Inquiry: I need to live up to an image

 

I need to live up to an image.

  1. True?
    Feels true, sometimes. I sometimes tell myself that I need to. Some others will tell me the same. 
  2. Sure?
    No. Just a story.
  3. What happens when I believe that thought?
    • A sense of having to live up to an image, telling myself I need to live up to a particular image. (From culture, family, subculture etc.)  
    • I try to live up to it. I compare my images of how I am and how I should be. I find strategies to move the first image closer to the second. I imagine how others see me and whether it fits with the second image or not. I image what they may think and do if I do or don’t live up to the image. 
    • There is fear. Contraction. Tension. A sense of precariousness. 
    • I feel happy if my images of how I am and should be converge. Although somewhere I know it won’t last, and I can’t control life enough to prevent it. 
    • I am dismayed if my images of how I am and should be are further apart. I may feel hopeless. Or mentally try to figure out how to live up to the image better. 
    • I am distracted from what is more true for me. Living up to an image goes into the foreground, eclipsing what is more true for me. 
    • I try to live up to different types of images. One is the images of a separate I as a doer and observer. The other is the images of a me as a human self in the world with identities, roles, viewpoints. 
    • When did I first have that thought? Probably as a kid, when I realized that others expected me to live up to a certain image and got contracted when I didn’t. 
  4. Who would I be without it?
    • Receptive. Curious. Sense of a wide open landscape of images to play with. 
    • Free to explore each one – seeing how it describes me here now, what may happen if I use it as a guideline for attention, choices and action, when it seems appropriate to use in that way, and so on. 
    • Free to chose images for other reasons than living up to it.  
  5.  Turnarounds.
    • I don’t need to live up to an image. 
      • Yes. When I realize I don’t have to live up to a particular image, there is a sense of freedom. Relief. The landscape opening up. 
      • I tell myself I need to live up to an image – the only “have to” is right here. Life does not require me to live up to any particular image. 
    • My thinking needs to live up to an image.
      • Yes, when I believe the initial story. My thinking is the only place the “have to” lives. (Even if I tell myself others “make” me do something.) 
    • My thinking does not need to live up to an image. 
      • No. It can’t, so it obviously doesn’t have to. 
      • There is a sense of relaxation and spaciousness when that is recognized. 
    • I need to not live up to an image. 
      • Yes, more true. When I try to live up to an image, and get caught up in it, there is stress. When I don’t, there is a wide landscape. 

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