The question was posed to me, "Isn't all this concern with self-image very egocentric? That is, a way of becoming or being totally self-absorbed? We have to think past ourselves and do things for others," so said the person. I certainly agreed with that last thought.
Perhaps, we should also be talking about self-esteem or our feelings of worthiness or call it our "loveability quotient." The thing that came to my mind immediately was the Golden Rule, which originated in the Bible, and there, was not termed a "rule" at all. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," as one translation renders the words from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.
I hardly think anyone would quibble with the principle of being well-treated no matter what they believe. So why don't many people treat others well? If you have been fortunate in receiving positive treatment in your life, then extending the same to others is a natural thing for you to do. But what if you have not been well-treated and you are left with feelings of inadequate self-worth? How then are you likely to treat others in kind? Can anyone consistently do what they do not know how to do?
Isn't a balanced view of self healthy? In that state one neither thinks too much or too little of oneself. I think of that as being "UN-self-aware." That is, it is the ability to get past the self on a consistent basis. Being "consistent" is the true test. We usually can manage concern for others for a short time. But we then revert to type and our relationships reflect what we feel inside about ourselves. It seems when deep-seated feelings within us consistently make us feel inadequate they inhibit altruistic thoughts and action toward ourselves and others. Self-deprecation may sound humble but then, doesn't it also seem like fishing for reinforcement?
Not to say that most of us don't have some shaky moments. But it is when we feel consistently unloved or like we don't matter that we withdraw, imagine others don't like us, get testy, vie for attention, criticize, get hurt feelings—how many more descriptions could we add? Hopefully, it is a temporary phase. All too often it isn't.
What if we have a persistent problem with how we feel about ourselves? There is help but it has to come from self-motivated choices. We believe what we want to believe. Nobody can do it for us. One way, to change the pattern is to take stock of what we have going for us—our strengths. but, assessing them accurately can be a weak point for many.
So, in either extreme: thinking too little or thinking too much of self causes one to be very self-aware and thus, self-centered. And there gets to be a lot of energy wasted on the past and less on conscious living in the moment.
There is a lot of help out there to mend the problem. Probably under-rating is easier to fix than a bloated self-important view. That type of person may have to have something happen to de-elevate the ego first.
Thud. And not a pretty sight when they land. (Why do onlookers secretly feel like applauding when they get their come-downance?)
Handwriting analysis offers many clues about how the writer views himself. Small capitals in relation to the middle zone letters, low t bars, which low aspiration, and distorted or small personal pronoun I in a sample are basic indicators of low self-esteem. There are other ways to uncover it as well. When a person has many fears and erects defenses to cope you know it is a way of compensating.
What about if a person goes to the other extreme and becomes conceited? How does that figure in?
There's more on that coming up.