You can’t be happy if you have a poor self-image, and of course, happiness is what we all want. What is self-image? Briefly, it’s what you think about yourself — the image that you have built up in your mind about how good, successful, talented, or how unlucky, ugly and fat you are. Changing it is not something you can do overnight; it’s an image that was developed over many years (your lifetime), an image that is based on all your successes and failures. To a large degree it’s also based on how you feel other people react to you, and how they feel about you. It is the foundation upon which your personality is built.
Self-image is important because it rules literally everything that happens to you in your life. It limits how successful you will be, and it certainly limits your happiness and well-being, and this means you must have a good self-image to feel good. If you have a poor one it’s going to limit you throughout your life.
Fortunately, you can change what you think about yourself, but it’s not something that can be done overnight. It took years to build up the self-image you have, so you’re going to have to work to change it. Furthermore, much of what you think about yourself may be right, but it’s well-known that most people underestimate themselves. You are likely more creative, more talented, and even better-looking than you think. The key is to bring your self-image into line with your “true” self, but be honest: it’s not much use trying to change it into something that it isn’t; it won’t work. You have to truly believe that it is a valid image, and you have to be convinced that it is the “real” you.
How do you go about this? Strangely, you have to be subtle. If you just close your eyes and forcefully tell yourself that you’re going to change, you won’t. It’s like trying to break a bad habit. As you likely know, if you try to force yourself to break a habit by thinking about it continuously, you won’t get anywhere. But it is, indeed, “thought” that will bring about the change. It takes time, but I’m sure you know that thought is a powerful thing.
So if you truly believe you can change yourself, you can. You have to begin by getting a clear picture of what you would like to be, or perhaps I should say, the person you believe you really are. Be realistic. Think in terms of your successes and your strengths. Use them to build up a convincing picture of yourself and how you will act under various circumstances. Picture this “new self” in your mind.
Why does this work? It works because of the way your mind, nervous system and brain operate. You have both a conscious and an unconscious mind; the key is to reach your unconscious mind. The unconscious mind plays a much larger role in our life than you may think. It is the thing that shapes and forms our self-image. We think about our problems and failures; we turn them over and over in our mind, and even when we are no longer consciously thinking about them, our unconscious mind is dealing with them.
If we spend most of our time thinking about our successes and the good things in our life, we will have few problems with our self-image. But for most of us, this isn’t the case. We spend far too much time thinking about our failures, our shortcomings, and the people we have a grudge against. We think about them until they become ingrained in our personality
To change your self-image you have to undo all the negative programming that has been going on for years, so it’s obviously not going to be a “quick fix.” It’s going to take time, but it can be done. The trick is to “fix” on this new image — the image that is based on your successes and other pluses about yourself. Picture it as much as possible, but do even more than that: picture the details. Picture everything about yourself — and make sure it is an image you are satisfied with and proud of. And in time your self-image will definitely improve.