Self-Image: A Powerful Force in your Life
Your Self-Image is YOUR concept of yourself. If you were to project an image of yourself like in the movie The Matrix, what would you look like? Who would you be? Our personal opinion of our self is crucial to our mental, emotional and physical well-being. It directly affects our confidence and self-esteem, and how we interact with people and live our lives.
Why a Healthy Self-Image is Crucial to Happiness
- More Emotional Stability. When you love yourself, you won’t try so hard to please other people. Your confidence will not be so closely tied to people’s opinions, which may vary from day to day. You will be self-sufficient and less needy.
- Life Becomes Easier. Constantly striving for perfection is a hard task. A healthy self-image keeps you from beating yourself up over the slightest mistake. You learn to forgive yourself and stop reaching for a standard that is impossible to achieve. With this kind of attitude, you become more relaxed about life, and that will minimize your inner stress.
- Better Relationships. When we a have a poor self-image, we project our discontent in ways that affect our relationships negatively. We are needy, demanding and become drama kings and queens. A better self-image will make you more giving in relationships and people will naturally gravitate towards you.
- More Accomplishments. If you believe in yourself, you will not be afraid of new experiences and challenges. Because you engage in activities that promote growth and self-development, your chances of success grows too. You accomplish and achieve more than a person who doubts their own capabilities.
- Avoid Sabotaging Yourself. It is true that we are our own worst enemy. No one can hurt us faster and more efficiently than ourselves. By developing a healthy self-image, you will feel like you deserve the good things in life. You will be more accepting of blessings when they come, and pursue things that make you happy. When we have a poor self-image, we don’t think we’re deserving, and we sabotage our happiness in subtle ways.
How Our Self-Image Develops
Self-Image is the sum of all your thoughts on the following:
- What kind of person you think you are
- What you think you look like physically
- Your interpretation of how other people see you
- What you are in comparison to other people
- How much you like YOU
- How much you think other people like YOU
It differs from self-esteem but they are closely related, like mother and child. Self-Esteem is how you FEEL about yourself. Self-Image is how you SEE yourself and how you believe other people SEE YOU. It is more of a perception, and it is not always backed up by facts. Nevertheless, whether your opinion is real or distorted, if you have a poor image of yourself, it will follow that you will have a low self-esteem.
The funny thing about self-image is that they are not always accurate. It is oftentimes different from how other people see us. This is because our perception of our self is shaped by our unique experiences, thoughts and beliefs. We will see our self positively or negatively, depending on the level of our self-esteem.
For a happier life, it is crucial that we learn to improve our self-image. Nothing can be more vital than what you think of yourself. It is what motivates all your thoughts and actions.
It is also essential to know yourself and yuor personality. Read about the different dimensions of your personality here.
Practical Ways to Build Your Self Image
So, how do we change the way we see ourselves, from negative to positive? Can we unlearn what we think we learned over the years? Can we change our opinions of who we are? The following practical steps can help you build your self-image. It’s a process, don’t expect instant results. However, just by being conscious of the way you see yourself is a move in the right direction.
- Stop being a perfectionist. Accept that nothing in life is perfect. Mistakes will be made and that is all a part of growth. When you make a mistake, accept it and learn from it. It requires humility, and faith that you will do better next time.
- Control Your Thoughts. We have this inner critic inside our head that we sometimes take too seriously. It whispers constructive or destructive thoughts inside our heads. Listen to your inner critic, but take its opinions with a grain of salt. Don’t believe its judgement readily. When you hear destructive thoughts snowballing, say STOP, and steer your thoughts into a productive path.
- Assess Yourself Honestly. This may be where you’ll experience a pushback from yourself. It’s difficult for people to accept their weaknesses and shortcomings objectively. But if you learn how to see yourself for all that you are, you will see that along with the negatives, you have positive and lovable traits which can be developed and highlighted. Our self-image takes a nosedive when we focus on the negatives and fail to appreciate the totality of who we are.
- Change What You Can and Let Go of What You Cant. You hate your hair, your nose, or your body? These days, there are ways to change that without compromising your health. Consult a hairdresser, get a nose job, and exercise. Do what you can to improve on what you have. But you must also know when enough is enough. Don’t allow yourself to be like the celebrities who went through plastic surgery so many times they look like mannequins. So, you want to have a better career and be as successful as your friends? This is where assessing yourself honestly will play a part. When you see yourself for who you really are, you will see the areas of improvement, and you can build on your weak traits. Humility is a crucial factor of learning. Only those who can accept that they don’t know everything, will actively seek wisdom.
There are some things that we cannot change. We need to love even these traits, and focus on developing other factors of our personalities that can be developed.
- Don’t Compare Yourself to Others. It’s hard not to, right? But when our self-image is based on how we compare to other people, we will be in a constant state of frustration. There will always be someone better, more beautiful, stronger, smarter and richer than we are. Build your self-image based on what YOU have accomplished so far. Compete only with you. Strive to be better than you were yesterday. There is a saying that goes, “When the grass looks greener on the other side, it’s time to work on your own grass.” Focus on you. How you have lived your life and how you can improve the results of your own actions.
- Daily Affirmations. Remind yourself every day of the things that you appreciate about yourself. The smallest accomplishments should be given the limelight in your mind. There are many situations in our daily lives that can make us feel inadequate. Remembering what we have accomplished so far, helps counter our self-defeating thoughts.
- Surround Yourself With Supportive People. Have a group of friends who really appreciate you, and can provide you with constructive and honest feedback.
Loving our self and having a healthy self-image makes us better people in the long run. We are more giving, more forgiving, more compassionate towards others, and more capable of lending a helping hand. We cannot give what we do not have. So, our first responsibility is to gain it for ourselves - whether its love, money, success or wisdom – it all starts with you. When you have it, then you can share with others. You want to have love in your life, be a loving person. You want to help others, gain the resources to help. You want to be happy, develop good relationships. You can have a better and happier life, but it all starts with your self-image. How you see and project yourself is how the world will see you.
Love yourself, and think of yourself kindly. Remember, that you are the only tool you need to achieve your dreams.
Quick Facts about Self-Image
- From 6 months to 1 year, a baby thinks the image in the mirror is a playmate. Only between 20 to 24 months does the baby recognize itself in the mirror.
- One study conducted a test on women. 3 out of 4 said that they were overweight. Only 1 out of 4 really was. · After viewing images of fashion models, 7 out of 10 women felt more depressed and angrier than before.
- Anorexia Nervosa, an eating disorder, has the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric illness. · In advertising, the body type of models which is portrayed as the ideal, is naturally possessed by only 5% of American women.
- Only 1 out of 10 high school students are overweight, but 9 out of 10 are already on a type of diet.
- Teenagers who engage in unprotected sex which results to unwanted pregnancy, often have poor self-images.
- There are less cases of men with eating disorders because of the perception that they are women’s diseases.
- Today’s media greatly influence the self-image of teenagers. They are told that their value is related to how thin or muscular they are.
- In a study on Self-image Maintenance and Discriminatory Behavior, evidence showed that prejudice develops from a person’s need to justify a threatened perception of the self.
- Wikipedia: Self-Image
- Wikipedia: Self Perception Theory
- Just say yes: Self Image/Media Influences
- WedMD: Building Self-Esteem
Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are
Read about the major factors of human personality in the book "Personality: What Makes You the Way You Are" by Harvard graduate Shawn Achor.
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