A Healthy Self-Image: Does It Really Matter?

A Healthy Self-Image: Does It Really Matter?

Self-image: Why Does It Matter?

We all possess a “self-image”. It’s a mental picture acquired through our beliefs about ourselves. Self-image is how you perceive yourself and it grows out of past experiences of success and failure. When you internalize the judgments of others, those judgments become part of your self-image.

 

Your perception of self is a by-product of your upbringing, the response you get from your teachers and peers and the people you grew up with. Those who grow up with healthy doses of unconditional love from their parents will most likely will have a healthy self-image. If your life have not been a bed of roses and your self-image had taken a beating. However, your self-image can be re-programmed.

 

A person who is generally happy with his or her self-image will most likely to be self-confident, very effective at work and thrive in social situations. Those who lack a healthy self-image may have a tendency to be self-conscious, inhibited, and less adaptable in social situations.

 

My study of self-image psychology and its impact one’s success started when I was a scrawny teenager struggling with self-consciousness and a lack of self-confidence. During those awkward teenage years, I stumbled upon the 1960 classic by Dr. Maxwell Maltz, Psycho-Cybernetics.

 

Beyond Positive Thinking

Cybernetic is Greek for ‘steersman’. So Psycho-Cybernetic is about being at the helm of your own ship and being in control of steering your life towards the direction that you want.

 

Dr. Maltz, a surgeon who specializes in cosmetic surgery – has helped numerous clients rid themselves of disfigurement, scars and other malformations. However, what perplexed him was the fact that many of his clients were no happier with their new faces than before they undergo reconstructive surgery. This fact aroused Maltz’s interest in self-image psychology, which held that our thoughts and actions govern us.

 

Thoughts and actions grew out of your experiences of success and failure and how others perceive you. Hence, any change to the outer image without change to the inner image, will only generate a superficial effect. Self-image is not just about positive thinking and positive affirmations. Saying ‘I will get a promotion’ alone will not be effective. Deep down inside your heart, you must believe in the idea of getting a promotion.

 

Dr. Stephen Covey, in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People refers to this as the inside-out approach. Inside-out means to start first with self. Any changes, in order to be effective, must start with the most inside part of self – your paradigms, your character, your assumptions, and your motives. 

 

 

Your Internal Dialogue

One of the basic steps to nurturing a healthy self-image is taking care of your inner voice. You can begin by listening to your inner voice. Because of its self-critical, self-denying, and even self-destructive nature, some call it the inner critic.

 

Thus, rather than suppress your emotions, acknowledge that they are real. Make a note of all the negative thoughts and statements made. The thoughts and words that you internalize have powerful effects on you and it affects your attitude, physiology and actions.

 

Cognitive science has proven that outward performance is linked to inward thoughts and beliefs. Therefore, to set yourself free from limiting beliefs, all you need to do is change the messages that you play in your head.

 

According to Covey, “you can choose your response to any situation, to any person. Between what happens to you and your response is a degree of freedom. And the more you exercise that freedom, the larger it will become.”

 

Therefore, choose wisely.

The Zen of Getting Out of a Rut and Retrieving Your Mojo

The Zen of Getting Out of a Rut and Retrieving Your Mojo

Intuitive understanding some call it. Some call it a religion. Many regard it as philosophy. It doesn’t matter. Practicing Zen can liberate the hidden potential of the human mind.

zen

In one’s own journey of self-discovery, life poses many puzzling questions.

 

Do you need to be religious in order to find enlightenment?

 

What does it take to be successful and yet not lose oneself in the process?

 

How do you keep your sanity in an increasingly insane world?

 

We all succumb to unhappiness. And we go through a variation of moods and feelings each day. But we have the choice make everyday a fulfilling day.

zen

A great Chinese Zen master once said, “To attain Zen enlightenment it is not necessary to give up family life, quit your job, become a vegetarian, practice asceticism, or flee to a quiet place.”

 

Zen teaching is the embodiment of freedom. A freedom that, if dependant on things of the world can be undermined, and freedom that can be granted can be taken away. Viktor Frankl, renowned psychiatrist, holocaust survivor and author, relates his experiences from the Nazi death camp in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning:

 

“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”

zen

Being responsible for one’s words and actions is being free – free from guilt, shame and ego. Professor Frankl liberated himself from his tormentors in four concentration camps during the Holocaust. Frankl suffered degradation and abject misery in a concentration camp, yet he was able to exercise the most important freedom of all. The freedom to determine his own attitude and spiritual well-being. He gathered that those who had nothing to live for died quickest in the concentration camp.

 

It reminds me of the analogy of being in the world yet not of the world. Picture a lotus covered in mud and yet still blossoms.

 

It is so easy for us to make excuses and give up all hope. We can make up 263 reasons why things do not go our way and yet you only need one major reason why your life should shine.

 

This resonates with German philosopher and writer Frederick Nietzsche’s words:

 

“He who has a why for life can put with any how.”

 

If you are stuck in a rut and find that life’s challenges too overwhelming, it is time to focus on illuminating your life and find that you can be much much more than what you already are now.

The Art of Now or How to Live In the Moment

The Art of Now or How to Live In the Moment

Your mind is bombarded by so many thoughts each second that you are your biggest distraction. According to the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at the University of Southern California, the average person has about 48.6 thoughts per minute.  That translates to a total of 70,000 thoughts per day. being in the moment

Being in the moment

How can you focus on the MOMENT when your minds’ highway is as clogged up as downtown traffic on a Monday morning?

 

You need to reconnect.

 

 

Reconnect with your inner being.

When you are able to shut down the incessant mental cacophony within your mind, then that very moment you will find that inner stillness within you. One of the ways to attain this is through a simple meditation exercise whereby you focus on your breathing and allow all thoughts to pass you by without entertaining them. It will be tough initially. With practice you may be able to do it for one minute. Then extend it to five. Eventually you can be in total silence and shut out all noises and distractions.

