Advertising

What Is Your Defining Mental Picture?

Advertising
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.

    Advertising

    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?

    Advertising

    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.

      Advertising

      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.

      Advertising

      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.

        Advertising

        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.

        More by this author

        Glenn Killey

        Author, Motivational Speaker, Mindset Coach

        What Is Your Defining Mental Picture? What My Teenage Daughter Taught Me About Simplicity What An 86 Year Old Man Can Teach Us About Procrastination The Randomness of Life: 3 Steps to Take Back Control The Law of Reversed Effort

        Trending in Communication

        1 10 Signs You Are in a Codependent Relationship (And What To Do About It) 2 I Want To Be Happy: 7 Science-Backed Ways to Find Happiness 3 13 Ways Happy People Think and Feel Differently 4 10 Morning Habits Of Happy People 5 What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on July 20, 2021

        How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

        Advertising
        How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

        You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

        Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

        Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

        Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

        1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

        According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

        “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

        Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

        Warming up

        If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

        If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

        Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

        Advertising

        1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
        2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
        3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

        Stay hydrated

        Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

        To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

        Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

        Meditate

        Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

        Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

        Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

        Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

        2. Focus on your goal

        One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

        Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

        Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

        Advertising

        Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

        If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

        3. Convert negativity to positivity

        There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

        ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

        It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

        Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

        Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

        Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

        4. Understand your content

        Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

        Advertising

        However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

        “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

        Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

        Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

        One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

        5. Practice makes perfect

        Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

        In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

        Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

        6. Be authentic

        There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

        Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

        Advertising

        Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

        To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

        With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

        Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

        7. Post speech evaluation

        Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

        Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

        We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

        You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

        Improve your next speech

        As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

        Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

        Advertising

        • How did I do?
        • Are there any areas for improvement?
        • Did I sound or look stressed?
        • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
        • Was I saying “um” too often?
        • How was the flow of the speech?

        Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

        If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

        Reference

        Read Next