'Image is Everything' or Is It?
By: Christine Hammond, LMHC
Back in the 1990’s, tennis pro Andre Agassi said “Image is everything,” for a TV camera commercial. While Agassi was merely reciting a line, the phrase stuck a cord with audiences and soon it was integrated into American culture. Coaches, marketing experts, media relations, and politicians all adhere religiously to this standard. And there is no clearer demonstration of this impact then the proliferation of social media.
The Problem. But just because something is accepted in a culture, does not mean it is right or even useful. The problem is that a projected image allows a person to disassociate their true self from the exterior. The result is a generation who hides their inner thoughts and feelings from others, subsequently concealing their true being. This eventually becomes habitual as a person assumes new roles in society further alienating their true identity even from themselves.
Think of the image that most people project on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Pinterest, Twitter, or any one of the dating sites. This false self is frequently a projection of how a person wishes to appear to the outside world. It embodies the “Image is everything,” attitude while the true self remains hidden. When a person hides something away long enough, they tend to forget it until one day it implodes.
The Current Result. Eventually the house of card’s image falls apart because it lacked the substance of a true self. There are several other names used for a true self: ego, soul, inner child, identity, true being, psyche, or real self. Whatever the name utilized, it can be defined as who a person is. This includes their thoughts, feelings, beliefs, fears, insecurities, personality, and values which when combined define a unique being. When these things are separated from the true image, the false image becomes a façade.
Sometimes this implosion results in a mid-life crisis in middle age or it can manifest in immobility in younger years. After all, what is the point in getting a job and living up to indifferent and unrealistic standards just to be able to post about it on social media? This is especially true when a person can post and present an image without the effort of any real work.
The Ideal Outcome. Ideally, the goal is for a person is for their true self to be the same persona as their public image. When the two are consistent, there is harmony within a person. There is no need for pretending, hiding, or falsifying an image because it is the same. The synchronized self or rather a transparent self can reduce anxiety, apprehension, depression, frustration, feelings of guilt, exhaustion, and even confusion.
So in actuality, ‘image’ is not everything. Rather, ‘image’ is an illusion. It is a mask of what a person wants to be which may or may not have anything to do with who a person really is. Masks are disposable, removable, and able to be discarded. A person cannot do this with their true self no matter how hard they try. Instead, cohesion is everything. It is only through a untied self that a person can be honest with themselves which translates into sincere relationships at home and work.
To schedule an appointment with Christine Hammond, please call our office at 407-647-7005.