What is self-image?
Your self-image is the way you see yourself and how you feel about yourself. People with high self-esteem like themselves and feel good about their lives. People with low self-esteem may not like themselves very much and may not feel good about their lives.
Self-image is more than just what you see when you look in the mirror, it’s about how you see yourself as a whole person and is largely based on perception rather than fact. self-esteem is something that has been developed over time and could be influenced by experiences in childhood.
Changing your self-image doesn’t mean you have to change your authentic self, by being yourself rather than trying to change for others, you’re more likely to attract people around you who like you for who you are and accept your flaws.
For instance, my tongue can be sharper than the northeast weather, which I put to good use in my sarcastic attempt at wit, however, I try to temper this around people who don’t know me.
I’m so stubborn, I would stare down a mountain to see who would move first but then refuse to accept the same stubbornness in my daughter, which apparently, someone passed down in her genes. Despite this, I try not to let her see my weakness and will do my best to pick my battles.
My attempts at looking for things involve walking around the room, shaking my head from side to side, my eyes out of focus, and complaining constantly, until my wife Louise, drops everything she’s doing, so that she can find the thing I’m looking for in less than a minute, and pacify the man child (is this really a flaw of mine or a flaw in my sex? maybe this is a debate for another post?)
Your perception of yourself
When I was a teenager I had no concept of how self-image affects your own performance. I believed that I was in complete control of my own destiny and that my own self-image was a true reflection of who I was.
It took until my mid-twenties when I got married and had children, that I started to question my sense of direction and what I wanted to achieve in life. I guess at that time I had set some goals by this point, but I never followed through on a plan, nor did I question why this was.
I started to learn about the power of your subconscious mind, and how it can be used to change your life for the better.
Through this understanding, I was able to see that my own self-esteem had been greatly influenced by what others thought of me, or what I believed others thought of me. This wasn’t necessarily based on truth, but more on my perception of the truth.
We all view the world in different ways. Our individual perspectives are shaped by our personal experiences, beliefs, and values. Based on our past experiences, some of us will look at the same situation and draw entirely different conclusions from it.
The problem comes when we only view the world in an entirely negative light. this can lead us to see only problems and view our lives as devoid of opportunity and eventually lead to poor self-esteem.
How your self-esteem can affect your success
Once I became aware of the possibility of my own negative self-image I started looking for techniques to improve my own self-esteem. It was around this time that I started to read self-development books by the likes of Jim Rohn, Tony Robbins, and the late great Zig Ziglar.
Zig Ziglar was a motivational speaker who once said, “If you don’t like something about yourself, change it. You are not stuck with the self you have now.” This is a powerful message because it reminds us that we have the power to change our self-image.
If you’ve not heard of Zig Ziglar you can listen to his talks on building a positive self-image on Spotify.
The image below is from Zig Ziglar’s book, “see you at the top”
This image depicts a stairway to success, the message is that there is no shortcut or elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.
Interestingly the first step on the stairs is self-image or self-belief, it’s profound in the fact that you can’t achieve real success without having a positive self-image.
I remember reading a quote by Zig Ziglar which said “You cannot consistently perform in a manner which is inconsistent with the way you see yourself.”
Now to me, this was powerful stuff, but did it have any grounds in science? And if it did, what was it about my own self-image and self-esteem that was holding me back?
To find out I needed to look at how the brain works and more importantly how our subconscious mind works.
Success starts early
I have to point out that I’m not an expert in any medical or Psychology profession, these are purely my own opinions based on the studies and conjectures of other scientists and experts, as well as my own experiences.
Zig said “Man was designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, he is endowed with the seeds of greatness”
I truly believe that all people have the potential to be successful in whatever they do, success can mean different things to different people, but everyone has the potential to be whatever they see themselves being.
So why is it that some of us fail to attain the life that we always dreamed of for ourselves?
Dr Bruce Lipton is a renowned cellular biologist who has extensively studied the role of the subconscious mind in shaping our lives.
According to him, the subconscious mind is far more powerful than the conscious mind and can override our conscious thoughts and behaviors.
You can see one of his interviews on the YouTube channel “be inspired” ( see below)
Within the interview, he goes on to mention a book by Robert. T.Kiyosaki called Rich Dad Poor Dad.
He distilled the book down to the concept that two kids with equal potential will have different successes based on their parent’s success.
He believes that those from a rich family will copy the patterns and behaviours of success while those from a poor family will copy the patterns of failure.
They are constantly being told that“Life is difficult”, “Things are hard” “You’ll never succeed”, and “Who do you think you are?” And so their lives become a true reflection of their internal beliefs.
