Self image

Today’s thought is: No one has imagined us.Adrienne Rich

We’re bombarded by images in newspapers and magazines, in advertisements and on television programs, yet we rarely find ourselves reflected accurately or fully there.  In this era of so-called information, the distortion, stereotyping, and often complete absence of representations of our lives in the media may tempt us to doubt the validity of our own experiences.  The literature of liberation, spirituality, and Twelve Step recovery helps to illuminate our path; still, it offers only the tools for achieving knowledge of who we are, not the knowledge itself.

Each day, we’re blessed with opportunities to get to know ourselves “from scratch”; to face past history and present experience with truthfulness, courage, and the joy of possibility; to look deep within and recognize our true selves.  We need no longer be limited by the ways others have defined us as we greet the spirit within us and begin becoming the people we’ve always wanted to be.

Today, I love the uniqueness and diversity I see around me; I place no conditions on the love I offer myself and others.

Glad Day by Joan Larkin ©1998

Today’s thought is: Let the beauty we love be what we do.  There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.Rumi, a Sufi poet

Television, movies, and advertising tell us how we ought to be, what we should look like, how much money we should make, what we should do.  They try to limit us by saying, “Only this kind of life is acceptable.”

In real life, though, the people who attract our attention and hold it are people good at being themselves.  The way they live is honest; they’re true to themselves.  Watching them, we know they are limited only by their creativity, not by what other people tell them.

Each of us is able to be like that.  We can shine with integrity and purposeful living.  We can start by honoring ourselves, paying attention to what makes us feel good, strong, and right.

Supporting others in the way they do things — giving them room to live lives of purpose and integrity — also moves us forward.  We celebrate our differences and cheer each other along the way.

I push against the walls of my imagination to see who I am.  I honor my true self.

The Color of Light by Perry Tilleraas ©1988

Today’s thought is: Comparisons are odious.Sir John Fortescue

Talk about a setup!  What are we really doing when we compare ourselves with others?  Are we simply gathering information — or are we actually gathering evidence of our own inadequacy?  If that’s our game, we’re sure to win by losing every time.

Maybe we first learned to make unfavorable comparisons as a form of self-protection.  Perhaps our tactic was to put ourselves down quickly ­ before “they” could do it for us.  As children, we may have used self-effacement to deflect even worse verbal abuse.  But we’re not children now.  And those bullies who lurked in the bushes aren’t there anymore — unless we’ve internalized and generalized them into everybody who isn’t us.

Do most of the people we know seem better, smarter, handsomer, more interesting than we are?  If so, that’s a sign that we’re still playing out the same old self-defeating pattern.  Out of fear, we’re volunteering to be “worse” so that those who are “better” won’t want to hurt us.  After years of practice, self-effacement has become our habit.

But we can form a new habit if we want to.  We can begin by refusing to idealize people who are in fact the same mixed bag of strengths and weaknesses that we are.  We can stop making comparisons to put ourselves down and start taking a look at the worthy people we really are.

Today, I don’t need to vandalize my self-image by making unfavorable comparisons.

Believing in Myself by Earnie Larsen and Carol Hegarty ©1991