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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

        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

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        1 19 Golden Pieces of Relationship Advice From the Experts 2 Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know 3 How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship 4 How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future 5 This Is What Happens When You Move Out Of the Comfort Zone

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        Last Updated on May 21, 2019

        How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

        How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

        For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

        If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

        Example 1

        You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

        You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

        In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

        Example 2

        You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

        People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

        You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

        Example 3

        You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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        The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

        Example 4

        You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

        Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

        If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

        Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

        • Understand your own communication style
        • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
        • Communicate with precision and care
        • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

        1. Understand Your Communication Style

        To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

        In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

        Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

        2. Learn Others Communication Styles

        Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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        If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

        “How do you prefer to receive information?”

        This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

        To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

        3. Exercise Precision and Care

        A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

        On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

        Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

        I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

        I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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        In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

        The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

        Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

        4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

        Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

        In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

        “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

        Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

        Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

        It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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        It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

        It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

        Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

        Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

        The Bottom Line

        When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

        I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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        Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

        Reference

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