The development of self-image in children
In another interview with the Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal (IMCJ):
Dr Lupton explains that during the first 7 years of a child’s development, their brain is operating in a low-frequency mode known as Theta.
Theta is a frequency lower than consciousness and is associated with imagination and also hypnosis. During the first 7 years of child development, your child is observing the world objectively in order to develop their own internal program.
At this time they are learning the rules needed to survive on this planet, this is heavily influenced by their parents, their siblings, their surroundings, and their community.
Your subconscious mind is essentially like a computer, storing and retrieving data according to certain predetermined rules.
It creates your self-concept, or “master program,” which determines how you behave and react in all situations.
This makes your subconscious an incredibly powerful tool for achieving success and reaching your goals, as it can help you to reprogram your own thought patterns in order to align them with the behaviours that are most conducive to success and the things that you desire in life.
However, this can also have the opposite effect if your aspirations are not aligned with your subconscious programming.
If you constantly tell yourself that you’re not good enough, or that you’ll never achieve your dreams, then your subconscious will believe this too and it will become much harder to reach your goals since your subconscious will align your actions with your self-image and self-esteem.
The Subconscious mind
By the age of seven this self-image or internal program has already been written, every decision you make from here on in will revert back to your own internal programming to justify your choices in any given situation.
If you try to act in a manner that is inconsistent with your own self-image or self-belief, then your subconscious mind will try to steer you back to a place that is consistent with your internal programming.
This is why when you try to make positive changes in your life you might be successful at the start, but then you will eventually give up without following through
The subconscious mind will go to any length to protect you from any change that doesn’t match your own internal program (self-image), and it acts much faster than the conscious mind; It will follow your own self-concept to steer you in a direction that it perceives is more in keeping with your image of yourself.
For instance, if you read a paper, your subconscious mind has already scanned the whole article and drawn your attention to aspects of the paper that fit your own beliefs, self-concept, and self-image.
Who’s in control here?
Dr Lipton believes that 95% of decisions are performed by your subconscious mind, even though you believe that they were taken by your conscious mind.
In an article by Science daily called Decision-making May Be a Surprisingly Unconscious Activity.
It says “Contrary to what most of us would like to believe, decision-making may be a process handled to a large extent by unconscious mental activity.”
“In the study, published in Nature Neuroscience, the researchers found that when people were asked to make simple decisions, such as whether to press a button with the left or right hand.
activity in certain parts of the brain meant scientists could predict their decision almost 7 seconds before they became aware of making it themselves.
The participants could take as long as they wanted over their choice, with the only stipulation being that they noted down the time when they had made their decision.
This is fascinating because it indicates that our decisions may not be as conscious as we would like to think. It seems that our unconscious mind may be playing a larger role in decision-making than we realize. This has implications for how we view ourselves and our ability to control our own choices. If our unconscious mind is making decisions for us, then it may be difficult for us to change our behavior even if we want to.
But does this mean we can’t change our self-image and programming? Luckily we can change this at any time by forming positive habits, these will be hard to start with, but will eventually become easier as our internal program is rewritten and our new habits align with our new self-image.
How do we improve our self-image?
To improve our self-image, we must first understand what contributes to a negative self-perception. This may include negative messages we internalize from others, unrealistic expectations that are imposed on us by society, or simply being too hard on ourselves. Strategies for overcoming negative self-image can include adopting a more mindful approach to self-reflection and learning how to accept and celebrate our imperfections.
Techniques for improving self-image
One of the best ways to improve our self-image is by reprogramming our subconscious minds with positive affirmations. This can be done by repeating positive statements about ourselves consistently and adding visualizations to help imprint these affirmations into our minds. For example, if you want to improve your self-image as a creative person, you might repeat the affirmation “I am a creative person” several times a day, and visualize yourself engaged in creative activities, like painting or sculpting.
Read Positive Quotes
Reading positive quotes can also improve our self-belief. When we are exposed to positive statements about ourselves, it can help change our self-image for the better. if we do this every day the messages start to become our own, this will change our internal beliefs and raise our self-esteem.
Be Kind to yourself
Being kind to yourself (self-love) means stopping being over-critical of yourself, don’t take people’s criticism too personally, remember this is just one person’s opinion. It’s also important to take care of your health, hygiene, and personal appearance. People with low self-esteem tend to neglect themselves, so exercise regularly, improve your diet and try to get plenty of sleep.
People with low self-esteem tend to have a lot of self-doubts. to improve your self-confidence, try a new challenge, and set yourself some goals to achieve. By setting yourself a simple challenge to start with and overcoming it, you will feel confident in your own abilities next time, giving you greater self-worth.
Do a good deed for someone
Another way to influence self-esteem and self-worth is by doing good deeds for others. challenge yourself to do one good deed per day.
