Why would anyone want to improve an already good thing? The most obvious answer is that there is always room for improvement. Yes, you have heard it many times. Truth is that while we think we reveal positive self-images, other people don’t always see us as we see ourselves. Sometimes, we believe we have attributes that we really don’t have, and we believe it so sincerely, there is no telling us otherwise. That alone is a good reason for assessing ourselves and trying to determine how we come across to others; however, there are other reasons. So, what does it take to feel good about yourself: your self-image?
Woman must not accept; she must challenge. She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her; she must reverence that woman in her which struggles for expression.
Why Would We Want to Change?
Jennifer Crittenden has written a wonderful book, You, Not I: Exceptional Presence, where she defines presence as “the ability to manage the perceptions of others through our observable behaviors.” Further, she notes that changing our behaviors to display credibility, authenticity, and trust is extremely important in demonstrating our “potential to get noticed, be promoted, and improve your financial compensation.”
Other reasons for wanting to change would include wanting to feel that we are accepted in a group, wanting to reach that stage of authenticity where we no longer worry about how we look to others, and wanting to feel comfortable in any environment with the ability to demonstrate that “I am in control of my life.” .
Barton Goldsmith emphasizes a number of helpful ideas about making the changes necessary to possess and portray a more positive self-image. One of my favorites is to refuse to get insulted. Dr. Goldsmith says that you need to consider where the supposed insult came from and ignore the issue if you decide its origin lies with that individual. Don’t react. If that person thinks he has a legitimate reason for insulting you, he has a responsibility to share that with you.
“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”
― Coco Chanel
What Goes into One’s Self-Image
Below is a list of many of those things that make up our self-image.
- Scholastic achievement
- Physical self-body image
- Feelings about self
When you look at these, you realize that there are many things that might possibly fit into the change category for you. You want to look at them as changes that would help you to feel better about yourself. Some of them likely have been gnawing at you. You will also come up with some items not listed. Sometimes we allow those missing items to hold us back. So ask yourself, “What is my problem?”
Generally, all of those things that you have accomplished contribute to your overall self-assessment and without even telling people about your background, you can radiate success through your attitude, behaviors, and personality. Not surprisingly, feeling better about yourself leads to an improved aura. You obviously feel more comfortable and people notice that. They enjoy being around you more.
If you are retired, occupation is not a concern, but staying busy and productive in areas like volunteering, mentoring, and just belonging to a group can be very stimulating. Body image may not be a concern during the latter stages of your life, except for the health angle. You might also say, “why worry about skills?” Skills keep your mind going. The theme of this website is all about successful aging, and improvement in any area certainly contributes to further personal growth and extended life.
Knowledge of other people’s beliefs and ways of thinking must be used to build bridges, not to create conflicts. Kjell Magne Bondevik
The bridge for an improved self-image is going down–simply put, it is not an uphill challenge to effect change.
How to Work on Change
You might find it helpful to keep a journal of your activities. Make a list of all of the things you know you do well. Then make a list of those things you want to change about yourself, setting realistic goals for getting to where you want to be. Record your successes and your final achievement of each goal, stating what you did and why it was important to you. Mountain State Centers for Independent Living has a website to further assist you in this endeavor.
1. Do not exaggerate. This is something most of us are prone to do because we think it sounds good to others. Deep down we feel guilty because we know we misrepresented the truth.
2. Maintain a positive attitude. This can be difficult, especially if you have come through a life of having negative events. Remember that you are past these now and that you have gotten what is important from them to help you.
3. Understand that none of us is perfect and be willing to be honest with people when you make a mistake. Often, an apology will do.
4. Don’t stay awake at night beating yourself up because you might have done the wrong thing.
5. Refuse to feel bad about things you have no control over.
6. When you recognize a fault you want to repair, practice the right things to do and encourage yourself. Google it and see what others are doing about it. Work with a friend and ask them to take note of those changes as they occur. Believe in yourself and your ability to execute change.
If you want to get deeper into improving your self-image try the Cleveland Clinic.
Very often we do not think about improving the way we think about ourselves and how others view us until we get caught in a situation where our performance is important. Whether we want to get what we believe we are entitled to or just put off a persistent salesperson, we need to feel and look confident. It could be buying a house or car, speaking in front of a homeowners’ association, or advocating for change for something we feel passionate about in the community. We want to be able to do our best.