How we see ourselves

Paul Adamson
December 18, 2016

The other day I was on the tube at Highbury & Islington – I don’t know what could have come over me as I normally cycle everywhere – and the train was stopped at the station just about to leave. I saw a man on the platform make a sudden dash towards the carriage I was in. He was running as fast as he could but the doors were just closing. He then made the split second decision to leap between the doors in the hope he could make it through. He didn’t. Instead the doors slammed into him like a horizontal guillotine and he lost his balance and fell to the floor between the doors.

A couple of passengers came to his aid, held back the doors long enough to release him, and helped him to his feet. I couldn’t hear what he was saying but he must have been English because only the English smile in that idiotic way when they don’t know how to extricate themselves from an embarrassing situation. He gave the impression that this was exactly what he had intended to do.

It got me thinking that we all of us have images of ourselves that may not be shared by others. Clearly the man on the tube thought he was fit and agile enough to beat the doors. But his good angel should have intervened and advised him to take a good look at himself – he was of a complexion that did not radiate health, was unignorably overweight and as stiff as the long umbrella he carried.

I’m struck by how often clients wish me to confirm or contradict an image they have of themselves. I find it quite touching that they should seek my opinion. We should be comfortable with the bodies we have but most of us aren't – or at least, not entirely. Doubts, hesitancies, anxieties about ourselves creep in. I look at myself in the mirror but it's rarely with any degree of satisfaction. David Beckham was a wonderful football player but has probably earned a lot more money from selling his looks. He exudes confidence in his body – and so he should. But what we see are just the myriad images of the man – not the man himself. When he looks in the mirror, what does he really see?


Let's dance
Get with the program
This crazy lockdown
Crunch time
The crazies
Life goes on
Surviving the lockdown
The beauty of scars
The Roaring Twenties
Truly, madly, deeply
Skin deep
Fat kids
Martial artist
Meet Rei Toska
Sperm alert
Pain is your friend
The spa massage
How to live to be 100
New year, new you?
The tan line
Back pain
Feeling relaxed?
How old is your heart?
Triumphing over injury
Tackling rugby
Belly watch (2)
La dolce vita
The best massage ever
Belly watch (1)
The London marathon
The mystery of darts
In praise of slow
Open water
The iPhone and massage
The swimmer's body
Happy with yours?
Cut the fat, Santa
The pre-flight massage
Big guys
Thin people
Fat people
Kyphosis – the curved back
Massage and osteopathy
Torture and the foam roller
Let's dance!
The authentic voice
Killing a lobster
The way of all flesh
Lost in space
Fat but fit?
Let's do lunch
Andy Murray's hip
Stop making excuses
Brain power
Muscles maketh the man
And stretch...
Hocus pocus and mumbo jumbo
The sandwich generation
The pain paradox
The full body massage
The limits of massage
Men and their bellies
Reading the body
The dangers of sitting