The idea of “self-image” is often a static concept. You hear of people with a “low” self-image or a “healthy” self-image. Whatever it is, many people seem satisfied to play the cards they’re dealt. Few people seem to realize their current self-image can be a departure point as they move toward the kind of self-image they specifically choose and deliberately engineer.
Your self-image is much more than something that “happens to you.” As you first start thinking about your self-image, it’s natural to be curious about how your current ideas about it originated. Your first impression may be that other people’s ideas and attitudes about you were instrumental in creating your self-image. If your childhood and early adult influences were positive, encouraging and nurturing, you may feel these experiences contributed to a reasonably positive, healthy self-image. If your early experiences were negative and discouraging, it may feel natural to blame them for your current less-than-stellar self-image.
Whether healthy or weak, positive or negative, good or bad, notice these influences originate outside of yourself. They come to you from others — their opinions, their prejudices, their short-sightedness, their personal agendas. Upon close examination, it becomes clear their attitudes, ideas and expectations of you have very little to do with you and very much to do with THEM.
Whatever these people think about you is none of your business. It’s their problem, and it doesn’t need to affect you. And it certainly shouldn’t be the basis of your own self-image.
It’s All About You
Let’s look at the semantics. “Self-image” has nothing whatsoever to do with anyone other than you. Self-image bypasses everyone else and is all about you. It’s only about what you think about yourself. Self-image refers to the package of ideas, feelings and aspirations you hold for yourself — and about yourself.
In order to have any kind of positive self-image, the first step is to really grasp this realization that it’s all about you. Once you remove all others from the equation, you can get down to the business of discovering what you really think about yourself. You can get a clearer picture of how you feel about the chosen direction of your life, totally independent from any outside influences.
Self-Image and Purpose
The second step in enhancing your self-image is to explore the idea of purpose in your life. Now that you realize that self-image is all about “me,” what is the bigger picture? How do you best fit into the macrocosm, and how can you best contribute for the good of the whole?
“Nothing contributes so much to tranquilizing the mind as a steady purpose — a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.” – Mary Godwin Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851)
“More men fail through lack of purpose than lack of talent.” – William Ashley (Billy) Sunday (1862-1935)
When your life is driven by a strong and clear sense of purpose, you are inspired toward right action . . . from the inside – out. Motivation, which comes from the outside — in, is not necessary since the driving force of your inner inspiration makes your chosen actions and activities joyous.
“The purpose of life is the expansion of happiness.” – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
When you feel good, everyone around you benefits, and all of life rallies around you. In this state of dedication to purpose, you are inspired and you are inspiring. ( See previous articles, “Inspire Yourself on Purpose – Inspiration from Inside Out” and “10 Steps to Discovering Your Life’s Purpose.”)
“This is the true joy in life: The being, used for a purpose recognized by yourself, as a mighty one. The being, a force of nature, instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.
“I want to be thoroughly used up when I die — for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” — George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
Dedication to Purpose
People who orchestrate their lives according to their dedication to purpose are easy to recognize. They are upbeat, energetic, and have a happy demeanor. They do not participate in pity parties. They don’t complain or whine or feel the need to detail their grievances anytime someone is willing to listen. When others are involved in these activities, the purpose-driven person with the healthy self-image simply disappears. Before they go, they may choose to drop a hint about why they choose to become scarce, just in case anyone is aware enough to catch it. If they do, perhaps it will nudge the pity part participants to think twice about their whining and choose to stop before serious damage is done.
The person with a healthy self-image will rarely engage whiners and complainers in a conversation about why these habits are so unproductive and destructive. It’s rarely helpful since those consumed by habitual bitching simply launch into an automatic mode of arguing about why they feel so justified in their actions.
“Argue for your limitations and they’re yours.” — Richard Bach (Illusions)
Be Happy First
The purpose-driven individual has a healthy self-image as a result of their understanding that happiness comes first. Their dedication to purpose provides an inner well-spring of contentment and well-being that spills over into all areas of their life.
