For years psychologists and philosophers have tried to answer a crucial question: What is self-image?
In this article, I want to define the self-image, because I believe that knowing its meaning can help you to get clear about what the image you have of yourself and who you indeed are.
Why is self-image important?
The image of oneself is essential because the way we relate to ourselves and the world depends on it.
We are often not aware of how important it is to understand the way we see ourselves. Many of us do not even know how they are.
Not being aware of the fact that we have a self-image but don’t know which is it, often leads us to seek confirmation from others. We wait for other people to tell us how we are and what our value is. And it’s wrong; because others see us according to their beliefs and their limitations. And very often what they think of us is not our truth, but only theirs.
It has happened to me for years to wait for others to recognize my worth. At every judgment, I became vulnerable, because I thought they were telling the truth.
The problem is that listening to the opinions of others can also lead you to take paths that do not belong to you.
Giving too much importance to what others think of us is a significant threat to our self-esteem; this is why it is essential to recognize the image we have of ourselves, looking inside ourselves.
Once you know how you see yourself in the current moment, you will become more selective about the opinions of others and look at what you like about yourself and what areas you would want to improve.
What is the self-image and how do you create it?
We have already said that the image of oneself is the way in which a person sees himself or herself.
But on what does it depend? How did you create the image of yourself?
Everything begins since childhood. A child cannot be aware of the image he has of himself, so he believes what others say to him.
Let’s take an example. If you always use positive affirmations and encouragement with your child. If you make him understand that you appreciate him, he will have high self-esteem.
If instead you continuously criticize your child and often pay attention only to the wrong things, he will grow up with low self-esteem and think he’s not useful.
Another example you can see at school, where the grades and judgments of professors influence children.
When a professor corrects a task, he always puts the red Xs next to the errors, but never settles into evidence what the child has written correctly. The child will focus only on the mistakes he made. As a result, he will think that everything he does is wrong and will focus more on his mistakes. In this way, it will be difficult for him to improve his self-esteem, and he will develop a critical point towards himself.
Being critical of ourselves leads us also to judge others.
A child grows up with the labels that others have attributed to him since childhood.
Since, over the years, you will meet new people, these labels will change, or you’ll add new ones to you.
The most worrying thing is that we tend to behave with others based on the labels they have put on us.
If someone has a specific consideration of us, we will unconsciously do our best not to betray his expectations.
The outside world, unfortunately, influences the image we have of ourselves.
We, therefore, have a distorted image of ourselves, because we don’t even try to listen to our intuitions. We stop at the mask that others, over the years, have sewn on us.
What if you aren’t aware of the image you have of yourself?
If you do not stop for a moment to think about the way you see yourself, you’ll always look for the opinions that others have about you. When you trust only the views of others, you will hardly live according to who you are.
As I said before, the appreciations or judgments of others influenced you.
You will always meet people who judge you, but if you find out who you are, what your abilities are and what your limits, no one will influence you. Most people have a distorted image of themselves.
Some overvalue themselves; others underestimate themselves. And it all depends on the fact that they let the external world to influence them.
If you do not reflect on the way you see yourself, and if you do not correct the wrong image that you have created over the years, you will have to find yourself walking paths that do not belong to you.
But if you do a self-analysis and recognize the way you see yourself, you can also start to improve your weaknesses and put in evidence your strengths.
It is straightforward for the external events to undermine our self-esteem and the image of ourselves because we continually live new events and when we find ourselves in stressful situations we can also have doubts about our abilities.
Even a beautiful woman, who knows she is attractive, can doubt about her charm when she finds out that the man she loves doesn’t desire her or leaves her for another woman.
If you do not have a stable image of yourself, if you do not know your skills and weaknesses, you will always compare yourself to others. And you will forever live in uncertainty and continuous imbalance.
How to get clear of the image you have of yourself?
It is not easy to understand how we see ourselves. Nevertheless, it is enough for us to observe the way in which we relate to others and ask ourselves the reason for our attitudes.
It is not a fast process. For some, it takes some time to clarify.
First of all, observe the way you treat others:
- If you treat others with kindness, it means that you are also kind to yourself.
- If you judge others, it means that you are very strict with yourself.
- If you neglect the needs of those around you, most likely, ignore even those that are your real needs.
- If you love others, you also love yourself.
- If you lie to others, you also lie to yourself.
The way you treat others is the mirror of how you treat yourself.
Be careful when you judge others because you will notice in other people those that are your dark sides, which you do not want to recognize.
Put even more attention to the kind of people you value and the qualities you value in them because those qualities also belong to you.
You could never notice something in others, that does not already belong to you.
Do not compare your faults or your merits to those of others. Remember that you are unique and that no one will ever take your place, just as you can not make another’s path.
Those that are your talents belong only to you, and only you can develop them.
Also observe the people around you because, as Jim Rohn said, you are the five people who surround you. If you do not like them, change the company, as your friends influence your subconscious and make you become like them.
Take note of all your thoughts and insights and, without judging yourself, start working on the aspects you want to improve.
Do this exercise:
- Take a piece of paper and fold it in two.
- On the left column at the top write the name of three people whom you value, or who you even love.
- On the bottom left column write the name of three people you despise, or even hate.
- On the top right-hand column write three qualities or merits for each person you admire.
- On the bottom right-hand column, write three faults for each person you despise.
- Now bend the sheet in the opposite direction compared to how you folded it initially so that you can read only the merits and defects you have written down.
Be aware that the qualities listed are qualities that belong to you and the defects you wrote are the dark sides that you do not like about yourself.
Thank you, for your attention.
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