Before we are born, we deliberate with the highest potential of our self, the Chuluamadahey, or the Keepers of our Book of Life. This is represented in the number 18 on what is known as the Children’s’ Count, a way that numbers communicate with us here on Earth. This number is also associated with the Hebrew word ‘chai’, meaning ‘alive’, ‘living’, or ‘life’, as in “L’chaim,” a toast to life. We examine the lessons we have yet to learn and design a life that will deliver us the opportunities we need to learn these lessons.
As children, we are born with everything we will need to meet the challenges of this life. This means that we have the potential to successfully learn these lessons because we are born with the character and abilities that will be needed to realize them in this life, but we must apply ourselves. This is our core personality.
As a child, we learn right from wrong and are taught the proper way to behave. This will mimic the society and culture in which we live and often places restrictions on our core personality. For example, if one was born female in the 1500’s and was given a core personality consumed with a desire for learning physics and astronomy, this will likely be unacceptable and deemed not to be a viable option. Similarly, a man born in the same era who prefers to devote his time to caring for his family by providing meals made with love, supporting their endeavors by assisting with daily needs, and making sure the home is properly maintained may find he is underappreciated.
The family and culture we are born into begin to sculpt us into the person they believe we should become. Some sculptors see a rock in its raw form and decide what they will carve out of it. A true artist sees a stone and the piece inside it trying to get out. He or she chips away the part of the stone that is not its core. We may have known people in our life like that, those who brought out our true nature. We have also known those who chose to make us into what they thought we should be with little regard to our individual passions.
As we grow, we try to appease these people by changing who we are to fit in and conform. The part of us that is deemed “unacceptable” is buried and we try to forget it exists. Some never discover their core self. Others find that the changes their family or society demand are impossible and they rebel. We either become a victim or a victor, we change our self to pacify others or we let our light shine.
Those who are responsible for sculpting our personality are called our image makers. We imitate their behavior and forget our core personality. It is important to note that our image makers are not bullies. They are simply trying to help us fit in with the world in which we live. They want us to be accepted and appreciated by society. They are doing the best they can with the limited tools they have left over from their own sculpting.
The image makers can be understood better if we examine them on the Wheel of Life. In the south are our family and relationship image makers. Our family influences our preferences and our prejudices. If we live in a family that values education and looks down on those who are less sophisticated, we will adopt these beliefs until we examine our attitude and decide to adjust it. Until we are able to think independently, these image makers will influence us.
Relationship image makers also sit in the south and these include romantic encounters. These sit in the south along with the family because our emotions are so heavily invested in these relationships. These interactions will affect how we see the world, our own self-esteem, and our morals. Our decisions to have sex before marriage or to stay with a spouse after infidelity or abuse will be affected by our family and relationship image makers.
Economic image makers sit in the west and they are represented by our bankers, bosses, and the economic class into which we were born. These people influence our physical world, particularly our wealth and their impact is seen in the form of rules and laws. For example, if we cannot get a mortgage to buy a home because we do not fulfill the bank’s requirements, they have impacted our self-image. We now believe we are not good enough to live in the neighborhood in which we were hoping to raise our children. We may think we do not have the same education, class, or manners of the people in that block. A supervisor may decide we are not qualified for a promotion simply because we are a working mother who had to take a few days off six months ago to care for a sick child. This may cause us to believe it doesn’t matter how hard we work, we will not be able to succeed.
Political image makers sit in the north as well as our social image makers. Politicians will establish acceptable behavior by their words, actions, and legislation. In some countries, any variation on the traditional view of family and marriage is strictly forbidden and so the foundation is set for those who have a different lifestyle to feel subhuman. Some countries allow and encourage children to work, others do not. Our view of childhood and the value of free time will be influenced by these laws.
Our social image makers are our peer group, neighborhood, and the social status we were born into. Our image as a geek, jock, freak, or loner will be highly influenced by these image makers and these molds can be hard to break later in life. These peers frequently cause children to try all kinds of risky behavior in order to be accepted. When that behavior is against the law and they get caught, the stage has been set for a series of events that can take youngsters down a dangerous path for decades. The need to fit in is paramount in people’s lives and those who don’t can be victimized to the point of death.
Our religious image makers sit in the east and this is often tied up with our culture. Many religions promote certain beliefs and philosophies that we are expected to accept. As children, we are taught what to believe. This influences our spiritual growth, colors the meaning and purpose of life, and can either enhance or limit our vision.
At some point during our growth and maturation, we become our own image makers. We contribute to our own sculpting when our internal reactions do our external image makers job for them. We hear their disapproval in our head when we act in a way that they would condemn.