Initially our self image is the result of what others teach us about ourselves. That we are a boy or a girl, blond or black, skinny or chubby. Later on that image of ourselves evolves further, in consequence of what others expect from us and what – in turn – we expect from ourselves, whether it is about our physical appearance, our job, the partner we choose, our education , our car, our house, and so on.
Obviously it is impossible to meet all these expectations and the result is that we start to suffer. This is quite normal, since we do not want to disappoint the people around us and we have convinced ourselves that we have to meet these expectations. If we don’t, we feel guilty, ashamed and we even blame others and ourselves for failing to do so. And let’s not forget that we do the same to other people.
Our unhealthy habits are a result of this impossible and insane situation. We have created a belief system, we have somehow convinced ourselves that we need to entertain these unhealthy habit(s) to cope. Of course, these habits cause even more suffering and problems but we do not see this, or bluntly deny it. We will do anything to maintain the illusion we have created about who – we have convinced ourselves – we are.
This is like convincing ourselves that putting extravagant clothing on a pet is normal. In doing so we are totally ignorant of “who” our beloved animal truly is. And what’s more, if you have ever dressed your dog, like I have for fun from time to time, you will have noticed that the dog does not change its behaviour whatsoever. It mostly tries desperately to shake off the accessories you put on it and it definitely has no effect on its self image, since… dogs do not have a self image. They simply “are”.
It is possible to fix the skewed perception we have of ourselves and others.
In case of the dressed up pet, we would simply undress it. In case of ourselves it means getting rid of everything fake. By taking off of ourselves, all the different masks we wear and by taking off all the labels we have stuck on others.
It is a scary step to take. People will probably be surprised by the authentic you; you may not fit their expectations or the desired image they expect of you, anymore. Relationships may change or end because of it. However, this only means that they were based on an illusion in the first place.
If you are suffering because of someone else’s unhealthy habit it, than take of the mask you wear when this occurs. Acknowledge who you truly are in this situation. And just like that dressed up pet, shake off what is not really you, get rid of what is not naturally you. In return take of the labels you stuck on that person, so you can see who he or she really is. And expect nothing. In doing so, you will find peace and serenity.
You may see this process as the waking up with a sigh relief from a realistic dream. Dreams seem real, but they are not. You are. Dogs do not need Louis Vuitton bags and neither do you.