Breaking Free From A Negative Self Image
January 5, 2020
I always saw myself as a well intentioned and good natured individual. A do gooder radiating positive vibes when interacting with others.
As I developed a deeper understanding of who I was , I sensed an unnerving truth about myself. There was a streak of low self esteem which I tried to bolster through external posturing. There was always this deeply embedded subconscious agenda to be seen as someone successful, as a good guy, and be appreciated- all stemming from a need for significance and Connectedness , about which I wrote in one of my earlier posts.
This low self image manifested in many ways in the way I felt and behaved
- I would feel a tinge of jealousy when someone close to me achieved something big like a promotion.
- I would feel mildly inferior when I came across someone who I felt was an achiever e.g a younger colleague on a fast track or someone with an Ivy League pedigree( I don’t have one!!) I tried to make myself look better and bigger than what I really thought I was. There would be the odd white lie to sharpen the image of being good.
- I would feel physically uncomfortable or diffident in the presence of very confident and aggressive individuals. This was particularly debilitating in the work setting.
- I tended to be extra sensitive to any signs of rejection, rebuff.
- I tended to be aggressive with people who I felt were intellectually inferior to me while being deferential when dealing with people I perceived as being intellectually superior.
Like a suspense movie that holds no surprise if you know what happens at the key moment, once I realized this reality about myself and how it was impacting me – it became easy for me to make some adjustments to become a more confident and authentic person.
- I acknowledged to myself that I was suffering from a low self image and also put it out in the open with people I trusted. My mentors, my spouse . The biggest ally of any weakness is shame. A weakness or a dark secret has a power over you only as long as it is in the shadows of shame. Once it comes out in the open, there is strangely no more fear or shame. In fact there is a sense of liberation. For me, admitting to this fact was a liberating moment.
- Just to convince myself that all this was mind games, I actually made a list of all that I had achieved in life and career and boy was it fabulous!! I made a mental story out of all my achievements and brought that story up whenever I sense the feeling of inadequacy creeping in.
- There is an inner critic(its one of the avatars of our ego). This was the puppeteer that was completely directing my mindset. I just decided to ignore the Inner Critic.
- I started focusing on my strengths and developing them further. I was good at dealing with human issues. I took a coaching certification and enhanced my skill further. I joined Toastmasters to improve my public speaking skills. I invested in my own personal growth.
- I started practicing gratitude. Looking out for all that is good in my life that I need to be grateful for.
As humans, we are blessed with an amazing intellect. One of my favorite teachers Sadhguru says is beautifully- Our intellect if it goes against us, can be our biggest enemy. For me , the issue of a negative self image was a small bug in my intellectual software that I managed to fix once I knew it was spoiling my operating system.