You could get involved in your local community by doing some community service or charity work. By others reacting positively to your actions, it will give you a greater sense of self-worth.
Surround yourself with positive people
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to surround yourself with positive people. Positive people are those who see the glass half full, who are optimistic about life, and who radiate good vibes. When you’re around positive people, you can’t help but feel good yourself. positive people tend to focus on positive outcomes and the things they are able to affect.
Make an effort to spend time with positive people as often as you can. Go to events that interest you, join clubs and groups, and meet new friends. If you don’t have many positive people in your life, make an effort to be more positive yourself. Smile more, look on the bright side, and focus on the good in every situation. Soon enough, you’ll start attracting more positive people into your life and your friends will include other more positive people.
How to identify low self-esteem in children
A child’s self-esteem can be affected by many factors but is usually associated with the effects of the people around them, such as parents, carers, and their peers at school. I’ve listed a few things we can look out for in identifying low self-esteem in our children.
Reluctance to try
One of the signs that our children’s self-esteem is low, is if they have a reluctance to try new things. this is usually caused by fear of failure, but helping children develop new skills is key to improving your child’s self-esteem and confidence.
Talking about themselves in a negative way
One of the ways to spot if your child’s self-esteem is low is if they have a negative image of themselves, they may think that they are a bad person, or they may feel they are stupid or ugly.
Another way children’s self-esteem may be affected is when they are not making friendships, this causes them to feel isolated and lonely and may be due to a lack of confidence. they may constantly compare themselves to their peers in a negative way, thinking that they could always have done better than they did, or they may not acknowledge their own good behaviour but are able to observe it in others.
Being angry all the time
When your child’s self-esteem is low, this can be displayed in Anger and frustration, anger can be used to disguise other feelings such as sadness or frustration. try to make your child feel understood when they display these kinds of behaviour.
Self-esteem issues in Teenagers
Children’s self-esteem is not just an issue for young children, teenagers in higher education are also prone to issues with low self-esteem. They may display the same signs of low self-esteem as younger children, however as they are more independent, they may display other signs.
Your teenage child is more likely to experience peer pressure due to social media and the comparisons they make with themselves to others on social media. This might be about the way they look or comparing the other person’s perceived perfect lifestyle to their own. Many of what our teenagers see on social media is just smoke and mirrors and is not a true reflection of the person’s real life.
Body image issues
Many teenagers with low self-esteem have body image issues that are not a true reflection of who they are. This is almost like a form of body dysmorphia, where the body image of your child is entirely in their own head and may be caused by what they see in the media and not out on the street.
Eating disorders are another sign of low self-esteem in your child. an eating disorder could be displayed in your child eating too much causing weight gain, or eating too little causing weight loss.
The thing which struck me most about all of these discoveries is the profound impact we have on our children’s future success, just based on how we behave around them and what we instill into them. We have a huge responsibility to them to make sure that we are good role models and treat them with respect.
self-image not only affects our own performance but also the performance of our children. A healthy self-image is necessary for mental health and well-being. This is why it is important to cultivate a positive self-image in ourselves and in our children.
So what can parents and caregivers do to support positive self-esteem and positive mental health in children during this important period of development?
One of the most important things that parents and caregivers can do to support healthy self-esteem and positive mental health in children during their first 7 years is to create a nurturing and supportive environment.
This includes providing opportunities for exploration and self-expression, fostering healthy independence, modeling positive self-image and self-confidence, and promoting emotional well-being through regular communication, connection, affection, and play.
Other key factors include creating a sense of security by setting clear expectations and boundaries and encouraging positive social interaction with peers. Children feel confident when they know what to expect from a person or situation.
emphasizing the importance of learning and achievement without placing undue pressure or unrealistic expectations on children.
Avoiding comparison or judgment of others, and being mindful of our own words and actions as parents and role models for young children.
For instance, as a society we view failure as such a negative word and event, however, the truth is that failure is an inevitable destination on the road to success.
You can’t have success without some failure, so let’s embrace it, and let our children understand that failure isn’t negative, nor is it associated with themselves. They are not failures they are triers.
To quote Zig Ziglar again “ failure is an event, not a person”
Self-esteem is a critical foundation for overall mental health and well-being, as an adult. Individuals with healthy self-esteem are more likely to have fulfilling relationships, successful careers, and a positive outlook on life, as. well as a positive sense of well-being.
They are also better equipped to deal with the challenges and setbacks that will inevitably arise.
Your child’s formative years are so important to their future mental health, success, and happiness that we should all try to make sure that those years are as positive and enjoyable as possible, instilling in them a positive attitude and an impregnatable self-belief.
let me know your thoughts as a parent?