 Being in the moment

This will lead to clarity. When you have clarity, you are able to think straight and do the right things. And then clarity leads to power. I’ve heard many used this as a buzzword without a proper notion of what it really means. In that sense, it has become a punch line.

 

Being in the moment is being present. And being present is living the moment. Don’t live for yesterday because it’s in the past. Not tomorrow. Nor next year.

 

But Now. This very moment.

 Being in the moment

Once you have clarity, now you will know what you need to seek. Whatever you want from life – Seek it. The very things that you seek are seeking you too.

The Mind and The Ego

The Mind and The Ego

Your enemy lives within you. It is called the ego and it wants to be in control all the time. Ego seeks attachment and its needs are endless. It seeks approval and recognition. Ego makes you strive for power, recognition, success, material gains just to feel better about yourself. To feel complete. the mind and the ego

 The Mind and The Ego

In actual fact, you will never feel complete. Not as long as your ego is the boss. You will feel complete in sporadic instances – when you have gained some form of social status, wealth or fame. That is the embodiment of ego and of fear.

 

To be present is to free your mind from your ego. The essence of it all is, in the words of Eckhart Tolle’s bestselling The Power of Now, “be so utterly, so completely present that no problem, no suffering, nothing that is not who you are in your essence, can survive in you.”

the mind and the ego

Watch yourself. Watch your thoughts and emotions. This is one of the techniques of breathing taught in Hatha Yoga whereby you observe your breathing. It is likened to an ‘out of body’ experience whereby you stepped out of your body and just become an observer. You will find through your observations that you will be able to draw more energy out from your mind. And that creates presence. You will judge less. React less. Emotional reactions like justifying and lying blame will lessen – even to the point of total elimination.

 The Mind and The Ego

Interestingly enough, you will discover more about you. Your thoughts. Your actions, And who you really are. Then, you will be able to align your life better.

Cogito ergo sum – “I Think Therefore I Am”

Cogito ergo sum – “I Think Therefore I Am”

Renowned philosopher Rene Decartes posits “I think, therefore I am”.  This is consistent with the NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP) line of reasoning that the body and the mind are two inseparable entities. Bodily functions such as breathing, muscles tensions, feelings and moods are related to your thoughts and vice versa.

I think therefore I am

Thinking right and positive thoughts are  the defining moments. in your life. They shape your life and your thoughts. Start by identifying your governing values. Seek the truth within you. Asking yourself the right questions could be a turning point in your life.

 

When you start seeking – say a job – the essential question to ask yourself is not ‘what will I do?’ but ‘who will I become?’ Tap into your inner feelings. They represent the ‘real’ you. When you use your mind, most of the time, your ego speaks and it protects you too much from whom you really are. Your heart however, will truly speak you deepest desires and motivation.

I think therefore I am

Your life is defined by the quality of your thoughts, the books you read and the friends you meet. Cultivate positive thoughts all the time. Write out a series of affirmations to take you through the day. Drink deeply from good books.

 

We are privilege to live in an age where the richness of information is so accessible. Surround yourself with like-minded people who can reinforce your values and thoughts and accelerate your trans-formative process. Leverage on OPE – Other People’s Experience.

 

Enjoy the process of self-discovery. Savor the feeling of reinventing work. Ignite that passion! Ultimately, we will find out who we really are once we take the bold step to BEGIN and to put color back into our life.

I think therefore I am

Think about it.

Know Thyself and Find Your True Purpose in Life

Know Thyself and Find Your True Purpose in Life

I suppose at one point in our lifetime we will pondered upon the question of “who am I?” At different stages of my life, I have pondered upon this question. And each time, coincidentally, a major shift takes place in my life. The answer lies in the Ancient Greek aphorism “know thyself”.

 

 

What You Are Not

A few fundamental points I have noted:   You are not what you drive. A lot of people suffer from “my-car-must-be-bigger-than-yours-it is”   Neither are you what you wear. Credit cards have made it easier for people out there to ‘buy something they don’t need, to impress someone they don’t know, with the money they have not yet earn’.   Or what your job designation says you are.   This question will find an easier answer if you try to contemplate on what you will want to do with your life if you have all the money in the world (or free of financial burdens).

 

I often do this exercise during the icebreaker session in my workshops and often garnered very interesting answers.   “Start a business”, “buy a sports car”, “Get a huge bungalow”, are among the interesting but conventional answers I would get. The common denominator here is – these are all connected to material gains. Once one can look beyond these, the truth will emerge and you will stare at the real YOU.

 

No more “keeping up with the Joneses” syndrome. It is what your inner world represents. It is who YOU can become. What your true infinite purpose in life is. On this Earth.

 

 

Know thyself – getting away from the act

The rest is just an act. These are from the long years of social conditioning and peer pressure. Do you need to talk like your boss? Or be interested in football or golf just because all your colleagues are so immersed in conversations about the Super Bowl or The PGA Tour? Do we really need that luxury car? The six-figure golf membership? Is that what you want or what you are or it is the power of societal pressure?

 

Gary Zukav, author of the bestselling The Seat of the Soul talks about the power inherent in all of us.A power that loves life in every form that it appears, a power that does not judge what it encounters, a power that perceives meaningfulness and purpose in the smallest details’.

 

When we are able to draw away the distractions imposed by the chaotic chants of the world with the worldly mantra that revolves around getting rich and possessing material gains, we will be able to ‘align our thoughts, emotions and actions with the highest part of ourselves’. Then we will be filled with enthusiasm, purpose and meaning and life will be full and we will have no thoughts of bitterness.   Life dictates you until you decide that YOU should dictate life.

know thyself

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