We’re all pretty self-conscious these days. I had this person ask me about my “self-awareness” recently and I was surprised at how negative they were about it. I’ve heard stories about people being told how “cool” they are just for having a “good” sense of self-awareness.
Some people don’t know themselves at all, and others just know who they are. I see it every day when I see people with long hair in the grocery store or in the corner of a coffee shop. I saw it the other week when I ran into a woman who was so self-conscious about her body that she had to ask the cashier “how do you see me?” I have no idea what she saw in this woman.
There is no one way to see yourself (and others) in real life. It’s a spectrum, one of the reasons I think it’s great that there are so many different ways to understand how certain people see themselves. A lot of people are very self-aware, and they’re a lot less self-conscious about who they are than I would have expected.
One of our most interesting and insightful research projects was the study of how people perceive and describe their own bodies. We asked people with different shapes, sizes, and colors to look at a series of photographs and describe them. The results showed a clear and varied trend. The most common body shape was a rectangle. People who were average in height but short in width and length were the most likely to think of themselves as being small in proportion. The least common shape was a square.
On the topic of body perception, another study involved a group of young women from the United States and Canada. They had been recruited for the study through surveys and were asked to take a body measurement. The results showed that a large number of the women had underestimated their height by several inches. This was the first time we’ve seen that people’s perceptions of their own size are so much more accurate than we had previously believed.
Again, this is all related to body perception. It turns out that the average person overestimated their height by 4 inches. However, the average height of the participants was 173, which put them within the “normal” range. Now, even though we all have our own personal growth paths, that average probably isn’t accurate. So what you should always do is to keep in mind that we are all different. Most of us are taller than average, but many of us are shorter than average.
When it comes to body perception, we can’t really tell ourselves to stop looking at our bodies. Instead, we need to remind ourselves, “Look at me.” But this can be tricky, because how can we tell someone with body perception issues to stop looking at their body? You may ask yourself, “How would I know that?” The answer is actually quite simple.
Body perception is a very tricky thing. It can depend on the individual, the age, the gender. For example, a woman who is only slightly overweight may have an easier time of it in life than a woman who is overweight. Some people can even have a hard time with this, because they aren’t used to their body-image being questioned.
I know how it feels to be the object of someones attention. It’s uncomfortable. It makes you feel uncomfortable. It makes you feel vulnerable. If I were to write down the most common self-perception issues a client has, this would be on the top of the list.
When we first get to work we often spend a lot of time thinking about what we want to say. Sometimes it works and we’re all on the same page. Other times it doesn’t. We want to find a way to say something to put across our ideas and beliefs. Sometimes that means we have to make a choice about what we feel comfortable saying or not saying. This is true for both us and the people we work with.