Published on March 23, 2021

4 Signs You Have a Distorted Self-Image (And How To Fix It)

4 Signs You Have a Distorted Self-Image (And How To Fix It)

In the perfect world, we would take great pride in the body that we have and recognize that we are beautiful in our skin. However, the truth is, feeling like this is not all that common. Whilst it may be common for some people to think that they are not the best version of themselves and want to change it, some see their body in an entirely different way from how anyone else would see them.

This is what is known as a distorted self-image.

What is a distored self-image? If you have a distorted self-image, the way that you may see yourself is not accurate. You may think that you are shorter than you are and a bigger clothes size than you are. You may also focus on specific aspects of your self-image, thinking that they are much more apparent than they are to anyone else looking at you.

Not only can a distorted self-image impact your physical appearance, but it can also affect how you view your talents, your abilities and the values that you have too.

Signs That You Have a Distorted Self-Image

It can be hard to know when you have a distorted self-image; after all, the way you feel is how you feel. You may think that the way you view yourself is usual and is just the way you are. But this is not an accurate portrayal of you and how you fit into the world.

The signs that you may have a distorted self-image vary from person to person. However, there are some common signs that you should make sure that you look out for, as this will help you to identify the problem and try to work toward a solution for the future.

1. You Are Highly Critical of Your Body and the Way That You Look

Look in the mirror, what do you think? If you are immediately highlighting all your flaws to yourself, then you may more than likely have a distorted self-image.

It is normal sometimes to see an issue that you may want to fix; however, if this is all that you see and you keep telling yourself that these flaws make you unattractive, you may need to change the way you see yourself.


2. You Attach Shame to Your Weight or Your Appearance

Shame is a strong emotion, and it is not one that you should carry around with you. If you feel any shame when you look in the mirror or step onto the scales, this is not the right mindset.

While shame can come from your thoughts and feelings, there are also times when you may feel shame because of the things that other people around you have said or done over the years.

3. Your Sense of Worth Is Tied to How You Look

One of the most dangerous things you can do is tie the sense of worth that you have for yourself with how you look.

You are more than your appearance, and you should never link the two together. This is a recipe for a whole host of problems related to having a distorted self-image.

Instead, you should see your worth by what you can give to the world, your talents, time, and kind nature. All of those things make you the unique person you are, not whether you have cellulite that you are sure everything can see or that you think that your nose is too big.

4. You Spend a Large Amount of Time Focusing on Your Weight, Your Exercise and What You Eat

It is good to be active, and we should try to eat as balanced a diet as we can to keep ourselves healthy. But, this is not something that you should be fixated on.

If you find that you spend most of your time focused on what you eat, tracking your calories and exercise, this will leave you a) feeling deflated and b) with not much time to think about all the great things about being you and living your life.

How To Fix Your Distorted Self-Image

You may think that you can live your life even though you have a distorted self-image; however, the truth is, you can’t.


You need to change things, and you need to turn your view of yourself around. But how do you do this?

1. Take Small Steps

Changing how you see yourself will take time, which means that you need to ensure that you take steps that are as small as possible.

Don’t try to change your entire outlook on yourself instantly; you are just setting yourself up for failure. Instead, set yourself smaller goals, little leaps, which you can achieve, before moving on to the next one.

2. Stop Listening to That Critical Voice

You are your own worst critic, and the best thing you can do for yourself is to make sure that you stop listening to that little voice inside that is pointing out all your flaws. It will be hard to silence it, but you can replace those negative thoughts with positive ones when you focus on challenging those negative thoughts.

Check out this article for more advice: How Negative Self Talk Is Slowly Sabotaging Your Life

3. Learn to Appreciate Yourself More

One simple thing that you can do to improve your self-image is to take the time to remember what makes you so unique.

You only need to dedicate a few minutes to this, but what it will do is show you that there is plenty to love about being you and turn what could be a negative mood into a much more positive one.

4. Stop Finding Fault in Being Good Enough

There is no shame in being “good enough” sometimes; just being what you can be is great, and you should never feel any shame in this.


Here’re 5 Reasons Why Being a Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

So many times, we try to find fault because we are not excelling in everything. Sure, there are some things that we can push ourselves harder (particularly where we are talented or skilled), but, for the most part, trying on best is enough.

5. Realize That Comparing Doesn’t Help

It is good to take inspiration from other people and see them as the catalyst that you need to help you achieve the best possible. However, comparing yourself is not always a healthy approach. Other people are going to be better than you at things; they will be taller than you, have longer hair, and have a flatter stomach. This is just part and parcel of life.

Once you can appreciate that you should accept you, rather than wish you were them, you are one step closer to boosting your self-image.

Here’s How to Stop Comparing Your Life to Others (Step-by-Step Guide).

6. Find Supportive People

We should make sure that we spend time with people who make us feel great, rather than with those who make us feel less than great.

