Image: Your Main Message


Leaders and FollowersIn our previous post, we saw that the Inner and Outer Image is shaped from a young age based on life experience. And, depending on the nature of our social environment and Outer Image, people will respond to us in different ways. Today we will look at the two fundamental messages that your Outer Image broadcasts to others.

To Like or Not To Like

Within your social environment, there are three basic qualities interaction:

  1. People like you.
  2. People are neutral or indifferent to you.
  3. People dislike you.

Basing your entire life around whether other people like you is a stressful way to live. But as we have already discussed, if you want to build a life in this world, you've got to get some people to like you at least some of the time. This means that your Outer Image has to communicate a message in your social world that is agreeable, desirable and meaningful to the audience you are appealing to.

Leaders and Followers

There are two basic messages that you can convey to your audience. How you communicate that message can vary, but the fundamental message is the same. The two messages are:

  1. I am a Leader: Communicates confidence, power, and value.
  2. I am a Follower: Communicates insecurity, submission, and need.

In any given moment, in any social situation, a person can be seen as having more power (the Leader) or as having less power (the Follower). Another way of saying this is that a Leader receives attention, and a Follower gives attention. Like a dance, the roles can be exchanged multiple times in an interaction among various people. The two roles are mutually dependent since the Leader provides for the needs of Followers by providing some form of safety, security, direction, resources and entertainment. The Follower enables the Leader to exercise their creativity and power by providing attention and a willingness to obey the leader's direction. In a balanced life, a person is a Leader sometimes, and a Follower at others, with some people more consistently seen as "Leaders" and others more consistently seen as "Followers".

The Business World

Within the business world, the main goal of people is to feel good about exchanging money and gain more money through the exchanges. The main reason you enter the business world is to get money so you can gain a sense of security and opportunity in your day-to-day life. If people feel uncertain about giving you their money, then you won't get very much of it, but if they like you, then you will have more opportunities to get money. So the most important messages that you can communicate in the business world are confidence and capability: the messages of a Leader. People in the business world need to trust that you will get the job done and return value of their investment in you. On the other hand, the message of the Follower is insecurity and uncertainty. When people don't believe they can rely on your ability to get things done, your responsibilities will be restricted or revoked, making it hard to get ahead in the business world.

The Social World

Within the social world, the main goal of people is to feel good - period. So the most important messages that you can communicate are confident, relaxed, and fun. The Leader in a social environment helps everyone else relax and have a good time. These are the people that easily make new friends and leave people smiling. On the other hand, the message of the Follower is insecure, anxious, and boring. The Follower needs the Leader (or find the Leader in themselves) to bring them up, or their uncomfortable feelings will spread to people around them causing others to avoid them or just not remember them.

Now that we've looked at the basic messages that can be communicated socially, we'll look at the role of clothes in life and how clothes are a part of the message you broadcast in your life.

Borrring! I'd rather talk about what clothes I need to wear to be The Man! Suggestions?

Image: The Rules of the Social Environment


Rules for Surviving Your Environment In our previous post on The Outer Image and The Environment, we saw that our survival depends on our ability to get what we need from The Environment. Because our needs are fulfilled predominantly by other people, being liked by others is an important part of getting our needs met. Today, we'll look more closely at the Social Environment and it's relationship to the Inner and Outer Image.

Making Up The Rules

When you were born, you didn't care what you looked like or what affect you had on others. All you cared about was getting your immediate needs met by any means possible. By getting attention through loud noise and flailing limbs, nearby adults would figure out what need had to be met and do their best to meet it. If they got it right, you would calm down bringing an end to the wailing and flailing. Over time, as you grew, you noticed that different behaviours you exhibited were met with approval or disapproval. You learned to adjust your behaviour in attempts to get what you wanted from the adults in your social environment: if you gave them what they wanted, the hope was that you would get what you wanted.

