Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Beauty Within

Self-image is defined as the opinion that you have of your own worth, attractiveness, or intelligence.  It is the image that you have of yourself.  I was reading a post the other day and saw a woman writing about how her boyfriend had ruined her self-image.  How can this be if the definition of self-image is your opinion of yourself?  Is it really possible for someone else to have an effect on your opinion?  

I would say for many people that it is possible.  Control of yourself image can lie externally or internally.  Personality psychology refers to this as your locus of control.  Locus of control is the extent to which you believe that you have control over your feelings and thoughts.  This includes your opinion of yourself.

It can also be looked at in regards to self-esteem.  Self-esteem is defined as a confidence and satisfaction in oneself, self-respect or self-conceit. It is possible to be on either spectrum of self-esteem, if we devalue ourselves this can create low self-esteem.  Low self-esteem can be crippling and can many times prevent someone from doing anything worthwhile in their lives.  Low self-esteem in essence is from an understanding that their locus of control is external and is controlled by situations and people outside themselves.  On the other end of the spectrum is extremely high self-esteem which can be defined as self-conceit.  We have all seen the people that are full of themselves and can do no wrong.  This can be as crippling as low self-esteem.  These people have the inability to learn and to move forward in life.  

Being in balance in self-image and self-esteem is an important part of growing with confidence.   We are what we think we are and thus create opportunity or defeat within our own lives.   A healthy internal locus of control is essential in growing and becoming our authentic self.  So how do you create a healthy locus of control to promote healthy self-esteem?  Here are seven steps for self-esteem building.

1. Don’t let others define you – Have confidence in yourself and believe in yourself.  Don’t let others tell you who you are.  Remember that it is only their opinion and that the only opinion that counts is yours when it comes to you

2. Use hopeful statements – There is one person in this world that will always be there, you so treat yourself with kindness and encouragement. Pessimism can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, if you think your presentation isn't going to go well, you might indeed stumble through it. Try telling yourself things such as, "Even though it's tough, I can handle this situation."

3. Forgive yourself - Everyone makes mistakes — and mistakes aren't permanent reflections on you as a person. They're isolated moments in time. Tell yourself, "I made a mistake, but that doesn't make me a bad person."

4. Avoid 'should' and 'must' statements - If you find that your thoughts are full of these words, you might be putting unreasonable demands on yourself — or on others. Removing these words from your thoughts can lead to more realistic expectations.

5. Focus on the positive - Think about the good parts of your life. Remind yourself of things that have gone well recently. Consider the skills you've used to cope with challenging situations.

6. Relabeling upsetting thoughts. You don't need to react negatively to negative thoughts. Instead, think of negative thoughts as signals to try new, healthy patterns. Ask yourself, "What can I think and do to make this less stressful?"

7. Encourage yourself. Give yourself credit for making positive changes. For example, "My presentation might not have been perfect, but my colleagues asked questions and remained engaged — which means that I accomplished my goal."

We are only as good as we think we are so choose the good thoughts.  When we internalize our locus of control we control our experiences and lives.  Choose to look at yourself in a positive way.

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