You will have people around you who can drain you with their negativity, so, as much as you can, limit your time with them. Instead, focus on those who make you feel great, supportive of who you are, and positive in their outlook on life. Not only will they remind you of all the great things you have, but they will also be a massive boost to your mood.

This is How To Stay Away From Toxic People When It’s Hard To Do So.


7. Eat the Right Food

We have already covered how those with a distorted self-image are likely to become fixated on the food that they eat. While it is not a good idea to let your diet take over your life, that doesn’t mean that you can’t try and eat the right foods.

Think about the foods that make you feel full of energy and those that don’t. Try and have as balanced a diet as you can, drink plenty of water and eat lots of fruit and vegetables.

However, don’t limit yourself to a life without treats. If you want to treat yourself, then do it. You are going to feel amazing for it, we can promise you!

8. Do Something Nice For Someone Else

If you feel down on yourself and your place in the world, then remind yourself just what good you can do. There is always going to be someone out there who could benefit from your help. So offer it!

Think about the ways that you could give back. You can give back to colleagues at work, you can give back to family and friends, or you could give back to your wider community. Any of these approaches will make you feel great and show you that you have worth and value too.

Find out Why Helping Others Actually Helps Yourself.

Final Thoughts

The simple thing to remember when it comes to self-image is that you are in control. You need to think about what you bring to the world and your place in it.

Don’t be too hard on yourself for your physical flaws; these cannot be changed. Instead, focus on being able to look after yourself. Not only will it help you to feel better about yourself as a person, but it will also help you to feel better about how you fit in with those around you.

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via

More by this author

Fabio De Sio

LIfe Coach & Motivational Speaker

How To Find Motivation To Learn Anything Outside of Comfort Zone 4 Signs You Have a Distorted Self-Image (And How To Fix It) What Are Vision Boards And Why They Work Understand Goal-Setting Theory To Make Your Goal Happen

Trending in Positive Thinking

1 How To Be an Optimistic Person When the Odds Are Against You 2 What Is Positive Thinking and How to Always Think Positive 3 4 Signs You Have a Distorted Self-Image (And How To Fix It) 4 10 Negative Thoughts We All Have and What to Think Instead 5 20 Small Habits That Will Help You Become Mentally Strong

Read Next


Published on April 15, 2021

How To Be an Optimistic Person When the Odds Are Against You

How To Be an Optimistic Person When the Odds Are Against You

When life gets tough and you are facing big obstacles, it is so hard to be an optimistic person. As we try to deal with these challenges, our feelings tend to be consumed by fear, frustration, and disillusionment. Inertia and indecisiveness overwhelm us, and being optimistic is the last thing we feel like being.

“I think I am going to have to supercharge my optimism to arm myself for the battle ahead.”—Rebecca Bloom

Why Is It Important to Be an Optimist?

Being optimistic is one of the best ways in which you can deal with the hard knocks in life. Having an optimistic outlook on life also has amazing health benefits as well.

Scientific research shows us that staying in a place where we feel fearful and disillusioned—where we have no energy and no hope—is not good for our overall wellbeing.

“Optimism helps people cope with disease[s] and recover from surgery. Even more impressive is the impact of a positive outlook on overall health and longevity. Research tells us that an optimistic outlook early in life can predict better health and a lower rate of death during follow-up periods of 15 to 40 years.”[1]

Your Power of Choice Is Key to Living an Optimistic Life

Although you may not be born a natural optimist, using your power of choice wisely can help you develop an optimistic attitude that will enable you to defy any odds that are against you. You are the only person who has control over whether you want to be optimistic or not! As the Dalai Lama has said, “choose to be optimistic it feels better!”

I love this quote from Neale Donald Walsch as he explains very clearly how the power of choice can be used by you to get the results you want:


“Therefore, be honest with yourself as to why you are choosing to do a particular thing. Then, do it gladly, knowing that you are always getting to do what you want. The statement “I have no choice” is a lie. You can choose. You simply do not prefer the alternatives available to you, for whatever reason. So you select the outcome that you most prefer.”—Neale Donald Walsch

Being an optimist opens you up to exploring new ideas, new experiences, and new possibilities. It frees you up to consider new options for how you can live your life for the better. It helps you look to the future with hope and positivity.

What Is Optimism?

The definition of optimism, according to Elizabeth Scott MS, is that it is “a mental attitude characterized by hope and confidence in success and a positive future. Optimists are those who expect good things to happen, where pessimists instead predict unfavorable outcomes.”[2]

However, being an optimist does not necessarily mean that you will be able to successfully deal with the challenges of life. Having a positive mindset along with an optimistic outlook enhances your chances to defy the odds and challenges you face in life.

What Is Positive Mindset?

The Oxford dictionary definition of optimism is “hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something” while positivity is defined as “the practice of being, or tendency to be positive or optimistic in attitude.”

Positive thinking looks for solutions, whereas negative thinking dwells on the problems and obstacles. Positive thinking is an emotional and mental attitude that focuses on the good and expects results that will benefit you. It’s about anticipating happiness, health, and success—essentially, training yourself to adopt an abundance mindset and cultivate gratitude for your own successes and those of others

Optimism and positive thinking go hand in hand. You can’t be an optimist and not have a positive mindset.


