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What Is Your Defining Mental Picture?

What Is Your Defining Mental Picture?

What Do You See In Your Mind When You Think About Yourself?

 

    A mirror is nothing more than a tool to reflect your outward appearance, but how we truly see ourselves is a product of our self-conscious mind, and that mind, for most of us, is a brute. An irrational pessimist.

    I know this because so many of us seek self improvement. We want to learn more, gain perspective or enlightenment, and become a better version of ourselves. But why and to what end? The only person who can fix you, is you, and you are the one telling yourself there is a problem. How do we get out of that one?

    My wife and I argue about this one all the time. To me she is a wonder. Equal parts dazzling beauty, stubborn pragmatism, and youthful joy. Try as I may though, I cannot get her to see herself the way I see her. Or for that matter, the way the world sees her. She has a set self image that will not budge. The sword in the stone, I cannot pry it free.

    Regardless of the manifestation, why do we have this problem at all? It seems every facet of American society is geared towards improving ourselves, because somehow we are not good enough. Our bodies are not the right shape (compared to strangers), our education is too low (compared to strangers), we need more money (more than the next guy). We don’t like our hair, our clothes, our cars, the size of our nose or the shape of our feet! It would seem we have a terrible self image.

    So, what is your mental picture?

    Our self image is a tricky notion because “we” are not defined by an image and an image could never articulate who we are. Just as the word water does not begin to describe water. If I ask you what water is, how could you teach me? You can’t just use the word water, that is just a set of letters we have given some meaning to. That word describes our “mental picture” of water, not water itself. If you wanted to teach me about water you would have to dunk me in.

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    So in this way the word “you” does not describe you, but your name doesn’t do the job either. These are just words meant to create a picture in your mind. They are an idea. Jim and Sarah are just words, but when I say Sarah then you get a picture in your mind of who I am talking about.

    You also get a whole series of emotions, impressions, and interactions that are brought to mind surrounding Sarah. Along with all of this there will be a definite “mental picture” of Sarah in your mind. But Sarah does not get to choose this picture, she is at the mercy of your definition of her, and she will most certainly have a different mental picture of herself.

    So obviously, we could go on and speak about how our words and actions help to define someone else’s mental picture of us, but what I am more interested in is the mental picture we have in our minds of ourselves.

    It could be anything and really if we get down to it you can choose any picture you would like. You control how you feel about yourself.

    Close your eyes, what is your mental picture? Could you put that picture on a billboard for the world to see and be proud of it?

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    Does The World Choose For You?

      Most don’t choose something they are proud of. We give up the choice of our mental picture far too often. We could choose any wonderful image to be our inner icon but instead we let those around us choose for us. We give others the permission to plant an image of what we are into our own heads. We let the outer world pick our picture for us, define us, to us! We give up the most important power we have. No wonder so many people feel out of place in this world.

      Your inner picture of yourself should be strong and powerful, amazing and full of joy, because that is your true self. It is a sheer miracle that you are even here, that you exist at all. The fact that you have freewill, emotions, ideas, dreams and love makes you incredible. Don’t you feel this?

      If a lady is a size 12, we tell her she is too heavy. Every advertisement she reads, every article, television show, book, and hit pop song tell her she should be thinner.

      The judgement is rooted deeply into our culture. But what happens if she loses the weight and becomes a 2? Then we hate her again. She is too thin. No wonder she is confused and has self image issues.

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      This makes absolutely no sense. We listen to everyone in our lives and their beliefs about who we are and what we are. We have our own control but give it up, then feel terrible about what we are given in its place. We combine that with what society tells us we should be (and our culture is just mean, cruel even, and there is no getting around that) followed by a dash of primal instinct, and for good measure we mix that with a good dose of plain old fear. Heat on high for our entire lives and we have a baked in, hard-as-a-rock self image.

      How do you improve your self image?

      How do you improve your self image when the only person that can improve it is you? Well, we could give up and say that self improvement is unattainable, but that just isn’t our style now is it?

      We will be positive about it and say that no matter the obstacle in front of us, we can overcome it. What choice do we have? We must be able to define ourselves.

      We have to do it together. Yes, we are the only ones who can change our own self image, BUT together we can start by changing the factors that influence us. We must say “even though I am far too hard on myself, I refuse to make anyone else feel this way,” and that, in the process, will help us redefine ourselves.

      The way we speak to and about each other needs to change. We must start respecting each other and work to build each other up. We need to end the days of tearing people down for sport.

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      I won’t press you. If you can say from your heart that your mental picture of yourself is exactly what you want it to be, then you are free. Your responsibility then is to help everyone around you. Help them to see themselves through your eyes. It won’t do any good, they won’t listen, but you must try. You must try because you have the one thing they do not – inner peace – and you owe a karmic debt.

        Now if you are not at that point. If you see fat, if you see ugly, if you see dumb, or any other picture in your mind screaming a negative at you, then here is your prescription:

        Print out a picture of what you would most want to see. Your own internal best image as a symbol. It does not even have to be of a person. Perhaps you have always wanted to feel and act more free and you print a picture of the most beautiful eagle in flight. You have always wanted to be braver and so your best mental picture would be that of a lion – print that.

        Walk into your bathroom and tape the ideal picture on your mirror. Right in front of your face.

        Every morning when you wake, look at the picture. Every evening before bed stare at it again. Do not touch it until you are so fed up with looking at it that you are finally willing to change. Finally willing to accept yourself. You can achieve anything you want in this world and you can change how you feel about yourself.

        Take a long look at the beautiful you, your ideal self. Now go make that happen. Stop accepting the world’s definition of you and replace that mental picture with the real you, your ideal self, the one you have really been all along but could not see.

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        Glenn Killey

        Author, Motivational Speaker, Mindset Coach

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        Last Updated on July 3, 2020

        30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

        30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

        In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

        1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

        Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

        2. Focus on your breath

        Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

        3. Get organized and purge old items

        A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

        4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

        Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

        5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

        Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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        6. Smile more

        Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

        7. Don’t worry about the future

        As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

        8. Eat real food

        The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

        9. Choose being happy over being right

        Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

        10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

        Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

        11. Make use of filtering features on social media

        You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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        12. Get comfortable with silence

        When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

        13. Listen to understand, not to respond

        So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

        14. Put your troubles in a bubble

        Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

        15. Speak more slowly

        Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

        16. Don’t procrastinate

        Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

        17. Buy a coloring book

        Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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        18. Prioritize yourself

        You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

        19. Forgive others

        Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

        20. Check your expectations

        Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

        21. Engage in active play

        Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

        22. Stop criticizing yourself

        The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

        23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

        Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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        24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

        Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

        25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

        Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

        26. Manage your money

        Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

        27. Stop trying to control everything

        Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

        28. Practice affirmations

        Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

        29. Get up before sunrise

        Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

        30. Be yourself

        Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

        Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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