Hi and welcome to JADa Therapy
Here at JADa Therapy we aim to be informative and help in your journey of living healthy naturally. We believe that living a healthy lifestyle is looking after the whole you. Meaning inside and out, the whole body and mind.
Today my focus will be on self-image and why it is important what you think and how what you think about your self-image can affect your whole life.
In this article I will be looking at the subject of Self-image from different angles and attempting to answer many of the popular asked questions.
First I will start by showing you the definitions of Self-image.
The Idea one has of one’s abilities, appearance and personality. (Google dictionary).
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 objective investigation by other (height, weight, hair colour, etc.,), but also items that have been learned by that person about themselves, either from personal experiences or by internalising the judgments of other. A simple definition of a person’s self-image is their answer to the question “What do you believe people think about you? (Wikipedia)
A more technical term for self-image that is commonly used by social and cognitive psychologists is self-schema.
Like any schema, self-schema stores information and influence the way we think and remember.
For Example, research indicates that information which refers to the self is preferentially encoded and recalled in memory tests, a phenomenon known as “self-referential encoding
Self-schemas are also considered the traits people used to define themselves, they draw information about the self into a coherent scheme. (Wikipedia)
Right, the last two sound like a mouthful, don’t worry I will be expanding and making it easier to digest in this article. I just wanted to see the definitions from difference angles and not just my definition.
What do I Mean by Self-Image?
Self-image is the way that we see ourselves in relation to our world. You could also put it another way. The way that we see our world is the way that we see ourselves.
If you have difficulties and bad experiences in your life growing up, then this can shape the way that you view yourself, in the same way, if you had happy experiences in your life growing up.
How is Our Self-Image Formed?
As mentioned earlier our self-image is formed from the way that we view our world and our life experiences.
I will give you an example.
When I was around 7 or 8 years old, there was a lady that would call me fatty. She never called me by my name, just fatty. It was fatty this and fatty that. I was not over weight, I was just taller than most of my classmates. But she would call me fatty.
I have used this example because although it was many years ago I have never forgotten it. Mainly because I could never understand why she kept calling me fatty. This stuck with me until my late twenties. I always saw myself as being fat and it did not matter what anyone said. This was my self-image, my reality.
I say this to show that words are very powerful and can shape a person’s self-image from a young age.
How Can Your Self-Image Affect your Life?
Why is it that some people might say “What a beautiful world we live in” whilst others say “What a cruel and horrid world?”
Both of these statements are true to the person that is saying it. Because we make our own realities. And each statement is a statement of the way that person views their world.
One person could see the start of a another day with gloom and doom. Whilst another person could start their day seeing it as another wonderful day full of promise.
Seeing the day with gloom and doom will only bring more gloom and doom into your day. This will affect the person’s self-image and how they see themselves.
The way we see ourselves is the same way we see our world. This way of thinking affects our self-esteem and confidence.
Is Our Self-Image Important?
Yes because as mentioned above the way that we see ourselves is a reflection of how we see our world.
Self-image is very important because it will affect other areas of your life. This is where the wholeness comes in.
It is attached to your self-esteem and confidence and how you will interact with your environment.
When you dislike yourself it is harder to like what is around you and in front of you. It will be harder to see the positive things in your life.
On the plus side when you like and love yourself you can see all the good and positive things around you.
How you view your self-image can also affect your behaviour and the way that you will interact with others and different situations.
What can Cause a Poor Self-Image?
When a person as a poor self-image of themselves, this could be the result of an accumulation of criticisms that they have collected as a child, which as damaged their view of themselves.
As I mentioned earlier when I was around 7 or 8 and being called fatty. The adult concerned did not give it a second thought that I was a vulnerable child and the effect they were having on my life.
Children a particularly vulnerable because they have not developed the ability to fully understand. The same could be said about adolescents and people with a low sense of self-worth.
This can develop into social disorders.
The thinking of never being good enough is very real and a growing challenge in today’s society, where so many people have a negative self-image.
Examples of contributing factors are, the entertainment industry, where thinness is seen as beauty and many girls feel that they do not measure up to the so called “thin” standards and this leads the young girls to having a negative self-image.
