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Self Image

Thursday, 7 June, 2018 - 9:46 am

How do others perceive you? How much do you care?
Do you spend as much time thinking about ‘how you are’ [as a person], as you do about how you seem [to others]?
Sure, we should be sensitive to public perceptions; others' feedback can be helpful (even when it’s a bit painful).
But others’ impressions shouldn’t be a prime mover of our life-decisions.
The Talmud teaches us that “one who pursues honor will have honor flee from him.” This can be understood very simply: Let’s say you and I are friends, and I act in a specific way because I want you to perceive me in a certain light i.e. I ‘pursue honor’ in your eyes. It's very likely that you'll sense how much I care about your opinion of me, and recognize that I have put you on a pedestal as the judge of my worth. 
Is it any wonder, then, that ‘honor flees’ from a person in such a case? Once one knows that another is vying for his approval, is there any chance for real respect?
Another point:
We find in this week’s Torah portion that, as the Jews travelled in the desert, they sent spies to reconnoiter the Land of Israel. When they came back, they told of the huge, fearsome people they had encountered there. But their language was a bit strange: "We were like [tiny] grasshoppers in our eyes, and so we were like in their eyes!" (Numbers 13:33).
We can understand the spies saying that the natives were so large that they (the spies) were like grasshoppers in their (the natives) eyes.
But what about the first part of the sentence – "we were like grasshoppers in OUR eyes”? What does that mean?
The Torah is teaching a basic lesson of human interactivity. We project our own self-image. The Jews felt like grasshoppers, so others perceived them that way. Their own self-perception influenced and created others’ perception.
Notwithstanding the value of feedback, we should never give them the keys to our self-esteem.

Get comfortable with who you are. It will help others get comfortable with you too. 

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