The Most Telling Opinions About Ourselves Are Our Own

Q: Can you explain the difference between self-esteem, self-image, and body image? I hear these terms used a lot.

 

 

A: Good question and one that helps us really look at and understand more about ourselves. The more we look inside ourselves, the better self-awareness we have, which influences us in very positive ways.

Self-image is how you see yourself in your mind’s eye, and how you believe others see you. It is the image you have when you compare yourself to others and make judgments about your physical looks, your intelligence, and your personality based on how you believe others see you. Your self-image influences every relationship you have, both in your behavior and in how you feel about yourself.

Give some thought to how you both talk to and treat yourself. Do you always put others’ needs above your own? Do you have negative statements about yourself that you repeat over and over?

Self-esteem is all about how you feel about yourself. Self-esteem is dictated by your internal feelings and evaluation of yourself based on your “perceived” self-image. If you are constantly comparing yourself to others and feel like you don’t measure up, your self-esteem suffers.

Body image is:

  • How you think and what you believe about your appearance.
  • How you feel about your body, including height, shape and weight.
  • How you sense and control your body as you move.
  • How you feel in your body, not just about your body.

Body image is how you feel about your body when you look in the mirror or visualize yourself. Do you think your body image is positive, negative or a little of each? What do you think your body language is saying about you right now?

Our self-esteem, self-image, and body image are very closely interrelated and are developed primarily in childhood. All the feedback we received while growing up, both positive and negative, from our parents, teachers and other authority figures, helped create our perspective and beliefs about ourselves. As we walk through our life, we have the ability to change any negative self-images we’ve picked up. Most people never question if the negative beliefs they have picked up are their own or someone else’s, such as a parent or other adult. Many times it is the adult with poor self-esteem that has passed on negative beliefs to children.

With my clients, I work on these personal images — the focus is on loving yourself and coming to terms with your body image.

Ten Tips to Improve Your Self-Image and Self-Esteem:

  1. Journal the things you like about yourself and things others have acknowledged about you.
  2. Further develop your strongest skills, knowledge, and education.
  3. Focus on the present moment and not on your past.
  4. Practice looking into your eyes in a mirror and saying “I love you.”
  5. Replace negative “tapes” in your head with positive, supportive self-talk.
  6. Never compare yourself to others. Accept who you are or make some changes.
  7. Spend time with people who value and respect you.
  8. Make changes in your appearance, wardrobe, hair, body language or behaviors that will improve your self-image.
  9. Dress to emphasize what you like about yourself and your best assets.
  10. Learn to genuinely accept compliments.
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