Victims of abuse and manipulation are often trapped into a self-image of victimisation. This can result in a sense of helplessness and despair, loss of control, negative thinking, and pessimism, strong feelings of self-blame, guilt, shame, and depression.
The Fashion Industry
Unfortunately the fashion industry insiders believe that clothes hang better on tall thin models. And the reasoning behind this is a healthy look. But the other side of this argument is the opposite and these types of models body image is unhealthy and unrealistic compared to the public they are displaying to.
This body image only makes young girls feel pressured into being skinny and in turn increasing eating disorders, Anorexia nervosa, and bulimia.
Many models have been known to also have challenges with eating disorders, anorexia nervosa and bulimia, along with intensive exercise regimes, diets, fasts, detoxes, self-induced vomiting in order to maintain or to lose weight and in addition to stimulant abuse. Now that is scary.
Social media is a big influencer with its audience and spend millions on keeping their audience engaged and are very successful at it.
In saying this, users are constantly bombarded by notifications, posts, and photos about the lives of others and sending messages about what we should, could and or would be if we only purchased this that and the other type of products and or made certain choices or engaged in certain types of behaviours.
This type of constant interaction for many people encourages an unrealistic beauty ideals which often leads to poor self-image and low self-esteem.
Men and Women
In a Longitudinal Study that assessed body image across time and age between men and women, men placed greater significance on their physical appearance than women, even though women are more dissatisfied more often.
Adolescence is where this difference is more noticeable, one of the reasons for this is that males are being targeted more heavily in the media today.
The weight loss industry is growing yearly and more and more people are dissatisfied with their self-image and looking for ways in which they can improve. More often than not if does not even matter if a person is overweight or not. It is all about how they see themselves, their self-image.
It goes back to comparing themselves with an unrealistic air brushed image of a model and or celebrity.
What is the difference between self-image and self-esteem?
Self Esteem is how you feel about yourself
Self-Image is how you see yourself
How to Strengthen Your Self-Image?
The first thing that I would say to you is, if you know that you have a negative self-image, then you are half solving that way of thought.
Why? Because everything starts with a thought. And you are reading this article so you either want change for yourself or for someone you know. But for the sake of my answer I will focus on the first one. That you want this help for yourself.
The next step is to make a decision to change. Then you can start working on the way that you think about yourself.
How do you approach challenges?
What do you think about your life?
What do you see when you look in the mirror?
Answering these questions will give you an idea of where you are now.
Changing the way that you think about your self-image will require a conscious effort and self-discipline. It is not complex to do but will not be done overnight. To strengthen your self-image will require you to do a little every day and be consistent. Doing a little each day will make a big difference in the long run.
Build Your Self-Image on a Strong foundation
The importance of a positive self-image
When we make the way we see ourselves the foundation framework for our self-image and start to believe this to be true, this belief will determine how much you like or dislike the world that you live in and will most definitely determine your accomplishments in your life.
For Example if you think that you are bad at making something, and you say to yourself “I am bad at making things” or “My hands are too clumsy when it comes to making things” And then you reinforce this by telling your family and friends that you are bad at making things, then you go a step further and tell everyone else that comes into your path that you are bad at making things. The more you say it and the more you tell anyone that will listen to you that you are bad at making things, the more you will believe that you are bad at making things.
The more that you start to believe in this, the more clumsy you begin to feel about yourself, the more hopeless you begin to feel about yourself, then these feelings of hopelessness will become embedded within your self-image.
Thankfully this can be easily fixed, all you have to do, is to change the way that you speak to yourself and about yourself to others.
Change your thinking and start to see your strengths and the good things about yourself and focus on those things. You can change anything about yourself and your thoughts about your self-image will also change.
Let’s say that you are the sort of person that thinks that they have a hole in their pockets/wallet because you never seem to have enough money, then guess what? You will be broke as the day is long. This would purely be because your believe this to be true.
But if your change this stinking thinking and start to say my wallet is full and I have more than enough, you will change your circumstances for the better.
Our self-image is like a temperature gauge it can become too hot or too cold or just right. We decide where we want the gauge to go, we decide if we are going to be happy or sad. Most importantly we decide our self-worth. We decide if we are going to love ourselves or hate ourselves. We Decide. You Decide.,
I hope that you have found this article helpful, you can let me know by leaving me a comment below.
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