By Sayyida Bano – Health & Wellness Coach
What we become in life, what we do in life and what we have in life are all based on the image we hold of ourselves. Our self-image is not the way in which we look in the mirror. This is a mere reflection of our external appearance. We live in the great social media age where we can hide behind many false personas and project an image of ourselves to the world which has no real correlation with who we truly are at the core. We may be able to hide behind makeup, snap chat filters, botox, or designer outfits and accessories. We may even be able to talk the talk and walk the walk of someone who is self-confident, both inwardly and outwardly. However, we fail to realise that we cannot deviate too far from how we truly see ourselves on the inside. We cannot be greater than the image we actually hold of ourselves.
Our self-image is the way we identify ourselves, as well as the way we project ourselves to the external world. It is a framework we form in our subconscious mind of how we see life and ourselves and what we believe and think is true. It is a set of assumptions about how the world, society and life works. And it is upon this worldview that we base our beliefs about how the world works and who we really are.
We are all programmed with a variety of these assumptions. Some are directly implanted through environmental exposure. Others are gathered from the information we have imbibed, both consciously and unconsciously. Information such as what other people have told us about ourselves; as well as conclusions we have formed based on how they have responded to us. So, our self-image is based partly on our own reactions and interpretations of events, and also on the manner in which we evaluate our interactions with others.
Our self-image is extremely important to us. The extent to which it is both accurate and balanced significantly impacts every area of our lives. This inner picture of ourselves remains relatively stable over time. It impacts virtually everything about us: from our weight, health, relationships, finances, skills, interactions and sense of well-being. Unless we take deliberate steps to modify it, our results in life will fall narrowly within this single image.
A person’s self-image can become distorted, imbalanced, or otherwise unhealthy as a result of many factors. As children, we are highly sensitive to the judgments made about us by our parents, teachers and caregivers– those with power or influence over us– as well as our peers. If those judgments are too often and/or too intensely negative, we are likely to internalise a self-image which is more negative in nature.
Our personality characteristics also significantly impact the development of our self-image. Some individuals are highly sensitive to criticism. They may, in turn, carry the interpretations they make about events or about the actions of others to an extreme. This is largely due to their perceptions of how these events or actions reflect negatively on them.
What is powerful about the self-image framework is that it determines our actions. We may think we are consciously making decisions and taking actions in our life, however 95% of our actions and behaviors are governed by the extremely powerful subconscious mind. Hence, our results in life are largely from the subconscious. There may be many assumptions in our self-image which are completely false, or even out right delusional! Unfortunately, these mistaken beliefs keep us stuck right where we are.
For example, if we grew up in an environment which mocked our inability to do math, we may have perceived our environment as sending us a strong message that “mathematics is not our strong point” If we internalize this message, we are likely to hold a self-image of someone who simply isn’t good at mathematics. This would then become a self-fulfilling prophecy, where we find ourselves always struggling with anything that required solving equations.
We BELIEVED the message we heard from our environment and accepted it to be TRUE. Once you accept something to be true in the subconscious mind, the nature of that very subconscious seeks to verify and ratify such an idea.
Our body and mind are like a thermostat. They want to keep us in a state of balance, homeostasis and equilibrium. This is why it is so difficult to make significant and lasting changes. It also further explains why we seem to stay stuck at the same level of results.
If we want to make big changes in our life– if we want to improve our relationships, change our health, earn a better income, improve our skills and increase our confidence– then we must work hard to influence our own self–image. We must go deep into the recesses of our subconscious mind and start to unravel that which is not in alignment with the truth of who we really are, and what we can actually achieve.
So how can we know the truth about ourselves? Can we even make a true evaluation? Whether we turn to science or religion, it is said that the potential of a human being cannot be measured. It is infinite. A similar statement is mentioned in the Quran: “We have indeed created man in the best of moulds” (Surah At-Tin, 95:4).
Man is created as the best of creation in the Universe with the power of reasoning and insight which is not given to anything created other than man. Man is created as a vicegerent with the status of doing God’s work on Earth. Every human being therefore is engineered for success by his creator. Every human being has been given access to the same inner resources and potentials as every other human being, and we all have access to a Power which is far greater than ourselves.
So if we are engineered for success and happiness, then the picture we hold of ourselves as an individual unworthy of happiness, success and prosperity; a person who is meant to fail, must be a complete error!
If we truly believe in an All-Powerful, All-Loving and All-Wise Creator, then we can draw some logical conclusions about that which He has created – the human being.
In the first place such an All-Powerful Creator would not turn out an inferior product anymore than a master painter would paint an inferior painting. Such a Creator would not deliberately engineer His product to fail anymore than a manufacturer would deliberately build failure into a car.
It has been said that God loves us seventy times more than our mother; which means infinitely more. As a mother, what brings us more pride, joy and satisfaction than to see our children doing well, living their best and achieving their goals in this world?
What about God then? Does He not want us to succeed? Absolutely He does. He wants us to shine, not hide. He wants us to be happy and confident. He wants us to believe in ourselves like He believes in us. He wants us to have faith, courage and determination that we can achieve great things in life! He has not created us to walk around feeling unworthy, or inferior, unable to hold our head up high. He doesn’t want us living out of fear of failure and rejection. Are we not truly glorifying Him when we are doing what He has created and programmed us to do? God didn’t create us by accident. He created us for a purpose and created us in perfection with the ability to succeed.
When we start to work on our self-image we begin to make lasting changes which are sustainable, rather than having a yoyo effect. This is how we can start to take giant leaps and start to see massive results with our weight loss, relationships, and finances. We can master our own psychology about how we feel and think, by the Grace of God; becoming more positive than negative, overcoming anxiety, depression, alcoholism, addictions and self-sabotaging behaviours. All of this happens when we work on our self-image.
Therefore, let us purify ourselves of the false conditioning of the world and realign ourselves with this true self-image. Only then can we be in the world the way God has intended us to be – which is to be truly successful.