Self-image is a critical part of everyone’s mental state. Nothing is as important as what you say about yourself to yourself. We are often much more critical of ourselves than anyone else could be, yet we rarely realize it. A positive self-image has many benefits, including more inner stability, less self-sabotage and a simpler, lighter life.
In addition, a healthy self-image can improve your relationships as you will be able to handle the tough times better and you will find yourself surrounded with less drama, less conflict and a better focus on what is good in your life. The key is to build that positive self-image in a healthy way.
Hush Your Inner Critic
The most important thing to do to improve your self-image is to hush the inner critic that is constantly pointing out what you did wrong. Your inner critic is the one that tells you that you are lazy because the house is a mess or that you not as attractive as a friend, colleague or family member.
Each time you make a mistake, even a minor one, your inner critic uses that mistake to reinforce what you are telling yourself, that you are incompetent and that your boss will probably fire you. There is a simple technique to hush the inner critic. When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself, simply shout in your head “STOP!”
Then, refocus your thoughts on something completely different, like what you need to do to be prepared for dinner or how cute your child looks doing whatever they are doing. Eventually, you will find yourself motivated by positive things and less likely to listen to the inner critic.
When we need motivation, we often look at unhealthy methods to become motivated. We procrastinate, we focus on everything but the job that needs to be done. This leads to lowered self-esteem because we then feel we must rush through a project to complete it, making mistakes along the way.
Instead, write down the benefits of getting chores or projects done quickly, such as more time with family and friends or a sense of accomplishment. Write it so that you can post it where you will see it regularly, like on a wall in your office or on the refrigerator.
Refocus on the projects and jobs you enjoy doing, but get those you dislike out of the way first. The fact that you get to work on something you enjoy after completing something tedious is motivation as well. For example, if you love working in the garden but despise bookkeeping, balance your checkbook first thing in the morning so that you can spend the afternoon working with your plants.
Each day, take two minutes to appreciate yourself. Just take a deep breath, stop working and come up with three things about yourself that you appreciate. It could be simple things like the fact that you take care of your family, you are talented at a certain aspect of your job or your dog loves lying on the floor next to you each evening.
Maybe you listened to a friend who was struggling today or you helped your child pick up their toys. If it helps, write them down and post them where you can see them throughout the day to reinforce that you are special.
Know You Are Not Perfect
One of the leading causes of stress is the desire to do everything perfectly. Often, teens who struggle with eating disorders report that they felt that if they controlled their weight, they would be “perfect.” They may even end up needing professional assistance from Reasons Eating Disorder Center or a similar provider. Eating disorders can be extremely unhealthy, so don’t underestimate their impact.
The need for perfection can lead to added stress which can also lead to medical conditions, including heart disease, ulcers and other problems. Instead, face the fact that you are not and will never be perfect. Perfectionism can actually be paralyzing because you are so afraid of making a mistake, you may take no action. That doesn’t mean you should slack off and not try to do your best, but to realize that sometimes “good enough” is just that, enough.
Although these are simple things that can help you deal with a poor self-image, they can go a long way toward improving your life. By simply understanding that you are not perfect and that you can make your inner critic hush, you can develop a healthy self-image that will make you a better spouse, parent, co-worker and friend.