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#3090 - Thursday, February 28, 2008 - Editor: Jerry Katz  

Nonduality Highlights -      

One of the most solid teachers, Gina Lake, is featured.    


Getting Free: How to Move Beyond Conditioning and Be Happy

by Gina Lake


Clearing Negative Self-Images


Self-images are just images—ideas—but they can have a powerful impact on our lives and on our happiness. They can limit us by limiting what we are open to. If some activity doesn’t fit our self-image, then we don’t do it. If we can’t see ourselves doing something, then we don’t do it. This is fine in many cases, but there are times when doing something that doesn’t fit our self-image is exactly what we need to do to be happy or to learn something or to grow. Because we are creatures of habit and don’t easily take on new self-images, we often choose to be true to our self-image rather than stretch ourselves and experience something new.


Part of the difficulty is that we don’t even see that we have a self-image. We have many self-images, really. Different ones show up, depending on what we are doing and who we are with: Around our kids, the image of the parent we think we are shows up; around our spouse, the image of the spouse we think we are shows up; around our employer, the image of the employee we think we are shows up. Around one person, we pull out one self-image, and around another, we pull out a different one. We like to be around people who bring out a self-image we like, and we don’t like being around people who bring out a self-image we don’t like.


The truth is that we have so many self-images we can’t even keep track of them. They show up and disappear as quickly as a thought. So, as important as our self-image is to our happiness, it’s really nothing more than a thought that is constantly changing and often inconsistent from one moment to the next: One moment we are the good parent and the next moment we are the terrible parent.


Most of our self-images aren’t useful because they are narrow and limiting and because they aren’t true. They are caricatures of ourselves that leave out what is most important—our true nature. A true self-image would be true from one moment to the next. It would be good for all occasions, for every moment. The only self-image that can live up to this is one that resembles your true self—one that exemplifies the qualities of essence.


A self-image that reflects the qualities of essence would certainly be a positive self-image. What would be better than having an image of yourself as loving, lovable, kind, generous, patient, wise, compassionate, accepting, and every other good quality you could name? What would that be like if that were your self-image? If you are going to have any self-image, then let it be that one. All others are useless. This is a self-image that can really serve you. It will evoke the qualities of your divine nature and help you live them. When you move into alignment with essence, you naturally express these qualities. This is the purpose of all of our lifetimes and the purpose of spiritual evolution—to express these qualities on earth.


It is actually possible to be all these qualities because that is your natural state. What a wonderful discovery! You have actually always been lovable, loving, good, kind, compassionate, wise, and accepting. The only thing that has ever interfered with realizing this is the ego. Once the ego and all its negative and limiting self-images are set aside, then what is left is a very positive—and true—self-image. It couldn’t be truer that you are every good quality that you can imagine. Healing the negativity and your negative self-image is really only a matter of seeing who you really are and expressing those qualities.


Exercise: Becoming Your Truest Self


If you have difficulty imagining that you are all of the good qualities of essence, then just pretend. Try on this very positive self-image for size. If you hold this positive image long enough in your mind, your behavior will begin to reflect those qualities. Pretend that you believe you are lovable, loving, kind, and accepting, and soon you will start behaving that way. If you don’t believe this, then try out the opposite: See yourself as mean, angry, unfriendly, critical, and you will soon start behaving that way. Energy follows thought. You become what you believe about yourself. For example, if you believe yourself to be capable, you will naturally prove it; and if you believe yourself to be incapable, you will be discouraged before you even try.


Some self-images are more functional than others. The more positive a self-image is (i.e. the closer to the truth of who you really are it is), the more functional it is. A positive self-image is always more functional and therefore preferable to a negative self-image. Does it matter if your self-image matches reality? Not really. We live up to whatever self-image we have: If it’s positive, you will live up to that; if it’s negative, you will live up to that. There’s no reason not to have a positive self-image and to ignore all negative ones. We cling to our negative self-images because we think they are realistic, and we don’t want to be seen as unrealistic or foolish. But it’s never unrealistic or foolish to see yourself as good, kind, loving, accepting, and wise. This is a positive self-image that will never let you down.


The ego offers many other positive self-images that may not be realistic. It imagines itself to be powerful, successful, and able to have everything it wants. It puffs itself up with fantasies of being special and having an amazing life. This is an inflated self-image, not a positive one. It isn’t positive because it isn’t true. A positive self-image is dysfunctional when there is little reality to it. Most of the positive self-images the ego offers are images of ourselves in the future. These are guesses at what will be—fantasy images. Fantasy images aren’t useful self-images because they lack reality. They aren’t true now, and they may never be true, unlike the image of your true self, which is always true. To invest yourself in an image that is not true can only take you farther from what is true and Real. Self-images of ourselves in the future are not useful not only because they aren’t real but because they take us away from what is Real and true now. What is true now and always is that your true nature is goodness and that you have everything you need to be happy right now.


So, there are two types of self-images generated by the ego that can be detrimental to your freedom: limiting self-images, which are based on conditioning, and fantasies, which are based on desires. These images intervene between us and life. They mediate between us and others. Without them, we would interact more purely, more spontaneously, and more lovingly with the world (like essence). With them, every action is checked first for compliance with the image before acting. Self-images keep us tied to the ego because they are thoughts, and when we are identified with them, we are identified with the false self, not the true self.


Even when you have seen through many of your self-images, you are left with self-images that are so deep-seated that you may not even consider them self-images. These are the images of yourself as a man or a woman and as a human being. These, along with the mental image of your physical self, are the most fundamental images. Once all of the self-images that represent your conditioning, psychology, and astrology have been seen for what they are, there remains the need to see that you are also not your gender or your body and you are not human.


What does this mean if you are not human? You are not a physical being after all, but a part of the Oneness manifesting as a human being. You are not human. Let this sink in, and see how much the image of yourself as a human being keeps you from seeing and living as that which you truly are. You can be alive on this earth and function perfectly well without identification with the belief that you are a human being or a man or a woman. Start realizing that these, too, are just images. You are beyond all images, even these. You are divine!


You don’t have to change anything about your self-images; you only have to recognize them for what they are and then drop into the truest self-image. When you catch yourself involved in a self-image, you can learn to see yourself from the perspective of essence. When you look with essence’s eyes on this character you are playing, you are immediately outside this character. From this perspective, there is only beauty and all self-images dissolve.


Copyright 2007 Gina Lake. All rights reserved.


Excerpted from Getting Free: How to Move Beyond Conditioning and Be Happy by Gina Lake. Order here:


Gina Lake has a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology and over twenty years experience supporting people in their spiritual growth.
She is the author of several books on spirituality, including: Radical Happiness, Anatomy of Desire, Return to Essence, Choosing Love, Getting Free, and Living Your Destiny. Gina is available for astrological and channeled phone consultations that support awakening. For more information or to order any of these books, to read excerpts, to listen to satsang, or to download Radiance: Experiencing Divine Presence for free, please visit

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