To defy the odds and sustain an optimistic and positive outlook Gabriele Oettingen, a motivation researcher at New York University and author of Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation, believes that it is not just about having happy thoughts—but it is actually planning for and anticipating those positive outcomes that get us results.

She describes optimism as having positive expectations about the future based on past experiences and positive thinking as wishful dreaming, which is not a bad thing if applied correctly!

She believes that if we apply optimism (which is a personality trait), we inherit with positive thinking (which is a choice we make) what Oettingen calls “mental contrasting,” which is important for motivation and setting in motion unconscious cognitive processes that are important in goal attainment.[3]

3 Strategies on How to Be an Optimistic Person

Applying these 3 strategies will help you to defy the odds you face in life while still being an optimistic person with a positive mindset.

1. Use the WOOP Model

Gabriele Oettingen combined her ideas with those of fellow researcher Peter Gollwitzer, and they came up with a motivation exercise called WOOP.

Using the WOOP Model, you work on goal attainment by applying these 4 steps:[4]

  1. Wishing for something you’d like to achieve.
  2. Imagining a good outcome.
  3. Examining the obstacles that might get in your way.
  4. Coming up with a plan for overcoming those obstacles.

Research results conducted by Gabriele Oettingen have shown that employing WOOP is more successful than positive thinking alone in helping people to fulfill their desired goals.[5]


Knowing how to activate your positive and optimistic outlook on life to get the results you want is key to you building your resilience to manage the hard knocks and challenges that life throws at you. Having a positive outlook on life takes work and the WOOP model is a framework that you can use to put your goals into action so that you can start to feel good about achieving the goals you set in life.

2. Cultivate a Positive and Optimistic Mindset

Adopting a positive mindset can help us get through difficult times. However, if we are not careful, we can tend to focus on thinking positive thoughts and banishing all negative ones. This can be exhausting and not a realistic way to deal with life’s challenges

I believe that the combination of a positive mindset and an optimistic view of life that is realistic is the secret weapon to successfully dealing with the obstacles and pitfalls we face in life.

Here are 4 things that you could do now that would enable you to grow and sustain a positive and optimistic mindset:

  1. Once a day, share positive feedback with a minimum of three people—work colleague, partner, children, friend, or anyone that you meet on the day. Making other people feel positive has lasting effects on your own life.
  2. Every morning when you wake up and at night just before you go to bed, praise yourself and reflect on all the positive things that happened to you during the day. Keep a journal and note down at least three positive things that you did today or are grateful for.
  3. Imagine a positive future for you – get a journal, and for seven days, write down all the great things you want to happen—tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year! This is the first step to dreaming big with an optimistic outlook on life!
  4. Consider a serious challenge or obstacle you are facing in your life right now and write down at least five possible positive outcomes. This exercise allows you to look at your challenges with an optimistic and positive mindset.

3. Recognize Negative Thinking

When you are dealing with challenging times and it feels like the odds are against you, it is hard to maintain an optimistic outlook on your life. You can’t push away or bury your negative feelings—what you resist will persist.

The best way to be optimistic despite the challenges you are facing is to acknowledge that bad things happen. Ignoring your reality isn’t helpful. Being realistic about your situation is important to you working out how to best work with the difficult situation you are facing. A healthy and realistic outlook of your life is a great way to accept that all you can do is your best and that you will be okay, regardless of the outcome.

When you are thinking negatively, take a moment to assess how realistic your thoughts are. Reframe your negative thoughts into more realistic statements that can help you maintain an optimistic view of the future and potential solutions.


Final Thoughts

As an optimist, you believe in hope, opportunities, and a brighter future. Choosing to be an optimist is a choice that comes with surprising benefits. Scientific research has shown that an optimistic and positive view of life allows you to live a healthier and happy life, despite the odds that are against you![6] When you are trying to be optimistic, especially when the odds are against you, having a positive thinking mindset is a secret ingredient to you successfully riding that rollercoaster of life!

Optimism and positive thinking go hand in hand. Positive thinking looks for solutions, whereas negative thinking dwells on the problems and obstacles. There is no doubt that the more optimistic you are about life the happier you will be.

Applying the three strategies above will help you to remain an optimist while successfully navigating your way through the challenges and tough times in your life.

“True hopefulness and optimism are what leads one to dare. It is also what lifts one back up to dare again after a failed attempt.”—Bibi Bourelly

More Tips on Being More Positive

Featured photo credit: Hudson Hintze via


[1] Harvard Health Publishing: Optimism and your health
[2] VeryWellMind: What Is Optimism?
[3] Positive Psychology: What Is Mental Contrasting and How to Benefit From It?
[4] WOOP: What is WOOP?
[5] Greater Good Magazine: Can Positive Thinking Really Make Dreams Come True?
[6] Harvard Health Publishing: Optimism and your health

Read Next