A friend shared a ritual with me one day. She told me that every time she visits the ladies room when out in public, she bypasses the mirror on the way in and immediately uses a tissue to blow her nose. She does this every visit whether she needs to or not. When pressed, she explained that she felt anxiety about being out in public with something in her nose. She felt that, by blowing her nose before using the mirror, any flaw she found could be explained by her recent action and would not be perceived to have been paraded around in public prior to the restroom visit. Her anxiety was deep seated and truly caused her stress and I realized it was due to inherent issues that women suffer from due to constantly having our appearance scrutinized.
As women, we are judged by our appearance much more frequently than men. We are judged on our clothes, our shoes, our hair, our makeup, our skin, and even our nails. Our weight is scrutinized; we are either too heavy or too thin. As a group, our biggest fears involve having our flaws publicly exposed. Those impacted the most by this judgment are the most vulnerable, the young girls. Young girls have fewer tools to deal with judgment and yet they are assailed by it at every turn.
While there is no way to guarantee less judgment, we can make a concerted effort to provide positive comments to others during the day, especially if someone we know makes a disparaging remark about their own appearance. Instead of complaisant agreement, tell that person something nice. By allowing a friend to harbor negative thoughts about themselves we are offering them tacit approval to continue those thoughts. Go even further. Go out of your way to offer a nice complement to others for no reason other than to say something pleasant or positive. Do this even when you don’t feel like being nice. Always be kinder than you feel because you never know what someone else is dealing with. Plus, being kind to others can improve your own mood. As an added bonus, knowing you plan to compliment a person can reduce the awkwardness created by the social anxiety of making small talk when passing someone in the hall.
General compliments can include compliments on something the other person is wearing. A cheerful ‘nice top’ can actually change someone’s day for the better. You don’t have to be too personal and a compliment doesn’t cost you anything. You can offer compliments on shoes, handbags, tops, skirts, and even personal attitude. Just take the time to say something nice to someone else with a smile on your face. It can really change their day, as well as your own. You see, by offering compliments, you are focusing your energy on positive thoughts. By making it a habit to offer positive feedback to others, you are more likely to offer positive feedback to yourself, which can lead to increased self-esteem.
A good quote to remember: “Anxiety is the interest paid on trouble before it is due” – Dean William R Inge