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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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        Last Updated on September 18, 2020

        13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

        13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

        For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

        “We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

        “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

        Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

        You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

        Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

        1. Take a step back and evaluate

        When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

        1. What is the problem?
        2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
        3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
        4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
        5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

        Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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        2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

        If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

        At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

        Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

        3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

        Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

        4. Process your thoughts/emotions

        Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

        1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
        2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
        3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
        4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

        5. Acknowledge your thoughts

        Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

        By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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        Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

        6. Give yourself a break

        If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

        7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

        A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

        Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

        After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

        8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

        As Helen Keller once said,

        “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

        Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

        9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

        In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

        1. What’s the situation?
        2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
        3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
        4. Take action on your next steps!

        After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

        10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

        A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

        Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

        For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

        11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

        No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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        12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

        No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

        13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

        There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

        After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

        Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

        Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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