I recently read a book by Charlotte Beers-an American businesswoman and former Undersecretary of State- who talked about an interesting concept I would like to share with you: the self-portrait. Now, I’m not asking you to go off and have your headshot taken or have a budding artist paint an image of you – although the latter could be fun!
Rather, I am referring to an inner self-portrait of who you aspire to be in the future. According to Beers (2012), this technique centers you and acts as a psychological compass, helping you align your thoughts and your actions accordingly.
A self-portrait can be any person, object, or image. All you need for this to work is a sense of symbolism that will guide you through moments of doubt and inner conflict.
For example, my self-portrait is a tea bag.
At this point, you may be scratching your head. How is a tea bag representative of a self-portrait, and how does it act as a moral and professional compass? Let me explain.
One of my favorite quotes is by Eleanor Roosevelt. She stated, “A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.” I love that! I also love tea which makes this quote even more apt!
As I go through challenges in my everyday life, I go back to this image-or this self-portrait. I picture myself as a strong person; a robust and complex cup of tea if you will. I go back to that quote and, more importantly, that image. In doing so, I am immediately transported and returned to my center. This is the power of my self-portrait.
This is an enjoyable, meaningful exercise and one that takes some time. At first, I was at a loss and could not find a self-portrait that worked for me. I tried to relate to various images, but none resonated deeply with me. It is critical that your self-portrait is personal and highly meaningful to you.
So please take some time to think of an image, a person, or a symbol that mirrors the person you want to be, and use it to your advantage! Your inner portrait will act as your talisman, and see you through many challenging moments.