The Voice Of Fear

Self Image

I looked like a fool.

Why? What did you do?

It's not what I did, it is what they are doing.

Our self-image is how we think we look to others. I say 'think' because we are rarely correct about how others see us. Most people's self-image is created by the events of their lives. As we live our lives we have accomplishments and failures and we use these events to construct our self-image.


Often we will see movie stars project one image only to find out they are very different when the cameras are off. I was at a professional golf tournament following a famous player and when the cameras were not on him he was moody and irritated with the crowd. Conversely, when the cameras appeared his personality completely changed. He was all smiles and thanked the crowd for its support.


It was like watching two people. It was clear that he had a self-image he wanted to portray to the viewing public that was different from his true self.


Ultimately it is fear that creates our self-image. We project the image we believe makes us the safest. The golfer didn't want to be seen as the moody, easily irritated golfer that he is because that would limit his marketing appeal. But when he thought no one was looking, a different person appeared.


How often do we see ourselves differently when we are with family than when we are with strangers or co-workers? 


When I played golf in college we had a guy on the team who was by far the best player. He easily beat everyone on the team when we played rounds to determine the order we would play in the upcoming tournament. But when he played against other schools with big name players he never played well. He was a big fish in a small pond who got eaten up by the big fish from the big pond.


His ability had not changed, but how he saw himself had. The problem with becoming too invested in your self-image is that fear created it but can also take it away. His ego needed to be the big fish in the small pond because that is how he had always felt secure in the past. He was a top junior golfer, a top high school golfer and had received a full ride to a big college. He didn't know how to be a small fish in a big pond.


His flaw started with how he made himself safe. He needed to be seen as the best, but sooner or later the pond filled up with bigger fish and he felt only fear. If his self-image had been based on playing the game honorably instead of worrying about only the outcome, there would be no pond or fish he would ever fear.


We create a self-image to be safe. It defends us and protects us -- or so we think. But it is really just a house of cards if it is based on outcome rather than honor. The above story had a big impact on me and also makes my point.

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