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“Those who would preserve the spirit, must also look after the body to which it is attached.” – Einstein

Many countries require manufacturers to place health warnings on tobacco and alcohol products, and on processed foods containing genetically modified ingredients.

Not too long ago, a news item pointed to the French government’s campaign requiring all photos appearing in advertisements, on product labels and on campaign posters to show a warning if they feature a photograph that’s been digitally enhanced.

Of course, the advertising industry was up in arms saying that such rules undermine the attraction of “perfectly photographed people.”  Many advertisers could care less that confusing an enhanced photo with the real thing is misleading. Those supporting the new rules wanted warning labels to say something to the effect, “Image retouched to modify the physical appearance of this person.” A fine would be imposed for violations.

So, what about my image?

OK, so we’re being taken for a ride by the advertising and marketing industries. We’re pretty much aware of that. However, the deeper question is, “Who am I taking for a ride by the image I put out to folks?”

What image do I want to project to folks and is that image my Real and Authentic Self? Or, am I altering and enhancing my own image to persuade the world that I am who I’m not? Here are four short scenarios around “self-enhanced” images. Does any resonate with you:

First, physically. How do I dress and carry myself? Am I enhancing myself in some way? What do my clothes (and what I wear underneath my clothes), my accessories, and my posture say about me, and how does this image sync up with who I am inside? What kind of persona am I trying to project? And why? Am I appearing successful when I’m not, or unsuccessful when I am? Am I “puffed up” when, in reality, I feel lost, unsafe or insecure?

Second, mentally. Do I enhance my image, for example,  by projecting a walking “Trivial Pursuit” or “Jeopardy Champion” persona, a know-it-all, a faux intellectual who is always spouting facts and others’ ideas but who never seems to have an original thought of my own? Do I use my intellect as a shield against allowing others in?

Third, emotionally. Am I projecting a happy-go-lucky persona when, inside, I am unhappy, sad, depressed, angry, jealous , resentful or ashamed? Am I projecting a quiet, silent-type, a “go-along-to-get-along” accommodating, compliant persona when, inside, I disagree, or want to have my voice and be heard?

Fourth, spiritually. Do I project a chameleon-type personality, espousing others’ values and causes when they go against my inner Core Values? Do I engage in the art of the “put-down,” gossip or bullying even though deep down I know it’s inappropriate? Do I project a “faux” spirituality?

False expectations and living in a parallel world

“The gentlemen in Berlin are gambling on me as If I were a prize hen. I don’t even know whether I’m going to lay another egg.” – Einstein

Enhancing one’s own image is based on false expectations – I’ll gain acceptance, recognition, approval, support, an/or love by projecting the enhanced, “Photoshop” version of me – expectations that, at some point, will lose their allure, their luster and, in the end, reflect the unenhanced “me.” How will I react when that happens – if it hasn’t happened already?

Living a life that is more a minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour, person-to-person conflict between my expectations and my reality is the basic source of pain unhappiness. Not only that, living the enhanced life is exhausting – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

The enhanced version and the negative

While the French legislators would impose prison terms and fines for people who promote and encourage this digital enhancement, what consequences do you experience from putting out a persona that promotes an unreal and fake you? Be honest.

Choosing to be “enhanced,” rather than authentic and real, we never get to work on ourselves, never get to mature and develop, never get to forward the action of our life � to experience true and meaningful self-fulfillment. And, sadly, the enhanced version says, deep down – and we all know it – “I” don’t exist.” Dead Man Walking was the title of a popular motion picture. Isn’t that who we project when we enhance our “photo” and present it to the world as “me?” And, is Dead (Wo)man Walking the title of the enhanced image that reflects how you live your life?

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • In what ways do you allow your True and Authentic Self to show up? And how do you suppress your True and Authentic Self through enhancement? Truthfully.
  • Would your spouse/partner, co-workers, colleagues and friends describe you as being “authentic?”
  • Are you aware you (sometimes) “enhance” your image? What does enhancing your image get you? How so? Is it sustainable?
  • Do you ever long to be “real” with anyone? What prevents your real-ness? How so?
  • What was being “real” like when you were growing up? Were you around “real” people? What was that like?
  • Do you ever give away your power, your voice or your real-ness? How does that make you feel?
  • Can you envision a world where folks are real, where there’s no need for “enhancing” one’s image?

(c) 2020, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful. Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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