“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” – The 14th Dalai Lama (b. 1935)
The complainer’s concept of happiness goes something like this: “I’ll be happy when . . .” or “I’ll be happy if . . .” A more hands-on approach to happiness goes something like this: “I am happy now. That’s top priority. I am living my life on purpose now, according to my current understanding of my life’s purpose. This is subject to change at a moment’s notice as I continue to grow and develop deeper understanding about my true self. I choose to be happy now, at all costs, because I realize that this moment, now, is the only moment in all eternity available for happiness. The past is a memory — I can’t be happy then. The future is a dream — I can’t be happy then. So I choose happiness now, knowing the best possible actions, situations, serendipities and results will spring forth best from this deliberate choice of a healthy, positive and happy self-image.”
“A man with a half volition goes backwards and forwards, and makes no way on the smoothest road; a man with a whole volition advances on the roughest, and will reach his purpose, if there be even a little worthiness in it. The man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder – a waif, a nothing, a no man. Have a purpose in life and having it, throw such strength of mind and muscle into your work as God has given you.” – Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)
Monitor Your Words and Thoughts
Words are powerful creators, whether spoken aloud or thought silently, so it’s important to eliminate any ideas or phrases that may be working against you. Be aware of habitual thoughts like the following and deliberately eliminate them from your life: “I feel bad. I’m so stupid. I feel sick. I’m so tired.” Don’t give these ideas the opportunity to become self-fulfilling prophecies. These are destructive affirmations, whether you “mean” them or not. Even if you think they’re a joke or “just words,” they can be damaging. They can sneak up on you and undermine your intentions unless you remain vigilant.
Words and thoughts are powerful creators, so be careful not to use them willy nilly. Think and speak clearly and deliberately, in line with your purpose. (See previous article, “How to Keep Your Word.”)
Whenever you notice an urge to complain or whine about anything, catch yourself in the act. Deliberately become objective and notice how it is making you feel. Is it moving it toward your objective or away from it? Nip it in the bud. Turn it around 180 degrees, and think or speak about the positive aspect instead.
Instead of “I feel bad,” think: “Something feels out of balance that I need to address so that I can feel better now.” Instead of “I’m so stupid,” think: “I choose to pay closer attention and make better choices so I can feel better now.” Instead of, “I feel sick,” think: “My body has a message that I need to hear immediately so that I can take whatever actions are necessary to regain my balance and feel better now.” Instead of “I’m so tired,” think: “My body is telling me I need to pace myself for optimum efficiency, so I will enjoy rest and relaxation interspersed with my inspired activity so that I can remain alert, productive and happy now.”
Speak with the Precession of a Benevolent Wizard
Fantasize that you are a mighty sorcerer and the words you speak create mighty spells that have a profound impact on the quality of your life, as well as the lives of others. Choose your words and thoughts carefully and deliberately, as if they had this kind of powerful magic behind them. Perhaps they do, and we have just forgotten how powerful our thoughts and words are to allow us to create our lives on purpose.
“The purpose of life is to live a life of purpose.” – Richard Leider
You are the creator of the moments of your life. This present moment is all you have. Create it on purpose, from the center of your being, as expressed through a self-image you create and continually re-create for yourself. When your self-image is of your own creation, it is natural for you to like yourself — love yourself. With this kind of personal satisfaction, your moments become happy. Happy moments mean a joyous life. What could be better? Remember, your self-image is all about you . . . so build it any way you’d like it, and make it on-purpose.
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A Heartbeat in Eternity’s Highway
In the grand scheme of things, what’s the difference between a single moment and all of eternity? What’s the point of reference?
Time of Our Lives
Take the Plunge
Same Olde Time
Just One Step
You Gotta Have Fun
Songs by Tupelo
Your Passion as Your Compass
10 Steps to Discovering Your Life’s Purpose
How to Keep Your Word
Take Time for You
Integrity Through Self-Reliance
Inspire Yourself on Purpose – Inspiration from Inside Out
Articles by Tupelo
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