I take part in a life drawing class on Thursday evenings. This week we had a difficult pose, with lots of what is known as ‘foreshortening’. It means the perspective was tricky, and so the pose was a hard one to draw. When I got home, I pinned the drawing to the wall in order to evaluate my handy work. I saw a bit of the drawing I wasn’t happy with, it looked a bit wrong to me. It was a tiny detail, but my eye was continually drawn back to it. I started trying to ‘correct’ the ‘mistake’. I spent the best part of an hour rubbing out and adding back in this tiny detail, never quite feeling happy with the result. Then suddenly, I stopped, looked again at the drawing as a whole, standing back from it to a distance, and thought ‘hey, this is a good drawing, why am I obsessing about this tiny detail?’.
This incident got me thinking about how I am with myself in general. I will often pick up on a small mistake, an error I have made and obsess about it, dissect it, beat myself up and tell myself what an awful person I am for not being perfect, for being, in essence human. I will be convinced that others will see my error and attack me, see me as useless, reject me. This I think has been one of my most self-destructive tendencies-that is, the tendency to give myself a hard time for my perceived mistakes, and to believe that others will treat me the same as I treat myself.
With my drawing, while I focussed on the one tiny flaw, I was unable to see the whole. I saw only the mistake. By changing my perspective on my drawing, I was able to see it for what it was-a pretty good drawing. Similarly, in changing my perspective on myself, by drawing back and trying to see myself in a more rounded way, with good points and not so good, I give myself a bit less of a hard time. Sure, I could always improve on some of the things that I and others find difficult or annoying. But at the same time, in beating myself up I am doing no-one any favours, as I stay stuck in the detail, rather than seeing the bigger picture.
Perhaps this is something that resonates with you? If you find yourself honing in on the shitty parts of yourself, try a change of perspective, viewing yourself as a more rounded, more human and real person. You may be surprised at the results.