Your Inner Self-Portrait
“Two people have been living in you all of your life. One is the ego, garrulous, demanding, hysterical, calculating; the other is the hidden spiritual being, whose still voice of wisdom you have only rarely heard or attended to.” ~Sogyal Rinpoche in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
Have you taken a good look at your wonderful self? I don't mean looking in a mirror, but a long deep look inside yourself. Way down in that dark tangled space between your visible self and your true self. Have you held your own hand? Wrapped yourself in your own arms? Cradled your heart and nurtured your soul?
We gaze in the looking glass and see our exterior, the carefully painted face when we are dressed to face the world, the flaws which become so painfully obvious when we are feeling low, the glance in the rear view mirror while waiting in traffic, an up and down perusal in the dressing room, a quick reflection in the window while strolling down the mall. But who is it inside that we rarely hear or attend to?
Painting a self portrait is a much deeper exercise when we begin to explore the hopes, dreams, accomplishments, achievements, reflections and aspirations of our inner selves. Do we illustrate our fears? Embellish our successes? Illuminate our future life with light and love?
An experiment that may surprise you is to divide your life into three segments. What are the memories that brought you joy in the first third of your life? What exquisite happiness do you remember about your younger years? What did you really enjoy doing at an early age? Swinging? Riding a carousel? Playing in mud puddles? Rocking with a grandparent? Bedtime stories?
How about the next third of your life? As a teenager or young adult, what were your accomplishments, your loves, your gifts? Did you receive awards, belong to clubs or teams, have close friendships, participate in activities on long afternoons or weekends? Songs you listened to endlessly, books you read for hours on end? Secrets you kept in diaries hidden under your covers?
The most recent third of your life... what has its hold on your memories and your heart? What have you celebrated, or not celebrated enough? What credits have your acknowledged to your favor? Little things you have found joy in doing, issues you have overcome, realizations you have come to know?
All these details are part of your self portrait... the bits and pieces of the puzzle of your life that come together to weave the person you are and will be tomorrow. More than the external face and body, these components make up the whole of who you are. One could create a self portrait entirely without even the image of a face, a torso, an arm, or hair.... even more of a true reflection of who you are in the mirror.
The next segment of your life... how will you paint your future self? After becoming familiar with the self portrait that you create now, how will you embellish the next days and months and years?
Creating a self sculpture is a task much greater than the composition of eyes, nose, mouth, form and color. It is the filling of a vessel, a container of beliefs, aspirations, greatness and experiences. We must choose carefully the self image that we create from within. The beliefs we hold about ourselves, from birth through youth to our gradual aging, are the most revealing of our happiness and success in life.
This week, I encourage you to collect images and words that reflect your inner self image. Snippets from magazines, a happy photo from your childhood, a ticket stub from a concert, a fortune cookie message, a love note... and begin to assemble your true self portrait. Remember, its not about the finished project, its about the process. The quest alone is the revealing of who you truly are... you glorious, magnificent thing.