Self-image

The world will accept you at your own estimate.
It is you who you have to convince.

Your self-image is the way you see yourself in your mind as the person you believe yourself to be. It is your inner mirror that you subconsciously look at for how to behave and perform. We always act according to this image. It is one of the strongest forces in our psychology. Yet our self-image is largely subjective, meaning that what we believe to be true about ourselves is really not based in reality. It is simply a collection of beliefs about who we think we are, how we define ourselves, that comes from the decisions and commitments that we have made about ourselves and from other people’s opinions about us that we have accepted as true.

You can define your self-image by answering the question: What do you believe other people think about you? It should be built up of beliefs starting with “I am” – for example: I am strong, weak, intelligent, stupid, optimistic, attractive, shy, rich or successful, in this or that area. Take a moment right now to find the beliefs about yourself that have a major impact on your life, and consciously decide which of them work for you and which of them you are going to throw away.

Your self-image is one of the most important determiners of your success, because it affects your performance in every area of life. If you believed yourself to be exceptionally gifted and capable of greatness, then that would become true for you. You would think, speak and behave as if you had the qualities that you believed yourself to have and your results would follow. Equally, if you saw yourself as a fit, intelligent, graceful, confident, rich and successful person, you would engage in the behaviors that lead to those effects, just as you would avoid behaviors that contradicted that image of yourself.

Improving your Self-image

If we replace an old, negative or unsupportive picture of ourselves with a new, positive and empowering one, it will change every area of our lives for the better. Fortunately, it is easy to change our self-image. You simply imagine yourself as the person you would like to be, over and over again, until the new image is embedded into your mind.

Begin by imagining another you standing in front of you. It is the person you would most like to be, your ideal-self, with all the qualities that you admire in other people. What do you look like? How are you standing, moving and talking? What qualities do you have? Are you more intelligent, confident or happy? Imagine the other you doing things that you are afraid or unable to do with ease. See that person going through your everyday routines with efficiency, grace and enjoyment, and performing extraordinarily well in difficult situations. Then, when the image is exactly like you want it to be, step into that empowered self and see through their eyes, hear through their ears and feel how good it feels to be your ideal-self. Stand the way they stood, move the way they moved, speak in their tone and think about how much better your life will be from your ideal-self’s perspective.

To integrate your new self-image, continue to act like your ideal-self for the next week and use this visualization exercise at least three times each day, starting in the morning. Once you have done it a few times you will find that you can recreate it very quickly, in as little as a few seconds.

Modeling

The visualization technique above can also be used to model other people. You can literally take on a self-image from any person you know that is stronger than your own, anytime you need to overcome difficulties, challenges, problems, worries and fears of any kind, and it will gradually improve your own self-image.

For instance, pick a role model you have: the most confident, powerful person you know, fictional or real. Then, either visualize that person in front of you or take on his self-image. Next, ask how he would solve a problem you have or how he would perform in a situation that you find difficult. Seen through the perspective of such a person, our problems and worries will often become so small and easy to deal with that they are laughable.

The people we admire are always available in our minds whenever we need them. Which self-image to use depends on the resources you need at the time – such as courage, intelligence, humor, elegance, strength, leadership, flexibility, or just being someone who enjoys life more. You can develop a whole array of powerful role models that you are able to model for different situations.

Summary

  1. Our self-image is a collection of beliefs that form a composite image of the person we believe ourselves to be.
  2. We can improve our self-image by repeatedly imagining ourselves as the person we would like to be.
  3. We can borrow strengths from people we admire by taking on their self-image.
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