The Self-Image: Your Key to Living Without Limits

(Courtesy: Dr. Maxwell Maltz)

"Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance." ~ Bruce Barton

We are made of billions of billions of beliefs. They include beliefs about our body, our intellectual worth or how attractive we are. Our beliefs about God, sin, life after death, morality, society, family and what should be done and not to be done and so on.

All of these beliefs came from somewhere. These beliefs are our reality. They are truth to us and our mind hold on to them with grim determination. Yet we know that it has little or no foundation and instead of serving us, they hold us back.

Your core beliefs are your identity, which define how you feel about yourself. They establish the limits of what you can achieve and influence everything, from whom you choose as a spouse to who you feel worthy to pursue for friendship. They define what you can expect from life in the form of nourishment, satisfaction and emotional well-being.

Clearly, your self-portrait is the basis of most major life decisions. It sets your sights and establishes your basic fears. When you have a portrait full of flaws and blemishes, your belief warns that you will not be appreciated and well received. It warns you to expect pain or loss and hurt in life. When a portrait is attractive, featuring strong and confident, the world seems more giving and ambitions seem more possible.

We need to create an opportunity to examine, question and test some of our core beliefs. Some of these beliefs may be accurate, but some may be inaccurate and maintained only by confirmatory bias and mental grooving. The goal is to turn some core beliefs that are based on an inaccurate filtering of our life experience in a more realistic direction.

Become a personal scientist, to investigate your past and your present with as much openness and honestly as possible. Experiment, take risks and record the outcomes so that you can realistically test deeply held beliefs about yourself. If you can harness that power and put it to work in a positive way, you can change your life and become a happier, more successful person.

Understanding the psychology of the self can mean the difference between success and failure, love and hate, bitterness and happiness. The discovery of the real self can rescue a crumbling marriage, recreate a faltering career, and transform victims of “personality failure.” Yet, on another plane, discovering your real self means the difference between freedom and the compulsions of conformity.

Whether we realize it or not, each of us carries within us a mental blueprint or picture of ourselves. It may be vague or ill-defined to our conscious gaze. In fact, it may not be consciously recognizable at all. But it is there, complete down to the last detail. This self-image is our own conception of the “sort of person I am.” It has been built up from our own beliefs about ourselves. Most of these beliefs have unconsciously been formed from our past experiences, our successes and failures, our humiliations, our triumphs, and the way other people have reacted to us, especially in early childhood. From all these we mentally construct a self (or a picture of a self ). Once an idea or a belief about ourselves goes into this picture it becomes “truth,” as far as we personally are concerned. We do not question its validity, but proceed to act upon it "just as if it were true."

Specifically, all your actions, feelings, behavior, even your abilities, are always consistent with this self-image. Note the word: always. In short, you will “act like” the sort of person you conceive yourself to be. More important, you literally cannot act otherwise, in spite of all your conscious efforts or willpower. Willpower is not the answer; self-image management is.

Self-image is the determining factor in all the apparent discrepancies, the failures as well as the successes. To really live, that is to find life reasonably satisfying, you must have an adequate and realistic self-image that you can live with. You must find yourself acceptable to you. You must have a wholesome self-esteem. You must have a self that you can trust and believe in. You must have a self that you are not ashamed to be and one that you can feel free to express creatively, rather than hide or cover up. You must know yourself – both your strengths and your weaknesses – and be honest with yourself concerning both. Your self- image must be a reasonable approximation of “you,” being neither less than you are.

When this self-image is intact and secure, you feel good. When it is threatened, you feel anxious and insecure. When it is adequate and one that you can be wholesomely proud of, you feel self-confident. You feel free to be yourself and express yourself. You function at your optimum. When the self-image is an object of shame, you attempt to hide it rather than express it. Creative expression is blocked. You become hostile and hard to get along with.

If a scar on the face enhances the self-image, self-esteem and self- confidence are increased. If a scar on the face detracts from the self-image, loss of self-esteem and self-confidence result.

