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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

How to Change Your Self-Perception and Untap Your Hidden Potential

How to Change Your Self-Perception and Untap Your Hidden Potential

If your current self-perception is not serving you in ways that allow you to be your best self and achieve the goals you’re aiming for, it’s time to transform it into a force for good using personality and social psychology.

Those harsh evaluations from your inner critic speaking sourly of unworthiness have had enough airplay. You no longer want to allow features of imposter syndrome to immobilize you nor deflate any balloon of excitement and hope you had toward achieving your goals.

Your self-perception is about the relationship you have with yourself. The great news is that because you hold this self-perception, you are the best and most powerful agent capable of transforming it.

Here are 7 tips on how to change your self-perception and unleash your potential.

1. Learn to Detach From Others’ Projections

Simply cutting ties with anyone who drops negative criticism that leaves you feeling you are a lesser human being would lead to an incredibly lonely existence. What can better serve you is recognizing when someone might actually be projecting their self-image upon you.

Projections are often an unconscious way we defend ourselves to feel better emotionally and mentally about those aspects of ourselves we consider to be flawed[1]. We attribute the things we don’t like about ourselves to someone else because the pain and discomfort of confessing our own inadequacies are just too great.

Think of the friend at dinner who dominates the conversation and commonly speaks over others yet tells you you’re rude when you interrupt them. Think of the associate who claims to be a perfectionist and always struggles to meet deadlines but says your work will never be as good because you prioritize meeting targets over doing better quality work.

When you are on the receiving end of sharp, unsavory criticism, there’s a high chance that another person may be projecting. They are unwittingly showing you how they see the world.

However, this does not mean their assertions are true or valid. If anything, it’s simply a matter of opinion.

2. Recognize How Others Have Shaped Your Self-Perception

During her earlier research, Carol Dweck discovered children’s motivation and performance was highly influenced by how parents and authority figures encouraged them.

Her research offers guidance that could also influence a child’s esteem, self-efficacy, and self-perception as they grow through adolescence and into adulthood[2].

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  • Teach children how their effort can influence outcomes and their performance as opposed to labeling them according to the results they might achieve (i.e. a good artist, a genius, gifted).
  • As opposed to telling children they were good or bad, loved or not loved depending upon their behavior and results of performance, praise their efforts despite the results.
  • Make space for children’s positive and negative emotions as opposed to only being loving, affectionate, and supportive when they are well-behaved or performing to a certain level.

Dweck’s research has shone a light on likely sources of many imprisoning self-perceptions we develop as adults. As adults, we can see how and why we came to think about ourselves in the ways we do[3].

Change your self-perception with a growth mindset.

    Now, this is not a green light to unleash all blame on your parents and teachers but rather to recognize that you might be carrying the full weight of unhelpful self-perceptions you aren’t fully accounted for. You can also recognize and choose to do something about those self-perceptions that don’t benefit you.

    Ask yourself:

    “Does how I see myself make me feel better or worse about myself?”

    “Does how I see myself create obstacles between where I am, what I am feeling, where I want to be, and how I want to feel?”

    Continue to practice your awareness of how you see yourself in the present, consider how this impacts you, and start exploring how to put yourself in the greatest position of power to change this.

    3. Learn How Even Negative Self-Perceptions Serve a Purpose

    World-renowned psychotherapist Richard Schwartz coined an incredible therapeutic framework called Internal Family Systems through hearing how clients would talk about inner “parts” of themselves[4].

    Similar to how different members of our families have different roles by birthright, different personality traits, and characteristics, Schwartz proposes that we all have an internal system consisting of sub-personas or “parts” within our psyche that help form our self-perception.

    Have you ever thought that you should decide one way but another voice inside you said to do the opposite? If so, this framework can help you not only tame the unhelpful voices and self-perceptions but also discover others that can help you untap your hidden potential.

    Schwartz coined three main types of sub-personas:

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    • Exiles are those who often hold the emotional pain from abandonment, rejection, being exploited, and negatively judged by other individuals or other parts within our internal system.
    • Managers are those who are directive and controlling to avoid situations and interactions which might further hurt the exile part/s. These parts of us are often highly intellectual and good at problem-solving but push emotions away.
    • Firefighters are those parts of us that spring into action in emergencies when we’re caught off guard. When the exile parts of us have been triggered, these firefighting parts can jump into soothing and placate their emotional expression. Emotional eating or splurging our savings on clothes to make ourselves feel better are examples of ways we look to put out the emotional fire that is blazing.

    Regardless of the different characteristics of these parts we have within us, they all serve a primary purpose but in different ways: to protect us and keep us safe.

    When we learn to see how and why they do this, we dissolve our need to fight our self-perceptions.

    We no longer have to fight against the negative voices in our heads. We can now guide and use them to our advantage to help us get to where we now want to go.

