By Goke Ilesanmi
At a wedding reception where I was serving as the master of ceremonies in Lagos recently, one of the people that naturally ought to help handle one of the areas of the programme refused (before the actual day) to accept to come out and speak for just two minutes on the day. He turned down all my appeal that I would equip him with necessary training before the day so that he could be confident.
If we had not had enough time ahead of us to do necessary confidence-boosting training and rehearsal, I would have attributed his fear to lack of knowledge of what to say, technically referred to as ignorance-induced fear. Given the way he closed his mind to the idea of ever coming out to face the crowd on the day, I could sense that he was (and is) suffering from psychological fear that borders on self-perception. We did not have any option but to use another person who was ready for me to train him to perform the task. And he performed brilliantly and was applauded by the audience. At this point, the man who had refused to perform the task became jealous and dejected.
Every human creature has been created to live a meaningful and fulfilling life. This means that deep within us lies a seed of greatness and success itching for germination and harvest. We have the ability to accomplish our God-given purpose, but allowing our talent or ability to manifest is our responsibility. And self-image is critical here. Please let me ask you this question: “What self-image do you see in your psychological mirror?” You need necessary empowerment to break your negative psychological mirror if you have one.
In a related development as regards negative self-image, Peter Bregman, a strategic advisor to CEOs and their leadership teams and author of “18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done” says after having given a presentation that received a standing ovation and left the stage on top of the world, he later read an angry email from someone and became angry himself. Following that, he did a fun on-radio interview and was later energised. He adds that a little later, he received feedback that he talked too much in a meeting and then he was embarrassed and disappointed in himself again.
If you have negative self-image, each new experience will determine how you perceive yourself like the melancholic people whose mood alternates between the podium of despicable melancholic depression and enviable enthusiastic celebration or jubilation. If your concept of yourself is not fixed but simply a reflection of your latest interaction, then you are out of control, a victim of the prevailing circumstance.
Those who suffer from negative self-image tend to take credit for the positive experiences and blame others for the negative ones, in a bid to maintain their confidence. According to Bregman, the problem with this strategy is that it requires a level of denial that anyone with a shred of intellectual honesty and a modicum of self-awareness would find difficult to sustain. In his words, “Eventually, reality overcomes self-deception. No, I needed something more solid, an alternative to being tossed around by external events that didn’t rely on pretence. Then, one day, sitting in meditation, I found it (through meditation),” says Bregman.
According to Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, author of “The Positive Way to Change Your Life”, there is a tendency in human beings to ultimately become precisely like that which they imagine or image themselves as being. Imaging is positive thinking carried one step further. We are what we think, and while a positive attitude of mind can literally change one’s life, a negative frame of mind will ultimately lead to destruction. The concept of imaging is a form of mental activity that consists of vividly picturing in your conscious mind, a desired goal or objective, and holding that image until it sinks into your unconscious mind, where it releases great, untapped energies.
Permanence and “Self-“words of perception
The Self in you does not change when circumstances around you change. You are not a different person after a compliment and after an insult. You might feel different things after each, but you are not a different person. Connecting with your main Self is the key to maintaining your psychological balance, your peace, your clarity, and your judgment, even in the face of changing circumstances and pressures. Self-image is the idea that you have of yourself, especially of your abilities, character, and appearance. Depression affects people with a poor self-image.
Another synonymous word is “Self-respect”, defined as a feeling of being happy about your character, abilities, and beliefs. We also have “Self-worth”, defined as the feeling that you deserve to be liked and respected. There is also “Self-esteem”, defined as the feeling of being satisfied with your own abilities, and that you deserve to be liked or respected. Though these words are synonymous, they are not always accurately interchangeable because their meanings are in layers.
Self-image determines efficacy of self-respect, self-worth and self-esteem. This is because if you do not have a good idea of yourself, you cannot have a positive feeling and even demand respect from other people. Based on the meanings of these words, it can be said that from a positive self-image, you climb the rungs of perception ladder to self-respect, which is still limited to yourself. From self-respect, you graduate to self-worth, which is about feeling that you have to be respected and liked by others. From self-worth, you move to self-esteem which is the highest rung of the self-perception ladder. It is combination of being satisfied with yourself (self-respect) and expectation of respect and liking from others (self-worth). Two-in-one, you would say.
Another dimension to self-image is its effect on stress. Medical experts educate that perception of your own value and competence is crucial to how you deal with challenges and your capacity to handle stress. They reflect that if you value yourself and have a realistic sense of your own abilities and competence, you are likely to feel good about yourself and this will help you deal with stress in a confident way.
Self-image is also critical to personal development. Personal development is important from personal and professional points of view and your happiness depends on it, as does the happiness of those close to you. Your self-image is an integral part of your personality, and it is your idea of whom and what you think you are. How you think about yourself very much affects your ability to exercise personal power successfully in your life.
GOKE ILESANMI, Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Certified Public Speaker/MC, Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker and Career Management Coach. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant.
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