Find out what you think about yourself!

We always carry a self-image or a definition of self in not just our heads but in our actions, postures, and critical decisions we make in our lives. In fact, if we look at ourselves closely, the ‘I’ that exists is that self-image. We’d also like to think that we know ourselves better than others do about us and we are very clear about the self-image we hold within. But the truth is almost always far from it. Self awareness is as scarce as common sense. What we believe consciously to be our self-image is, in fact, the defensive-self or the mask we’ve created to face the world. A mask that we’ve built very early in life and have been developing and polishing ever since.

But the true image we hold of ourselves is very deep in our subconscious minds that it takes some practice of awareness to come in contact with it. We get brief glimpse of it when we are provoked into emotion unexpectedly and in our dreams. There are very simple exercises to find out what is truly our opinion about ourselves.

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Voices in your head are subconscious projections of your self-image

If you’d read one of my previous posts about Voices we carry in our heads (opens in new tab/window), you’ll know that most of the time the arguments we have with other people in our heads are not really arguments with others, but actually an inner conflict. I’ve categorized in that post, the various kinds of voices we carry and it is those voices that provide us with real clues and thoughts about self-image.

These ‘voices’ in our heads are extensions of conflicts we’ve had with others in our lives. For instance, say your spouse said something about you and you found it judgmental – say about your capacity to speak up against your boss, you may or may not argue with your spouse about it, but you then carry around a ‘voice’ of your spouse judging your similarly through your daily activities. And you start an internal argument with that voice and it gradually becomes a part of your daily mental noise.

Now coming back to finding out your self-image through the use of this inner voices we carry in our heads, every time an argument pops up in your head try to look at it dispassionately and without attachment as if you are listening to two strangers speaking to each other at a bus stop. By doing that the first thing you may notice about the voice is that it is not actually a real person speaking to you at that point of time but an imagination on your part. Any voice in your head is a part of your imagination and therefore an extension of your beliefs about yourself and not opinions of others. See what category the voice falls into (see Voices in our Heads for the categories).

Voices of guilt and shame point to a kind of self opinion, like say seeing ourselves as a ‘bad’ person or a ‘sinner’. They may even speak about how ‘deserving’ of something good we feel we are. ‘Put-me-downers’ speak about our opinions about our capabilities. They could also be speaking of the ‘loser’ in us. Morality checks also speak about our guilt – more likely our current actions and our own approval and disapproval of them. Voices usually fall into more than one category since at a deeper level all our problems are interconnected webs springing from our sense of insecurity, self-hatred, and fear.

Once you start trying to find your self-image through this exercise, you may encounter the difficulty of trying to watch your inner arguments being pulled into them. It is an expected difficulty. Just keep on with the practice. Every second of dispassionate observation adds to inner enlightenment. Some ‘voice’ may even start commenting on your inability to stay detached and try to use this activity to feed your mental noise. Just be aware of it, and you will be able to bypass it. Remember, awareness is the key.

Self Abuse: The Most Rampant Core Issue

Self acceptance can be the root of most problems, if not all, in life!
Self acceptance can be the root of most problems, if not all, in life!

Try this simple exercise: Stand before a mirror. Looking at your image in the mirror and ask yourself if you can genuinely say yes to the following questions:

Can you completely accept the person you see in the mirror with all the person’s faults and limitations?
Can you absolutely forgive the person in the mirror for all the sins and mistakes in the person’s past?
Can you love that person unconditionally?
Can you approve that person’s behavior and personality?

If you genuinely try this exercise a few times you will realize it difficult to say yes from the bottom of your heart to all of the above questions.

But try this exercise again with a small change.

If the person in the mirror was someone you love, say your child, you wouldn't have trouble accepting, forgiving, and loving the person!
If the person in the mirror was someone you love, say your child, you wouldn’t have trouble accepting, forgiving, and loving the person!

Imagine that person in the mirror to be your brother, sister, a parent, a child, your best friend, or someone you love very much. Now ask the same questions above. You will notice you can now actually say yes to all of them quite easily and willingly.

Now look at the person in the mirror again and answer this following question:

How many times have you scolded or disapproved of that person for something or the other on the past?
How many times have you become angry with that person in the past?
If you verbalized your disapproval and anger you showed at yourself to another person say your brother, sister, a parent, a child, a friend or someone you love very much, would it not constitute abuse? Would it not be such worst abuse that you become legally punishable?

The answer in most cases is an ashamed yes.

Think back to all the times you hated yourself and shouted at yourself and you will know the answer for yourself.

We all carry an inner critic – a hard-to-please, strict disciplinarian. There is no pleasing this critic. The problem is in attempting it. Sometimes we hear it as the voice of our parent in our head, sometimes it is the voice of a neighbor, a peer, a boss, spouse, and at other times it is just our voice. We can forgive others for their shortcomings easily but we always are unforgiving perfectionists when it comes to ourselves. And that paves the shortest route to ruin and suffering.

Self Abuse is the most rampant of all issues and unless we can each learn to deal with our opinion of ourselves everything we do in our daily lives will only increase our insecurities.

Do the mirror exercise every day. Simply stand before the mirror and say that you accept the person in the mirror, forgive that person, affirm that you love that person, and approve of that person. Keep doing it until you can do it without any inner hesitation or emotions blocking you.

There are so many versions of mirror exercises out there in the web. In spite of the variations, the goal is same, absolute self-acceptance.

How would you know you have accepted yourself? When you notice you are no longer abusing yourself with mental, verbal, and physical self-destructive behavior. The day you stop chiding yourself for every small thing in your life, you have truly reached a state of self-acceptance. That day you will also notice a dramatic change in the way people around you treat you.

When people approach me for Hypnotherapy or Reiki Healing for any issue, this is one of the most common exercises we ask them to do. Self image is the area where most often root causes are revealed in regression sessions.

Suggested Readings:
Do You Deserve To Be Healed?
Fears Could Be Mirrors for Self Examination
It’s Too Late Now!

Photo Courtesy:
adamrArvind Balaraman @ freedigitalphotos.net