Self-image is basically the perception you have of yourself -- your identity, abilities and worth. In essence, it is your mental blueprint that determines:
- How you feel about yourself on a daily basis and under specific situations or circumstances
- Who you think you are and your "role" in society
- The kind and quality of results and outcomes you expect (and receive) in life
- How you see yourself behaving and reacting in certain situations
- Where your "comfort zone" is.
This thing called self-image is one of the most powerful parts of our personality, yet we generally pay little attention to it mainly because we are never taught about it in our formative years. I have come to believe that self-image regulates everything we think, everything we feel and everything we do -- every day automatically. It is that important! I speak from experience.
Have you ever tried to set a goal that is larger than what you are currently used to, then quietly backed down returning to your former comfort zone where you fell into old habits again without realizing it? That is because your self-image was regulating the amount of success you can achieve. You backed off because deep down inside, it didn't feel like something you would, or could, do.
There was a time when I had very real reservations about going into a room of complete strangers. Entering into unfamiliar territory intimidated me to the point of physically shrinking myself in the hope of becoming invisible in a corner somewhere. I just could not walk up to people and introduce myself with a genuine smile on my face. It was simply not who I thought I was and it was definitely a deterrent for the budding newspaper reporter that I wanted to become.
It took a self-actualization seminar well into my 30s to finally impress upon me that I was actually capable of effectively stepping out of my comfort zone. I was like so many others who had accepted the self-image they had been given, instead of designing and installing the one they truly wanted.
With instructional assistance, I learned to visualize what I wanted to do and then to "step outside" of my shy, inhibited shell of a body to boldly go about doing it with all of the emphasis and enthusiasm I could muster. The same principle can be applied to overcoming the fear of public speaking or taking on new challenges in life. The more you practice the art of stepping outside of yourself in public situations, the more you force yourself, the easier it gets. The more you take yourself by the seat of your pants and immerse the hesitant you into a challenging situation, the stronger you become. And with each personal victory, the healthier your sense of self-image becomes.
In truth we all have times in life when we question our abilities and are uncomfortable in facing the unknown. When we learn to stop fighting against our poor self-image and start to change it, however, we take a major step in becoming the self-assured and confident person we always wanted to be.