Self Image Improvement
We all have a self image. Our lives
are an exercise in actualizing that self image. A poor self
image, and we have a poor life. A high quality self image, and we
have a high quality life. Self image is not just something we are
born with. It is something that we learn as we are exposed to
others opinion of our selves, our personal experiences with our
successes or failures in life, and how we deliberately view and
“program” our own minds.
The concept we have of ourselves, the
totality of our feeling about ourselves, shapes and influences out self
image, good or bad. A self concept can be defined as something
that can be expressed as, “I am,” or “I am not.”
I am fat.
I am not a good person.
I am not smart.
I am weak.
I work hard.
I am not making enough money.
I am not worthy of happiness.
Our self concepts begin to form in early
childhood. They form regardless of the truth of untruth of these
impressions and beliefs. At adolescence, the malleability of the
mind decreases and our early concepts become fixated and form our
personal self image. As an adult, our self-concept is well fixed,
but slowly changes based on our life experience.
Our self image is a self-reinforcing
function. If we succeed beyond our image level, we embark on self
“correcting” actions that return us to the prior level of self image
I once knew a young man who felt he was
too small and underweight. I asked him why he didn’t lift weights
to bulk up some. He told me that he’d try lifting weights and it
didn’t work. I told him that if he did it properly, it would
work. We finally made a bet on it. I bet him he’d gain a
certain amount of weight in a month, I think it was 5 pounds.. I don’t
like losing and I know I could do that.
I gave him a routine, told him how to do
it and checked each day that he was doing it right. At he end of
the month, I asked him how he’d done. I’d avoided asking all
month long because I was enjoying the suspense. He just smiled
and handed me a ten dollar bill. He not only gained the five
pounds I’d bet on but closer fifteen pounds.
Point is, he’d been conditioned to see
himself as a certain size and that preconceived notion caused him to
act in a way that maintained it. I, as an outside force, changed
his concept and he succeeded. I lost touch with him, so I don’t know if
he developed a new self image and maintained or not, but it does
demonstrate the point.
The point is: Self Image is a heavy
contributor to the success and quality of life. Underestimating
the importance of self image can lead to feelings of loss of control,
which will further compromise the concept set and self image.
If you want to change something in your
life, be it physical or psychological, if you fail to change the
underlying concepts and self image, any change made will probably be
doomed to failure. How many people make money and then lose
it? How many lose weight and then gain it back or gain it and
then lose it? How many reach the edge of victory, or achieve
their goal, only to have it slip away? This is not a deep dark
mystery. It is and example of the underlying concepts and self
image not being brought into line with the new and desired
circumstances. It is simply that action of basic psychology.
When we have a certain self image, we act
as if that’s what we are and that is what we end up becoming. An
out of shape person who wants to get into shape, but misses workouts,
eats improperly and fails to get enough rest, will not get into
shape. The self image of being out of shape and weak can cause a
person to act as if they are out of shape and weak, and that is what
they will become. To improve any situation in life, start by
improving your self image.
Step 1: Make a new self image.
Sit down and visualize what you wish to
be. I think all of us have a concept of what we’d like to
be. Our problem is that we do not see ourselves as this ideal
being. No matter! Think about the ideal state and get the
details firmly in mind. Step one is to define what the ideal
state for your self is.
Step 2: Write it down.
Once you have the ideal state defined for
yourself, write it on paper. Putting in on paper makes if much
more real to yourself. It is the start of a contract with
yourself. You are acting to make the purely mental a physical
reality, and writing it down is an intermediate step to that
goal. It's important that you express these ideals as positive
statements that are expressed in the present tense. Make it
personal and make it real. Do not say, “I am not sick and
weak.” Do say, “I am healthy and strong.” The basic
function of the brain is to deal in equalities and if you focus on
sickness, you will feel sick. Focus on health and you will feel
healthier. This is not mysticism. It is simply basic
psychology. You can edit this down and summerize it and carry it
with you. That can be a useful, positive reminder.
Step 3: Act out the part.
Once you have this new image defined and
written out, live the part. You have it all defined in your
written statement, now live it. Yes, you will experience
resistence. The old, ingrained habits will die hard, but you kill
them, not by denying them, but by affirming just the opposite.
When I quit smoking, it was by visualizing myself free of the nicotine
habit. My success, the third time I tried, was not by NOT
SMOKING, but by acting like someone who is smoke free. I can not
honestly remember how it felt to want and need a cigarette and I smoked
for over 25 years. I don’t see my self as someone who quit
smoking. I see myself as someone who is a nonsmoker. Act
the part of the new image you’ve chosen. Be the one that is
living the new image.
Step 4: Reinforce the image.
It is absolutely necessary for you to
reinforce the idealized image that you have chosen for yourself.
This is done, very simply, by repetition. There are two types of
memory, long and short term. Someone did some research and
determined that consistent repetition is what moves something from
short to long term memory. Your current concepts and self image
are based on years of repetition. While it will not take years to
counter the negativity, it will take consistent repetition for the
required period of time. Some form of reinforcement should be use
several times each day. A note where you can see it and take the
time to consider it, is an effective tool.
Read over your written ideal. Don’t
hesitate to change and update them. As you read them,
visualize them as being real and true and visualize it as being
you. See it like a movie. The power of visualization is
remarkable. It is the minds basic tool of reason and is the
workshop of mental reality. Use it daily to your advantage.
Allocate some time, maybe just before you go to sleep to take the time
to see you new state as it applies to you. It can be a pleasant
and productive exercise.
Have you noticed how, when you think, you
have a conversation with yourself? You may question yourself:
“Now where did I put my glasses?” You may make negative
statements about yourself: “That was a stupid thing to do!” How
many times do you tell yourself, “Good job!” This conversation
you are having with yourself is reinforcing and modifying your self
image. Become aware of this and keep this conversation
positive. Yes, we all make mistakes, but we can keep the
conversation about it, with our self, positive. “Wow, I ran that
red light! I’ll be more careful next time and really pay more
During this period of self image
reorientation, you should read your written list at least twice a day:
Morning and night. Start the day with the positive image and end
it the same way. If you wanted added impetus to the effect, every
so often rewrite it. Writing something out has an enhance effect
on the brain. I know a straight “A” student that takes detailed
notes and then never reads them. She has found that the benefit
is in the taking them, not the reviewing them. Use this to your
advantage. Rewrite you goals as often as possible. Each
rewriting of them will further impress them on your mind and make the
realization of them closer to reality.
Make a list.
Write it down.
Act it out.
Repeat it many times.
Rewrite and refine it.
Books have been written on the subject and
people have gotten rich writing those books. Why? Because
it works. So, here it is, for free, in under 2000 words.
You might as well get started.
What have you got to lose except the old self you don’t really like all that much?