What is self-image?
Self-image as it is somehow self-explanatory is about the image that we have from ourselves. This image has two sides, the external image, and the internal image.
External image is the image that we have from our appearance. The image we have from ourselves about our shape, height, skin color, weight and etc. This is the image we have from ourselves when we look at the mirror or think how people see us when they look at us.
Internal image is more about our abilities, strengths, and relationships. It is the image that we see from ourselves when it comes to what we are capable of in terms of relationships and activities.
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 an objective investigation by others (height, weight, hair color, etc.), but also items that have been learned by persons about themselves, either from personal experiences or by internalizing the judgments of others.
How is self-image built?
Self-image is an alive and ongoing process that starts from our childhood and is changing either in a positive or negative way until the last day we live. Self-image is affected by so many different items such as parents and family, friends, society, culture, religion, education and etc. Every single factor in our lives can affect our self-image.
Self-image is strongly affected by the way we are raised. Our interaction with our parents, siblings, community, and society forms our self-image. The way they talk about us, about themselves, or even about other people is the way we learn how to look at ourselves.
For example, someone who is raised in a family or society that is much focused on appearance learns to be more focused on how they look. But someone who is more exposed to lifestyle and health learns to stay focused on their lifestyle than their experience. It is more possible that the first person grows a negative self-image based on unrealistic expectations about their look. A person with a negative self-image becomes highly judgmental about how they look and as a result, their self-esteem and confidence are also affected negatively.
A comment that you have heard about your weight, face, hair, skin, or about your behavior, intelligence, and performance at school when you were little can affect your self-image for your whole life either in a positive or a negative way.
Gender is a very important factor in shaping one’s self-image. The mental image that we have of ourselves could be highly affected by our gender. Women are more exposed to be judged by their appearance while men are more judged by their success and wealth. Women could grow a negative self-image about how they look while men mostly about their abilities.
These days, media has the most influence on the image we have of ourselves. An image that is not likely anywhere close to those beautiful people we see on TV, Instagram, and billboards. Media and the way they advertise fashion and models can easily affect our self-image negatively.
It is very important that we become aware of how we feel about the image we have of ourselves and how we think about ourselves. And to understand how these feelings and thoughts are affecting our lives.
Here we need to talk about a very important topic, self-awareness.
Every feeling we experience has a thought behind it. Believe it or not, it is true. If we feel sad, there is a thought behind it that leads us to feel sad. If we feel scared or happy, it’s because of how we think about that particular situation.
To have a better understanding of the topic, let’s take a look at an example:
When we fail an exam we experience sadness, embarrassment, and stress. Because we think about all the time we spent to prepare for the exam and we know that we need to do it again to be able to pass it. We may think about how others react when they know we have failed. We are stressed because we don’t know what to do next, or what if we are not able to pass it ever. And so many other thoughts that lead to feelings we experience.
So, it is very important that whenever we have negative feelings about ourselves, we become aware of how we feel and try to find the thoughts behind them. This process is called self-awareness and is very important when it comes to self-image.
If we want to improve our self-image in a positive way, we need to be aware of the feelings and thoughts we have about our appearance and our abilities. In this journey, you might need help. You could ask one of your family members, friends, or a counselor to help you.
How to build positive self-image?
Your self-image has been building up for years without you knowing the process. So, it is very important that you know changing and improving it is not something that happens overnight. There are some useful steps you could take:
- Be ready for the challenge: Get yourself mentally ready to challenge your old self-image and see how you could improve it.
- Be realistic: Try to see yourself in a realistic way, not the image that you have built based on unrealistic expectations
- Stay away from negative Media: Keep in mind that fashion and modeling is a highly profitable industry and Media is the shop. They are selling it to people by convincing them that beauty is what they show. Stay away from the trap!
- Practice self-awareness: Be aware of your thoughts and stop any negative thought that comes to your mind.
- Surround yourself with positive people: Remember that our self-image is highly influenced by the people we meet in our lives since day one. Every single person could possibly have an effect on how we see ourselves. So, it is very important that we try to find the people who feel good about themselves and give us the same feeling. Choose your friends wisely, the reward is priceless.
- Don’t compare yourself to anyone: The biggest enemy of self-image is comparison. Never compare yourself with others. There is only one of you on this planet with your genes and your background.
- Learn to love yourself: You are the only person who could give you the love you deserve. Learn to love yourself for who you are.