In a remote village in Bengal. there lived a venomous snake. It used to be a source of great trouble to the area’s residents. No one could kill the wicked snake since it was very swift. A saintly man was visiting the village. The villagers who were greatly troubled by the snake, mentioned the problem to the saint. With his mystic powers, he commanded the snake to come to him and instructed it not to trouble the villagers further and it followed his advice.
After a year the saint returned to the village. This time the snake came to him in a battered and bruised state. Upon inquiry, the snake narrated how the village children threw all kinds of missiles at it. The saint, surprised by this turnaround, inquired how this change came about. The snake told the saint that as per his instructions it no longer bites the villagers and, therefore, the children had got emboldened. On hearing this, the saint said, "I instructed you not to bite but did not prohibit you from protecting yourself by making hissing sounds".
From this story, one can learn that the image one creates of one’s self is very important. The snake projected a docile image of itself, which became a serious problem to it . Likewise, most human beings are tempted to project a vastly superior image of their selves. This falsity puts one in difficulties since one is forced to live up to the false image. Everyone has his or her comfort level, and trying to show results beyond one's capacity is highly stressful. The false image has been identified as one of the major causes of stress. Just as the snake got into trouble by projecting itself as harmless, human beings come under stress by pretending to be what they are not.
In order to create a good impression upon others, one forgets that one has to actually live according to what one has pretended to be. Image is virtual while the person is real. Surprisingly, other people accept, howsoever one projects oneself. There are billions of people and there is nothing what can be called a standard. When a person comes across a stranger, he tries to identify the new person with what is visible and what is conveyed. Human beings are made in such a way that it is impossible to know someone fully from his or her external appearance or behaviour alone. This is why it is vital to project the real image of one’s self. The image one projects of one's own self depends on the person and no one else ; it being a very personal choice. People accept others as they are. Accepting does not mean liking, but is actually a process of identifying the other.
An image lower than what one projects, is also undesirable as was the case with the venomous snake. Lord Krishna chides Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Geeta : “The great generals who have highly esteemed your name and fame will think that you have left the battlefield out of fear only and thus they will consider you insignificant" (2.35). Further, the Lord says : "People will always speak of your infamy. And for a respectable person, dishonour is worse than death" (2.34). Therefore, an image which is much lower than the real self is also not good. One may think this to be a humility, but humility is not to be unnecessarily proud. A better image motivates. One likes to live up to it, since one is known by one's image one projects.
Therefore, ideally, an image which is slightly more desirable version of one’s self is sought by intelligent people. Such an image motivates one to improve one’s self without coming under excessive stress. And projecting a true image is being truthful and is a very admirable quality.