Self Image - Is Yours Yours?
How happy are you with the way you look? It’s interesting to hear how people answer questions about self image, isn’t it? More often than not, it’s not a positive answer. Why? Why are we so quick to be hard on ourselves?
Your answer to that question affects your life more than you may know. Some psychologists even go so far as to say that your belief of your self image determines who you are and who you will become. So, what’s your “story”? What self image belief are you living… and where are you getting it from?
Wikipedia explains “A person's self image is the mental picture, generally of a kind that is quite resistant to change, that depicts not only details that are potentially available to objective investigation by others (height, weight, hair color, sex, .I.Q. score, etc.), but also items that have been learned by that person about himself or herself, either from personal experiences or by internalizing the judgments of others.”
We all have our own story, our own “script” that is made up of what we believe ourselves to be and what we believe others think of us. The first part is non negotiable right? Ok.. the things we know and (probably won’t) change: height, sex, race, age-ish. But, what about all the other qualities that make up who we are? What about physical attributes that seem subjective like weight, style, sex appeal, and even hair color? What about intelligence, relationships, accomplishments, and abilities? In the process of judging others and being judged, our self image is eroded.
Our scripts about ourselves can be negatively altered by outside influences so easily and even subconsciously. It’s important to understand your script, your story you tell of the beliefs you have adopted about your self… and where they have come from.
A few years ago, I began to struggle with my body image for the first time in my life. As I started getting older, I found my body changing. Thanks gravity. Anyway, still working as a professional model and actor, it was very important to me to feel my best. I began feeling down when I looked at the covers of the magazines, you know…even just browsin’ at the grocery line. As I looked at more and more pictures of “perfect bodies”, I felt a little depression and self doubt creep in. I began to think about my body more and like it less. And here’s the KICKER! One of my friends is a professional digital photo retoucher. I have sat with him in his office for hours marveling as he gave models/actors cyber tucks and tans . . . computer face lifts, boob jobs, hair transplants… the works . . . for these same magazines! So, why was I so willing to believe these pictures now, when I knew the reality?
When I finally had had enough of my own negative attitude, I set out to do something about it. I realized that I had to take a good look at my story… and you know what I found? I had slowly begun to think and say things like, “My body isn’t the same as it was. I’m getting old and fat. I can’t keep up with the age and I hate it.” Blah, blah, blah… on and on. I began to feel like the “old” actor in class. I had begun to feel like I was being judged for my age. I was buying into the myth that getting older was just not so great and I was less powerful because of it. I was losing my self esteem… my self confidence… because I was listening to my own pitiful story. My own story was making me older.
As soon as I became aware of it, I realized I had the power to change it. I began to challenge and change my story and my depression lifted.So, what is your story?What self image are you manifesting? Think about these questions for a minute:
What do you think of yourself physically?
How do you think others think of you physically?
What do you think of your character, personality, skills, abilities, and other attributes?
What do you think others think of your character, personality, skills, abilities, and other attributes?
Are you aware of criticisms from your past that have damaged your view of yourself?Have you allowed them to accumulate?
Do you like yourself as much as you believe others like you?
Your answers to these questions make up your story. Challenge your answers… where are they coming from? YOU? Or outside sources? If you believe you are young, then you are young. If you believe you are sexy, then you are sexy! If you believe you are the best artist in your class, you are the best artist in your class.
I got an email from a girl recently who wanted an evaluation on a monologue she was preparing. She spent most of her introduction email telling me how “bad she is”… how she’s “just beginning” and how she will “probably never get the job”, but she just thought she’d “try anyway”. As you can imagine, I thought I was going to be viewing a true beginner. I expected to see an artist who was nervous and perhaps unfocused. She was anything but. Her work is interesting and unique. She made strong choices and I felt her passion in her work. But, if I was a casting director and she had come in the room with that “story”… I might not have been able to look past it. I might have believed her story and discounted her before I even saw her work.Know your story!Make sure it’s YOURS. Make sure the beliefs you have about your self image are based in your feelings and truths. You will find your self confidence grows as you tell your positive story more and more.
Challenge yourself to come up with a ten second version of your story. What would you say if someone stopped you in an elevator and asked “who are you”? I had to do this on the “about me” page of this site… and let me tell you, it’s not so easy. Ideas to include in your story: achievements, goals, ambitions, physical characteristics, how far you’ve come, how far you’ll go, your uniqueness, how strong you are, your passions. What do you want people to know about you?
Write your self image script… and make sure it’s your truth.
Or just tell it…. Until it is.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I have been a professional artist and artist coach for over 15 years. I established a website with articles, stories and free online coaching for creative personal development. Come check it out!