What is positive self image?
According to me there is only self image. Positive self image and negative self image are just the two faces of the same coin. A person with a positive self image is one who has got some measure of success in society, and a person with a negative self image is one who has not got success in society, who has either given up, or hopelessly trying to get some measure of success in society.
They are same to me because both are about finding success in society. Moreover there can be nothing like complete positive self image because the very process of making a self image is based on fear, of not getting social approval. So even a person with a so called positive self image is only putting up a mask. Inside he/she is still trying all the time to maintain the mask. Whenever one has a self image, one is bound to get hurt so one can remain positive only by developing a mechanism of denying hurt. Positive self image, hurt, and denying hurt actually creates a vicious cycle in a person which causes him to seek greater and greater social status, acclaim and power. The phenomena of dictators and dictatorship can be traced to this inner chain.
One would like to actually question this whole business of creation of a self image in the first place. Is this very process healthy or is it something that results in great conflict in human relationships. Since childhood society fosters the creation of self image through schooling and various institutions. We come to accept this construction of self image as a way of living and that is how we are schooled to fit into society. We are put on the treadmill of competition and success and we unconsciously keep going on it. Do we need to take this path? Can we question this whole insane process of competition and seeking success in society and step out of this rat race?
Would we function more holistically and more sanely without self image or with a self image? What is self image? Isn’t it a set of standards erected by society since our childhood, which we have unconsciously accepted as our life’s aim and purpose? We are told to earn money, be successful, cultivate “good behavior” – whatever that means – obey elders and worship gods in temples. We are rewarded if we comply, and punished if we fail in any measure. We are not working to just meet our physical needs simply. If we were doing this simply, everyone would have enough food, clothing and shelter for themselves. In a world where 80 % of the wealth is controlled by 20% of the people, we need to question why this is happening. Isn’t this happening because people work not for the simple, logical fulfillment of their needs but for the sake of self image. Out of this perpetual thirst of self image we want to become rich, powerful, knowledgeable and successful. Our only purpose of life is to flaunt our self image to others.
Is there a way of life, a wholly different way of living which is not at all related to construction of any self image? For that we have to go into this whole question of standards of life constructed by society. Aren’t they the cause of social disintegration and environmental degradation? Can we solve the vast global problems staring at humanity if we continue to subscribe to the social standards of success and competition? Till one does not question all these standards, question the need for any image construction at all, till one does not undergo a psychological revolution within, there is no hope for humanity to free itself from conflict.