The Truth Behind Self-Image

When you hear the term self-image, it likely triggers words that relate to your appearance or perhaps your strengths and weaknesses. I'm guessing it doesn't trigger words like awareness, feeling, thought, movement or sensation as much, right? It should.

Think about it. Our sense of self is defined by how we engage with the world around us. This includes everything from the coffee mug you move from the table to your mouth; reacting to the stop signs on your bike to work; and the decisions we have to make throughout a day to the thoughts and emotions we have while in conversation with the people in our lives. According to Moshe Feldenkrais, there are four ways we interact with our external environment:

1. Feelings

Emotions like joy and anger are part of our interactions with the world, but so are self-respect, inferiority and supersensitivity, in addition to other conscious and unconscious emotions.

2. Kinesthetic Sense

This sense enables us to perceive pain, orient our body parts in space, and notice the passage of time and rhythm.

3. Thinking

Thinking enables us to see opposites (good/bad, right/wrong), and it allows us to classify things, detect rules, imagine, and so on.

4. Movement

Movement is about more than just walking or jumping. Movement considers changes in space and time in the state and shapes of the body and its parts. 

So, the point in this little textbook-like explanation from Moshe Feldenkrais' work is to draw your mind beyond aesthetics and competencies and deeper into your self-awareness... into your feelings, your sensations, your thinking and your movement. 

This insight made me think of something Gloria Steinem once said. She commented that women knew themselves best before age 8! I believe that she was making reference to the idea that pre-eight, the masks, the pretending, the comparison, the head-stuff isn't nearly as present.

Regarding age eight, interestingly this week, I read that children before this age tend to live more within their bodies and less in their heads. You may have noticed this in a child's way of engaging with the world? They are in the present moment. They are in their bodies, in their sensations, in their movement. Yes, of course they are in their heads too, but not as adults are. They are in present-moment thoughts or at least in an ideal world, they are... not worrying about the past or the present, but living in the moment in all it's sensory input and the associated imaginative processing.  

Develop your self-image through getting to know yourself better. Get back into that body of yours, explore your sensations, your emotions and your thoughts through your movement. See if this improved self-knowing shifts how you interact with the world and most importantly, yourself!