Distorted Self Image

Have you ever gone to a fair or circus where there were funny mirrors, the kind that totally distorts the image of what you look like?

Now imagine if you believe that it is what you look like? If you do, then you have a distorted self image.  And how did you get that? By believing a distorted mirror which reflected a distorted image and you took that as the truth of who you are.

When we are very young, up to six to nine years old, we believe what the environment tells us, we don’t have the capacity to discriminate or filter what our senses perceive, we are, at that time, innocent and completely trusting. During those younger years we form the picture of who we are, based on what our environment, at that time, told us, therefore a distorted self image.

As we grow up, we solidify the distorted image, as we think we are that, and find thousands of situations which reinforce that belief. Of course, as we mature we begin to feel very uncomfortable with an image that is not authentic, and we start to feel there’s something wrong, feeling like a fake, uncomfortable in one’s own skin, feel separate from who we really are.

At that point, very often, we feel the need to protect that self image, because the self image is made up of notions, ideas, stories, beliefs.  There is nothing solid about our self image and yet we hold so firmly to it.

Speaking for myself, if some one would say, “you are so shy “, I would reply “no, I’m not.” But I would avoid being around strangers. I started to build walls so no one would see who I really was. And yet, when I was around people who I trusted, like my grandmother, I would be full of humor and I loved to make her laugh. I would make her laugh so much, she had to ask me to stop with my clowning.

I did not know who I was. I denied my desire to be noticed, appreciated and entertain others, and I presented myself as self conscious, shy, and I denied that too. No one noticed my state of confusion.

I’m sure many of you reading this can identify in some way or another.
Most of us live for a long time in this state of confusion, not knowing who we really are. Eventually, as we go through life, a question, very quiet at first, starts to surface in the awarenes:”Who am I?”

It is an important question and the beginning of a journey of discovery.
The journey of discovery is a time of asking: How did I get that notion? What happened in my childhood that caused me to  believe this about myself? Does this belief serve me now? If not, how can I change?

As we go through this proccess, we become simpler, more confortable with ourselves, more trusting and loving, because the distorted self image is becoming weaker, has less hold on us, we’re becoming more authentic, we trust ourselves more to know what we want in life, what we want to dedicate ourselves to, how to give and to receive graciously.

It’s a funny thing, that as we continue with our of discovery, which by the way never ends, we learn how to appreciate our old distorted self image, because we learned so much from it. It is a process, we all go through it and we gain wisdom.

With appreciation for wherever you are on the journey,

Clea Holdridge.

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