How does the world see you? Does your own self-portrait match the defining reality given by the consensus opinion of those in your life? Can distortions in our own images ever be clearly understood? Is there a hope that our own personal issues can be appreciated to the point that we can do something about them?
We all seem to have a view of ourselves that in some respects does not match the reality witnessed or experienced by other people. Some folks are far too harsh on judging and labeling who they are. Loser, idiot, worthless, ugly, unloved and unlovable. Others give themselves much higher scores. Winner, genius, valuable, beautiful, loved and lovable.
Have you ever happened upon a gossip session with others talking about you in clipped and hushed tones, and secretly listened in? Did their opinions match up with your own? Do you think that they painted an accurate picture of who you are? When I was a University professor, I was required to have the students fill out evaluations at the end of each course. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried to reach each and every student, that there were always a handful of them who viewed me as a demanding, unfeeling, soulless ogre and bore. Is this how I should view myself given a small number of responses? Probably not. But what if we took a personal evaluation and the overwhelming response painted us as someone that significantly conflicted with our own internal picture?
There are some people in this world who can receive 99 votes of praise out of a hundred people. However, they dwell on the single aspersion. I am one such person. That single strike against me causes my pillar of self-worth to stain and crumble. It does not even matter if the criticism is valid or just. This symptomology is consistent with a manic depressive condition. However, this is not the point of my thoughts in this entry. What I am more concerned with is the notion of what actually should define us. How can we have one image of ourselves when everyone else that comes into contact with us comes away with a different opinion? If everyone thinks we are a jerk, then I would say that we have some real issues to deal with, regardless of what we think about ourselves. I would say that the converse is also true. If everyone thinks we are something very special, then we must have some particular value regardless of what we perceive. However, I am more concerned with the former condition. How can a positive internal portrait differ so markedly from the negative one that hangs in the public museum?
(Part 1 of 2)