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What Is Self-Image (And How to Change It for a Happier Life)

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What Is Self-Image (And How to Change It for a Happier Life)

We all have different ways of looking at ourselves. Some of us are confident and perceive ourselves as being highly capable while others may be less-confident and unsure of their abilities. Some people look into the mirror and see positive things while others may see less positive things. All of these intertwining factors that make up how we view ourselves make up what is called our self-image.

Our self-image is the personal viewpoint we adopt towards ourselves which describes characteristics such as intelligence, attractiveness, talents, kindness, and many other traits.

In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at what self-image is and how you can change it for a happier life.

What Is Self-Image?

Put very simply, your self-image relates to how you see yourself both internally and externally.

This idea is exaggerated upon by Random House Dictionary who defines self-image as:

“the idea, conception, or mental image one has of oneself.”

So, why is self-image important?

Well, self-image influences how we view ourselves, how we interact with others, and even how we feel about our surroundings. Thus, it has pretty broad influence over our lives.

A positive self-image has the ability and potential to boost our physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being. On the other hand, a negative self-image can decrease our well-being in each of these areas as well as our overall life satisfaction and functioning.

Self-Image vs. Self-Concept

A lot of people tend to get self-image confused with self-concept. The two terms are very similar, so the confusion is understandable. However, there is an important difference:

Self-concept is a much broader term relating to how you see, think, and feel about yourself.

Thus, self-image is a portion of what makes up our much broader self-concept. Self-image is strictly how we view ourselves, not how we think or feel about ourselves.

Self-Image vs. Self-Identity

Again, as was the case with self-concept, self-identity is a broader and more comprehensive term than self-image.

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The best way to distinguish between these two closely related terms is to say that self-image is specific. It relates to different aspects of our view of ourselves. All of these different snapshots that you feel when you look in the mirror then combine to produce your self-identity.[1]

Our self-identity is the whole image of who we believe we are, and how we would describe ourselves to the other people who are around us.

Examples of Self-Image

Just to make sure that we’re on the same page, we should run through a few quick examples of self-image.

As I’ve already hinted to, you can have both positive and negative self-images. You can even have both types and they can vary in regards to different aspects of your self-image.

What this often boils down to is that with a positive self-image, we recognize our assets, qualities, and overall potential. Additionally, a positive self-image allows us to be comfortable with and accepting of our weaknesses, flaws, and limitations.

Contrastingly, with a negative self-image, we tend to focus much more greatly on our flaws and weaknesses; we are less accepting of them, and we distort these imperfections as well as our failures.

So let’s start by running through a few negative examples of self-image, and then work ourselves towards the more positive examples.

Negative Examples of Self-Image

Typically, a negative self-image refers to when you have a poor view of yourself.

For example, people may feel as though they are unattractive, undesirable, unintelligent, or unhappy.

A negative self-image relates to our view that we are somehow falling short of the ideal version of ourselves. This normally results in us feeling negative towards ourselves when we see our reflection in the mirror.

This can be problematic as low self-image can lead to illnesses such as depression.

Positive Examples of Self-Image

Now, a positive self-image should be quite easy for you to imagine. A positive self-image would simply be the opposite of the examples that I provided you with above.

So viewing yourself as an attractive, desirable, intelligent, or happy individual would all indicate that you are embodying a positive self-image.

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Even if in some way, you feel that you are falling short of the ideal version of yourself, you don’t feel overly negative about it because you have all of these positive feelings towards yourself.

Put very simply, when you look in the mirror at your reflection, you experience positive feelings.

How Do We Develop Self-Image?

Our self-image is like us in the way that it is by no means fixed. It adapts and evolves as we grow as individuals and through our interactions with others.

For instance, as we practice certain skills and abilities, and as we learn and grow, we are much more likely to view ourselves as capable and competent individuals. Our self-image is continually assessing this type of information and the attitudes that we hold towards ourselves.

Another example might be related to our physical appearance. Imagine that you put on a few pounds over winter. I’m willing to bet that would negatively influence your self-image.

Contrastingly, imagine now that you stuck to a regular gym routine and got into the best physical shape of your life! This is a good example of our self-image likely changing in a positive direction as a result of our commitment.