These formative years, and the school years following, shaped both the Inner Image and Outer Image according to "The Rules". The Inner image was shaped by beliefs that developed about about who and what you are, what you are capable of, and what you could reasonably expect from the people around you. The Outer Image was shaped to help protect you and to maximize your ability to get what you wanted from the environment. All the strategies you use today are the same ones that you developed early in life, adapted for your current social environment: the adult world.

Biases in the Social Environment

The social environment that you exist in is not static or passive, since it is made up of people. As we mentioned before, people recognize and know you through your Outer Image. Based on the Outer Image, they make judgements and put you into categories so they know what they can get from you (rightly or wrongly). This means that your Inner Image is interacting with the Inner Image of other people through your Outer Image. People are judging your Outer Image to evaluate whether you can provide them with something they want. In other words, if your Outer Image doesn't contain any of the features that are important to another person's Inner Image, they won't see you, will avoid you or actively oppose you. As an individual, you could have advantages or disadvantages based on the nature of your social environment. Preferential biases are implicit, although not necessarily logical, moral, ethical or fair. The following video is a simple demonstration of common biases.

The white guy is hardly noticed, the black guy is actively opposed, and the pretty (white) girl is assisted in her task of hacking through the chain of a locked up bike. The Outer Image of each of the individuals, combined with the values, beliefs and preferences of the passer-bys, create the social environment, and the resulting behaviours.

The "invisible elements" of values, beliefs, and desires are present in the social environment. You have yours, you put them out into your social environment, and others do the same. You pick up, and put out, these elements in the form of words, actions, media, entertainment, business, religion, politics, education, science, and conclusions you make from the actions of others. This collectively creates human society, and The Rules are constantly being used and modified to get wants and needs met.

In our next post, we'll look at fundamental types of messages that your Outer Image broadcasts to others in your Social Environment.

Enough with the pop psychology man! I've got a big date coming up and I need to know what to wear! Can you help me or what?

Image: The Negotiater in Your Environment


Suviving and Thriving in Your Environment In our last post about Image, we looked at the nature of your reality with respect to the interaction of your Inner Image and Outer Image. Now we're going to look at how your Outer Image interacts with your Environment.

The Natural Environment

You don't exist in a vacuum, you exist in an environment. This environment provides things that you need to exist. A few of those things come automatically based on the laws of physics, like breathing, or the way your body grows as specified by your DNA. But, if you are actually going to survive in this world, you have to negotiate with your environment to get things you need - shelter, water, fire, and food. You do this by reaching into your environment using your body and taking what you need. Since you're reading this post, you're well beyond the shelter/water/fire/food stage and probably take for granted that these will be provided for you barring an unforeseen crisis.

The Social Environment

Beyond the immediate needs of survival, your environment must be negotiated to provide you things that are more social in nature: relationships, work, money, and reputation. These things validate your existence as an individual through rewards: recognition, acceptance, approval, appreciation, service and money. All this takes place in what could be called your Social Environment.

Unless you are a hermit living in the wild, you exist inside a social environment and rely on other people to provide for both your survival and social needs. This means that you must communicate with the people around you in ways that will get them to give you what you need. One primary way we do that in our society is through money. You trade your time, energy and skills in order to receive money from others. You then give this money to other people, so that they will give you the things you need and want. Along with that, you are negotiating for people's time, attention, and support for your vision of life.

Surviving the Social Environment

All this boils down to the simple fact that you want people to like you, for social and survival reasons. Even though we are far from the days of small tribal societies where excommunication would be a serious personal setback, there are still serious consequences to unsuccessfully navigating your social environment. Like our natural environment, our social environment is not benign, but can be difficult and hostile.

For example, in the area of finances, getting work or a promotion will be difficult if employers don't like you. In relationships, getting dates or creating meaningful relationships will be difficult if those you are interested in don't like you back. In areas like politics, politicians are reliant on being liked by the voters and other elected officials to get support for their ideas. And, finally, if you're not well liked, life just won't be as fun: you won't be invited to many social gatherings and may struggle with feelings of loneliness, isolation and social anxiety. And social gatherings are where people meet, relationships are formed, and job opportunities are found.

