by KATHERINE D
It is a simple and often sad fact that:
The person we think we are will consistently be the person we act like we are.
We tend to fulfill our own expectations of ourselves, and often fall into a self-limiting cycle that goes nowhere. How many times have you said the words, “That’s just not me“? Of all those times, how many of them did you actually give a chance to ‘be you’?
We are so quick to dismiss anything that is even slightly outside-the-box, or strays from the norm affecting our comfort zone. We use “It’s just not me” as an excuse, a security blanket even, despite the fact that we often have no proof that the things we are repelling are not “us” in the first place.
Wikipedia the defines Self-Image as: A person’s self-image is the mental picture, generally of a kind that is quite resistant to change, that depicts not only details that are potentially available to objective investigation by others (height, weight, hair color, gender, I.Q. score, etc.), but also items that have been learned by that person about himself or herself, either from personal experiences or by internalizing the judgments of others. A simple definition of a person’s self-image is their answer to the question “What do you believe people think about you?”.
So many of us hold ourselves back by fear of what other people will think, or by some thought we have in our minds about ‘who we are’ as a person. We rarely stray from this image we have created, and we are cynical to anything that appears as a drastic change.
Even those of us that look in the mirror regularly to find that we don’t like the person staring back at us, actually taking action to change ourselves is often unthinkable.
Why is it that we hold ourselves so strictly to the images we have created in our minds?
We can accept that those around us change, we can accept that the world grows, that the seasons change, and yet we still look at ourselves as somewhat two-dimensional beings that are laid out in black and white.
Sure, we all change here and there. We accept challenges and we grow as people. We are tested and taught each and every day, and most of these lessons help to shape us as people.
But how often do we do this consciously? How often do we choose to change?
One of the biggest reasons is that we don’t know how. We all see ‘what’ we want to be like. We have role models that we look up to, and people that we envy, but when it comes to the actual journey we have no idea where to start. Our minds are intricate things, and quiet lazy as well.
Your mind will always lead you in the direction that requires the least amount of effort.
So, how do you convenience your mind that personal growth is a good idea?
You begin with your self-image, and you throw everything you know up till this point out the window!
The process of changing your self-image is not something that can happen over night, and it has to be a decision you committed to completely. Changing your self-image encompasses every aspect of your life, and is a total overhaul of your mindset. Once the choice is made to begin the process, you must be willing to work hard, slipping back to old habits is far to simple to do. If you want results you have to be willing to work, but I assure you that it will be worth the effort in the end.
In order to change your self-image there are a few steps you must follow. The steps themselves are simple, the effort required to make them stick is where the challenge lies.
How to change your self-image:
*Please not that for the purpose of this post I am using Self-image and Self-esteem as two different things. Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself, and how you are portraying yourself to others. Self-image is how you think you are, and how you thinkothers see you. Too often we allow what others think, or what we believe they think, to hold us back.*
Start doing all those things that are “Just Not You” NOW!
This is the first major step in changing your self-image. If you see someone wearing an outfit you love and you catch yourself saying, “I love that dress, but it is just not me”Stop yourself, and ask why! Is it because you see yourself as another style of person through your clothing? What we wear does not make us who we are. If you like the look of something step outside the box and try it for a day. If you don’t try it, you can’t say it’s not you.
There are obviously exceptions to this rule. You would not attempt to jump a canyon on a dirt bike, obviously, but clothing, decor, location, and entertainment are open game. Anything that is not life-threatening, or just plain stupid, should not be dismissed without trial. The point is to see what feels good for you, not to assume.
Prove to yourself that you have changed.
Keep pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Succeed, fail, learn, experience, and have fun. Show yourself that you are a better person today than you were yesterday. Show yourself that you are different now than you were before. Prove to yourself that you have changed. Show yourself who you can be.
Our minds require reassurance that there is progress or they will simply go back to the easy route. This is where self-talk steps in. Keep track of everything you are attempting to do differently, remember how it is making you feel, and remind yourself that every choice you are making is bringing you closer to being the best you can be. Keeping a journal may be helpful during this process to record how you feel with each new challenge. Another useful tool is a vision board, this will help you keep track of all the things you want to try and those that you enjoy.
Listen to yourself.
I don’t mean your voice but your inner-voice. Be sure that you are using positive self-talk during this transformation and that you are not letting the shock and opinion of others drag you down. Close friends and colleagues are going to think you have lost your mind at first. As I said before, people are resistant to drastic changes, keep your own thoughts positive and block out any negative comments that may come your way. *With this said, your positive self-talk should be strong enough to prevent negative assumptions. i.e. Unless someone comes right out and says “Wow you look like crap” don’t assume they feel that way, or that they are looking at you funny, or what they are thinking in any way. If you find yourself doing this it is time to work on your positive thinking.*
Let go of the ‘old you’.
If you are truly going to change your self-image you have to let go of the person you thought you were. This is the moment where you accept that you are changing, and you don’t look back. This is also the point where is starts to get really hard…
In order to let go of the old you, whether it is one aspect or ten; there are going to be habits, places and even people who you have to let go of as well. If you are on the right path these changes will happen naturally, but they may still be difficult at times. Understand that it has to happen in order to achieve your ultimate goal. Don’t force it, and don’t over-think it, simply let it be. We usually hold on to things that no longer serve us because they are comfortable. These things are reassuring to our minds, even when they are useless or negative, we feel it is safe because it is ‘known’. Let it go, and move forward. For help with this process be sure to read the post ‘10 Things You Must Let Go Of Today‘.
Once you have worked through the difficult part of letting go, it is time to prepare your new outlook and apply it to yourself description.
I use to have a very hard time describing myself as a writer. When people asked me what I do, I would dance around the question and even avoid it. Answering this question with ‘I’m a write’ often led to a big discussion I did not want to have. People want to know what you write and often how much you make. It is one of those professions that people assume no one actually does and so they can ask all sorts of personal stuff they otherwise wouldn’t. I don’t go up to bankers, doctors, or lawyers asking how much they make a year… It is something that is considered rude, well usually. Eventually I embraced this part of me. I decided that until I accepted what I was I would not get anywhere. I began telling people what I did. “I am a writer” and I fielded their questions professionally. It did amazing things, empowering me, and opening doors in places I never imagined. It was well worth the initial discomfort.
Look at all that you have accomplished on your journey, and start deciding again who you are. This time be sure that your description is open-ended and not definitive. Most importantly be sure to include that you are ‘ever-evolving’.
Quick Tips to Help Your Self-Image:
- What you think other people think is usually not what they actually think. Just as we envy others, others envy you as well.
- 90% of our insecurities is self-inflicted. I say 90% because we have all dealt with some ‘mean’ bully that broke us down, that has an effect, but remember people are usually only speaking mean words when they see them within themselves.
- Replace every negative thought with a positive. Never let a negative knowingly stick in your head.
- Be tolerant. Of yourself and others. Patience is an important part of the process.
- Get creative. Don’t be afraid to try new, and exciting things. You only live once, enjoy every minute.
- Be happy and have fun.
Thanks to Inspired Every Moment for this article
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