However, it’s not just the things we do to ourselves that influence our self-image. It can also be influenced by our interactions and relationships with others.

For example, if you regularly interact with people who are supportive and encouraging towards you, then you’re much more likely to develop a positive self-image than if you’re regularly interacting with people who are negative and unsupportive. These relationships can reinforce the things that we see when we look in the mirror, regardless of whether the view we have of ourselves is completely distorted or not.

How to Create a Positive Self-Image

So now we know that our self-image isn’t fixed, and is influenced by many different aspects of our life, let’s talk about how we can work towards creating a positive self-image.

As with many of the changes we try to make in our lives, there isn’t a quick fix that will work for everyone and help them improve their self-image.

The first step is always about learning to accept and love ourselves.

You might start by making a list of your positive qualities and posting that somewhere you can regularly view it and be reminded of them. From here, you may identify things that you want to improve, making reasonable and actionable goals, and then working towards achieving them. As you develop these strengths, provide yourself with a lot of positive affirmations. Focus on the good things. Throughout this process, you want to refrain from comparing yourself to others.[2]

Remember, learning to love yourself is a long process. You are a unique individual with unique strengths and weaknesses. You’ve come a long way from where you’ve started. Appreciate that and use it to motivate you to go even further!

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Once you’re on this path, you may feel as though you want to invest more into improving your self-image. If you’re at this point, there are exercises that you can engage in to boost your self-image:

1. Make a List of the Things You Like About Yourself

This is a simple but effective exercise that you can engage in. You may find it difficult at first but as you get into the flow of things, it will get easier and easier.

This list of things you like about yourself can include some of your favorite qualities. Maybe you think you’re smart or attractive or funny!

It can extend beyond your qualities as well. Maybe you want to include some of your favorite personal skills. Some examples might include things like being athletic or artistic.

Making this list of positive traits and skills will help you focus more on the positive aspects of your self-image. Learning to focus on and appreciate these things more will help you to improve your self-image.

2. Make a list of the Life Moments You’re Proudest Of

This is another great exercise for you to engage in to help you focus more on the things you’ve been able to achieve in your life.

Sometimes, we forget how amazing we are as individuals. This list will help you to remember those things.

This list can include things that are as large as winning big competitions, getting recognized for a major contribution, or achieving some high-level accomplishment that you’ve been working towards for a long time. They can also be smaller things like learning to be more sociable or completing a task.

You also might want to consider how you’ve confronted challenges and barriers in your life and how your skills have allowed you to overcome those things.

Note how you worked towards the goal against this adversity and then were rewarded for the fruits of your labor. Just make sure that these achievements and proud life moments remind you what YOU have to offer this world, and what you are capable of doing when you set your mind to it!

3. Make a Life-Appreciation Bank

This is the last exercise that I have to share with you. And it’s a good one.

You see a lot of similar exercises out there now in things such as gratitude journals which have you reflect on a few things each day that you’re grateful for.

Basically, in this exercise, you’re going to create a list again. But this list will be a lot bigger than the last two. So make sure you have a bit of time to complete this exercise.

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Your goal here is to create a comprehensive and exhaustive list of all of the things you’re thankful for in your life right now.

Everyone will generate a unique list because everyone has a different life and different things that they’re thankful for.

Once you’re done the list, cut up each item and place them in a container of some sort.

Now, whenever you feel as though you need a little self-image boost, you will go grab and read one of these things from your life-appreciation bank.

You can choose how the rules work. Maybe after you read an item from the bank, you remove it or, maybe you’d prefer to throw it back in the mix. Maybe you want to read one or two things a day. Or, maybe you’d rather simply reach over and grab one as needed.

The rules are flexible and it’s up to you to create them. It’s your bank after all!

All that matters is that you end up with a pool of gratitude-bites that can help give you a little self-image boost as you desire.

Final Thoughts

This has been a fairly long talk on self-image so I’m going to wrap things up.

If you only take one main message away from this article, this is what I want it to be:

Your self-image is not permanent. It is a dynamic concept that will vary as you grow, evolve, and as the way you view yourself changes.

