I think most of us function on a plane where we are deeply concerned with how other people perceive us. I include myself within this category of people but never-the-less I believe it is deeply stupid and life destroying to be concerned with how other people perceive us.
We have this image in our mind that we think is a good person, a person other people will respect, will look up to, will applaud. There isn’t just one image that fulfills this slot; there are many. We select one of these images when we are among certain people and try to convince those people that we are that image.
This is obviously life destroying because the image is made up of motivations, beliefs and to some extent a life story which is not our own. This means that in order to fulfill the image I must deny my own motivations, beliefs and life story. In order to fulfill the image I must falsify myself.
Like most things of this sort when looked at it appears absurd, it appears silly. It is; it does not conform to rational standards. Never the less it is powerful because it is sub-conscious. It’s not as if we are there consciously saying to ourselves “This group of people admire these qualities which are fulfilled in this image. A person who conformed to this image would behave like this. I will now behave in that manner.” Instead it is a sub-conscious process. Instead of words there are feelings such as shame, guilt, pleasure and so on that are far more compelling than words can ever be. In fact the power of words does not lie in the words themselves but in the feelings those words translate into upon our reception of them. It almost seems like any power consciousness may have is derived from it’s own sublimation into the unconscious. That in order for something to be efficacious on a psychical level it must be unconscious. Just ask a drug addict how effective the words “I will not give in” are!
Of course this is the mechanism manipulated by society to control its individual components. These images used to be produced through social interactions among people in a village. That is to say the ideal images would be constructed through looking at the reactions of a small number of people. That is no longer the case. Now these images are given to us – we no longer construct them ourselves – by forms of media. Now we attempt to conform ourselves to characters from books and movies. Just look at the way in which characters from sit-coms become types and how people ask other people what character they are.