6. Values and Beliefs

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“I am a cool
guy. Happy go lucky sort..”
“People have
never judged me fairly. It is their loss. Who cares?”
“I am two people
living in one. My private self, is not known even to my wife. And
there is a happy public self- laughing and joking all the time. These
two selfs dont get along too well. I am having difficulties now-
being one..”

“I am a fighter.
I never give up. I had to fight for every thing in life. But it has
made me strong..”
“I am alone but
never lonely. I dont care for human company. I would rather spend
time with a good book..”

What do you think
of yourself? What do you guess people think about you? Do you think
others have been unfair to you? Have you been a victim all your life?
If you could HONESTLY answer these question or write it down, you
will be surprised to see the predominantly negative content of your
self-image. If you believe this image, why should the world think any
differently about you? If the parents think that their son is
worthless, why would neighbors think otherwise of the young man? You
get the point?

Now, where has
this predominantly negative image come from? One main source is the
off-hand comments from people around us- family, teachers, friends,
colleagues; their chance reactions. Stereotypes in media (stories,
movies, plays, folk-tales etc.) also strengthen such negative ideas.
Later, we too start passing severe judgments on ourselves- often in
the form of critical self talk : I dont deserve it. It is sheer
chance. This good luck may not continue for long. Something bad is
bound to happen to me. etc.
When a job
interview has gone bad and you return home, what kind of thoughts
pass through your head? What kind of things you say to yourself? THAT
is a good example of obsessive negative self-talk, which only worsens
the problem.
Once we develop a
particular image of ourselves (stammerer/ unsuccessful/ unsocial/
socially inept/ unlucky/ martyr), we maintain this self-image by
selectively interpreting what we ‘hear’, read, believe, understand,
remember, recall, do etc. It becomes part of our long term memory and
perpetuates itself. In other words, we may go through hundreds of new
experiences, meet hundreds of new people, BUT it only strengthens our
pre-conceived image of ourselves. Can any therapy or self-effort
succeed in the face of such beliefs? Self image is also known as
self-schema, because it is a collection of many strands of thoughts.
Here is a definition:
“This high-speed
mental “highway” that takes us rapidly through life may
appear to be externally generated and perpetuated (i.e., by the
fast-paced society in which we live). However, if we were to examine
it more closely, we would find that it is constructed primarily of
habitual patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving that uniquely
characterize each of us as individuals. Psychologists refer to the
underlying structure of these habitual patterns as ‘self-schemas.’
(from http://info.med.yale.edu/psych/3s/3S_overview.html)
If we recall
Sheehan, his theory of stuttering Iceberg is pointing to these
difficulties only. This explains why relapse is so common and why
many therapies dont succeed in the first place. Now, what do we do?
Here are two, among many, practical approaches to know ourselves more deeply and
consciously – and then work on it.
Take a test
are many on-line tests and self-help resources. Here is one (from
these statements as “ true” or “false” for yourself on a
1. My glass is
always half-empty, not half-full.
2. I’m always apologizing for
3. I’m always telling myself I “should” be doing
this or that.
4. I constantly criticize myself.
5. What other
people think about me dictates how I feel about myself.
6. I am
critical of my mistakes and relive them over and over.
7. I always
let the people who care about me down.
8. I feel like I have the
weight of the world on my shoulders.
9. A partial failure is as
bad as a complete failure.
10. I bend over backwards to please
11. I am not sure I have done a good job unless someone
else points it out.
12. It’s hard for me to forgive and forget.

13. I have to work harder than others for relationships and am
afraid that the relationships I have will fail.
14. If I don’t do
as well as others, it means that I am not as good as them.
15. If
I can’t do something well, there is no point in doing it at all.
Give yourself 1
point for each question you answered with a “true”.
0 – 4: You have a
generally positive way of thinking and should feel good about
yourself. Keep it up!
5 – 8: You may be
struggling with some negative emotions. Take time to review your good
9 or more: You can
be very critical of yourself. Challenge yourself to change your way
of thinking!
This same
website (link above) gives you many ideas for self help using
positive thinking skills. Check it out.
window is a broader tool to understand your self and work on it. Take
a big paper and draw the matrix as below, on it. Fill it with your
qualities, or whatever you know about yourself- according to the
labels of the quadrants. Google JO-HARI window and read more about
how to fill the matrix. After filling it, keep it safe for quite some
time, review it after some weeks and keep on adding to it and editing
it for 2-3 years or more. Think of it as an ongoing PROJECT. If need
be, photostat it and stick a copy wherever you spend lot of time.
1. Public Self (what
is known by the person about him/herself and is also known by
2. Blind Self (what
is unknown by the person about him/herself but which others
3. Hidden Self (what
the person knows about him/herself that others do not know)
4. Unknown Self (what
is unknown by the person about him/herself and is also unknown
by others)
Unknown self quadrant will remain blank- because these are the
potential traits, neither you nor the world knows about yourself. To
fill Blind self quadrant, you will have to seek feedback from others
– family, friends, colleagues, even strangers at times (Pic 2
below). Information under Hidden self will be your personal and
private thoughts. Now, the purpose of the exercise is to bring more
and more area under the first quadrant (Public self). Sincerely
seeking feedback from others and making self disclosure (pic 3
below), gradually and thoughtfully, will enlarge the first quadrant
and reduce the second and third quadrant. To reduce the 4th
quadrant, you must put yourself in challenging situations and
constantly explore yourself (Pic 4 below). May be you did not know
that you could do good mimicry, till one day, when you tried it in
the office, on being challenged by a colleague. Every “problem”
is an opportunity to know something new about yourself. 
Doing this
exercise in a group, with a trusted friend or coach can be very
helpful. Repeating it again after some months can help you change
your self-schema gradually. Over the months or years, your window may
undergo transitions somewhat like this.

As you
become aware of your self-image, you will find it easier to change it
slowly, one small step at a time. In this process, there are two very
important ingredients: To change your negative self-image, you must
learn to accept and love yourself. Love, not in the sense of
self-indulgence, but more as a compassion towards a hurt child.
Secondly, reading and thinking about self-image, beliefs, values is
fine but the change comes through ACTION alone. If you want to be a
social person, you must act like one and accept the invitation and go
to your friend’s birthday party, even if you find it very challenging
or just “waste of time”! You change through hundreds of action,
you undertake everyday, not by wishes and thoughts you entertain. 
Best wishes on this life time journey of knowing who you truly are! 


Comments are closed.

  1. admin 8 years ago

    Very nice and immense knowledge to understand deep inside of ourself! Thanks sachin sir, for showing us new path to live a happy life!

  2. Sachin 8 years ago

    Thnaks Umesh. Discuss these ideas in your SHG.. It will further clarify many things..


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