Define Your Self-Image: What’s Your Internal Voice Saying?
It’s surprising how often, and how natural, it is to judge oneself. Have you ever asked yourself “what was I thinking?” or thought to yourself “that was stupid” when doing something? That was your internal voice judging you. In some people that internal voice can be too critical and harsh, leading to low self-esteem. In others, it may be so weak that they don’t notice when they are mean or insensitive to others.
Listening to your internal voice and judgments of yourself is the first step to changing your self-image and esteem. Being aware of self-criticisms (or lack of criticisms) can help you determine your current self-image and decide if it needs to be improved and how.
One way to gain a better understanding of your current self-image is to imagine your reaction to certain situations. For example, if you start a beautiful morning thinking, “I can’t wait to get outside and do things!” instead of chiding yourself for not getting out of bed, “don’t be such a lazy slob; start moving”, you are exhibiting a more positive internal voice.
But sometimes it’s hard not to listen to an internal voice, even when that voice is critical. Sometimes a person passes internal judgments to protect him or herself from potentially awkward or uncomfortable situations. For example, telling yourself you aren’t able to do something or convincing yourself that others won’t like you is a way of avoiding potential failure or rejection. Because of this, people often put up with internal criticisms, even though they lead to low self-esteem.
But it is possible to protect yourself without limiting yourself. For example, you could place less importance on other’s opinions of you (“so what if they don’t like me?”), or emphasize the positive (“at least I wasn’t afraid to try”), or you can practice silencing your internal voice or correct it when it exaggerates your negative traits. It’s important that when you make internal judgments you also listen to the more rational part of yourself that can adjust for any unreasonable criticism.