Tag Archives: internal image

New Year. New Relationship

12 Jan

When we think about relationships, we typically define them in terms of family, partners, friendships and even business. What we are less likely to consider is that we have a relationship with ourselves. Think about it, you spend every day of your life with you, have an internal dialogue with yourself, and choose how to treat yourself. This relationship with YOU is the biggest and most significant one you will EVER have in your life. Yet, how often do we really invest in this relationship or take a good hard look at whether it’s ‘working’ or not?

Our ideal relationships are characterised by such qualities as love, respect, kindness, and understanding, and yet the relationship that we have with ourselves can often be diametrically opposed to these qualities.

What is your relationship like with yourself? Are you an abusive and judgemental ‘partner’ to yourself? The shocking truth is that if we were in love relationships or friendships as critical and loveless as some of those we have with ourselves, we’d think it unsupportive and even abusive and consider getting out!

So how do we foster a healthy relationship with ourselves? The answer is perhaps not so difficult as you might think. Look at all your other relationships – which ones do you consider to be the most nurturing, supportive and loving? What has made them this way? The strategies that you use to cultivate a good relationship with others are the same as those for developing a new relationship with yourself:

Learn acceptance

Think about friends or relatives who you accept just as they are, despite them being irritating at times! Embrace all parts of yourself; they make you who you are.

Become non- judgemental

With good friends it’s easier to be non-judgemental of their behaviour, because we accept them as they are. Practice taking an objective view of your behaviour, looking at it factually rather than labelling it as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

Practice forgiveness

Let yourself off the hook – stop beating yourself up over things you think you should or shouldn’t have done. Think of all the times you’ve forgiven family and friends.

Cultivate kindness

Be kind to yourself – think of yourself as your own best friend. How would your best friend comfort and support you when you are going through a tough time?

Love you

Relationships endure because of love – often unconditional. It’s not egotistical or self centred to ‘love yourself’ – it’s vital for a healthy relationship with yourself. In fact, until you can learn to love yourself, it is very difficult to love others.

Respect yourself

In the same way that abusive behaviour is not acceptable in our relationships with others, respect should be an integral part of how we interact with ourselves. Being abusive in any form – through a critical internal voice, or physical self abuse (excesses of alcohol, over or under eating, taking drugs, self harming) are not signs of self respect.

Make 2012 the year that you enter into a new special relationship – the one you have with yourself!

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Projecting a positive image – why looking good is only half the picture

21 Nov

It’s likely that at some time or other we’ve all experienced the good feelings associated with wearing something we really love.  When we look in the mirror and like our appearance (our external image), this gives us a sense of confidence that helps us project a positive image to others.

However, the image we present is not only about our external image.  Our internal image also has a vital role to play.

Internal image

Our internal image is based upon the beliefs that we have about ourselves.  These beliefs are formed through our life experiences and can be helpful or limiting.  For example, we might believe that we are attractive and likeable, or ugly and repulsive to others.

Helpful beliefs enable us to behave in a confident manner and project well, while unhelpful beliefs can result in us feeling unworthy and unlikeable, leading to a poorer image.

In order to consistently project a positive image we must therefore look and feel good about ourselves.  Changing how you look alone will not create a positive impression if it is constantly undermined by a poor internal image.

Overhaul your beliefs

When we feel anxious or nervous about doing something, it is likely that there is a limiting (unhelpful) belief we hold about ourselves that is fuelling our anxiety.  This belief makes itself heard through our ‘inner voice’ or the critic inside our head that tells us we can’t do something, or that if we do, we’ll look stupid (you know the voice!!).

To ensure your beliefs don’t undermine your internal image, it is helpful to do an overhaul of those beliefs you hold about your appearance.  Becoming aware of these enables you to keep the helpful ones and to challenge, remove and reframe the ones that are less than helpful.

Here’s an example.  Say that you hold the belief “My thighs are huge – if I go out, everyone is going to think they are hideous and not want to talk to me.” What impact do you think this will have when you are asked to go out with friends, or on a first date perhaps?  It’s likely that you will feel anxious and nervous.  You may avoid going out altogether, or if you do go, you will constantly be obsessing about your thighs.  Your awkwardness will show, perhaps creating the impression that you aren’t interested in other people, who may avoid you as a result. In this scenario, your beliefs have created the very situation you are trying to avoid, and you are likely to assume that others are avoiding you because of your huge thighs!

Awareness of such a belief is the first step in improving your self image, so be aware of the kind of beliefs that your inner voice is expressing.

Once you are aware of the belief, challenge it.  What evidence do you have for this belief?  Has anyone ever said anything mean about your thighs?  Look for evidence to contradict this belief – when did someone compliment you on how you looked in a skirt or a pair of trousers that showed off that part of your body?  If you don’t think you can challenge the belief yourself, get someone you trust to do this with you.

Hopefully you’ll find some contrary evidence that helps to discredit your belief.  Now, replace it with a more helpful belief.  What belief would you like to have instead?  What would help you feel more confident?  For example, perhaps you like the way your overall figure looks in certain outfits.  A more helpful belief might be:  “I like the way my figure looks when I wear a dress, and my thighs are part of that overall look.”

To embed this new belief you’ll need to repeat it.  This can mean saying it out loud; writing it down over and over, or putting it up somewhere you can see it every day.

Look for evidence that this new belief is true – what compliments have you received when you wore dresses, or any other outfits?  How differently do you feel as a result of this new belief?  How are people reacting to you as a result?

Be patient, it takes time to change old beliefs, but keep putting in the work, as it will be worth it.  To consistently project a positive image, you have to do the hard work on the inside as well as the outside.