Imagined self-image

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You would have often heard this term known as the ‘looking glass’ within the context of ‘self’. It’s a magnifying glass, metaphorically , it enlarges your ‘self’ making you zoom in on your flaws and quirks and zoom out on your perks.

The self develops in three distinctive phases according to the Looking glass self theory by Charles Horton Cooley :

  • We imagine how we present ourselves to others.

  • We imagine how others evaluate us.

  • We develop some sort of feeling about ourselves based upon our perception of what we think others have of us.

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The ‘self,’ then, emerges from one’s individual imagination of what we think others think of us. One critical element to this is that we may perceive someone’s impression of us incorrectly. We see ourselves through the eyes of other people, even to the extent of incorporating their views of us into our own self-concept.

Our perceptions are colored by what others think of us and how they form impressions about us. Very often, as a child you might have berated yourself for lack of popularity, simply because others saw you as just a random person than an influential peer.

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An interaction doesn’t stop at the end of a conversation and after you bid goodbye to your friend/acquaintance/relative etc.. The actual interaction begins in the mind after the real one is over.
What was that I said to him ? Hope he didn’t take me wrong. Wish I hadn’t said it.. An endless array of questions over bygone rendezvous keep cropping up and you have no control.

How do you get over the looking glass self ? You can’t as no man is an island. You can’t give up interacting with others. Any amount of socialising will cause some interruptions in one’s self-perception. If someone says something against your beliefs, it causes some disturbance to your way of thinking or you feel threatened in an intellectual sense.

Yet you allow the looking glass self to help you better your sense of self rather than playing havoc with it. You don’t allow anybody’s opinions to diminish your sense of self but at the same time you use it strengthen your own beliefs especially when they form the ‘whole’ and core of you.

The opinions of others exist not to validate them and demean you. It’s just their way of thinking and not to put you down. Just because someone has a different approach towards your situation doesn’t mean you have to change yourself.
As long as you take others’ evaluation of you as a constructive feedback or just another way of seeing things, you won’t allow them to distort how you see yourself.

No doubt some level of discomfort will bubble inside you when someone imparts their knowledge onto you. Some just wanna show off their wittiness on you but that shouldn’t affect you or stop you from living your life. You can also imbibe someone else’s critique persona and try to project it as a more assertive repartee the next time someone contradicts your perceptions.

Assume a colleague of yours feels you’re too punctual to work, adhering too courteously to deadlines and you have got no life except work, since you’re always on time and leave no work unfinished. You feel this as more like a taunt rather than appreciation or awe.

The next time you engage in such a conversation with him, tell him how much work means to you and that other things are secondary.
Work enlivens you rather than partying with friends, letting hangover take you arriving late to the office.

Wayne Dyer says that what other people think of you is none of your business but sometimes if you make it none of your business, they go on and on. You gotta give back in a polite and ‘I seriously mean it’ vibe.

Other people dish out negative opinions which more or so reflect their own limiting beliefs about life. When you hear your friend saying, creativity has no value in a robotic world, it’s because maybe your pal isn’t that innovative and prefers machinated tasks. That doesn’t make him less worthy yet it’s his limitation that made him say such a thing in the first place.

You can develop the skill to recognize and ignore these. You don’t have to disagree with them on the spot if it doesn’t feel comfortable to do so. But put the mental blinkers on, and try visualizing how you’d go about creating a favourable outcome the next time when you feel intimidated by someone.

How do I live with FOMO ?

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It’s been long I wrote something. Not because I didn’t have anything to write. But mainly coz I had loads to write and express. I felt as if it would be too much to unload everything all at once.

FOMO was curbing me from writing all these days.
The fear of missing out made me feel that if I write something on a certain topic, I’m missing out on other wonderful topics that could be instead blogged about..

So now that brings me to my blogpost of the day..
Never ever let the this new-age monster cripple your tendency to enjoy what you own and can witness in the moment.
FOMO syndrome stops you from living your life. It has a habit of ruling the moment. I might be laughing away to glory with my friends when all of a sudden a panic grips me. A weird unnameable panic that says ‘Hey, what are you doing productively in your life ? What makes you enjoy so much ?’
I have to shut the panic with something like “gimme a break. Im just enjoying myself. Buzz off!”
I always have a feeling that I’m missing out on all the goodies life has to offer because I’m too contented with what I have.

I buy several books unable to finish even one because my attention shifts and I end up reading nothing completely. But I enjoy that phase. It’s skimming through without satisfaction of having completed anything. If FOMO seems exciting for you, cool ! But if it prevents you from relishing what you have at hand, then gotta shove it off !

People say that life is always lived on the edge. I feel if you’re happy with your comfort zones then life need not be lived like tomorrow is your last day. What’s wrong in living as if you’re going to live forever ?
FOMO comes from the fact that life is short.
Why keep on feeding that fear by allowing it to control you and your decisions ?

