‘You give a man a fish and you feed him for a day... you teach him to fish and you feed him for life’
This principle is about loosening the chains and limiting beliefs about ourselves, our gender, our culture, our communities, our religion and all the various influences that have historically limited people across the world in one way or another.
It is based on the belief that, fundamentally, the SELF of itself needs no developing. It is all knowing, all powerful and all bliss. The idea of our royal nature has been addressed within many religions and disciplines even if in different terms; but they all have the same message, that is, we are Extraordinary Beings, exceptional in every way...every one of us is unique with the right and ability to decide what it is that we want.
‘Self Image is the mental and spiritual concept or picture that we have of ourselves’
The question: Who am I? is usually answered by various descriptions such as tall, fat, short, English, American, African, Indian, doctor, man, woman, father, mother, black, white and more. This definition of who we are sets boundaries of individual accomplishments, determining what we can and cannot do, what we can and cannot aspire to, what we may and may not hope to achieve.
These ideas are usually rooted in our physical definitions of ourselves which in turn inform the views that we hold about ourselves and others. They also influence the limitations we place on ourselves and others. Notions such as ‘people like me’ do not go there, do that, think that, feel that are symptoms of these limitations.
This image of self that most of us live by has been fashioned by our past experiences, the societies we live in, our families, our religions, i.e. the cultures to which we have been exposed and the beliefs, values, attitudes that define who we are and what we can and cannot do/achieve/aspire to.
‘You can use a thorn to remove a thorn’
Self Image Development emphasises that no one individual is better or worse than another and that we are all exceptional creatures.
Emphasis on our identity as being Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, English, Conservative, White, Rich, Educated, Doctor, Father are labels that serve only to limit us if we allow them to define who we are. Regrettably, all over the world, gender, religion, race, ethnicity, social class and nationality are the primary labels used to define who we are, what we can do, what we should look like, who we can love, what we can eat, what we may enjoy, overlooking the fact that these are labels created for our convenience and their value changes with time, events and fashion. We are more than these labels.
Our ideas about religion, society and family may be fashioned by ‘man’ to assist his pursuit of a better life but they cannot and must not be allowed to define who we are because to do so is to limit us to what we are not.
‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent’
This statement, which is said to have been made by Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of former American President, F D Roosevelt, suggests that although our families, religions and societies may have conditioned or programmed us into thinking the way we do, this conditioning does not take place without our consent. This observation is not dissimilar to the one made by Nelson Mandela who, despite being imprisoned for twenty seven years because he wanted his country to be free, said that they could enslave/imprison his body but they could not enslave/imprison his mind.
Self image is the reason many of us are trapped in lifestyles that do not reflect our true worth, that are not in keeping with whom we truly are, that limit our thinking and make us accept that as ‘blacks’, Hispanics, women, men or children; fat, short or bald or poor we cannot aspire to live according to our true worth. Self image lies at the heart of discovering who we truly are.
‘Beliefs represent statements of fact or opinions which are accepted as true or real, but invariably without proof or evidence.’
Beliefs are said to be the filters through which we interpret the world. They can be based on ideas that I have about me or ideas about me held by another. I conclude that I can or cannot do something that is physically or technically possible because I have chosen to accept the view that I can’t. Beliefs may be negative and therefore limiting, or positive and empowering.
To run a mile under four minutes was once considered physically impossible by the scientific and medical community. However, it was every mile runner’s dream to break that barrier and dispel the myth. No one was able achieve this goal until the sixth of May nineteen hundred and fifty four when Roger Bannister ran a mile in three minutes and fifty nine point four seconds. Within days of this achievement, countless other athletes were running a mile below four minutes because they were able to reject a limitation that had been imposed on them by people in authority whose views were respected. They had held a belief that contradicted their desires and ultimately, their expectations. Roger Bannister obviously did not accept that limitation. His view was that it could be done and he succeeded in proving himself right by breaking the barrier, that glass ceiling that everyone had, until then, accepted as a given.
‘Our Mind is as freshly fallen snow, every experience leaves an imprint. The fresher the snow fall the greater the impression of the imprint.’
As time passes and further snow falls these imprints are covered up, embedded. Although they appear to be lost from sight they remain just covered up like the footprints of dinosaurs discovered thousands of years after they were formed. Past experiences are covered up; successes become covered up, our failures, the hard times, the good times, the positives, the negatives all become embedded into what is referred to as the sub-conscious comprising the brain and the nervous system. The subconscious does not judge our experiences nor does it decide whether they are real or true. Nevertheless it is from this foundation or platform that we mentally construct the ‘self’ i.e. the sort of person I am...our Self Image. This self-image is the basis from which our personalities are built and our actions, behaviour and feelings are defined.
‘Our self image is subject to change. We are never too old or too young to change this view of ourselves’
Mere positive thinking does not work. If our thoughts are not in harmony with how we see ourselves, with our self image, then the desired results are not achievable. To change our self image requires re-visiting those ideas, beliefs and myths and the false premises upon which they have been based. It requires going within, into the depths of that part of us that we are not always conscious of or have disowned, to review our ideas about who we have become in order to re-discover who we truly are. Self Image development is therefore crucial to what we are all about. It is the key to living a better life.
‘There are countless stories and life experiences of people who have risen above adversity to become extraordinary successes...’
- Oprah Winfrey, a ‘black’ ‘woman’ from a challenging background who became one of the world’s richest people and the highest profile TV hostess in the western world today...
- ‘President’ Obama a mixed ‘race’ man of ‘African’ ancestry who went on to become the first African American President of the United States of America...
- Richard Branson, a ‘dyslexic’, who became a phenomenal business entrepreneur and billionaire...
- Nelson Mandela, who was a ‘prisoner’ for twenty seven years because of his convictions and led his country to a new beginning...
- ...just a few of the well known individuals with exceptional achievements which had to be founded on beliefs that must have said....I CAN!
- This does not take into account the men and women who go about their daily lives making a difference, changing themselves, changing their ideas and changing their world.