How Your Self-Image Is Responsible for All of Your Results
Self-image is the mental picture you have of your abilities and characteristics. This includes your strengths, weaknesses, how important you think you are, what type of person you think you are, how you think other people perceive you.
An example of your self-image could be thinking of yourself as attractive or being a good friend. This would be a positive self-image. Thinking of yourself as overweight or unpopular would be a negative self-image.
The Development of the Self-Image
The foundation of your self-image develops when you are younger. As you grow into an adult, your self-image becomes more complex as you learn more and become more involved in society. We refer to it as positive or negative, but the term self-image is more multi-dimensional than that.
Your self-image would generally be positive if your positive beliefs about yourself outweigh the negative beliefs, but there will always be aspects of yourself that you want to change. So even if you have a positive self-image, there are always ways to improve your self-image further. You achieve this by changing whatever limiting beliefs you hold.
The Subtlety of The Self-Image
The changes in your self-image are imperceptible; these beliefs are collected and accumulated over time. Just like how you can never detect your change in height from day to day, you can’t notice your self-image changes from day-to-day.
It can take years to discover some of the beliefs that you’ve formed about yourself due to the subtlety of the self-image. This goes for both positive and negative beliefs. For example, you might have developed a good sense of humour when you were younger, and you’ve grown up making people laugh throughout your whole life.
You have a firm belief that you are funny and can make people laugh, and that belief has just merged into your overall personality.
You might think of yourself as a funny person. Still, you probably don’t even recognise that your funny personality derives from your positive belief about your ability to make people laugh.
On the other hand, you might have grown up thinking you were fat if you were one of the most overweight people in your school. 5 years later, you’ve converged to the average weight in your school, but you still feel fat because that’s what is ingrained in your self-image. You don’t even recognise that your weight has dropped relative to the people around you.
A negative self-image often begins when you’re younger and gradually accumulates over the years. When you’re young, your mind is like a sponge, and it soaks up all the feedback it’s receiving.
What happens to your Self-Image when you're younger?
At a young age, you’re very impressionable, so one person commenting on your weight could stick with you for years. As a child, you don’t have the critical thinking skills that you develop as an adult. If someone tells you something, you can’t assess the accuracy of the information; you just assume it to be true.
It becomes harder to change these beliefs when you’re older because they get cemented in your mind over time. You can certainly still change them, but it requires more work if you’ve held these beliefs for many years.
When we believe something to be true, our mind looks for evidence to confirm the truth. For example, if you thought you were overweight growing up, you would compare yourself to the skinnier kids in school, and when you see that you are more overweight than them, it confirms your belief to be true. You wouldn’t compare yourself to the overweight kids and say you’re skinny relative to them.
Separating from the Negative Aspects
The promising news with self-image is that your brain believes whatever you tell it. It doesn’t know the difference between real life and imagination. Your self-image is entirely dependent on what information you choose to feed it, so you can completely change your self-image in whatever way you want.
The first step is to separate yourself from the negative belief, so that this belief is no longer your identity. Instead of this belief being your identity, it’s something you temporarily have.
Let’s say you feel fat right now, and you want to change that. People with limiting beliefs about their weight think this is a permanent characteristic that they can’t change. They feel completely stuck in their situation. But instead of calling yourself fat, you can say you’re currently not at your desired weight. This takes away the shame and judgement you place on yourself and helps you realise that this is just a temporary situation that you have the power to change.
Any time you label yourself negatively, it’s just further ingraining these undesired characteristics into your self-image. Whereas when you separate yourself from the negative characteristic, it creates a resourceful perspective for making positive changes.
This technique prompts you to start challenging every negative belief. Most people with crippling limiting beliefs get to a point in their life where they just perceive everything negatively. For example, if someone came up to you and said you’d lost weight, a person with a negative self-image would think they’re being taunted for being fat. Or they would think, the fact that any weight loss is that noticeable must mean I was so overweight.
The Importance of Having a Vision
The second step is to create a powerful vision of what you want in your life. Someone with a crippling self-image won’t see a positive outcome in the future for themselves.
Studies have shown that self-esteem is strongly associated with wages. If a person has high self-esteem and believes they are entitled to earn a high salary, their experience in life usually reflects that.
Our minds naturally engage in compensating behaviours that adjust to whatever we place our salary set point at. If you believed you would be a millionaire and deserved to be a millionaire, you would dedicate your life towards making that happen.
If being a millionaire seems unrealistic to you, you would never put in the work to become a millionaire. Your reality would turn out how you expected it would.
The self-image is only based on what you believe, and your mind will believe anything you tell it. So when you start changing your visions to positive things that you want in your life, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you want to lose weight, become a better musician or become more confident, hold the vision in your mind every day of the desired result.
Keeping this vision at the forefront of your mind can be difficult when you have deeply ingrained limiting beliefs about yourself, but these steps work in conjunction.
As you start visioning what you want, your mind will start gravitating towards that. You have to do this every day, though. Many people occasionally think about how much they’d like to be a millionaire, but that is entirely different from holding a vision in your mind every day of wanting to be a millionaire.
Your mind subconsciously starts working towards that goal because if you hold that vision in your mind every day, that goal becomes crucial to you, and you begin using all of your resources to achieve the goal.
Levelling the Playing Field
Anyone you see that is successful, there was once a time when they didn’t have any of the success you see them having now. Let’s say you’re looking at a picture of a bodybuilder, and all you can see is this perfect physique that you desire. At one point, this person didn’t have this physique. Initially, they just had an ordinary body, or maybe they were even overweight. Your self-image isn’t permanent; it’s growable and changeable.
People with negative images feel they’re less skilled than other people, and don’t have the same resources. That’s not true. You have the same resources as the most successful people. The most significant resource anybody has is their mind. This is more important than money, intelligence, contacts, qualifications, or any other attribute you can think of.
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