When a facial disfigurement is corrected by plastic surgery, dramatic psychological change can result “only” if there is a corresponding correction of the mutilated self-image. Sometimes the image of a disfigured self persists even after successful surgery, much the same as the “phantom limb” may continue to feel pain years after the physical arm or leg has been amputated.

Darkness and Light

In the centre of this painting is a world divided into two parts. The left is a world in shadow from frustration. In the middle, there is a man’s image, shrunken to the size of a small potato, moving away from reality, toward the black angel of destruction. Below you see a ship without any sails about to capsize in the rough seas of frustration. The other half of the man’s inner world is of sunlight, full of confidence. The man’s image here is ten feet tall and is walking towards the sun. Below you see a ship in calm waters about to reach port. And what is this port? Peace of mind! We can learn to walk away from this shadow world of frustration into the dawn of a new world, through confidence.

The above portrait is a gift each person can give to themselves. It is important we understand that the port of peace of mind cannot be reached by moving away from reality. Any form of simple escapism can only alleviate frustration temporarily as an aspirin may alleviate the symptom of headache. Only by moving aggressively toward reality – which means uncovering hidden truths about yourself – can you truly have peace of mind.

It Starts with Your Words

Speaking comes to most people as naturally as breathing. On many occasions our words are uttered without conscious thought; in fact we rarely stop and think about what we are saying. Thousands of words pour out of our mouths each day as our thoughts, opinions, judgments and beliefs are freely expressed.

Words have tremendous power which gives out energy and a message which creates a reaction in others. We are constantly creating something, either positive or negative with our words. Reaction to our words often returns to us in a multiplied form. The power of words has a ripple effect in our life and those around us.

An important key to success in life is to understand the power of your words. A word is a thought eternalized. Your thoughts do have a great effect on you even though they are internal. What you think effects the way you live your life, it effects your emotions, your attitudes and your behavior. A thought spoken, however, has even more power. It can never be taken back; it is out of your mouth and will have an effect. Your words have even more power than your thoughts because they not only affect yourself, but the people and the world around us.

To see more personal success, the words that we speak need to be in alignment with what we want to see being produced in our life – our vision and our dreams. Our words can determine our destiny. Even more importantly, our words can make a positive difference on the people we interact with every day.

Words and Your Health

The most powerful words of all are the ones we say to ourselves, the self-talk every day. Words have huge power and have tremendous impact on our health. Do you ever hear yourself say “I am tired” or “I am stressed” or things like “I am fat,” or “I am not smart enough to do that.” Words like these create the emotion or feeling that you would have if the words were true.

It is rare for people to give themselves compliments – we are our own harshest critic.

If you say you are tired, then you will begin to feel tired. Feeling tired leads to sluggish behavior which generates fatigue rather than vibrant energy. Whatever you focus on grows. So you must program your health with the right words.

The words you use are like computer code that becomes the software of your mind. You program your behavior with your words. If you do not like the results that you are getting in your life, simply change the software by reprogramming your mind. It takes time to work out the bugs in a program, but the goal is consciously to decide what you want. Use words and thoughts consistent with that desire, and then begin acting on that thought.

For example, if you want to reduce your weight stop saying and thinking “I am fat.” Replace that thought with “I enjoy having a healthy weight” or “I am enjoying the process of becoming thin.” Expand on this by changing the conversations in your head about food and exercise.

Your Word Has the Power to Change the World

It is time to affect change in every part of the world, beginning with you. Every word you speak and every thought you think is resonating and vibrating throughout the world. As you create your words, you create your (and our) destiny.

The very words you speak and think are your personal vehicle on the journey to happiness. They program both your destination and the speed with which you get there. Words change your DNA sequences by recreating your future and creating quantum possibilities that allow you to take control of your destiny.

Low-energy words accompany low-energy thoughts and emotions. Usually these are unconscious (we are unaware of them) beliefs and models we hold for ourselves which keep us from being successful as we would like to be. Most of us have some degree of low-energy self-talk such as “I am not good enough” or “I do not deserve to be happy / rich,” and this low energy spills over into our communication with others. It acts like a static interference internally which makes goals and desires less easy to achieve.

