Self-conscious in two ways

 

In walking to a coffee-shop in a busy area of town today, I noticed a slight sense of unease and then an impulse to monitor the images others may have of me.

I noticed a slight undercurrent, at a quite low volume, of being self-conscious.

Exploring this, I find being conscious of the images I have of myself, the images others may have of me, the more desired images I would like me and others to have of me, and how to live up to that image more closely. It is of course much more gnarly and complicated than that.

I have several images of myself I call “real” and “desired”, and different ones may come up depending on situations and moods. I may assume that someone’s desired image of me is different from my own desired image of me. I realize I can’t really know what someone will see as a desired image of me in any particular situation, because it may change. Even if I knew, there is no guarantee that I can live up to it. I may have a desired image of myself as more whole, genuine and authentic, or as not concerned about what images I and others have of me, and realize that too is an image I try to live up to. And so on. Layers upon layers.

It is exhausting to try to manage images in this way. Whatever apparent success I may have is precarious, it is a moving target. And it is ultimately a hopeless project.

I can notice this in a very simple way as it happens, through a slight sense of unease and of managing images. And in noticing this, there is the possibility of shifting into another way of being self-conscious.

I can shift into consciously allowing experience, as it is, with heart and kindness, and especially the discomfort around being self-conscious in this way, the impulse to manage images, and the slight fear behind it.

I can be curious about the sense of me and I (as doer, observer) that these images are about. Notice them as content of experience, with a particular location. As coming and going, including in volume. Notice these too as images, combined with sensations. And ask myself, quietly and worldlessly, is that what I really am? What is aware of the doer and observer?

And I can sit down and explore the beliefs around being self-conscious in this way. What do I fear will happen if I don’t try to live up to certain images? Is that likely to happen? What are the consequences of acting on that fear? Who would I be without it?

In this way, finding myself self-conscious in the conventional way can be a great support. An invitation and reminder to shift into this second form of being self-conscious.

There is nothing wrong with managing images in my human life. I have different roles given to me, as a human being, as someone living in a particular culture, and within this culture I have different roles in different settings, so for practical reasons it makes sense to live up to them to some extent. It makes social interactions much easier.

As part of the second way of being self-conscious, I can explore what happens when I am blindly caught up in being self-conscious, and what happens when there is more space and clarity around these dynamics.

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outline….

  • self-conscious in two ways
    • conscious about self-image, how others may perceive it, manage what image is created/received etc. (uncomfortable, precarious)
    • conscious about what is here, allow experience with kindness, notice sense of me + I (doer, observer), etc. – bring to attention, allow as is

Of being conscious of the image others may get of me, an idea of a desired image, and how and what I can do to live up to that image a little better, or at least make it a little more likely that others create for themselves such an image of me, or an image they like. (Although not too much, because that is  It is slightly uncomfortable, takes a great deal of energy whether I notice or not, and there is also a sense of precariousness around it. In the midst of all trying to manage these images,

………..

When I was out and about earlier today, I noticed a slight undercurrent of being self-conscious.

I noticed being conscious of the images I have of myself, the images others may have of me, the more desired images I would like me and others to have of me, and how to live up to that image more closely. It is of course much more gnarly and complicated than that.

I have several images of myself I call “real” and “desired”, and different ones may come up depending on situations and moods. I may assume that someone’s desired image of me is different from my own desired image of me. I realize I can’t really know what someone will see as a desired image of me in any particular situation, because it may change. Even if I knew, there is no guarantee that I can live up to it. I may have a desired image of myself as more whole, genuine and authentic, or as not concerned about what images myself and others have of me, and realize that too is an image I try to live up to. And so on. Layers upon layers.

It is exhausting to try to manage images in this way. Whatever apparent success I may have is precarious, it is a moving target. And it is ultimately a hopeless project.

I can notice this in a very simple way as it happens, through a slight sense of unease and of managing images. And in noticing this, there is the possibility of shifting into another way of being self-conscious.

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