40 days until 40 #20

3 min readMay 6, 2022

Seeing yourself through another’s eyes is how you first learn to see yourself

Photo by Terje Sollie: https://www.pexels.com/photo/brown-wooden-framed-mirror-lot-near-wall-298857/

When growing confidence and self-esteem as an adult in recovery from a shitty childhood, the moments of self-discovery and glimpses of self-being-okay seem to come from allowing others’ perspectives of you to get through the clouds of negative self-talk.

Ideally, one learns that we are worthy of love and attention as a baby and this gets reinforced repeatedly over the years. Sadly, even if this does happen from primary caregivers, life and culture is such that we may start to doubt this truth, or even be directly told we’re worthless and unlovable.

From others is how we learn emotions too — our significant adults mirror us and reflect back what we’re feeling, identifying our bodily communication and giving us language to understand and explain. Ideally.

If our emotional vocabulary is small (e.g. happy, sad, angry) then our experience of life and healing can be affected.

Connecting with other people who have more insight into their internal experience and a wider array of ways of describing that can spark a curiosity about our limitations.

If this is done in relation to how they see you, or feel about you and this is contrary to how you see or feel about yourself, my hope is that it sparks a curiosity rather than a block.

In my clients and me

I’ve written before about the power of an invitation and me really hearing the first time someone said they wanted to know me, and then only really believing them the second time, and only months down the line daring to accept that invitation; I also get the privilege of hearing how this happens for my clients too.

There’s a breakthrough moment, or many moments, where we start to hear that other people want to know us. That they see us as kind, or fun, or cute and have positive feelings towards us and they want more.

Before this breakthrough moment these words from others will be internally punctuated with negative self-talk, rising shame or some other defensive mechanism like retreating from the relationship because it feels scary/unfamiliar, or shutting down emotions so that you can’t experience the inevitable pain that will come…


Adventurer, word-lover, nature-enthusiast, psychotherapist, creative.