Everyone who has seen an image of an anorexic girl looking into a mirror with a chubby girl staring back at her knows exactly what a distorted self-image is. But how many times does the image you perceive not accurately reflect the real you? While your body may not have the fun house mirror distortion, many times the mind or the character will. How you see yourself extends beyond the mere physical.
An Accurate Reflection
What is a true image of yourself? It means you perceive yourself as the rest of the world does. It also means that you must work to keep the image accurate. Sometimes if a person has grown up with negative things constantly being said to them, they repeat those things to themselves after they grow up. Make sure that the things you say to yourself, your self talk, and the things which you permit other people to say to you are accurate.
Talk to the Mirror
Have a conversation with that reflection staring back at you. Tell it all the good qualities it has. Remind it of all the accomplishments, large and small, that it has achieved. Encourage it with positive reinforcement. Acknowledge the flaws and describe ways to fix them. When you talk to yourself in that mirror the goal is to remove distortions and create a positive and accurate perception of yourself. Your goal is utter self-acceptance; even if you need to work on a few things, you have to accept yourself as you are before you can move forward.
Learn the Difference Between Constructive and Critical
Constructive criticism from other people is a great tool for learning more about yourself and identifying both your good and bad qualities. However, many people are prone to accept cynicism and critical words that are more reflective of the speaker than the person they are talking about. Do not let anyone speak to you or describe you in a manner that you know is not fair and accurate. If you would never utter those words to another person, then do not let anyone say them to you.
When you have given yourself an accurate self image, develop it. Play on the positive characteristics which you have. The more you develop that which is good and strong, the less space and time there is for that which is negative or weak. If you are out volunteering or helping at your kids’ school that time can not be spent criticizing yourself for not giving to others.
Subtract the Negative
A person who has truly learned to look at themselves clearly will also remember that everyone has flaws. But rather than dwell on the flaws, the direction to take is to think of ways to reduce them. If you are aware of a flaw, such as impatience, remind yourself to stop for a moment every time you feel it well up inside you. Breathe deeply and try to exercise self control. The more practice you have, the easier it becomes.
Self Fulfilling Cycles
Your self image will surely improve as you focus more on developing what is positive and reducing what is negative. The practices feed on themselves, the more good thoughts and good deeds, the more you remind yourself that you truly are a good person. This includes doing good things for yourself. The fewer negative thoughts you have the less you will focus on things that do not positively motivate you. Make the effort to put a smile on your own face every day with the thoughts you have and the actions you make, and you will naturally form a healthy opinion of yourself!