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I still remember it vividly, even though it was years ago. I took myself to one of the usual coffee-shops, ordered a lemon tea, opened my laptop, and started writing.
I was writing about myself. My strengths and my weaknesses, my achievements and my failures. I did an inventory of who I was and what I have done in my life. Eventually, there before me was the picture.
I thought to myself: “So, I’m not perfect, but I have a lot of qualities and I’ve done some pretty cool stuff.” I felt some pride and a lot of relief. But still had that cloud hanging over my head. If overall, I was fairly ok then how come I often didn’t like myself?
I’d had this pesky feeling on and off for a long time that I wasn’t good enough and at last I’d decided to see if there was anything behind it. And didn’t discover anything tangible.
The Big Self-Image Myth
Since that moment in time my self-image has improved drastically.
My experience led me to realize one thing: often, there is little correlation between who you are as a person and how you see yourself.
Most of us are taught that our self-image is a reflection of who we are as people. And if you don’t see yourself in a good light and you don’t like yourself, it’s probably because you have many flaws and few qualities, many failures and few achievements.
But that’s far from the truth. The reality is that your self-image is a highly filtered reflection of who you are as a person. This is why some of the most intelligent and accomplished people I know see themselves as losers, while people who are complete bums think they’re awesome and they like themselves.
Consequently, working on improving yourself, although it’s a good idea in itself, frequently doesn’t lead to any changes in your self-image. Because you can grow as an individual, but your self-image can stay exactly the same. I’ve been through this, and know the frustration.
The good news though is that you can change how you see yourself and you can like yourself more. But the method has to do with changing the way you think rather than changing yourself as a person.
The path towards liking yourself
In other words, liking yourself is something you achieve by deliberately thinking about yourself in a more constructive way. I know this is easier said than done, which is why I’d like to give you a few tried and tested strategies for thinking better about yourself.
1. Remove negative labels from your thinking. Anytime you think about yourself something like “: I’m a loser” or “I’m stupid” or “I’m boring”, you’re being dramatic with your labelling to describe yourself, which is a huge exaggeration of the reality.
The fact you’ve made some mistakes doesn’t make you a loser and the fact you can’t crack jokes all the time in a conversation doesn’t make you boring. Every time you catch yourself using such labels, deliberately counteract them. Say to yourself internally that they are not true, and that you’re lying to yourself with such labels.
2. Acknowledge your strengths. A common thinking hitch for people who don’t like themselves too much is that they constantly think about their flaws, while ignoring their qualities almost entirely. Unsurprisingly, this makes it seem as if they have no qualities, just flaws.
You want to turn around this process, by consciously thinking more about your qualities. At first it may be hard to even identify your qualities. But put some effort into it, and steadily, you’ll become more aware of them. And the more you think about them, the more rounded your self-image gets and the more you like yourself.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others. Comparing yourself to others is a game you cannot win. Because no matter how good you are at something you’ll always find people who are better than you. And without even realizing, this will trick your mind into thinking you’re not good enough they way you are.
Look at your traits and achievements and appreciate them as they are, without comparing them to the traits and achievements of other people. It matters little if they’re doing better or worse than you. It matters that you do better than you did yesterday.
As you practice these strategies, your image of yourself will gradually improve. You’ll see your qualities more, become more accepting of your imperfections, and your whole perception of yourself will become more positive.
Thus you’ll like yourself more and you’ll be happier with your life. Plus, when you like yourself, others tend to like you as well, and from there a whole range of good things happen: in your relationships, your career and your entire life.
So if you don’t like yourself as much as you’d like to, put these thinking strategies into practice, and I promise you that this will change.
Over to you. Tell us in the comments below your strategies or tips for upgrading your self-image. Your wise words could be just what someone in our community needed to hear today.
As always, grateful thanks for reading, commenting and sharing.
[success] Today’s author, Eduard Ezeanu counsels people who feel socially inept or anxious, and he helps them develop their social prowess as well as their social confidence, using tried and tested strategies. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter, where he posts as @artofconfidence[/success]