Our brains do not work with words per say, our brains interpret images. We do not recognize words written in another language not because they are not words, but because we were taught to interpret the images from our first language.
The image that we see as “ourselves” is also an interpretation which we were taught by our care takers. The particular interpretation we take on is impacted by countless factors. Our particular genetic wiring, our level of sensitivity, every single interaction with our environment from before we were even born sets in place how our image of ourselves will be formed. We then reinforce these images throughout our lives.
It is vital, if we want to make a significant change in our behavior, to recognize the image we have of ourselves. Without this there can be no permanent change. This is the missing link in weight loss, in quitting smoking, in our general health and self-care.
How is it that you see yourself? This is the most important question you can ask yourself when embarking on any new lifestyle plan. Honestly, how do you see yourself? The image is often not a pretty sight when we are brutally honest. It is sometimes extremely painful to see what we have done to ourselves through neglect, bad habits and downright self-abuse.
This negative self-image then becomes the problem, which is why most people choose not to look at themselves, and just continue to be the victims of this deadly wiring. We love to blame. We say things like “I have no will power” or “I tried and cannot lose weight no matter how many diets I have tried” or “I have bad genetics.” We point to our failures, and then live into them. When we see others who have had success, we wave it off as that they were just lucky. No responsibility is taken or given.
Where do you begin to take responsibility? The answer is to look at your self image honestly, but with compassion. You may ask how is it possible to have compassion for something you detest? Maybe it is not.
But if that is where you are, that is a starting point. See if you can just imagine the possibility of having compassion for yourself; see what that would look like. Imagine holding yourself responsible for your choices and having compassion for how hard that is for you. Then breathe into that. Feel what that feels like. Breathing opens you up to a life. One deep breath rewires your system, and a new image is available out of that.
Judgment never works. Feel how you close down around yourself when you judge. There is no life available there. By judging you, are just reinforcing the old wiring. This locks it in place. If all there is is judgment, as is sometimes the case in people with challenged self-images, just notice that and breathe. See if you can find a positive image of yourself that is true for you and focus on that. See if you can grow that image.
It is most important not to lie to yourself, to make promises to yourself and then break them. Rather, bring consciousness to the truth you feel about yourself by looking at it honestly and with even the smallest amount of love, kindness and compassion. This will slowly begin the process of developing a new image.
Real change does not happen overnight. Real change takes creating, sometimes from nothing, a possibility to live into.
There is no magic pill, but there is magic in creating yourself anew.