Your self-image determines your self-confidence. Self-confidence is essential for everyone if you want to feel happy and be successful in life. When you are happy with yourself and believe in yourself, you can live your life as you choose. A negative self-image can lead to a lack of self-confidence and this can hinder us in our daily activities. Someone who feels worthless, for example, can become withdrawn. There are also people who tend to overcompensate and make too many demands of themselves because of this. As a life coach, I often see clients who have a negative self-image and very low levels of self-confidence. A consequence of this may be that they do not feel happy with their current life, but do not know how to change this. In the coaching process, I focus on changing the negative self-image and increasing the self-confidence of the client.
The emergence of a negative self-image
You may have received negative messages in your youth through your environment: “We don’t do this!”, “You will never achieve anything!”, “You’re stupid!” “That’s not what a girl or boy does!”, “You know you can’t do that, you always mess things up!”, “Other people don’t want to listen to you, so it’s not for you!”, “You wouldn’t be able to cope with it anyway!”. If you receive such negative messages in your childhood, you often internalise them, especially when you repeatedly hear them your parents or your teacher. You start to believe they are true. Bullying can also have an impact. Critical teachers and bullying experiences can, therefore, lead to a negative self-image.
Media and society
In addition, the advertising world and the media also influence our self-image. Women are often bombarded with images and messages reinforcing the idea that women should look young and beautiful. “A slim figure is important, so exercise fanatically and eat healthily”, “Being successful and having a career is important”. When someone derives their self-image from these messages, but cannot comply with them, for whatever reason, a negative self-image can arise. In addition, the present performance society contributes to self-esteem. We are increasingly inclined to pay special attention to the success stories of others. The media confronts us with it daily. This can lead to a feeling of failure because you get the idea that you cannot measure up to expectations. This can result in a negative self-image.
Lack of appreciation.
Furthermore, some people have a great need for love and approval from others. This need for approval determines their self-image. They confirm their lives through others and cannot determine anything themselves. if there is a lack of appreciation, a negative self-image may arise.
A negative self-image can relate to external characteristics, “I am too fat and ugly”, but can also relate to inner characteristics, “I am not nice to deal with because I’m too afraid to do anything”. In addition, it can also relate to someone as a whole person ‘I am totally worthless and I can’t do anything at all”. Often, negative self-images are unrealistic. Nevertheless, I would like to point out that there are also negative self-images, which are realistic. A mother who neglects her child believes that she is a bad mother because she cannot take care of her child. This is a negative self-image, but it is true and, therefore, realistic.
Change a negative self-image to a positive self-image.
If you want to be able to change your self-image, it is important that you realise that you yourself are the one who determines what and how much you can achieve. The negative and unreal thoughts must disappear and must be replaced with positive thoughts. In order to achieve this, you need to get out of your comfort zone. My experience is that clients often make many excuses to avoid doing this. The comfort zone offers safety because it is familiar. You have to be willing to push past your boundaries if you want to change your self-image and increase your self-confidence. As a life coach, I try to convince clients that they can achieve the desired changes. For example, by doing the exercises below, I try to give a client with a negative self-image a new mentality and a new form of self-confidence.
Prepare a list of successful things that you have done. Then display this list in a place where you will see it every day. Make time to look at them each day as an affirmation. This helps you to create positive thoughts so that you start looking at yourself in a positive light.
Create a list of your good qualities. Then do the same as described above.
1. Try to check what negative comments about yourself are part of your thoughts.
2. Write them down and acknowledge that you are the one who has taken ownership of these negative remarks.
3. Throw away this list of negative comments as a symbol that you have left them behind and thrown them out of your mind.
4.Set yourself a few new challenges and challenge yourself to do them. New challenges can help you to motivate yourself again to look at yourself more positively.
What else can you do?
In addition to life-coaching therapy, there are a number of different treatments for changing a negative self-image.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy:
This therapy examines the underlying unrealistic thoughts and beliefs. Cognitive therapy assumes that it is not the events themselves that cause negative feelings and, therefore, a certain behavioural pattern and possibly a negative self-image, but the coloured-glasses through which you see things. More information about this can be found on this website about cognitive behavioural therapy.
There are several psychologists who offer this type of therapy. You can always ask a psychologist in advance if they can give this therapy if you are interested in this.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing): when the negative self-image is the result of negative experiences gained in a person’s childhood, this treatment method can help to deal with these negative experiences.
Read more information about Eye Movement Desensitisation. On this website, you will also find information about therapists who provide this therapy.
I would like to end this blog article with a statement by Henry Ward Beecher: ‘Our best successes often come after our greatest disappointments’.