We know that self-image is an essential part of feeling good about ourselves, who we are, what we do, and our place in the world. But what exactly is it, and how does one improve it?
The Concept of Self-Concept
The self-concept is a general understanding of how someone perceives and is aware of themselves. It is comprised of several parts:
- There is an existential self, which is an understanding of individual existence.
- The categorical self which is how you may be categorized in simple terms.
- Self-esteem, aka self-worth.
- How you view yourself according to your interpretation of your physical description, social roles, personal traits, etc.
Your self-image is not only and rarely determined by your sole thoughts alone. But instead often impacted by outside influences such as family, friends, media, and overall environment.
1. Your Physical Description
Becoming comfortable in your skin and body is a winding road for many. It’s perfectly normal to experience fluctuation in this department as our perceptions change. The secret: be kind and accepting of your physical existence.
That said, it’s understandable that you may feel less excited about some aspects of your appearance than others. If it’s something that can be tweaked in a healthy manner, such as with exercise or extra care, it’s okay to recognize that you have the power to control it.
For the things that cannot be controlled, acceptance is the way. The only true reason we wouldn’t accept something about ourselves is if we felt others did not. There is no greater way to overcome this than by accepting it ourselves.
2. Your Social Roles
Understand that the roles you play are precisely that—roles. They are parts you play to establish the orientation of your existence. With that, you have full freedom to make what you please of these roles. Despite others that may inflict their ideas on what they should look like, you are the one in control. You call the shots. If you find that a role is no longer working for you, either flip it on its side and switch up your perception, or exit the role gracefully.
3. Your Traits
These are another testament to your freedom. Don’t fall victim to the false understanding that your personal traits are permanent.
If you don’t wish to change them, but rather, want to accept them, do just that. If you do wish to change something, it is well within your ability, right, and choice. Use this to feel empowered.
4. The Statements You Believe
These sorts of statements are the stories you tell about yourself and believe to be true. They may be stories fully orchestrated by what you believe, but they can also be stories that we’ve gathered to be true from outside data, and even stories told by others. Question it all. Determine how a story came to be, and either rewrite it or underline and bold it like it’s nobody’s business—because it isn’t. It’s yours to own.
Your self-image is all you. You have all of the power, and anyone who tells you otherwise has misplaced their own. This year, things are going to be different. Well, only if you say so.