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Friday, September 08, 2006

"Each to each a looking-glass, Reflects the other that doth pass."

Lets take a look at who we are and why. Don't runaway now, this should be painless. Self image is a one of those phrases that causes many of us to yawn and fall asleep. But, there is a very important lesson in understanding who we are and why. If we were to be honest with each other we would admit that there are "issues" about our selves that we do not like nor really understand. This may shed some light on the matter. In 1902 a guy by the name Charles Cooley developed an idea how self image is formed. Even today, his work has held it's own under scrutiny. In his own words, here is the basic concept;

"As we see our face, figure, and dress in the glass, and are interested in
them because they are ours, and pleased or otherwise with them according as
they do or do not answer to what we should like them to be; so in
imagination we perceive in another's mind some thought of our appearance, manners, aims, deeds, character, friends, and so on, and are variously affected by it."

OK, I had to read this a few times myself. The part I want to focus on is the section in red. Simply put, we use our imagination to create an image of our selves in some one eles's view. We guess what some else is thinking about us and create a self image based on that guess. Now, Mr. Cooley states that the foundations of our self image is created in our early years ( 0-5 yrs old). Now I know I was one smart cookie back then, but smart enough to create an informed, wise, and accurate idea of who I am based on my interaction with parents? Were my parents even aware they were broadcasting self image concepts to their little hellin, I don't think so. They were just trying to get through their own issues. So, according to Mr. Cooley, I just may have a flawed foundational image of self. And to think I brought this flawed image of self into my adulthood! I may be the only one who thinks this, but I really don't think so.

When I get pissed at myself about things like: feeling insecure, afraid of rejection, an overwhelming since of needing validation from authority, feelings of incompetency and so I am beginning to realize where all that comes from. I guessed wrong, it was not me that was creating the drama in my childhood home. It was not me that was being rejected. However, it was me who has wasted way to much time and effort trying to gain validation from others when I just needed to validate myself! I just needed to rewrite some of my foundational beliefs. The ones that were based off of misjudged input to start with. I wonder how many of us are living with a flawed self image. Just maybe, we are all a lot better of a person than we think we are!

Feel free to read some more of Mr. Cooley's work on the "looking Glass Self" at:
I do caution you, it is not a easy read, at least it wasn't for me, but informative!

Oh, and the title is Mr. Cooleys words!


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