    4. Reframe Your Language to Practice Healthy Detachment

    You don’t need to undergo intensive therapy to benefit from some simple language reframing techniques. When you change a few words in your self-labeling narrative, you can drastically change the impact that narrative can have on you.

    When you look at the following four sentences, you have a sense of which one feels the most self-deprecating and which one feels the least:

    • “No one loves me. I’m simply not attractive.”
    • “Right now, I feel that no one loves me. At the moment, I don’t feel attractive.”

    Which statement feels the heaviest? Did you notice the changes in the sentences?

    Self-perceptions we make tend to be purely black and white. We also tend to inaccurately and blanketly apply them to cover all contexts and situations, particularly when our emotions are the most intense.

    Reframing your self-narrative is easier than trying to eliminate it in one fell swoop. Recognize that your self-perception is but a reflection of transient feelings you are feeling at particular moments in time, and you’ll become better at preserving your self-worth.

    5. Forget Positive Affirmations and Practice Truthful Self-Perceptions

    As a coach and a consultant, I have often had clients come to me wanting to instantly silence any negative self-talk they express toward themselves. It is true our subconscious develops healthier inner dialogue over time with the regular and frequent practice of feeding it better mental nutrition. However, no amount of positive self-talk can transform negative self-perceptions if we don’t believe they could be true.

    If you have a poor body image, you can tell yourself until you’re blue in the face that you have nothing to be concerned about when you look in the mirror. You’re still going to be free from the mental and emotional shackles that such self-perception holds.

    You’ll be pleased to know the answer isn’t in endless journaling or writing out positive affirmations hundreds of times a day. There’s a faster and more effective way!

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    Develop phrases which you actually believe that guide you to look in the direction of how you want to see yourself:

    I’m working towards improving how I see and/or feel about myself.”

    “I’m learning and practicing how to adjust this aspect of myself so it better serves me.”

    Notice how there is no mention of looking to improve or delete an aspect of your personality in either of these statements?

    Your subconscious will be more on board with you using the phraseology above because you’re emotionally more receptive to it. It feels safe, honest, and true.

    Practice more language and phrases like these above and you will grow incredible self-perception that will take you beyond what you originally felt you were worthy of aiming for.

    6. Combine a Growth Mindset and Imagery to Untap Your Potential

    The use of imagery is an incredibly powerful mental tool to help you develop more helpful self-perceptions that will serve you in moving toward your initial goals. Combine this with simple growth mindset questions, and you’ll be well on your way to unleashing your potential.

    Using an example, let’s say you don’t feel you don’t have what it takes to apply for a certain job.

    The first part of the exercise is to playfully develop the growth and expansive mindset questions and entertain the answers to them:

    1. What if I did have enough skill, expertise, knowledge, and confidence?
    2. How would I approach applying for the job?
    3. How would I be feeling as I applied for the job?
    4. How would I feel upon submitting my application or getting an interview?

    The second part now is to bring those potential answers to life. Breathe life into a mini-movie scene of these possibilities you create in your imagination. Imagine the environment you surround yourself in as you prepare your job application.

    When you engage your five physical senses during imagery, you can ignite physical and emotional responses that signal to your brain what you are focusing on is important. The more you practice the imagery in which you paint a healthier and helpful self-perception, the more your reticular activating system[5] will look for opportunities for this to come to fruition in reality.

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    You can learn more visualization techniques in this article.

    7. Deliberately Practice Healthier Self-Perceptions

    Our hidden potential remains untapped when we aren’t moving toward clearly defined goals.

    From recognizing our unhelpful self-perception, we can start to shape those which aren’t just healthier for us but also strategically helpful for us in moving toward what we want to experience, do, and have.

    When you next look at a particular goal, ask yourself the following questions:

    1. What qualities do I already have that could and would help to meet that goal?
    2. What do I already know that could help me meet this goal?
    3. How can I position myself to gain the skills and knowledge that would help me achieve this goal?
    4. What choice/s along the way would give me opportunities to experience satisfaction, happiness, and fulfillment in ways that matter to me?
    5. Even if I don’t meet this goal, will I still feel good about myself throughout the efforts I make to do so?

    These questions are not only strengths-based. They also guide you to make choices and create opportunities that help you feel higher and healthier levels of fulfillment.

    Meeting the goal may or may not happen. Regardless, your self-perception is sure to undergo powerful, positive transformations on many levels.

    Final Thoughts

    These 7 tips will help you realize your potential and change your self-perception positively.

    Through learning how to practice acceptance and compassion toward yourself and how to have a better relationship with yourself, you can develop self-concepts that help you untap your hidden potential.

    You’ll be radiating a healthy glow that’s almost palpable with a powerful sense of self that will take you wherever you want to go!

