The Eye of the Beholder

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it” - Confucius

The one thing all humans unite in is suffering, and certainly, everyone has tasted the bitterness of hopelessness. We undoubtedly question our self-worth at one point, the worry haunting us wherever we go. Sometimes, we cannot cope, and we crack under the pressure of social expectations. It drastically affects our daily lives and can lead to serious consequences such as anorexia and even depression. All these issues simply come from a distorted perception of ourselves and our self-image.

Depression affects around 280 million people around the world today. It is a serious mental health concern. At best, depression is constant torture, and at worst, can lead to suicide. It is an attack on the self, affecting the afflicted’s behaviour and perception of self-worth compared to others. This condition not only harms the sufferer, but also those around them. Several professors have even claimed that depression may be incurable, and may remain a life-long shadow.

However, an American psychiatrist named Aaron T. Beck believed that this was not the case. The American Psychoanalytic Association rejected his application for membership on the grounds that he had been “improperly analysed” for turning to cognitive therapy after losing faith in the success rate of therapy through psychoanalysis. Regarded the father of cognitive therapy, Beck thought that the issue at hand was not the subconscious, as Sigmund Freud believed was the cause of almost all mental health issues, but rather the patient’s mindset concerning the situation. He realised that instead of changing the illness, he could change the patient’s perception of it and themselves.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is aimed at the symptoms of the illness itself, rather than buried desires hidden deep in the subconscious. However, there is a specific therapy referred to as cognitive reframing, in which Beck would nudge his patients towards thinking in a more positive light. He would ask them to dwell on their negative thoughts yet again - thoughts such as “I am not good enough” - and turn them into positive ones, like “I am good enough, no matter what anybody thinks”. Simply put, it is indeed just a shift in viewpoint. There is always good in every situation, it is just that we do not see it.

An example is when one thinks that they do not have enough, they should think of everything that they have.  They probably do have enough; it is just that somebody else has more than they do. One must not feel the incessant need to continuously compare themselves to other people, because comparison will only lead to negative thoughts.

If one thinks of their situation in a more positive light, they will realise that they have more than a child starving in Africa, but this is still slightly negative as this is still a comparison. If one truly thinks positive, they will understand that they have enough, and all that they need; comparisons are not necessary for happiness, and are in fact detrimental to its pursuit. 

So, whenever you are down in the dumps or if you feel that the situation is hopeless, take a different seat from a different angle and look at it again. Ask yourself, “Is my situation really hopeless? Am I really not good enough, like they say?” and realise that you do not have to be good enough for social expectations. You only have to be good enough for yourself. 

Lastly, remember that you can always find beauty in all places, even in yourself. There is always a light in a dark place. If you cannot change the world, change the eye of the beholder. 


  1. this is a great piece on cognitive therapy - thanks!




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