We recently focused on the question of whether the pursuit of joy was a bit selfish or absolutely essential. The same question can be asked about pursuing a healthy self-image. But I’m not going to bother asking that question. A litany of research, medical doctors, and mental health professionals all agree that the answer is “YES! A healthy self-image is vital to a happy life.” My questions are: How do you know if your self-image is “healthy”? and What does it look like when it’s too low?
How do you know if your self-image is “healthy”?
During a training session on “Parenting with InnerKinetics,” a mom asked me whether or not she should be worried about her daughter. We’d been talking candidly about the struggle we each share to successfully connect with others (at any age). Her normally out-going and thoughtful middle-schooler (let’s call her Sophie) had been very low on energy, unusually disorganized, and pretty “anti-social” for the last month. She was concerned because this was so out-of-character for her daughter. But she had chalked it up to a surge in hormones and not enough sleep. That’s a perfectly reasonable explanation, right? I agreed with her. “BUT . . . what about you?” I asked this loving mom. “You feel this way from time to time, even with decent sleep and semi-balanced hormones, don’t you? Is this “out-of-character” behavior always based on how you feel physically? Or could there be more to the story?”
In fact, there’s a lot more.
SELF-IMAGE IS A SPIRITUAL THING, NOT PHYSICAL
The knowledge that your InnerKinetics provides includes a different take on what constitutes your healthy self-image.
You see, your brain is a material, physical organ in your body. Your mind is an immaterial, spiritual part of you and the source of your thoughts and beliefs.
Similarly, your reflection in a mirror is a physical image of your body. But your self-image is an immaterial reflection of the Real You. It represents how well you can see your worth and how well your thoughts are lined up with a positive belief system.
In essence, self-image is a measure of how well the Real You is operating your inner strengths and reflecting the product of those strengths to the world around you.
SELF-IMAGE IS HEALTHY WHEN INNER STRENGTHS ARE IN USE
When you’re fully engaging your inner strengths and using them correctly, the Real You is the result. The Real You and a healthy self-image work hand in hand. On the flip side, when you’re mis-using your strengths, you create weaknesses that damage yourself and others. These self-made weaknesses confuse and distort the image you see of yourself.
What are the signs of a low self-image?
If your self-image is low, is it really that big of a deal? Well, as we’ve covered in many previous posts, you cannot outperform self-image. So, when it’s low, that’s a big problem. And it’s not just a problem for you. Everyone else in your life who is supposed to be positively influenced and affected by the Real You loses, too.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN SELF-IMAGE IS TOO LOW? WATCH FOR THESE SIGNS:
- You’re stuck in a loop of negative, destructive choices.
These choices leave you feeling further and further away from who you really are.
- You’re not motivated to set forward-looking, purpose-finding goals.
This lack of motivation indicates you aren’t believing in your own worth nor the value of answering your “Red-Hot Why” questions.
- You can’t resist making harmful comparisons between yourself and others.
These aren’t apples-to-apples comparisons. Rather, they compare the individual skills and accomplishments of others to those of your own, even though you uniquely express an inner design that cannot be duplicated.
Just how well do you know the Real You?
Remember the middle-schooler who was acting totally opposite to her normal mode? After further discussion, her mom and I came to realize that her out-of-character behavior was merely a reflection of NOT operating her inner design.
SOPHIE IS A NATURAL LEADER WHO NOT ONLY ENJOYS STEPPING INTO ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES, SHE RELIES ON THOSE OPPORTUNITIES.
It turns out she’d recently lost a favorite teacher who moved out of state. This teacher relied on Sophie for real help and the loss was felt very deeply. She had not let herself get to know the new teacher or re-gain a position of trust so that she could resume her helpful, responsible ways. What’s more, healthy self-image is raised for Sophie when she’s given opportunities to be reliable, helpful, and responsible.
- Without a decision to accept the change and move forward with a new relationship, Sophie was having serious trouble seeing her true self — the valuable, intelligent, useful, and lovely girl she actually is. Without intervention, her low self-image was headed straight for depression and dangerously negative thinking.
- With the decision to move forward and find even more ways to prove herself reliable, responsible, and trustworthy, Sophie crawled out of her stint of “anti-social” behavior. She went back to her normal habits of preparation and organization and quickly returned to the girl her mom knows.
It all started with a question: “Sophie, how well do you know the Real You?”
Stay tuned next week as we discuss 3 hacks you should be doing every day to keep your self-image crystal clear.