    More Tips on Improving Your Self-Perception

    Featured photo credit: Vince Fleming via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Malachi Thompson

    Leadership & Performance Edge Strategist

    How to Fill the Void in You When You Feel Lost And Confused Self-perception How to Change Your Self-Perception and Untap Your Hidden Potential How to Identify Your Strengths And Weaknesses in 5 Steps How to Quit Your Boring Routine and Reignite Your Life using imagination to change your life 7 Ways Your Imagination Can Change Your Life

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    Last Updated on November 6, 2020

    Feeling Defeated in Life? 9 Ways to Take Back Your Power

    Feeling Defeated in Life? 9 Ways to Take Back Your Power

    The human feeling of wanting to achieve more is a shared one and, consequently, so does the sense of feeling defeated. Things don’t always work out as planned, and we then feel beat down and sometimes downright downtrodden.

    This feeling is something that every achiever human-being feels once in a while. The good news is that there are proven science-based ways to help take back the power. It’s not possible to continually win without experiencing a loss, and the way we react to failure is what defines us.

    There are (sadly) many practical examples—from battling a bad habit (did anyone say Netflix binge on a Tuesday night?) or even an addiction to dealing with a boss you don’t like who makes every day seem like it will never end. It might be other issues that make you feel like Sisyphus, the Greek god who was forced to push a massive rock up a hill for eternity as a punishment, doing the hard work and not being rewarded for it.

    You Are Not Alone

    You are not alone; Churchill and Lincoln were also defeated.

    Fortunately, we’ve found some fantastic examples of ‘defeated’ people who made a remarkable comeback—showing that character is at least as important as talent. One of those people is none other than Winston Churchill. Most of us know that he saved his country and potentially the rest of the world during World War II, but we tend to forget that he famously stated, “I am finished” almost 20 years before that—when he was 40.

    He had lost the Gallipoli battle, and everything seemed to indicate that he would go down in history like the rest of us: unknown. However, his plan to come back to the forefront of politics succeeded (only to lose the election after the war, and then win again). He was feeling defeated but he managed to bounce back.

    There are other examples of leaders who experienced loss and then made a remarkable comeback. Abraham Lincoln is known as a former US president, but no one remembers that he was defeated in elections for the U.S. House of Representatives just a few years before that. Napoleon Bonaparte was the emperor of Europe, only to be exiled (and then come back and then go into exile again).

    Most of us are not ruling Europe or the US, but you get the point—you win some, you lose some—and you should never give up on your goals and dreams. This isn’t relevant only to famous historical characters. The human spirit is measured when it’s at its weakest and in need of finding strength.

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    Personally speaking, I experienced a tragedy, having to watch my father die in front of me when I was 25. Less than an hour later, as I was in the hospital, I told myself that nothing would break me, and I embarked on a journey to save other people’s lives with Safe Lane, a non-profit I started to prevent car accidents. It is what we do that defines us, and not what happens to us. It’s how we deal with feeling defeated that defines who we are.

    Feeling Defeated Is Not Your Fault

    Research shows that feeling defeated is not your fault. The deep-rooted feeling of defeat is validated in research. For example, studies of animal species with dominance hierarchies showed that after losing in non-lethal fighting, the animals that lost showed signs of depression.[1] Other studies suggest that defeat and feelings of entrapment are associated with depression and anxiety. Sadly, it happens to humans as well.

    Research also suggests that it hurts the poor more than others. In a study conducted in economically deprived areas in England, over half of the people felt defeated. They experienced feelings of entrapment.[2]

    The research also proved a connection to anxiety and depression, showing that this feeling impairs the mental health of those living in more impoverished areas. The clear connection between where you live and how you feel is disheartening, as it makes clear that some populations are inherently more prone to suffering than others.

    9 Ways to Take Back Your Power

    The good news is that there are pretty good solutions one can use to fight this horrible feeling. Some of them can provide immediate improvement, while others help within a matter of weeks.

    Here are 9 ways to take back your power when you’re feeling defeated in life.

    1. Write a Gratitude Journal

    Once a day, take three minutes to write down two things you’re grateful for. It might seem like a childish thing to do, but investing time in a gratitude journal has been scientifically proven to be helpful. Taking a note for yourself of the good things in your life makes you appreciate them more, and this kind of positive thinking also helps your brain change patterns.

    According to a study conducted in Berkeley, students who wrote a gratitude letter to their peers had “significantly better mental health 4 weeks and 12 weeks after their writing exercise ended. This suggests that gratitude writing can be beneficial not just for healthy, well-adjusted individuals, but also for those who struggle with mental health concerns.”[3]

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    Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, proved that participants who took the time to write about the good things in their lives had a huge increase in happiness scores.

