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The shoe-prints of two people walking on a level above, seen through a translucent ceiling. The Self-Image

The Self-Image

Who do you think you are?

Most of us have something about ourselves that we don’t like. A bit of extra weight, wrinkles, grey hair or no hair as examples. Those are the obvious parts, what we and others are able to see and something we can usually do something about. Then there’s the part that no-one else sees but us, when we think of ourselves or when we look in the mirror. It’s the way that we feel about ourselves, who and what we are. And all of this comes together to form the Self-Image.

The self-image is a part of the ego. It’s a part of that image that we portray to the rest of the world. The ego is the story we tell ourselves about how we think the world sees us and we act and behave accordingly – a successful businessman or woman, an actor or actress, a singer, a bin-man, a police officer; the external image we portray.

Maxwell Maltz, in his book “Psycho-Cybernetics“, introduced the general population to the self-image, after conducting research on why some of his patients, after cosmetic surgery, felt no change to the way they saw themselves, even when the change was massively obvious. He concluded that the result was in the way that the patient saw themselves in their minds eye and not the physical change that actually took place. This was not new at the time. It’s just that no-one was speaking about it.

Behind Closed Doors

The inner image does not always back-up the image we show to the world.

Behind closed doors, in front of a mirror theres another image, we see who and what we truly think we are. The successful businessman who has low self confidence when it comes to the opposite sex; the police officer who spends more time at work because they believe in what they do, but hates neglecting time with family and friends; the waiter or waitress who spends more time at work than having a life of their own, their work becomes their life.

What brought us to the struggles we face today? How come that even though we had the best notion to “get it right”, we still get it wrong?

It ain’t that simple

Our self-image is not some thing that created itself. Its also not a single factor – it’s a complex ideal, made up of beliefs and fears. The self-image is made-up of all those beliefs that we hold about ourselves – how we look, what we can and can’t do, what we’re capable of or not.

Whether we can be successful, whether we are attractive; it’s made-up of the story that we tell ourselves about ourselves daily.

If you were to stop reading this post right now, would you be able to write down, honestly and truthfully, what you thought about yourself whilst reading through the above? What would you be writing about yourself?

“She loves me, she loves me not”

If you stood in front of the mirror now, looking at yourself, could you tell yourself and mean it, “I love you, all of you, just the way you are”?

It’s a good indicator of how you feel about yourself. Taking a “selfie” doesn’t count – it’s a false image.

Do you believe you can be successful? Do you actually feel it or is there a feeling of fear, a doubt, a sinking feeling in “the pit of your stomach” that it’s not true?

Can you be loved? Can you love? Are you “lucky” or “unlucky”? Can you achieve what you want to achieve or don’t you believe in yourself, trust yourself?

All these questions and more bring up a variety of feelings. Any feelings of fear, despair, self pity, failure (it’s a fear), loathing, anger, any negative feeling implies that you don’t believe in that outcome.

You could take the opposite approach and say to yourself, “I am a failure” and it may feel wrong or false saying it. That’s a good sign – it means that you believe you can achieve what you aspire to be.

But what if you don’t believe it?

Re-sow the tapestry

Ever heard of the Bayeux Tapestry? It depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England. It’s an embroidery on cloth nearly seventy metres wide and half a meter high. It also tells the story leading up to the battle of Hastings in 1066 and the death of King Harold of England, whose reign is portrayed throughout the tapestry.

In the same way, your life is a tapestry, or a song or a book or a painting, however you like to portray it. Every minute you add to your masterpiece. How would yours read? What would you see or hear?

To change your life to the way you want it, you must change the self-image you have of yourself. You must change the story you’re telling yourself about yourself. These are the stories you repeat when your mind goes into automatic and you start a story about what is likely going to happen next. If you caught yourself doing this, you say to yourself, “What am I talking about?”

We all do this. Some of us do it in public and wonder if anyone saw us doing it.

That story is automatic because it’s what you believe about yourself. They are the beliefs, ideals and fears you hold in your automatic, objective, subconscious mind.

Begin to change those ideas and beliefs by first writing your story – the way you wanted to be. Paint it, sing it, whatever feels best for you. Get paper, canvas and paint, write or draw the life you want. Put everything that you want in it. See it in your imagination, visualise it to the tiniest details and feel it; be in it. And if it doesn’t feel right, change it. It will change as time goes by anyway. Its normal. Our values change as we and our goals change.

Joining parallel lives

Our self-image is an odd creature. If we could split ourselves and have a conversation with it we would be in strange company – we wouldn’t recognise everything we see, because we don’t know ourselves fully.

It would be as if we were two people living parallel lives, every now and then meeting and noticing each other.

What we want is to walk as one, whole and to direct the course of our lives.

By taking control of our thoughts, what we habitually think and actions, we start to use our conscious mind to direct our subconscious, purposefully.

It is affirming, conscious suggestion, telling our automatic subconscious mind, “This is what I want and where I want to get to, where I want you to aim for”.

Our self-image is self-made. If we made it in the first place, we can re-make it to the way we want, this time knowingly, consciously and purposefully.

We take back control of our life, ourselves and who and what we think we are and can be. Becoming more aware of the person we want tone and stepping through the looking-glass into a new image, a new life.

Mind is the master power that moulds and makes, and man is mind.
And evermore he takes the tool of thought and shaping what he wills, bring forth a thousand joys, a thousand ill’s.
He thinks in secret and it comes to pass, environment is but his looking glass.
James Allen

I am not what I think I am, and I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.
Charles Horton Cooley

Photograph by: John Robert Marasigan on Unsplash

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