In the film version of “Cabaret,” Joel Grey sings, “If You Could See Her.” This song extols his love for an unconventional female — a gorilla dressed as a woman. He sees her charm and beauty even though he knows these virtues are not easily seen by others. The lyrics say, “If you could see her thru my eyes.”
The lyrics remind me of how we feel when a suitor communicates his appreciation of elements of us for which we don’t share the same fondness. Perhaps he compliments you on characteristics that you haven’t embraced — he thinks you are clear and decisive when you think you can be stubborn. He likes your independence but you attribute that to your not having great skills in including others in your plans. He salivates at what he considers your sexy thighs when all you see is chubbiness and cellulite.
We all have filters, both of ourselves and others. We can have a hypercritical eye when it comes to our own behaviors and attributes, at the same time using a cheese cloth filter to see only the good in our beloved.
If he compliments you on something you have not learned to love, rather than arguing with him, just say, “Thank you.” If you feel compelled to you can add, “I haven’t yet learned to love that part of myself, but I’m grateful you have.” But the more you argue that he is mistaken in his assessment of your strong points, the fewer compliments you’ll receive. You are in essence saying he is wrong and his powers of observation and discernment are failing.
See if you can begin to see you through his eyes and you will begin to embrace parts of yourself that have languished under self-scrutiny. That is not to say you can’t continue to work to become even better. Just don’t continually castigate yourself for something that to your sweetheart is not only not a problem, but instead is an endearing and admirable quality.
With apologies to the composing team of John Kander and Fred Ebb for taking liberties with their lyrics.