The fairy tale of our self image

Hi, I’m Charlotte (Yogi Cha). I’m a yoga teacher based in Bali, with a masters degree in psychology.

I was laying on a bed with a massage therapist working my upper back and neck with all his strength. He shook his head and said repeatedly “so many knots” and at one point he found a spot where I could feel the knots effect in my head and in my arm and said “yep, that’s the point to press on”. So as he worked on that the tears started to run down my cheeks and my hole body started to relax. The emotional release linked to working on specific parts of the body is an evidence but what was interesting in this moment, was the images that came into my head.

When I started inner child meditation work, I found it very difficult to do. It didn’t feel authentic and I actually felt silly. I realised in time that it needed preparation.  I needed to be in a state before visualising myself as a child. Well as I was there, crying while the knots in my neck were being worked on, the inner child came to me. She was consoling me instead of the other way around.

She was wearing that dress that my father had smiled to when my mother bought it and said “mummy likes to play with dolls”,and she was saying that I could be enough even if I’m not a doll. 

Now what does that mean? 

She said “you are lovable”

She said “you are beautiful”

She said “you are perfect”

She said “you are enough. Just as you are”

Because we cannot think that we are enough, we need to compensate for our inadequacy. We focus on something specifically often, like our physical appearance. It’s our body or our hair or the look… it’s the size of the house we live in our the type of car we’re driving. So we create this persona, this image of identity. The idea of Self. It becomes who we are so that we feel that we ARE someone. 

All of it. Compensation of not being enough, just as we are. 

Why is this? 

Because we have bought into the illusion that we live in a world where unconditional love is the rule except it isn’t. We don’t practice it. So it’s conditional and we strive to obtain this assurance of existence. 

We come into this world, fully trusting that we are enough.  Our instinct is concerned with one thing: SURVIVAL.

As we start to explore the world around us, we learn that love is conditional and we know inside already that love is what we need to survive. Since our parents went through the same process, they feel the same lack and having children is the perfect way to feel complete. Make your children the extension of yourself… 

So we dress our pretty baby girls like dolls, making them adorable and praising them when they behave according to the image we attributed them with. We teach our sensitive and loving baby boys what a man is, dressing them for parties as firemen, police officers, hunters…heroes. Need I go on?

The archetype of the perfect female, the eternal beauty incarnate, the Venus and the ideal man, the Hero, Mars. Anything that doesn’t correspond is pushed into our shadow and suppressed as much as possible. 

So when we come to the point where we start to question who we are, it’s usually because we have had an encounter with parts of us that don’t correspond to idea we have of the Self.  

I would say that this questioning only comes when our image has failed us somehow. When there has been a negative experience. Because our mind will function on the mode: if it ain’t broken, why fix it? 

And so the unraveling begins. We start by seeking outside; we look for new ways to define ourselves. New attributes to makes us feel enough. Many stay here. They go for a new look, “a new me”.

It can be very well disguised. For instance with a healthy lifestyle, spiritual groups, moving to an underdeveloped country and join “doctors without borders”. These new versions of ourselves can be very productive and do us a lot of good. It doesn’t mean that we actually face what we needed to face the whole time. I may have changed my job, my looks, moved away yet after some time, the itching begins again. No matter where you go, your mind and all it’s quirks is with you.

Where the real work begins is within. 

When you start to honestly look at yourself, when you start to realise that there is a difference between your “world” as you have seen it and what is behind. I don’t think you can really push for it to happen. However you need to seek it. I’d say that most people in this world don’t and they go through life without ever thinking that they could ask themselves questions on who they are. In the yoga sutras of Patanjali, he explains that there are those of us who come into this life with a maturity that has opened their eyes to the world before the need to seek it. I guess it could even be thought of as those we call “old souls”, children with a different way of being to others. Patanjali continues to say that for the rest of us, there is the path of yoga. The practice with commitment towards this maturity of understanding the world.  Start there. 

This is my motivation for creating the 5 days “self image challenge” through my website. It will be available shortly and is simply a kick start to your practice. 

Let’s do it together.