    2. Take Regular Breaks

    When you’re working too hard, it can sometimes feel good because you’re pushing your limits. Nonetheless, you can’t work without taking breaks. Your energy is limited, and there have been a few studies proving this.

    According to numerous researches, “taking a break can be very beneficial for you and your work. Micro-breaks, lunchtime breaks, and longer breaks have all been shown to affect well-being and productivity positively. By taking regular breaks, you can boost your performance.”[4]

    3. Find Yourself a Mentor

    I’ve personally found this to be very helpful. Every issue that you’re going through has been experienced by someone before you, so learn from that. Having a mentor reduces stress and helps you both practically understand how to handle the situation and emotionally put things in perspective. It also helps remind you that you’re not alone.

    According to UNL, “mentoring provides professional socialization and personal support to facilitate graduate school success and beyond. Quality mentoring greatly enhances students’ chances for success. Research shows that students who experience good mentoring also have a greater chance of securing academic tenure-track positions or greater career advancement potential in administration or sectors outside the university.”[5]

    4. Meditation and Mindfulness

    Meditation and mindfulness are powerful tools that are widely available today through the use of apps such as Calm and Headspace. There have also been countless books written about them. One of them is “Wherever You Go, There You Are:  Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life” by Jon Kabat-Zinn’s. By being present, you can control where your energy goes.

    I used to be a skeptic, but I have learned that it’s helpful to meditate when you need a moment. Countless studies have proven that breathing helps build resilience. Just by breathing slowly and deeply, our body knows when to enter into a relaxation mode.

    We’re living at a time that makes us feel overwhelmed. We have too much on our plate and sometimes, we’re in a position that doesn’t immediately allow us to solve the problem at hand.

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    Don’t worry—by meditating, breathing, or just trying to relax, you can understand what to do by letting your mind some time to think and improve. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here reading this article!

    5. Your Self-Talk Is More Crucial Than Ever

    Our thoughts and beliefs can sometimes be discouraging. Many people tend towards a negativity bias, which means that we’re prone to notice negative thoughts and emotions more than positive and neutral ones. This is where self-talk comes in.

    Using self-talk to analyze whether your perceptions are helping you or not and whether they’re an accurate representation of reality can help you understand that things may not be as bad as you think. Research shows that this is, in fact, often the case.

    It’s a good habit to also remember to be kind to yourself. Some of us sometimes forget the crucial ingredient of self-compassion. It also might be a good idea to motivate yourself by watching others—Youtube might be a good place for that.

    Here’s an excellent example:

    6. Educate Yourself

    For whatever of life’s hurdles you’re currently facing, there’s an answer that someone else has already thought of. Google Scholar or even just plain old Google can help you find proven methods to deal with what’s bothering you. Educate yourself about your situation and learn what can and cannot work for you. Knowledge is power, indeed.

    7. Don’t Obsess About What Happened

    One of the proven ways to help sports teams stay on track is not overthinking the future and not getting stuck in the past. It’s useless to obsess about what already happened, and at worst, it can only harm your mental and emotional well-being.

    One psychological way to think about that is the radical acceptance approach, which is pretty self-explanatory. It means that you should accept what happened and instead, think about what you should do moving forward.

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    According to the NYU School of Medicine, “past experiences shape what we see more than what we are looking at now.”[6] So, it’s not easy to fight that. But it is also possible to change it by radical acceptance and growth mindset methods.

    8. Create a Vision for Your Life

    Another method for dealing with daily hardships is to think like an organization and create your life vision. When you understand your goals and purpose, it’s easier to not sweat as much as some of the difficulties on the way.

    According to “Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice” by Francis J. Greene,

    “Effective strategic management begins with the organization clearly articulating its vision for the future. The organization’s vision refers to the broad category of long-term intentions that the organization wishes to pursue. It is broad, all-inclusive, and futuristic (Ireland et al., 2009)”.

    It is imperative to understand your vision and implement it in your daily life to keep your balance.

    9. Stay Healthy: Exercise and Eat Well

    You don’t have to run a marathon. Simply walking or doing any other type of physical activity you enjoy can help pump things up and make you feel better physically and emotionally. Exercise can help you overcome depression and improve your mental health. It also enables you to feel in control in some cases, and that’s a powerful tool for someone who’s feeling defeated.

    Healthy eating and keeping yourself hydrated goes a long way. Sleeping more than 7 hours each night is also super helpful for improving your physical and mental well-being.

    Final Thoughts

    It’s normal to feel defeated in life sometimes. After all, we all have our unique struggles and challenges along our journey in life. The important thing is that you learn how to face these roadblocks in your life. Whenever you’re feeling defeated in life, you can start with these 9 ways to gain back power and control in your life.

    More Tips When You’re Feeling Defeated in Life

    Featured photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com

    Reference

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