When potential clients contact me about coaching, I talk to them about the commitment involved. If you want to improve one or more areas of your life, it doesn’t happen by accident. It takes hard work and commitment. You cannot just show up for a coaching session and then do nothing until the next session. Some people are ready to jump straight in and do the hard work but others need to do a little work on themselves first. Their self-image is often a barrier to making serious change in their lives. If they want to create a new and better life, they need to have a self-image which is consistent with the life they wish to create.
Self-image refers to the way in which you view yourself. The way in which you view yourself affects both your belief that you can do something, and your willingness to actually do it. You can have all the positive intentions in the world but if you place limitations on yourself, you will struggle to break through them. If you have really wanted to make changes and you have failed to do so, you need to take a close look at your self-image to see how you are holding yourself back.
Self-image and performance
The following are some of the key ways in which your self-image affects your performance:
There is so much going on in the world at any one time that it is impossible to take it all in. What we see is heavily influenced by how we view ourselves. If you truly believe that you can do something, you will find the resilience to persist. You will see opportunities where others see problems and you will see failed attempts as opportunities to learn.
The opposite is also true. If you have a negative self-image, you probably doubt your own ability. You will find countless excuses to give up or even to avoid starting. There may be a great opportunity staring you in the face but you won’t see it because you will be too busy looking at the ground.
Your core beliefs and values shape the way you view the world. For example, if you believe that this world is a world full of cruelty and misery, you will have no problem finding the evidence to support that view. However, if you believe that we live in a world full of joy and wonder, you won’t have much trouble finding the evidence to support that view either. You can find whatever you are looking for in this world; your beliefs will determine what you are looking for.
If you are optimistic you will see a world of opportunity and possibilities. You will believe that you have the ability to make something happen. I am not talking about being deluded; it will still take hard work and commitment but an optimist knows that if he puts in the right effort, he has a great chance of achieving his objectives. A pessimist will only see all the reasons why they cannot do it, ranging from the world conspiring against them to a lack of ability.
3. Thoughts and behaviour
Every choice you make, or action you take, starts with a thought. Your thought processes are very powerful. Research has shown that people who think highly of themselves and their abilities generally perform better than those who think negatively of themselves and their abilities. It is not the thoughts alone that produce the results but when you think positively of yourself, you are more likely to act in a manner consistent with that thought.
For example, if you think you are highly skilled in a particular area, you are more likely to seek out opportunities to work in that area. You are also likely to enjoy reading up on, and learning more about, the subject matter. The practice and the study will work together to improve your ability thus making the reality match your thoughts.
Of course, if you think negatively of your ability, you won’t even try.
Relationships are a critical aspect of life. There is an old Irish saying ‘Ní neart go cur le chéile’ which means that there is no strength without unity. Without positive relationships, you are not going to get far in life. If you want to advance in life, it is important to build relationship but relationship building is often sabotaged by your self-image. How you view other people is a reflection of how you view yourself, so, a negative image will lead you to have a negative view of others.
Have you ever noticed how when you feel good about yourself, your interactions with others tend to run smoothly? When you feel good about yourself, you trust, and have confidence, in yourself. This leads to you trusting, and having confidence, in others. However, if you lack self-confidence, and you do not trust yourself, you will feel the same towards others, which can damage your relationships. When you want to improve the quality of your relationships, you should first look at yourself, and your self-image usually makes a good starting point.
Developing a strong self-image is made easier when you have a clear purpose for your life and you are committed to living your values.
If you want to change your life, you don’t need to change the world. You just need to change yourself and the way you interact with the world. Adopting a positive self-image is not about feeling good and expecting everything to work out just fine. A positive self-image is about believing in your own ability to interact with the world in a positive way. This gives you the best chance to create the life you desire. It still requires a lot of hard work and commitment but with a positive self-image, you stop sabotaging yourself. You don’t just enjoy the end result; you enjoy the entire experience of life itself. Improving your self-image will improve how you mange yourself, how you manage your relationships, how you perform in work and life; and, you get to feel great in the process. You can see why it makes such a good place to start your journey of personal change.
Image credit: Nazia707