ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING: Building a healthy self-image is establishing self-sufficiency

Dr. William Glasser said, “All psychological problems, from the slightest neurosis to the deepest psychosis, are merely symptoms of the frustration of the fundamental need for a sense of personal worth.  Self-esteem is the basic element in the health of any human personality.”

Self-image and self-esteem, are they the same?  No, self-image is one’s conception of the self, the person’s belief in oneself, to be the person that she is; while self-esteem is self-respect.

Some people impose and influence others on how they believe themselves to be.  Accordingly, by the time you and I reached the age of two, fifty percent (50%) of what we ever believed about ourselves have been formed; by age six, sixty percent (60%) of our self-belief have been established, and by age 8, about eighty percent (80%).  By the time we reached the age of fourteen, over ninety nine (99%) of us have a well-developed sense of who and what we believed ourselves to be.

The image we have of ourselves exists largely because of our past experiences.  Nevertheless, those experiences have not made us the way we are; they have made us believe we are the way we are.  Ultimately, however, we have the power to decide what we believe about ourselves.  Let us never allow anyone to impose limitations on what we can do and become.

My stepmother used to tell me that I’ll never finish college and that I will only go astray.  She would shout at me and would nag my father about it.  I almost did not finish college because of the hard times I went through living with my stepmother (when Grandma passed away, I was forced to live with my father’s new family.)

Although there were hitches and bitches, I still managed to finish my college course, and did even more.  Otherwise, I’ll find myself in the ditch. This was when I began to build a self-image that I want.  Psalm 139:14 – Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  It is amazing to think about.  Your workmanship is marvelous-and how well I know it.

Dr. Maxwell Maltz quoted, “That the greatest adventure of life is to improve one’s own self-image, to create more meaning in life and in the lives of others which is our responsibility in life and that we should accept.”

Don Quixote of the musical drama The Man of La Mancha fell in love with a woman of the streets, the wild and wanton Aldonza.  He looked at her in awe and said that she is the lady of her dreams and he will call him Dulcinea.  Aldonza responded with a sneer and laughed at him while she uttered, “I am not a lady.”

Determined to change the self-image of Aldonza, and believing the potential greatness in her, Don Quixote desperately insisted that she is his lady, a great woman and the woman of his dreams.  Aldonza wildly and angrily shouted that, “I am just a kitchen maid, a nothing, I am Aldonza and not your Dulcinea.”  Unfazed and with loving acts and words, he whispered in utter silence that she is Dulcinea, his lady.

The play ended with a dying Don Quixote feeling a failure of his Dulcinea.  Suddenly, came to his side the lovely and gentle Aldonza, his Dulcinea.  A fully changed person saved from self-hate and taught of self-love by Don Quixote.  In soft and warm voice and in gentle and loving whispers, she said, “Here I am, your Dulcinea.”

Well, I don’t think we need a Don Quixote and a romance to change the self-image we get from our experiences.  While it is true that being independent, one must also be interdependent.  A change of ways and building a healthy self-image runs deep through an individual self.  Only we can change ourselves and nothing and no one else.  Someone may give us the motivation and the inspiration, but innately, it is an inside job, a process of wholeness within and deep in us.

Love may keep us glowing, may keep us strong.  Having someone to love and who inspires us to be the best that we can be is good.  Not when that person is no longer with us or can’t be with us.  How do you keep yourself whole then?  How do you keep a healthy self-image?

Self-image can easily be built but not a healthy self-image.  You may have a healthy self-mage but it is still incomplete without a certain amount of self esteem.  Love yourself first and everything else falls in order.  Even Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is easy to live for others; everybody does.  I call on you to live for yourselves.”

“Don’t compromise yourself.  You are all you’ve got,” says Janis Joplin.  Indeed it is hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your own head.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  “Self-love seems so often unrequited;” take it from Anthony Powell.  Self respect- the secure feeling that no one; as yet, is suspicious.  We must learn to respect ourselves and our needs.

We build our own self-image ourselves.  Michel de Montaigne taught us that the greatest thing in the world to do first is to know how to be self-sufficient.  Gertrude Stein seconded, “Let me listen to me and not to them.”

Building a healthy self-image is establishing self-sufficiency.  Listen to how these people thought of self-sufficiency from time immemorial.  John Donne- “Be thine own palace, or the world’s thy jail.  Shirley Mc Laine-“I don’t need a man to rectify my existence.”  The most profound relationship we’ll ever have is the one with ourselves.  Napoleon- “If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.”  Anais Nin-“How wrong it is for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants rather than set out to create it herself.”

Naughtily, Thomas Szasz says, quoting the proverb, “You should not bite the hands that feed you.”  “But maybe you should if it prevents you from feeding yourself.” Building a healthy self-image is one’s own responsibility and accountability.

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