THE IMAGES WE HAVE OF OURSELVES
Anything that you are going to do, is dependent on how you see you!
by : Charlotte Skogsberg
There is the idea that we have of ourselves, the person we believe we are. Then there’s the image we actually project towards others which is not really under our control. There’s another role, there’s the one that we WISH to project to others.
Who I think I am: this is the narrative in my head. The story line that has been there and that keeps telling me since childhood what my spot in the world looks like. I am tall, I am short, I am fat, I am thin. I love eating or I’m allergic to most foods. I am good at maths or I’m not a reader. I’m warm and social. It’s the “this is who I am” narrative.
The image others have of me : depending on my perception of reality, through my purple sunglasses filters, I will react one way or another in any given situation. I can therefore be perceived as dramatic, calm, fearful, wise by others if their perception of the situation is similar to mine or different. This will then be impacted by the narrative in my head. If my narrative says that everyone is out to get me, that I cannot really trust others then there’s a possibility that this shines through when I interact. I might believe that I’m being cautious whereas someone else (for instance the person I’m interacting with when I’m being cautious) might find me suspicious or even defensive. I might believe that I am very good at solving other people’s dilemma and this might have given an image of me to them that I stick my nose in other people’s business. Therefore, the image others have of me, is directly impacted by the image that I have of myself.
The image I WISH for people to have of me : This is what I am aiming for. I want to be perceived this way for x or y reason. But at the end of the day, it’s what I wish for because I think that it will make me happy. It can be a goal if the image is very tangible like a social status or a physical appearance. The marketer of our society focus very much on triggering this image because that is how we sell things to people even if they don’t actually need it. Because it will make them happy.
So the distress happens when there is a gap between how we see ourselves and the image we wish to send to others. This is the constant battle. Now, the reason we need to focus on the first end of this gap is because all you do will be dependent on how you see yourself. We behave according to the way we think we are and that comes from our past experiences. But how we treated the experiences in the past will also depend on what we thought of ourselves. Early on, beliefs were set in our mind that we labelled as “Truth”. So when we strive for our wished image, our goal, the beliefs are there to stop us.
As we have all experienced at some point, when we imagine something very vividly, our body responds as if that was an actual situation (try imagining vividly biting into a lemon and you will feel the saliva water in your mouth). This means that a belief can come from an imagined scenario.
Maybe I found it hard to solve math problems and my teacher told me that it’s because I wasn’t “good at it”. Or even worse, a frustrated teacher/parent/authority representation might even have exclaimed that I was stupid. Now that wasn’t a real thing, but the belief can still make it’s way into my mind and settle there so that whenever I am facing a situation to solve in life, I am convinced that it’s not possible for me to do so because I am not good at it (or worse, I am stupid).
The way to get an understanding of the beliefs that block us or work against our wishes, goes inwards. The busier we are, the less we hear what is actually going on in our heads. Yoga teaches us to quiet the mind. The reason we do this is to become aware of what is really going on inside of us and become capable to distinguish ourselves from that narrative. If we can become aware of what we do to stop ourselves, then we can also decondition those habitual patterns and create new ones.