Let go ! Just let the moment give you what it can. Don’t expect yourself to live multiple moments. Gotta accept that moment is ‘The One’. Be with it wholeheartedly.

“We live in a world of things, and our only connection with them is that we know how to manipulate or to consume them.”

FOMO tells you consume all that the world offers at one go and even when you’re happy with what you have.

What if you don’t want to live a certain experience? Just because the whole world does backpacking tours through Europe, you don’t have to if you don’t want to. You can’t manipulate an experience by living in it for sake. What’s the point in travelling through all the continents if that’s not what you wanted in the first place ? Who cares if people do incredible things on earth ? Do you want to ? Ask that to yourself.

Doing those things that FOMO wants you to accomplish or ticking off items on a checklist created by some pseudo adventurers isn’t gonna help you or make you feel out of this world. You would end up becoming more confused.

The basic idea is that when you inherently have fun doing something, go ahead. Don’t pursue things that you feel would bring fun into your life just coz you saw someone having loads of frolic doing them. You never know whether it’s just for posting on social networks, someone participated in an activity or just for the pure joy of it.

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In a blogpost, Why Fear of Missing out is actually a good thing, also gives an instance wherein FOMO falls flat on your face..

“Your buddy Steve may look like he’s living the dream—going to concerts, traveling the world, taking Krav Maga classes—but that’s because you’re seeing his life’s highlight reel. Steve’s life is not all awesome all the time.”
-Patrick Allan, LifeHacker.com

Certain pursuits are meaningless..

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“It is the preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly.”

Bertrand Russell

 

Every new possession brings new weariness. What you once wanted isn’t always going to keep you interested in it. Most desirable things are fleeting obsessions. They don’t necessarily live upto their ability to attract us indefinitely.

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We focus on acquiring so much that we forget to sit back and enjoy what we already have.
You might be sipping a refreshing glass of Soft drink while wondering about the lack of money you have to get a Red Bull.
Even though you might not need it and you have quenched your thirst through a simple can of Coke.

Materialism is a distraction from true bliss indeed !
An instance of this realisation is how an object in possession seldom retains the same wonder that it had in pursuit. A gold necklace that you wanted at any cost loses it’s charm the moment it adorns your neck the umpteenth time. The object of your interest has an expiry date.

Is it really worth buying things when you know they are just a ‘in-the-moment-must-have-sensation’ ?

Disarrayed genius

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”

Picasso

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A bunch of contradictory extremes. They aren’t individuals but they contain multitude selves. They exhibit tendencies of thought and action that seem to be segregated in most.

Creative people harness mindfulness and mind wandering abilities to

They aren’t dictated by a rigid inner structure but by what the interaction between them and the domain in which they’re working demands.

Factors that correlate to creativity:

Plasticity

The openness to novelty and new ideas, scenarios.

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This is the drive for exploration. Traveling places never been before just out if curiosity and the need for something fresh is a symptom of this trait. Listening to a song and quoting its lyrics while conversing to your friend as an advice on how to let go of things you cant control.. constitutes this particular trait.

Convergence

Ability to conform and be practical wherever required.

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It’s one thing to have an idea and another to make it tenable (how well you can justify an idea of coming up with a new coffee chain that caters towards a zen atmosphere working space for freelancers)

Divergence

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Non-conformist mindset and the ability to be impulsive. Least bothered about being agreeable to others’ liking…

But any creative mind is a combination of the above three attributes. Our minds operate and switch between all the three ways of thinking.
The artist is a ‘receptacle for emotions.’

Sometimes you are just too closed and not willing to see that the idea cannot be executed. Its good to be adamant about your passions, but it can stop you from seeing beyond your perception.

Whereas at times the idea can be executed yet you wish to make changes. Don’t be too stuck of making something perfect and lose the essence.

The key is to be open to incorporating variations in your ideas and to make them flexible. If you wanna write a poem, then please do so and also be ready to tailor it for rhyme scheme, to make reading pleasurable.

Creative people are peculiar as they aren’t thrown back by complexity and ambiguity. Rather they welcome uncertainties and find them challenging.

Tricolor Self

What is ‘Easy to describe but maddening to decipher’ ?
The ‘Self’ obviously…

Stuart Hall, an acclaimed sociologist, divided the modern man’s identity in three specific aspects :

(I must say very much relatable owing to the conflicts I keep having my own self)

Enlightened self

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We are all born with a firm inner core. Autonomous beings asserting ourselves for whomsoever we are.. Not susceptible to change by any external agent.. We can retain our original identity inspite of interacting with others. Nobody intimidates us at any cost.