So don’t allow yourself to get stuck living with a negative self-image. You now have the tools to change your self-image for the better!

You owe that to yourself!

More Tips About Building Self-Worth

Featured photo credit: Jakub Gorajek via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Positive Psychology: What is Self-image and How Do We Improve It?
[2] Cleveland Clinic: Fostering a Positive Self-Image

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Mark Lynch

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Last Updated on December 6, 2021

Feeling Lost? 40 Quotes to Help You Find Meaning in Life

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Feeling Lost? 40 Quotes to Help You Find Meaning in Life

Sometimes, we carry with us ancient wisdom that has been whispered through generations where we find strength for what we need. Other times, we sense our happiness and sanity have been swept away, and we float rudderless in our space. We wonder if we’re heading in the right direction and feel doom rather than the transformation. In these moments, we may need some feeling lost quotes to help us find inspiration again.

During the times when we feel lost, it’s too easy to forget the comfort of good times and wade through the fluff that separates us from the pack.

I often work in leadership and have to test my limits and inspire those I’m leading. One of the quotes I keep in mind by T.S. Elliot is:

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

Knowing how you will perform in a crisis, personally or professionally, can help you get through tough times. The people who tend to work best in a crisis or stay calm in stressful times are those who are honest and forthright.

We often try to find sense in our lives with logic, reducing perceived risks by increasing control. The problem with control is you can hold on too tight, narrowing your options and missing the big picture.

Trying to squeeze action out of undefined goals only increases the pressure. Being happy comes from a sense of self and freedom, not a narrow list you’ve locked yourself into.

Sometimes, we need to observe our life in new ways and examine it with wisdom we doubt we have. Those big successes are done with small incremental actions done every day. Who will you choose to be in times of doubt?

Whether you bookmark this page for future inspiration or show off powerful, inspiring quotes on your T-shirt, coffee mug, key chain, and screen saver, these 40 feelings lost quotes will help remind you of your true essence.

We can reconnect with our priorities and take inspiration from both the ancients and modern visionaries with some of my favorite words below that inspire simplicity and truth.

Feeling Lost Quotes

1. “If you are working on something you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you” –Steve Jobs

2. “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” –Gordon Eadie

3. “One of the truest tests of integrity is a blunt refusal to be compromised.” –Chinua Achebe

4. “The fears we don’t face become our limits.” –Amy Elizabeth

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5. “Be who you needed when you were younger.” –Anonymous

6. “We generate fears when we sit. We overcome them by action.” –Dr. Henry Link

7. “The intangible represents the real power of the universe. It is the seed of the tangible.” –Bruce Lee

8. “Storms make trees take deeper roots.” –Dolly Parton

9. “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” –Henry Ford

10. “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” –Vincent Van Gogh

11. “Stop acting so small, you are the universe in ecstatic motion.” –Rumi

12. “A tree that is unbending is usually broken.” –Loa Tzu

13. “What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.” –Plutarch

14. “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” –Plato

15. “Your teacher can open the door, but you must enter by yourself.” –Chinese proverb

16. “To get lost is to learn the way.” –African Proverb

17. “Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.” –Zig Ziglar

18. “Do you know who you are? Don’t ask. Act. Action will delineate and define you.” –Thomas Jefferson

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19. “Give thanks for what you are today and go on fighting for what part of you will be gone tomorrow.” –William Shakespeare

20. “Sorrow looks back. Worry looks around. Faith looks up.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

21. “One day you will ask me which is more important, my life or yours? I will say mine and you will walk away not knowing that you are my life.” –Kahlil Gibran

22. “You were born to be real, not to be perfect.” –Anonymous

23. “After climbing a great hill, one only finds there are many more hills to climb.” –Nelson Mandela

24. “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.” –Maya Angelou

25. “I wash my hands of those who imagine chattering to be knowledge, silence to be ignorance and affection to be art.” –Kahlil Gibran

26. “Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.” –Japenese Proverb

27. “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” — Joseph Campbell

28. “Go within every day and find the inner strength so that the world will not blow your candle out.” — Katherine Dunham

29. “One swallow does not make a summer, neither does one fine day. Similarly, one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.” — Aristotle

