Does your self-image match the image of you that other people see? Self-image encompasses more than just your physical body. Self-image, also called our self-concept or self-schema, is the sum of our appearance and behavior. Of course, our self-image encompasses every thought, feeling and action for every second that we’ve been alive. On the flip side, everyone else only has the time we spend around them or with them directly to base their assessment of us.
How Do People See Me?
In order to get a relatively unbiased opinion, we all know you can’t ask your parents, siblings, children or anyone else in your family. They may actually be able to present an honest answer, but will we believe them even if they tell the truth? Probably not, so why bother asking them? To get an assessment of how people see me, I asked people that are not in my family. Let’s take a look at what they see when looking at me…
Oh no! Maybe I shouldn’t have asked anyone!
Okay, in all seriousness, these are some of the responses I received when I asked, “How do you perceive me? Who am I? What stands out? What is good or bad?” Obviously I gave everyone plenty of leeway to give a full answer. As a forewarning, I almost couldn’t bring myself to write their answers in this post! I find this highly embarrassing, but I’m doing it to help not only you, but my daughter and I will explain that to you in a minute. So here it goes…
- “You’re one of the most naturally intelligent people I’ve ever known.” (I paid them to say that about me.)
- “Why aren’t you in bed at this hour!!! Don’t you have to go to work tomorrow?” (rolling my eyes) “I think you are a woman who is alert, aware and capable to do anything she sets her mind on. However, I think you have a low opinion of yourself. Your self-esteem isn’t intact with the real you.”
- “You come across extremely confident and able, yet there is a softness about you. It makes you totally approachable and not arrogant.”
- “You are so hilarious – just crazy funny! I never know what to expect from you next. You make me laugh all the time.”
- “If you put my name on your blog or tell anyone what I’m about to say, I will categorically deny it because my wife would be jealous as Hell. She has a rather low opinion of herself too.” (I said, “No! Never mind! I don’t want to know!”) “You asked and I’m going to tell you. Write it down because you’re going to get too embarrassed to remember what I’m going to say to you. Besides, it might make you feel better. You have beautiful long, red hair and the curls are always perfect. You don’t wear much makeup, but you don’t need it. (I was already dying ya’ll!) You help everyone with anything they need and you don’t expect anything back. You’re absolutely genuine and bluntfully tactful. I don’t think “bluntfully” is a word, but if it isn’t, use it anyway. Surely you know that you are smart, creative, ambitious, talented, a wonderful cook, charming, always a lady and extremely funny. One last thing…you are hot! A classy, sexy lady with brains.” (I may never look at or talk to this man again. LOL)
- “I see you as a sincere, thoughtful, hardworking, motivated woman with a huge heart who is too giving and let’s people walk all over her. Is your therapist going to teach you how to say, ‘No’ sometimes? Is she wanting you to do this poll?” (No, my therapist has nothing to do with this poll. LOL)
- “Loving. I miss your ’7 hugs a day’ philosophy, girl. No one hugs me at my job now! They are all arrogant intellectuals without any emotion!” LOL
- “You make people fat! You post all those delicious recipes on your blog and I HAVE to try them all. Then I overeat and I gain weight!”
- “100% unique. Not only do you excel at everything you do, but you are humble and genuinely embarrassed by compliments.” (At this point, I blushed terribly!) “By the way, your blush just adds to your charm.”
- “Awesome! You rock! You sincerely care about other people and it shows.”
- “Right now, you look stressed, sad and scared. I’ll be glad when you get moved and find out if you are going to be laid off. You are far too critical of yourself and you work too hard day and night. I think you are one sharp lady – beauty, brains and heart. I hope someone will sweep you off your feet and treat you with the respect, care and tenderness you deserve.”
I almost wasn’t able to type the whole list which precisely proves my point. Other people see me one way and I see myself another way.
Why Is Our Self-Image Different Than How Other People See Us?
In general, people have a blind spot to how they are perceived by others. It all starts in childhood with all the negative looks, actions and words that were cast in our direction. Children can’t evaluate the harsh words spoken to them. Instead, they are internalized, believed and it affects their self-image in a negative way for a long, long time.
The perfectionists are more apt to have a negative self-image than any other group. They set a standard for themselves that even a Saint can’t attain. They are achievers and thirst for more, more and more learning. Because the standard for themselves is so high, they constantly set themselves up for failure which in turn adds to a negative self-image.
My daughter doesn’t think she is pretty and I have heard her say so many times, “I’m so ugly!” I want her to know that she a beautiful and an accomplished young woman! I can list all her wonderful qualities until I’m blue in the face, but it never seems to soak in far enough or for long enough. Alyssa is a perfectionist and my divorce from her father hurt her deeply. Hopefully, some day, she will listen to her old mother and go to therapy to free herself from her inaccurate assessment of herself.
Alyssa isn’t the only one that is a perfectionist. There is another person that I know very well who also sets a very high standard for herself and a much lower standard for everyone else. I’m not going to say who she is…I plead the 5th because I might incriminate myself.
How To Improve Your Self-Image
Life is more pleasant and you will be healthier if you have a positive self-image. Here are a few things to do that will help you improve your self-image and increase the happiness you experience in life:
- Ensure that your self-talk is positive and kind.
- Acknowledge your success and accomplishments.
- Know that perfection is not required nor is it attainable. Have a realistic standard for yourself.
- Have the same standard for yourself that you have for everyone else.
- Trust yourself.
- Respect your beliefs and feelings.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. Everyone makes mistakes. That’s how you learn!
- Volunteer your time and talents to help others.
- Accept that you are not God. You can only change what you can change and the rest of the stuff, you just can’t change. That’s okay.
- Exercise or at least walk. It will make you healthier, increase your happiness and will help you live a better quality of life.
- Appreciate your value to humanity.
- Enjoy yourself with and without family or friends. Taking a break will invigorate your mind, creativity, attitude, outlook and self-image.
- Enjoy the things about you that are different and unique. The differences in people is what makes interactions interesting!
- Be tolerant of your shortcomings.
- Try new things! Eat new foods, travel to places you’ve never seen before, learn a new hobby or skill. Be inquisitive.
- Respect your brain. You’re smart! You know stuff! You’ve experience stuff. Respect that knowledge.
So there you have it! I bet your self-image isn’t always on the mark, so to keep it on track, there’s a healthy list of things you can do to get back on course. If you’ve never had a positive self-image, see a qualified therapist and let them help your through the process of discovering the real you. How you perceive yourself affects everything you will ever say or do. Obviously, a healthy self-image is worth the effort to attain.
I would like to offer a sincere thank you to everyone who gave me their opinion for my post. You were all very kind and it really did brighten my day and lift my mood.