Would You Marry You?
A healthy view of yourself lies between arrogance and self-deprecation
Posted May 23, 2020
Would you marry you? This is a common question that you can find on self-help inventories.
While many folks usually have an immediate yes or no answer, if you slow down and drill down further, the question and your answers can reflect something subtler about your view of yourself. Responses often fall along a continuum of high positive to low negative.
Here are the highlights of the spread:
These folks are at the very top of the positive side of the continuum. This is where narcissists live who, without hesitation, believe that they are the best thing since apple pie and the creation of the universe. They are essentially blind to any of their shortcomings, and whatever character faults others may see and, god forbid, point out, they are dismissed or interpreted as malicious, unwarranted attacks that deserve full retaliation. They would marry themselves in a heartbeat.
Sure, of course
Moving down the line we find folks who are less extreme but still retain an overly optimistic, glossed-over view of themselves. They may not be living in the Lala Land of the narcissists, but their shortcomings are at best minimized, at worst denied. If they are dating someone who breaks up with them, they are not apt to be angry and blaming but instead tell themselves that the other person failed to appreciate all of their positive traits.
Now we’re at the other end of our continuum, those most negative about themselves. Of course, they wouldn’t marry someone like them because…. Now comes a list of seemingly obvious and unfixable deficiencies about looks and personality and physical and mental health problems. This is low self-esteem and self-criticism times ten. Because they think that others will see them as they see themselves or worse, because they don't feel they deserve love and caring, they may put up a front to socially get by in relationships but withdraw from any potentially more intimate ones for fear of being discovered and seen as they see themselves.
Yes, maybe, me really?
Again, moving a bit further towards the middle we find those who see in themselves particular faults that others may scarcely notice or not particularly care about, which causes them to be self-conscious. If anyone seems genuinely attracted to them they are surprised and often apt to be cautious and suspicious.
Goldilocks’ Middle: Yes and
Is there some realistic golden middle between these distorted extremes, between Goldilocks' too cold, too hot, just right? Sure. What would it look like?
Obviously, it’s not seeing yourself as perfect nor despicable. You are aware of your shortcomings and faults, but you realize that everyone has something, that they are in the eyes of the beholder, and they don’t define you nor do they sap your self-esteem and ability to live your life as your life. You are able to recognize and appreciate your strengths but have no need to flaunt them or expect others to idolize them. You have both humility and power, and because you are both realistic and kind to yourself, you can help others understand who you really are without pomp or apology. More important, perhaps, you are to see and treat others in the same way.
Okay, time to take your own inventory. Some questions to get you started:
Where do you sit on our continuum? Would you marry you? If not, why not?
What shortcomings do you see in yourself that others may not see or not particularly care about?
What shortcomings in yourself have others seen that you have a difficult time recognizing or accepting?
How has your view of yourself changed in, say, the past five or ten years?
What do you need most from a partner to help mitigate your biggest shortcomings?
If you struggle answering any of these, it may be time to seek some honest feedback from folks who know and care about you.
Is it time to change the lens of your self-image?