by Linda-Ann Stewart
Self-esteem is a basic necessity for all success in personal and professional life. When you like and respect yourself, then you’re likely to make the choices that lead to creating the outcomes that you want. Your self-worth is created by your attitudes about yourself based on what ideas you accepted as a child and the things you tell yourself as an adult.
Your self-image plays a large part in the development of your self-esteem. Your self-image is formulated from your experiences, judgments, labels you’ve accepted, and your talents or your liabilities. These have helped to shape your beliefs about yourself that feed into your self-worth.
You always act like the person you believe yourself to be. How do you see yourself? Do you perceive yourself as a competent and dynamic individual? Or do you doubt yourself and your abilities? Do you focus on what you’ve done wrong, or what didn’t turn out the way you wanted? This will erode your self-image and contribute to a low self-esteem.
If you have a strong, healthy self-image, then you make healthy decisions that support your vision, dreams and goals. You’ll exercise to stay fit, eat healthy, and avoid substances that would impair your health. These choices may be difficult or inconvenient, such as quitting smoking, ending a one-sided relationship, or finding another job that gives you a better chance to advance in your career. But you protect your health and well-being because you view yourself as someone who is proactive.
Your self-image forms the filter through which you view yourself and how you respond to situations around you. It demands that you remain consistent with your concept of yourself. Suppose you perceive yourself as a supportive person, who likes to make everyone happy. If so, to be congruent, you won’t stand up for yourself when you’re taken advantage of, even at the cost of your welfare.
For instance, Clarisse owned a service-based business. Initially, her attitude was that she offered a service that happened to be a business. With that approach, she was supportive, sympathetic and enabling of everyone who came to her. But her customers took advantage of her after she’d done work for them. After promising to pay, they reneged, saying they couldn’t afford it. Her business began to flounder.
To be successful, she had to shift her view of herself as a businessperson. She realized she wouldn’t be able to help anyone if she wasn’t in business. She changed her inner position to one of being a businessperson who provides a service. With this outlook, she made decisions based on what was good for the business.
To fulfill her desire to be of service to those who needed it, she selectively provided her service pro-bono to a client every once in a while. But they no longer were the majority of her clientele. Her business began to thrive.
Your self-image is malleable. You can impact it, making it stronger and more effective. But to do so, you’ll have to let go of some imbedded, old ideas. They may even be ones that you value, but they’re not helping you or your self-esteem.
Clarisse had to let go of her self-concept of being of service to everyone who needed her. That way was destroying her business. One major change she made was insisting on payment up front. She also set and kept boundaries, in the form of policies. If someone violated a policy, she refused to work with them. And she refused to take responsibility for others’ decisions that prevented them from living up to their agreements with her.
If you want to have more impact, be more effective and more successful, the first place to start is with improving your self-image. Here are a few suggestions of what to do.
1. Let go of the judgments and labels from your childhood. They belong in the past and don’t reflect who you are now. Besides, they were simply someone’s, usually mistaken, opinion and don’t define you in the present.
2. Stop of focusing on what’s wrong with you. You’ll always be able to find something to criticize in yourself or what you do. Break that habit as it’s not helpful. Instead, focus on what’s right about you.
3. Make a list compliments that you’ve received. Don’t dismiss them as untrue or someone just being nice. Accept that they’re true of you.
No matter what your dreams, you’ll always make decisions, and act, in alignment with your self-image. To become the person you want to be, and achieve your dreams, you’ll need to change it so it supports what you want in your life. You can do it. Just consider the life that awaits you and stay focused on your dreams.
The Universe loves and approves of me as I am. I accept my true worth. It’s safe to let go of old concepts that aren’t true of who I am. I now acknowledge the things that I do that are good and right. People like me, and I accept that I am likeable. I now shift my self-image to reflect the person I want to be.
Watch the Monthly Mindset Coaching Tip Video, Meditation to Improve Your Self-Image, that was inspired by this article.