There is a television commercial that features actual patients who have psoriasis. The patients share the emotional pain they feel at being minimized by their disease. They do not feel as if they are actually being seen by others. They believe that all others see is their condition, and they want people to get beyond their illness and see them. As the advertised product is described and each of the patients claims to have gotten relief, they look directly into the camera and say, “See me.” The commercial teaches an important lesson, that if we cannot truly see people, we have a problem. We must get beyond our limited mindset to see others beneath the surface. It requires being intentional about getting over the hang-ups we have, but it is worth the effort. It is a touching and thought-provoking commercial, and it led me to ponder the flip side of the see me message.
The flip side of “see me” is when you are invisible to yourself; you cannot see yourself for who you really are. The irony of that flip side is that others might see you, but your view of who you are is distorted. You cannot see your gifts, talents, abilities, or beauty. Your mindset toward yourself limits your world. The limited view probably came from family, environment, and even yourself. It is not uncommon to buy into lies. The world and people around us can shape us to have twisted views of ourselves. We get trapped in the vicious cycle of shame, false guilt, low self-esteem, and a poor self-image.
I have seen this in others and let the record show that I speak from my own experience. I once lived a life of taking myself too seriously, personalizing things people said because I wanted to be seen in a good light. However, when I would defend myself, people did not experience me in a good light. I was viewed as confrontational and aggressive. I would also compare myself to others whom I thought had it all together. I would look at the negative things about myself and compare them to the positives in others, instead of seeing both my positives and theirs as gifts, talents, and abilities that we both possessed. I saw their positives as a strike against me, and that only made me feel bad about myself. Distorted thinking’s only purpose is to make you feel bad about yourself.
Thoughts become a part of our psyche, and they become a painful record that plays over and over. So when do you become visible? You become visible when you take steps to see yourself. It is a journey, and my journey started with God. The more I saw God, the more I saw me.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. – Psalm 139:3-4
I began to see myself when I believed God’s Word about me. God created me with a purpose and equipped me with gifts, talents, and abilities. What I possess is God-given, not man-driven. For us to see ourselves, we must disconnect from the past and move into our future and purpose. It is a journey, but a worthy journey, with promises of new insights, growth, and possibilities.
Regina Hall, MA LPC
Therapist, Perspective Counseling Center