30. “There are two ways to live your life. One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein

31. “You got to go down a lot of wrong roads to find the right one.” — Bob Parson

32. “Anger, resentment, and jealousy doesn’t change the heart of others. It only changes yours.” — Shannon L. Alder

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33. “To be lost is as legitimate a part of your process as being found.” — Alex Ebert

34. “Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on.” — Henry Rollins

35. “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually be afraid you will make one.” — Elbert Hubbard

36. “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” — Vivian Greene

37. “Nothing is more beautiful than the smile that has struggled through the tears.” — Demi Lovato

38. “Leave your front door and your back door open. Allow your thoughts to come and go. Just don’t serve them tea.” — Shunryu Suzuki

39. “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” — Robert H. Schuller

40. “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” — C.S. Lewis

Sometimes It’s Ok to Feel Lost

After looking at these feeling lost quotes, it is easy for someone to be confused. But these inspirational quotes will guide you to hear a voice every time when the risk is high, and you have nowhere to run. It is always easy to choose the shortcut and ignore the voice of the subconscious to do the right thing!

No matter how dire the circumstances might be, you need to make efforts and find ways to uplift your morale. Not making an effort is more painful than the risk of immersing your thoughts in negativity.

When you are feeling lost, it is natural to be confused about the next step. However, you have to determine when the risk of staying in a sad state for a longer period is causing more harm than good.

And don’t you worry, it’s okay sometimes to feel lost and not know where you are heading in your life. We go through various phases in life, and none of them stay permanent. Remember that “Life is a work-in-progress” and this too shall pass. Keeping hope is very important if you want to sail through the tides of life.

Don’t Be too Hard on Yourself

Everyone is fighting their fight in their ways, but none can say – “I know it all.” Life is a constant struggle, and everyone has to push through personally to overcome obstacles.

Whether it is your professional life that’s making you feel lost or your personal life brought about this state of mind, remember that you alone can find the solution. Happiness is a state of mind, and you alone can control the emotions that can bring a change in your attitude when you are feeling lost.

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No one can tell you what your purpose is in the world, and only you have to decide that on your own. The universe has given us life and one that teaches us various things through unique experiences. Some might be good, and some might be bad.

So, don’t beat yourself up or be hard on yourself even if you have not yet figured it out. It’s okay! You don’t owe anyone an explanation about why it is taking so long or why haven’t you been able to figure it out yet. Go at your own pace, and you shall reach where you intend to. Nothing is permanent, and you will find your way out. It’s just a matter of time.

Rather than complaining and belittling yourself, you can try brainstorming ideas to help you move on. Procrastinating and beating yourself up will only drown the motivation and bring nothing of value but just self-pity.

Don’t forget if you set your heart to something, you can achieve it. Feeling lost is not a permanent state, and to uplift your emotions, you need to have faith.

Final Thoughts

Many of these feeling lost quotes have a common core. That is, to take a step back and view yourself in a new way.

Take action and make inspiration a routine. To act creates learning, and that builds confidence, provides direction, and eliminates doubt.

Imagine what you want it to be so that your vibration matches your desire. We can’t snap our fingers to instantly change feeling lost, but we can increase our situational awareness with our emotions and places where our lives have or may take an abrupt turn.

We take inspiration from our daily lives in as many individually unique forms as we are different. Inspiration can strike instantly and sporadically or feel like a trickle that slowly grows into a majestic waterfall crashing through with creative energy. That trickle is what will keep you going in dark times.

When you’re in a place where you feel lost and don’t recognize yourself, allow some inner compassion for the person you are right in that moment[1].

You have the power to create your world, one step at a time, and these feeling lost quotes can help. You choose how you think. Tune in to how you feel and why.

Remember you have the power to be, have, and do anything you desire. Tough times never last, but tough people do.

See what I did there? Another quote to inspire original thought as it applies to you. It’s been said that if you want to test a man’s character, give him power and you will see his true colors. So keep your inspiration on tap for when you need a reminder of your purpose.

More to Inspire You When You’re Feeling Lost

Featured photo credit: Daniel Jensen via unsplash.com

Reference

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