The combination of learning to switch our internal and external dialogue and removing the limiting beliefs and negative (low-energy) emotions sends the mind clear and intentional signals that beam rewards directly back to us. When we do this, we create a direct connection to the quantum power of the universal consciousness that we call God or the Universal Mind – the pure consciousness beyond our known parameters.

You can change your mind with the speed of thought. Your subconscious mind is capable of making changes faster than you ever imaged. The truth is that “reality” is simply your perception of what you believe to be true. Yesterday you have believed that today was tomorrow. Tomorrow you will believe that today was tomorrow.

Decision making is all about correcting outdated thoughts and changing your mind. It is your conscious mind that makes choices and decisions. You might hear people say that it took them a year to give up smoking; to change the habit. However, it took less than a second to actually stop.

Anything and everything that is not working well for you can be changed. You have all the answers inside your mind. You have a solution to every one of your questions because your inner mind is programmed to search for wholeness and well-being. The process – begins with paying particular attention to your thoughts. It begins with changing every word you speak so that your thoughts, language and intent become clear and empowering.

Your thoughts start as observations, ideas or symbols and are translated by your conscious mind into words. Words are simply a physical, measurable manifestation of these thoughts. They are your way of making sense of what you perceive.

Each key word has its own individual frequency. Powerful, high-energy words such as excitement, joy, success or love vibrate higher and faster, thus increasing your “I feel good” feelings.

Low energy words, particularly words that have a negative emotional association such as sadness or guilt resonate at a lower frequency. They make you feel less that great by literally lowering your energy levels. In fact, 20 percent of words you use have strong emotional undertones, which cause you to react either positively or negatively.

Being happy adds nine years to your life. It has been scientifically proven that low-energy thoughts lower the immune system and make people prone to illness. This means that by focusing your language on the word good you will get twice as many results in your life as when you focus on the word bad. The really good news is that high energy words seem to exhibit a field of dominance over low energy words, which is why we eventually revert to optimism.

Words Trigger Emotions

Emotions are the daily system your subconscious mind uses as a signal that you are in or out of tune. Your dreams, flashes and intuitions are some of the ways the subconscious attempts to communicate its imbalance and sort out the feelings.

Any low-energy word, thought, emotion or belief interferes with and interrupts your access to love, joy and abundance. Success then becomes unpredictable. What also acts as an interruption to happiness is the belief that fear, anger, guilt, self-doubt and old limiting decisions are real. These emotions of the middle brain are a linear reality – a delusion. They are there simply to let you know that new action is needed.

When you open up to the idea that these old low-energy emotions do not really exist, that they are simply names you give to feelings to describe an absence of love and joy, you move toward life-gaining awareness and pure consciousness. You go from polarity to oneness. You allow yourself to regain power, passion, confidence and self-worth. You have more clarity, lucidity and understanding as you move toward your ultimate potential.

So how do you change the set-point of your happiness thermostat to high? You focus on clearing negative emotions as they come up on daily basis, while examining any non-supportive beliefs, and then concentrate on increasing your strengths. Get enthusiastic, find something beautiful to appreciate, renew your sense of curiosity and love of learning and last but not the least, find fun and humor in any event.

Remember that the prime directive of your subconscious mind is to keep you healthy and alive. Clear out the less supportive habits to bring you to an optimum level of health. When people talk about their health, they are usually referring to their physical bodies. We however have four bodies (entities) to keep healthy; spiritual, mental, emotional and physical.

A blockage or imbalance in one or more of the four bodies causes discomfort, eventually lowering the immune system. You need to clear your mental and emotional body by changing your thoughts and language patterns and finally, address and clear the physical body.

Every one of the trillions of cells that make up your body remembers and stores the memory of every event, feeling or through that you have ever experienced. Repeated verbal or physical punishment has a more lasting effect.

Blockages in your electrical messaging system through negative thinking, unhealthy eating or emotional repression eventually manifest physically in the form of disease. Lack and limitation are defined by how many non-supportive beliefs (not good enough, not clever enough) and low-energy emotions (anger, sadness, guilt, shame, fear and anxiety) are stored in the subconscious mind. In order to balance the energy and recover we need to review our thinking patterns, core beliefs, eating and exercise.