How The Self Image Works
Has it ever happened to act out in a clumsy or ungraceful manner while in public. Yes, it is embarrassing. But if you don’t let that little nuance fact befuddle you, you will find that it is also liberating. Unexpectedly enough -and putting all the blushing aside- incidents like these expose us to the outer world in a way that breaks our self-image. It’s in these moments that we realise that we carry a weight in our shoulders without even noticing it.
So what is the self-image?
Self-image is nothing but a mental construct that sums the way we see ourselves. It’s our own self-perception of what we are worth and where we stand in the world and its creation started the moment we are born. Right when our little egos started shaping.
Initially there was no such thing as a concept of self coming out of the womb. The world existed in a connected and united oneness and infants would plunge into the oceanic feeling of no separation and no self.
“That feeling of oneness with the universe which is its ideational content sounds very like a first attempt at the consolations of religion, like another way taken by the ego of denying the dangers it sees threatening it in the external world.” ― Sigmund Freud
The concept of self molds little by little in every dispute and interaction we have with our environment. Based on the feedback we get, our interpretations, rationalisations and comparisons, we find our little niche place of where we fit in the world. This way our whole identity is cramped into a gate-keeper that allows us to act only on what matches the behavior of the image we created. It’s only at this point that we realise that we have become the slave of our own image. Our self-image rationalises a set of mental habits out of which we shape our lives. We act certain ways or not based on how much they abide to the image we have of us. We can only get a glimpse of this in the little moments it happens to brake.
Groups and identity
There is a common pattern in small communities or places where fame and gossip rules. The image other people are projecting onto you can become your reality. It doesn’t matter if you are easygoing, capricious or nuts. If people treat you a certain way, they are molding your inner self image in ways you can barely understand. Their expectations of your behavior becomes your painting of yourself. And this to you is translating as the measure of how you should act if you want to be part of the group and an accepted member.
Identity and ego
The same thing can happen when we project our successes or failures on our ego where that phycological selfie glues itself right up on the existing self-image. Whatever happens in our lives, whether it’s good or bad we always run through the danger of creating an identity out of it. That identity is nothing but a little photo that we take depicting us as the originators of the result. Thus, we can take the picture of someone that doesn't make mistakes or the identity of a victim that slouches his shoulders and keeps his head down. It doesn’t matter what it is exactly, the end result is that this little snap-pic is attached into our identity.
Self image is the ground through which the ego develops its horns and feeds itself.
I always thought that writing is important because you distance yourself enough from your experiences to see the bigger picture. That may be true, but there is another reason as well. By unloading your experiences they way you interpret and understand them, clearly and honestly, you declare your disobedience to the Image created by you or your environment. There is no hiding anymore. Everything is exposed and there is nothing you can do. No James bond attitudes or facades to help you. That’s why stumbling your foot in public can be a gift in disguise. The image breaks and there is no reason of pretending anything. Set your blushing aside and enjoy the feeling of being yourself.