There is this great self-reflective exercise called the Johari Window. I’ve found it very helpful for clients that are depressed or bogged down with negative thoughts, or have a very poor self-image. The repetitive negative thinking seems to interfere with the mind’s objectivity, and any capacity for balanced perspective disappears. With the Johari Window people have the opportunity to get perspective on parts of themselves that they may not see, hopefully from someone they trust. But, it’s interesting to see the look of doubt and disbelief on the faces of those who are being told that their loved one or trusted peer sees a variety of good, bad, and different qualities in them. Despite having a mirror to view themselves as they are, the layers of “this is what I should look or be like” are too thick to develop insight. Maybe just the first hint at who we truly are is enough for our authentic self to retreat, maybe we just need more time to observe that person that we don’t think we should be. Either way, giving a little time to explore the possibility that what others see, despite the way it sounds (“you’re intense, you’re really sensitive, you are selfish”), might be that ‘normal’ part of us that makes us human and uniquely ourselves.