In the previous article I discussed core values and how they help you to make decisions, create a vision and enjoy a greater satisfaction in life as a result. But what happens if you know what it is you want to achieve in life, you know who you are and you’ve worked out your core values but you don’t believe in your ability to achieve it? What if you don’t like who you are? What if you have limiting beliefs or a poor self image?
What is self image? It’s the way you perceive yourself and the way you think other people perceive you. It’s made up of your self-worth (your belief in your own value and your place in the world, your self-respect and self-love) and your self-esteem (how you think other people perceive you, value you and respect you). When you have a positive self-image it’s easier to make decisions and stick to them, you’re able to validate yourself and trust your decision making, you’re able to draw on your reserves of resilience and your self-belief if you face opposition or challenges. If you have a poor self-image then it becomes more difficult; you’re likely to need more external validation and to worry more about other people’s opinions or reactions. You’re likely to have fewer reserves in times of trouble.
We form our self-image through a lifetime of experiences, interpreting what happens to us, how other people treat us and the labels they give us. If enough “bad” things are said about us or happen to us, it can be tempting to form a poor self-image.
The thing about labels is that while they can be helpful for description, they can be limiting if we make decisions based on those labels. Similarly, assumptions based on experience can provide a handy shortcut to projecting a likely outcome but they aren’t necessarily accurate.
Labels and beliefs are not truth. They are opinions, thoughts, assumptions, NOT facts. How we see ourselves doesn’t have to stay the same. Our past is not our future. Just because something happened one way doesn’t mean it is going to again in the future. So often, we cling to old beliefs and other people’s labels as excuses to protect us from the unknown risks of doing something or being something different. If you’re living with a set of beliefs or a self-image that is holding you back from taking action to change what isn’t working in your life, ask yourself how it is serving you.
You don’t have to live under a belief or label or image that no longer serves you. You can change. You can choose what thoughts to accept and reject, which means you can control your choices, which means you can change your life. Take a look at what you think and ask yourself if it’s really true.
In the next article in this series we’ll look at how you challenge your beliefs and self-image.