Guest Author - Tracy Webb
The way we feel about our self is deeply rooted in the self-image we have created. There are documented cases of people with facial and physical features that they have deemed ugly, who then become insular, low achievers and even violent towards others.
In Maxwell Maltz’ book; Psycho Cybernetics, he talks about the importance of a healthy self image as being ‘the key to living without limits’. Maltz discovered that the impact of a low self-image can result in destructive and dysfunctional behaviours.
‘Understanding the psychology of the self can mean the differ- ence between success and failure, love and hate, bitterness and happi- ness. The discovery of the real self can rescue a crumbling marriage, recreate a faltering career, transform victims of "personality failure." On another plane, discovering your real self means the difference between freedom and the compulsions of conformity’ Maxwell Maltz Psycho Cybernetics
When we feel bad about our selves it is more challenging to function in ways that mirror the way we are feeling. We believe the thought about our self and act inferior.
‘The self-image then controls what you can and cannot accomplish, what is difficult or easy for you, even how others respond to you just as certainly and scientifically as a thermostat controls the temperature in your home.’ Maxwell Maltz Psycho Cybernetics
The interesting thing about feeling inferior to others is we then act apologetically and give our power to the other person. Instead of gaining compassion from the other person, it’s as if they acquire more power and become more superior. I liken it to a dog knowing if you are afraid of it, the dog becomes more aggressive towards you because it knows it has power over you.
When we realise how our thoughts are affecting us it is possible to change them, and to create a new self image. If we believe that we are not good enough, or harbour thoughts about what we are and are not capable of we make that our reality.
“The person who has a "fat" self-image-whose self-image claims to have a "sweet tooth," to be unable to resist "junk food," who cannot find the time to exercise-will be unable to lose weight and keep it off no matter what he tries to do consciously in opposition to that self- image. You cannot long outperform or escape your self-image. If you do escape briefly, you'll be "snapped back," like a rubber band, extended between two fingers, coming loose from one.” Maxwell Maltz Psycho Cybernetics
Maltz suggests that undoing the self image we have created can be done through visualisation, questioning the beliefs we hold to discover why we think them and if they are true, as well as building a new and productive image that serves us better.
Have you considered how your self-image is affecting you, or preventing you from doing things because ‘you can’t’ or ‘your not good enough’ or ‘people will laugh’? Once embrace who we are in relation to our self image, accept all our abilities and inabilities, we are free from the trap of ‘the self image’, as there is nothing to protect any more.
Generally the self image we create is based on other peoples views of beauty, socially acceptable features/behaviours and the beliefs they hold and share with us as being definitive, for example; ‘good job you have good looks as you will never amount to anything otherwise’ or ‘people like you don’t succeed’. Why do we believe their view, make it true, and carry the consequences around with us for the rest of our life? Perhaps our own definition of our self would be kinder than accepting another persons view.