admired and respected. (I personally would go for adored and revered, but that’s pushing it a bit.)
However, because I spend as little time as possible in the world of reality, I suspect that others’ opinions of me might be somewhat different than my own. And they might be skewered further by the fact that people have been very kind to me over the years, leading me to believe that I’m more lovable and cuddly than the facts warrant.
What I think of other people is far simpler to explain. My 1-to-10 Love-to-Hate scale has far, far more people on the upper half of the scale than the lower, and my admiration for some borders on adulation. I can truthfully think of only two people I have known personally whom I can honestly say I hate—and even with them, the pure black of hatred is shaded by a tinge of grey sympathy for whatever made them so loathsome. I am constantly and sincerely awed by the goodness of friends and even casual acquaintances. The receipt of totally gratuitous, unsolicited, and unexpected kind words, cards, and messages never cease to humble me. I am truly ashamed that I seldom if ever even remotely approach their level of goodness.
So exactly how do I see myself? Weighing my self-loathing against my delusions of being a latter-day Mother Teresa/Mahatma Gandhi on my seldom-used scale of reality, I do think I come out a little more on the positive side than the negative. My negative qualities, which I am probably too quick to emphasize, are legion. I am too often petty and irrationally envious of anyone whose abilities and talents I either totally lack or which completely overwhelm my own. My astonishingly low threshold of frustration causes infinite and largely unnecessary problems. And, again, I am simply not as kind and thoughtful to others as they have every right to expect me—and as I expect myself—to be.
In my own defense, I honestly do try to be better than I am. I do truly like most people, and try to let them know it. I can truly empathize with the sufferings of others and try to offer whatever moral support I can provide. I am not stupid, though infinitely less intelligent and well read than I would like to be. I recognize my prejudices and a few areas of outright bigotry, which, like all bigotries, are totally irrational, yet I do not let them interfere with my direct dealings with others.
The vast majority of what I see as my failings are based on unrealistic self-expectations and an aching desire to be what I think I should be and so badly want to be but am not.
My insatiable need for approval and validation go far beyond all reasonable expectation, and concentrating so strongly on myself makes it even more difficult to get closer to who I would like and expect myself to be.
But enough of this exercise in narcissism! Let’s talk about you! So tell me....what do you think of me?
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to visit his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1).