Self observation1

Facing myself: the good, the bad, the ugly

The fear of rejection is more common than one expects. Sometimes it is perceived as a “safer” route to hide your true self in the hopes of being accepted by the people around you and minimizing rejection. The fear of rejection can be explained by the perceptions and appraisals that each individual faces in each situation on any given day. These appraisals can be negatively fueled, where the individual interprets a neutral situation as one that can cause them harm. 

Another reason for this fear could also be the rejection of the self, which is a form of ‘self-sabotage’. In psychology, self-sabotage is defined as the conscious or unconscious destruction of ourselves, be it physically, emotionally, or mentally, which hinders our own success and well-being (Brenner, 2019). Though self-sabotage is difficult to overcome, it is not impossible. The first step to overcoming this phenomenon and fear is looking within yourself, i.e. introspection. However, to achieve this first step, one must know what it means and how it is done. 

What is introspection? 

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, introspection is “an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings” (Merriam-Webster, n.d.). This definition is closely in accordance with the definition provided by psychologist Wilhelm Wundt, who developed a form of introspection that is used as a research technique, namely “experimental self-observation”. According to Wundt, introspection involves carefully, and as objectively as possible, analyzing the contents of one’s own thoughts, which focuses on the immediate sensations, processes, and activities that people experience in their surroundings (Hergenhahn, 2009). Thus, in other words, introspection is the ability to observe, process, and analyze the thoughts and feelings one experiences in their daily life, which are influenced by their surroundings. 

Benefits of introspection 

In general, introspection has many benefits when it comes to analyzing your own thoughts and feelings; it allows you to, in a sense, come to terms with your feelings based on the situation that you were in. For example, being more aware of your decisions, strengths, and weaknesses, also builds character, and allows you to think rationally and neutrally about your experiences. 

Taking it one step further by using introspection as a technique to overcome the fear of rejection comes with a different set of benefits, such as: 

  • Confrontation of your fears
  • Discovering the areas that you need to improve in
  • Letting go of unnecessary and unrealistic standards and beliefs
  • Allowing yourself to learn about the real, authentic you

If you look closely at these benefits, they have a common component, namely ‘self-confrontation’. Confrontation of the self is considered an ability to examine our behaviors and attitudes with the purpose and goal of changing the things that may need improvement. By doing this, you are also allowing yourself to embrace your flaws. Although embracing your flaws can be challenging, it can also help one become the best version of themselves. 

The value of embracing your flaws 

“Flaws” — the word itself might make you cringe at the possibility of having something that is considered imperfect, or in other words having a defect within yourself. However, the concept of imperfection is one that has beauty in its existence, as these “imperfections” provide a unique code to each individual. No one person is a copy of the other, each having their own unique qualities and traits. When introspection is added to the mix, an individual can come to the realization that there is a certain freedom in accepting the things that make you different and unique, including their perceived flaws. 

Consider the following positive outcomes of accepting and embracing your flaws: 

1. You focus on who your authentic self is

The authentic self is the person who an individual is, independent of their environment and people within their immediate surroundings. This authentic self is the you who holds specific values and beliefs, the you who has a unique personality in specific situations and contexts, and the you who you see when you look in the mirror. 

2. You would have a better direction of what your purpose is

By embracing your flaws, you have a better understanding of what works for you and where your strengths lie. This could encourage you to pursue your desires and focus on what drives you — your purpose. 

3. It gives you freedom of expression

There is no greater feeling than feeling free;  without physical bonds or restraints. In the same way, by embracing your flaws, you become a complete version of yourself. In this completion, you then have the space and freedom to be who you are — and express this the way you want to. 

4. You learn to be vulnerable with yourself and others

Being vulnerable comes with the risk of possibly being physically or emotionally hurt or harmed due to exposing yourself. Taking it from the perspective of yourself, embracing your flaws requires a certain extent of exposing yourself to yourself. This exposure grants you the ability to reflect on yourself in a way that encourages you to empathize with yourself and others. 

5. You learn to be less hard on yourself

Everyone has periods or moments where they criticize themselves or judge themselves for something that they have done, be it a mistake or otherwise. However, when we are aware of our flaws, accept that they are there, and embrace them, we can get comfortable with the nuances of our behavior. By doing this, we realize that mistakes are normal and something that can help us grow and develop. 

6. You can gain power in true self-love and self-acceptance

Similar to experiencing freedom by embracing your flaws, you can also experience true love and acceptance of the self. Love is often mistaken as a feeling, however ‘to love’ yourself essentially means that you are actively and intentionally welcoming your good qualities as well as the unpleasant ones. In the same way, ‘to accept’ yourself means to actively recognize and validate the way you are. 

With these considerations in mind, the hope is that you, as a reader, realize that there is beauty in the acceptance of your good qualities, but even more so in the active and intentional acceptance of your unique aspect, occasionally referred to as ‘flaws’. 

About the Author 

Alyeska Lake, MSc

Alyeska Lake is a clinical child and adolescent psychologist who specializes in working with children and adolescents by using a client-centered approach with respect to the usage of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, as well as a Solution-Focused Brief Therapy perspective — thinking about solutions rather than the problems. 

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