Your values are intact even if they are being looked down upon by your peers as outdated and out of vogue.
For instance, you could care less about others being insensitive as the norm. You want to be a nice person to whomsoever you can. You feel being mean is something definitely not pleasant for your standards.


Sociological self

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Our inner core can be modified by the society in which we live. One tends to internalise cultural values and traditions by default.
Our self is determined by our social interactions.
Reflexive beings who compare themselves to others inspite of having resolute principles of their own.
The comparison emerges unknowingly once one starts socializing and wants to participate in activities involving others.
An identity is always created with a purpose of being accepted by the society.

As we grow up, we nurture a looking-glass self. We understand ourselves based on the interpretation of then perception held by others about us.

Post-modern self

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If the world demands you to portray your animal instincts, you lose humanity. If the society expects you to be considerate of animals and nature, you start pretending to be a naturalist.. You become what the society wants you to be.

Our self-referential point keeps changing according to the way we are represented or addressed in the society. Your self is subjected to so many changes that there is nothing fixed. A constant state of flux..
What breeds deep uncertainty, insecurity, and anxiety in these times ?
A theologian, Anthony Thiselton says its ‘loss of stability, loss of stable identity, and loss of confidence in global norms or goals’.

Every person has a gyroscope. A set of internal values that guide one’s life. But the problem is we no longer take cues from this inner guidance.

Ever-ready to conform yet don’t know what exactly to conform to.

I think of the concept of ‘Self’ as an illusion. I created it for my own benefit. It helps me to make sense of rational behaviour.

Our experiences create the ‘Self’. Just imagine an object’s centre of gravity.. It’s abstract not concrete. It’s not the actual thing.

Similarly, our ‘self’ isn’t real.

 
Coming up next week:

Being creative is donning multiple mindsets..

Adopting habits

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I am reading a book called Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter and I came across this term ‘Recidivism’ which means relapsing into criminal behaviour. This made me think it is quite relevant to mundane civilian behaviour as well…

Learning new Habits

We have a tendency to fall back into our old pattern of doing things. Adapting requires commitment and consistency.
Recidivism includes following old habits detrimental to our well-being. We are criminals for self-inflicting harm as well.
We do injustice to ourselves when we failto inculcate a new habit which adopted can drastically change our lives for the good.

Sometimes when I lose my ability to write regularly or atleast on alternative days, I feel I am a ‘recidivist’.
If not writing is a crime and I have convinced myself that I would write as regularly as possible, I allow myself a parole sometimes.

During the parole, I read a lot so that I feel motivated to write when I have to. A writer’s break shouldn’t be too long as the words become your adversary. They stop bumping into your mind and you fall short of them.

I allow myself to buy something really nice like a new pair of sneakers or pink chinos, so that I feel inspired to write in it.
They act like magic armour against laziness to write.
The parole ends once I know I can write on a regular basis without monitoring myself. It becomes natural to my day today existence.

I make it an addiction like shopping when you see something attractive. I see a book which has engaging language, I feel The compulsiveness to pen down few words.
I want to get addicted towards writing and I don’t want it to stop.

Just like we can chat for hours on whats app with our friends meaninglessly. Engaging in conversations that lead us nowhere, writing too need not lead you anywhere. I want to write for the pleasure of it and I act as if I’m talking to an imaginary friend.

A writing therapist named the ‘Sorcerer Supreme’ asked me to write from my realm to her in another realm.
Its only through writing I can talk to her. She lives in a realm where there is technology.
My digital words would be translated into ink once it reaches her through fax.

She said if I don’t write I stop living. I should write like my life depended on it. I need not make sense yet I must go on penning down.
For it is by writing, I slowly start to derive sense in this senseless being and world.

Learn to be naked with yourself !!

The intellectual and moral dangers of living among others and the value of solitude has always been a thought-provoking topic of discussion since ages.

Contrary to what Aristotle proposed in his Nicomachean Ethics that only a bestial man can flourish alone else he had to be god, solitude has been seen by many as virtuous to introspection and knowledge of the self.

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Anglican clergyman Richard Cecil, states that “solitude shows us what we should be whereas the society reminds us of what we are.”

Frederich Nietzsche describes solitude as a necessary tool to the task of self-examination. He felt that it frees humans from temptation of thoughtlessly following the mob.

Montaigne stressed upon developing the ability to resist the temptation to mindlessly fall in with the opinion and actions of the mob.
We all nurture a desire subconsciously for the approval of other people. But this he compares to the attachment to material wealth and possessions.
As he feels, both passions diminish our sense of self. However he doesn’t say that we should relinquish them. He just says that we should be detached.

There is nothing wrong in enjoying and benefiting from others’ approval.
As long as you aren’t emotionally enslaved to them or become devastated if you were to lose them, it’s perfectly fine.
You can attain this stature only when you spend time with yourself and assess your private thoughts.