Blog: Can you look at yourself differently?

You are the only you there ever was or will be. Even identical twins have different fingerprints and subtle differences in their genetic makeup. The probability that any two individuals will have identical genetic makeup is so low that it's practically impossible.

Despite our differences, our similarities are overwhelming. Our physical bodies all have the same basic design, both external and internal. Unfortunately, we tend to notice our differences more than we do our similarities.

We notice our slanting teeth, unique noses, splintered nails, moles and wrinkles. When we find enough of these in ourselves, we would rather duck under the covers than face the world.

Why do we focus so much on differences? The answer is simple: We treat what makes us similar the same way we treat old news — boring and unworthy of attention. What makes us unique is interesting and draws our senses. Then, given our bias toward the negative, unique traits — even those that are interesting — may be seen negatively. That's where you can make a change. How you choose to look at your uniqueness can have a profound impact on your self-worth and vitality.

You have three choices in how you look at your uniqueness: passively, with self-loathing or with self-love. Your mind will default to the former two. With passivity or self-loathing, you won't know how to collect the warmth the world sends your way. You won't return that warmth either.

The alternative is the third choice: self-love. Self-love doesn't mean being arrogant or living in blissful indifference. Self-love is self-kindness. When you love yourself, you give the spark of life traveling within you a more memorable experience. You don't abandon it to dwell on doubts, hurts, hates, envies or sorrows. You focus it on gratitude, compassion, courage and hope. You don't look at yourself and say you are ugly. You accept and embrace yourself as you are.

When a 6-month-old looks at you with her big, blue eyes and smiles from her stroller in the grocery checkout line, you aren't afraid to show your love and smile back, are you? Treat yourself the same way: don't be afraid of loving yourself. This little girl reminds you of all that is good about life, and that there is hope. When you connect with her and exchange smiles, you experience the joy of being unconditionally accepted. Do this for yourself.