How do you see yourself?

Whether we realize it or not, how we view ourselves defines so many aspects of our lives and daily interactions.

Any given situation presents us with an opportunity to manifest whatever beliefs about ourselves we hold, and so it’s important to start at the very beginning when seeking to address and improve our self-image.Becoming aware of how you DEFINE your self-worth is the first step to improving it, and so placing your focus on cultivating this awareness, before moving forward is a good place to start.Some questions you might consider increasing your awareness of your current state of self-worth:

  1. What are your current beliefs surrounding your self-worth?
  2. Why do you believe that?
  3. Who would you be if you didn’t believe that?

One way that many people fall into cycles of negative self-worth is by maintaining limiting beliefs.These beliefs can be regarding anything – your job, your family, your relationships, etc. – and the more you assert them, the more they become your reality.Breaking out of these beliefs can be an unsettling experience, and many people choose not to do that work in order to avoid this discomfort.Can you think of an example when a partner or a friend would not listen to advice that you knew in your heart would help them, but they were so stuck in the belief of their way that they couldn’t or wouldn’t even consider changing?  I know I can!

Our lives are ruled by disempowering beliefs we form as children, usually under the age of ten. As human beings we are meaning making machines.  We make meaning out of everything that happens to us and around us.  As children, we aren’t emotionally equipped to understand much of what is happening and we form beliefs that become buried in our subconscious, yet they rule our lives.  For example, as a six-year-old we stand up to read in class and we misread some words.  Everyone laughs at us.  We make it mean we are stupid, or not good enough, or unworthy or we will never fit in. It happens in a split second and we aren’t aware we did it, but that belief defines how we view ourselves.  It is a lens that we look out of and interpret everything that happens to us.  We attract people and situations in to our life to prove our limiting beliefs are true. I work with clients every day to help them dispel those old disempowering beliefs for new empowering beliefs that will support them in achieving the life that dream of having. Those beliefs are referred to as shadow beliefs because they lie dormant in the shadows of our psyche.

By belittling our achievements, shrugging off compliments or resisting things that we know make us feel good, we remove ourselves farther and farther away from our authenticity. We shrink the part of us that is trying to be heard, seen, and felt and turn it into a miniscule version of what it could be if it were given the right amount of energy. This results in damaged self-image, poor self-worth, and negative thought patterns which do nothing but keep us stuck there.

Things to ask yourself when you feel this happening:

-Who are you NOT to shine?

-What is ‘good enough’?

How do you define your understanding of ‘good enough’?

-Who are you trying to impress?

To maximize the benefits of this work, I’d love it if you could take pen to paper and take some time to answer these questions honestly.

This is another one of the major questions to ask yourself when you feel yourself starting to compare your life to others. ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’ is another quote I like to remember in times like this, and it simply serves to remind us that we have no one to impress but ourselves.  What other’s think of us is none of our business. We already have our own inner critic to listen to-why listen to what others think?  They are seeing us through the lens of their disempowering beliefs and judgements.  Leave them to their own beliefs and work on your own.What is ‘success’ to you? What would it take for you to feel like you are ‘successful’ in life, and why have you formed that belief? Whether it’s financial, emotional, circumstantial, (or something else entirely), the society we live in has conditioned us to form beliefs surrounding these areas of our life. And it can be SO difficult to break out of these cycles and realize that our beliefs are not the only way to perceive them.Everyone defines ‘success’ differently, and something which really helps us improve our self-image is by quietly defining what that is for us, and aiming for that instead of trying to impress, serve, or emulate anyone else’s definition.  ‘What we feed our minds shapes our perceptions. And our perceptions shape our reality” – Ardvind Katoch

Self-image is formed through repeated thoughts, cycles, and behaviors. By allowing past experiences (both good and bad) to be a part of our current reality, we are in effect still living in the past.The more we cling to these experiences or labels and definitions of ourselves, the more we reinforce them. The thoughts we feed are the ones that grow, right?What we think about we get more of.  Meaning where you put your attention is what the universe brings you. If you see only the negative in your life, one thing is for sure:  YOU WILL GET MORE NEGATIVE!We must understand our current beliefs first before we can hope to change them. If you’re not sure, then I really encourage you to dig a little deeper – what has caused your poor self-image?  When was the first time you remember thinking a negative thought towards yourself?  Where and how did that situation come about?  How can you avoid such situations in the future?

 Neuroscientists study the responses, reactions, and neural tendencies of our brains, and it’s very clear from what they see that repeated actions and repeated thoughts result in our brain developing new neural pathways.This means that our thoughts literally have the power to change the way our brains work!In terms of self-image, the more we tell ourselves something and reaffirm it, the more rooted in our minds it becomes. This is why negative beliefs about ourselves become so damaging. What might start as a vague comment or skewed perception becomes strengthened the more and more, we think about it.  The more energy you give a thought, the more it builds and strengthens – our thoughts are just like muscles!To actually break the cycle and help yourself get back to a mindset that’s healthy, happy, and true to yourself, you must take action.This can come in many forms and depending on your experiences will differ for everyone.The main thing to be aware of here is that it doesn’t have to be a massive shift. Small changes in the right places can make just as big of a difference in the long-term as huge ones in the moment. After first identifying your limiting beliefs, how then do you go about changing them?Therapies such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) are focused around this area of shifting thought patterns from the negative habits towards more positive and beneficial practices. But there are other ways, too, such as keeping a journal, a diary, or note of when you feel intense periods of self-doubt and negative self-image helps what you’re dealing with seem that little bit more real, so it then becomes easier to combat.

How do you plan on breaking the cycle?  The most difficult part of all of this is not realizing your habits and behavioral patterns – it’s breaking out of them. Taking that first step and shifting the thought pattern from the damaging one towards a more fulfilling and strengthening direction is where the biggest challenge lies.What repeated actions or thoughts do you currently allow yourself? Are they helping or hindering your self-image?

 There was a lot of information here but what I would love to see you do is make a list of your negative beliefs about yourself.  What are those “monkey brain” rants you tell yourself?  Then think of an affirmation that changes each belief from a disempowering belief to an empowering belief.  Write them on sticky notes and place them on your bathroom mirror or your screen savior. Tell yourself the new empowering beliefs a few times a day.  Pay attention during the day and when you catch yourself thinking a negative thought-tell yourself your affirmation instead!

Watch your self-image and your life shift.  Change happens when you put your attention on those thoughts.  If you get what you think about then only think positive!

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In love and light,