This is a continuation of my thoughts on listening to Wayne Dyer’s audiobook, The Essence of Being in Balance: Creating Habits to Match Your Desires. This is a six-CD set, by the way, that is being sold for around $50, but which he is offering FREE to people who are his Facebook supporters. Go to his page on Facebook and look for his post on August 21st for info on how to get this download for free.
We are all familiar with the idea that how we see ourselves, our “idealized” selves, is not necessarily how others see us. In the last couple of years, many of us have gotten a few laughs out of those memes in which people show how their view them, how their mothers view them, how their boss views them, how society views them, and how they view themselves. These are funny because we know there is some truth in them.
The image at the top of this blog is one that’s been around for a while. Often, the caption to this image is that it’s not what other people think of us that is important, but rather what we think of ourselves. It’s true that our beliefs about ourselves are very powerful, but when our view of ourselves doesn’t match what we put out for others, there is an imbalance.
Often, our view of ourselves is extremely negative compared with others’ view of us. We may imagine that we are fatter or uglier than others think we are. We may imagine that we are klutzier or less intelligent than others think we are. People who do this are said to have a poor self-image.
Sometimes, a person believes that he or she is better than others think, and people who do this are engaging in self-aggrandizement. This actually happens a lot more than we realize. We may think we are loving and kind, fair-minded, or impartial, but then we do something that shows we are not quite “there” yet. Wayne Dwyer, who writes books about being positive, told a story about his daughter, who was 11 years old at the time. He had just scolded her for something or other, and her comment was something like, “What would your readers think of ‘Mr. Positive’ if they knew he yelled at his daughter?” (You gotta love kids; they are so perceptive, sometimes.)
There’s a balance between the extreme of being what others want us to be because we seek their approval and the other extreme of being totally oblivious to others’ reactions, with the idea that if people don’t like us, they can leave. Part of achieving that state of balance involves first admitting that our internal idea of ourselves doesn’t always match what other people see in us, and that this is partially because of what we “put out” to the public. (I say partially, because it’s also true that what people see in us has to do with their own feelings about themselves.)
If people are not reacting to us the way we think they should, then we need to realize that there is an imbalance between what we think is going on and what others think. If we think of ourselves as kind and loving, but we hurl nasty thoughts (or even words) at someone who cuts us off in traffic, can we really say we are loving and kind? If we think we are patient, but we snap at our kids because they are taking too long to do a chore we think should have been finished by now, can we really say that we are patient? If we think we are tolerant of others, but bristle when our daughter’s boyfriend shows up wearing clothing, a hairstyle, or jewelry that we don’t approve of, are we really tolerant? If we believe that the United States is a country that protects religious freedom, but we don’t want any Muslims or Buddhists in our town, how are we living our belief? How are we walking our talk?
Dyer gives some important clues in his audiobook about how to re-align ourselves so that our best idealized self becomes what we actually put out into the world. He says it’s important to find those people in our lives who will be absolutely truthful with us, the people who will not merely tell us what we want to hear, but those who will tell us what we need to hear. Once again, though, there is a fine line. We have to distinguish those who love to criticize from those who are willing to give constructive criticism when necessary.
The people who surround us often act as mirrors for us, whether we have asked them to do so or not. Do you find yourself surrounded by angry people? Check the chip on your own shoulder. Do you feel that people are rude? Have you minded your manners lately? Do the complaints and negative comments of your friends get you down? Listen to your own words.
When you find that what others are seeing about you, or how others are reacting to you is not what you wish, then you have the power to change. You can either change your image of yourself, or you can change your actions – what you put out into the world. In either case, the point is for there to be an alignment between what we believe ourselves to be and what we show the world that we are.
Dyer says we can learn to monitor ourselves so that when we start to do something that is not in keeping with who we think we are, we can catch ourselves and get back into balance. Is someone being testy with you because you are being impatient with them? Is someone disrespecting you because you are not showing respect for them? We can stop, re-align, and apologize or make amends as necessary before going on. This can be done almost instantly. The trick is to be aware.
An exercise that was suggested in a workshop that I attended was to list two or three people that we admired along with the qualities that we admire in each of them. The question was asked, “If you admire this quality in others, why are you not manifesting this quality in yourself?” It works the other way, too. You can list people you don’t like and the quality you don’t like about them. Then look at yourself to see how you, yourself, are manifesting the quality you say you don’t like. It’s important to be absolutely honest when you do this exercise.
Another exercise you could do is to write down your best qualities. Are you honest, thoughtful, insightful, loyal? How do you show each of these qualities to the world? How have you shown these qualities in your actions recently? If you find that you are not showing these qualities to others, then it’s time to do so. How can you walk your self-talk? 🙂