How To Improve Your Self Image
Get the self-image you want
The secret to achieving what you want is to believe you are the type of person who would accomplish it, that the achievement is ‘like you.’ So what’s stopping you? It could be a lack of motivation, just don’t care enough, maybe you’ve got an excuse? Well, do you want to know the truth? The reason we slack off, procrastinate, and don’t take the step into the unknown is: we worry we aren’t good enough. Say you are trying to be healthier, but you love a can of Coca Cola. You give up the soft drinks and start to drink water, but when you have water in your hand, you never feel the same ease? There is a voice in your head that says this isn’t you, you like tasty things? What about the Coca-cola, that’s more your speed? This is plain, boring, what must other people think? Do they think I’m trying to be better than them? That I’m full of myself drinking this water!? Just get a coke, a coke zero then? That’s like you, like everyone else, it’s like you to give up, to fail. We don’t have a motivation problem; we have a self-image problem. We believe failure is ‘like us’ and so we fail.
You’re entire life to this day, probably to this sentence, you’ve been building up your self-image unconsciously. This is Lanny Bassham’s brilliant revelation in his book:‘With Winning In Mind.’ (I learned a lot from this book.) So you need to figure out, what do you think is like you? There will be good and bad things. The truth is, if you’ve never taken on your self-development in any real way, you probably have a dirt poor self-image. The self-image is your comfort zone. When we come to do something new, say exercising which we have not done before, you will be confronted with self-image insecurity. The wheels start to shake when you are leaving your comfort zone and you feel like quitting because what you are doing is not like you.
For instance, I used to feel like a loser and struggled with a poor self-image for a long time. I learned to focus on the negative things about myself, of which there is an infinite number. I performed well in training, often better than other athletes, Dublin and Irish champions. Still, in competition, I would put on a good show but never clinch the win. I ran into a wall and kicked and screamed and flailed but could never get through it. I had what Bassham describes as an ‘emotional glass ceiling,’ and no amount of energy or frenetic activity could break that ceiling. I believed ‘failure’ was like me. I felt uncomfortable winning, or even just putting myself first. A negative self-image sabotages you in all areas of your life, not just sports or competition. I felt uncomfortable with my own needs and embarrassed about fulfilling my potential. To avoid this feeling of perpetual failure, I purposely avoided situations that would have been beneficial to my life. The sad thing is, you can’t get that time back.
You can develop an entire philosophy about the world and successful people being corrupt and rotten, so you don’t have to look at the fact you feel like a loser, that you are not living up to your potential. Some people hate success, hate rich people, hate healthy people, and then how are you going to be a success? You are unconsciously associating yourself with failure. When you see success as being like you, achieving your goals as being like you, sticking to your discipline as being like you, and completing your tasks as being like you; you have started on an upward path in life towards more success. You could define this process as learning to ‘love yourself’ or at the very least, see yourself as someone who is worthy of love, effort and time.
So here are a few tips to improve your internal self-image within your imagination:
1). When you picture things in your mind, imagine them in the first person. Say for example you’re a person giving a speech. When you imagine giving your speech, always imagine the scene in the first person; you don’t want to be a spectator in your own life. Imagining yourself in the first person puts you in the driving seat and makes you the protagonist of your story, not just a passive observer.
2). Only imagine what you want to have to happen; whatever you rehearse in your mind will be what happens, so go through the painstaking time to get it right. Don’t rehearse failing or negative events constantly, conversations or social interactions that didn’t go so well, if you focus on the failures you will see failure as like you.
3). Feel what you rehearse in your mind. If you are speaking publicly, feel the stage, the lights, the sounds, the smell, the more honest, the better. These are the rules for guiding your imagination and not being guided by it, is the trick to crafting your self-image. When you feel your attention is being stolen by a fantasy, bring back to centre, what you are rehearsing, or even better, write down whatever the wish is being expressed within the imagination.
In general, good advice for a better self-image is to pay attention to your fantasies. When you are not paying attention (daydreaming), what do you daydream about? For example, if you have white Knight-ish fantasies, about saving people, or stopping a terrorist attack, this might be because you feel incompetent in your own life, undervalued, and in need of a higher status position. Us men are prone to this, dreaming about being like a hero - the reality is though if you are doing this it is because you are making up for the lack of this feeling of achievement in your actual life.
In conclusion, how do you get the self-image you want? Be careful with what you associate with your typical behavior, while there are things to correct, oftentimes we can be more obsessed with the negative than what we are doing well and fuel further poor decisions. All of your decisions in life are connected, they build momentum. So one right decision can turn the tide even if you’ve made a series of poor ones. Believe in the power of a single good decision to change your life. It’s like that bit in the movie, the crisis point where the character has to choose between their old life and they're new? The self-image you have had and the one you are working towards, at some point you have to take the leap. To change what is ‘like you’ and do something different, can have such a knock effect that your entire life will be different. It can stabilize you when things get out of control and remind you of where you are going. So pay attention to what is ‘like you’ and gain control of your self-image. If you don’t like the things that are ‘like you,’ pick new ones and start working toward making them a reality, give yourself the evidence to believe in. So, what is it? What is like you?