Some of us can identify with the Queen in the story of Snow White when she asks the magic mirror, "Who is the fairest of them all?'
Instead of hearing what she had hoped, the mirror tells her that there is one who is fairer than she. She becomes jealous and wants to rid herself of this competition.
When we look in the mirror, we may hear that there is a Snow White who is prettier, smarter, more talented, and stronger than we are. We may reason, like the Queen, that as long as there is someone better or more advantaged, we can't feel worthwhile.
Where does some of this jealousy come from? Often from our parents
trying to motivate us by comparing us with others. "Why can't you study
and make good grades like your brother?" "Look how your sister behaves.
Why can't you be as nice as her?" The problem is the standard of
judgment is not our potential but that of another person.
The truth is when we measure ourselves against others,
we will never feel good about ourselves
because we are using the wrong standard of measurement.
It is disturbing that this dynamic does not remain in childhood but often follows us into our adult years. We continue comparing ourselves, our talent, and our success with others. How well they do becomes a statement about us. We compare ourselves with others to see if life is coming out even â€“ if we are getting our fair share. The truth is when we measure ourselves against others, we will never feel good about ourselves because we are using the wrong standard of measurement.
The other day, I came across this prayer by Marina Wiederkehr: "God, help me to believe the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is. Amen." She recommends praying this prayer every day for a week to see how it can change our lives.
The prayer speaks to any of us who believes that what we do is never good enough. Unfortunately, this belief is often transferred to how we feel about ourselves. We believe that we are not good enough. This is where the prayer speaks to us. We have to challenge and change our negative self-image because no matter how much people compliment or praise us, if the praise does not agree with our self-image, we will dismiss it. I like what an elderly lady said to me after I gave her a compliment. She said, "Oh, you are just saying that because it is true!" May we claim the truth about ourselves no matter how beautiful it is!!
Ideally, we should be able to appreciate how pretty Snow White is without considering it a reflection on our beauty. We can still feel good about ourselves even if Snow White is smarter, stronger, or thinner than us!
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700