I found this video on my Facebook timeline. As part of their “real beauty” campaign, Dove brought in a sketch artist to draw pictures of women based solely on their self-described features (the artist never saw the women). He then asked a stranger who’d met the women in the lobby to describe these same women to him. He then did a second sketch. The results are life changing.
This morning as I was reflecting up on this video I realized that there’s not a better way to describe the process of therapy. For all of us, we have an image, a sketch, of ourselves in our head. This image reflects both the physical and emotional makeup that we understand about ourselves. We live our lives operating out of this image, as if it were undoubtedly and unequivocally true. The problem is that our self-perception is often short circuited by shadows from the past. Because a name someone called us as a kid, or how someone took advantage of us in a perverse way all work to shape our perceived value and worth.
In a culture that is so highly motivated by appearance, we spend a lot of time and money fixing out outward selves to bring about love and respect from others. The belief many of us hold is that if we show what’s truly on the inside, we’ll be unloved and unwanted.
Therapy is the process of helping to integrate our self-perception and the perception of others. It’s an often difficult process because our self-perception is so well established that it takes time and trust to break down the walls. Therapy provides an objective sketch that contradicts the self-imposed ideals about who one is, how one looks, and what value they have. The results are life changing.