Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Are You Working On Your Self Image?

Thanks to reality television, we are well-informed on how to pursue an external image that the world will admire. We must own a house that requires a sizable staff for upkeep, numerous garages for our car collection, and several rooms to fit our designer wardrobe, shoes and etceteras. Of course we must also be stunningly beautiful, so we have facials, plastic surgeries, personal trainers, hairdressers and make-up artists. (Ideally, he latter come to our homes so that we don't have to mingle with the nobodies.)

Let me make it quite clear that I am not anti- anything that makes for a happier life. The problem with external improvements as a means for happiness is that after the initial thrill of a new acquisition, the human brain adapts to its presence fairly quickly, and it becomes just apart of the norm. (To paraphrase a wise individual, “personal ownership of the Mona Lisa would eventually make her just part of the wall.”) The brain cannot maintain a constant state of “awe.” 

So, the individual whose self-image is attached to impressing others is committing themselves to “ever more and bigger.” Unless there is some revelation that happiness may lie elsewhere, the race will continue unless the money runs out. Keeping up with the Joneses plays out differently in Beverly Hills than in rural Iowa, or when you’re working your way up the ladder at Goldman Sachs versus a small law office in central Pennsylvania. The scale and resources are different, but the driver is the same.

Without the necessary resources to follow the rich and famous, we have devised another scheme to deny the "nobody little self" that we have decided we are. If we can't be important, at least we will be popular and liked. Depending on the audience, we like what they like, and dislike what they dislike. 
After testing the water, we are politically liberal or conservative. When asked our opinion, we ignore our inner voice and the answer becomes the suspected “right” one. No matter how many times we do the dance to try to please others, it never really stops feeling icky.

Lying without cause – pretending you think or feel something you don’t for someone else’s benefit - demeans us, and it has a devastating effect on our sense of self worth. When you first confront yourself about this, you may feel shame and be uncomfortable, but it is literally another necessary peel off the onion toward genuine self acceptance!

(Not telling the truth to protect someone, or telling a 'white' lie that comes from kindness to prevent a hurt, are not generally the kind of lies that do us harm.)

The lie that demeans us, the one that is meant to hide our truth, is literally an attack
on the self, again and again. Who needs enemies when we do such a fine job?

And after all, what could possibly be wrong with us? Why do we feel we have to hide what we have come to believe, and what we really enjoy doing? So many of the choices we make in life come down to apples and oranges. A good decision can only come from the real self – the kind that makes you truly happy and keeps you going in the right direction for you.

Self-respect is never measured with someone else's yardstick. 

1 comment:

  1. Right!... can't validate something in the Existential domain ('self') with Conventional ('things').