Now remember that in our last post, we learned that other people recognize you and know you through your Outer Image. In order for you to get the things you want, there is a skill involved in adjusting the elements of your Outer Image to create a positive perception in the minds of other people. This positive perception increases the chances of you getting what you need and want. And this is a skill you've been practicing since you were born.

The social environment is not benign, and definitely not passive. In our next post, we'll see how it influences and affects the Inner and Outer Image.

But I just want to know what's trendy this season! Can you tell me?

Image: Your Life Depends on It


Looking at Your Image Your Image is a lot like the air you breathe: it's so close to you and such an intimate part of you that unless you stop to think about it, you hardly know it's there or how it's affecting you.

Like air, your Image is made up of several different elements, some good and some bad, that all interact to create the quality of life you experience. There are elements that would be considered invisible such as your beliefs, thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and energy levels. There are also elements that are visible such as the health of your body, how you carry yourself, how you speak, your hygiene and grooming, the things you own, and the clothes that you wear. The invisible elements are reflected externally in the visible elements.

The Inner and Outer Image

These elements can be grouped into two main areas: the Inner and the Outer. Your Inner Image is the collection of invisible elements that make up your perception of who and what you are. These are commonly referred to as your self-image (which includes your body-image). When other people encounter you they experience your Inner Image expressed as an Outer Image which is made up of the visible elements.

For a simple example, think of a time when you felt happy. You had lots of energy, smiled, and put on clothes you felt good in. You felt open, aware and carried yourself with a sense of lightness and confidence. People probably smiled at you and you probably had some nice conversations with lots of laughter.

If you think of an opposite time, one where you felt sad, you probably had little energy, and your thoughts were negative or anxious. You probably frowned, had downcast eyes,  avoided people, and had conversations that revolved around trying to comfort or help you.

In both cases the Inner Image (happy or sad) was reflected in the Outer Image (smiling or frowning) and created a response from your environment (pleasant conversations or comforting conversations).

The Relationship of the Inner and Outer Image

The Inner and the Outer Image work very closely together. When you are authentic and genuine, your Inner Image and your Outer Image match, which helps you feel more relaxed, comfortable and confident. Everything "feels right". The messages you get from people around you match your self-image and are supportive. You find you are achieving your goals, and your confidence is increasing. These messages can be considered Positive Feedback.

When the Inner and Outer Image are not properly aligned, you will experience friction that is uncomfortable and unsettling. Everything "feels wrong". People don't accept you, goals are not easily achieved, and your sense of confidence decreases. These messages can be considered Negative Feedback.

Your Inner Image can be changed to affect your Outer Image. This is the function of many practices such as meditation, positive self-talk and affirmations, planning and goal setting, and various modalities of therapy. However, your Outer Image can also affect your Inner Image, and this is the function of many bodily practices. These include exercise, diet, buying new things, make overs, and various modalities of body work. You do all these things to feel better about yourself and all of these practices have the effect of changing the type of feedback you are receiving into Positive Feedback.

What you experience moment to moment, every day of your life, is the relationship of this Inner Image and Outer Image within your Environment. Your Outer Image acts as a messenger serving your Inner Image for the purpose of getting things from your day-to-day environment. It is continually broadcasting messages into your environment. Said differently, the Outer Image exists to help fulfill the desires and needs of the Inner Image. All the day-to-day activity of your life involve manipulating the different elements of the Inner and Outer Image to achieve things like peace, happiness, success, joy, and well-being through satisfying the creativity of that mysterious, invisible energy that is You.

In our next post, we'll look at the relationship between your Outer Image and your Environment.

Phew! All this talk about Inner and Outer image is a bit heavy...I just want to look good! How do I do that?