Positive self image.
What does “positive self image” mean to you?
I used to think positive self image was a place to get to where I’d finally feel good about myself all of the time.
It was a place where I’d be able to look in the mirror and like what I saw. I also figured that once I’d gotten here, I wouldn’t be making mistakes, clumsy remarks, or feeling anything but happy. “Positive self image” was the town I’d find once I’d accomplished that last achievement, met one more milestone, and received one more accolade. Then I’d feel good about myself.
Except I could never get there, let alone stay there.
After the initial high of an achievement or compliment wore off, I could hear a little voice inside questioning if I’d actually done a good job, wondering if others had really meant what they’d said, and/or speculating that I’d somehow embarrassed myself in the high of excitement. I’d find myself back where I’d started, thinking it would be the next thing that would make the good feelings stick, and that I needed to double down and work harder because I wasn’t there yet.
With a few more trips around the sun, I offer this idea to my younger self: Positive self image is less a place to get to and more a practice to build. (And we can all always start building and/or rebuilding our self image in the positive.)
Positive self image is built by reminding ourselves that we all make mistakes and will need to tweak things sometimes AND we are also fundamentally doing okay as human beings. It’s a sweet zone where we are aware of our strengths and our weaknesses, seeing we all have both, and that our unique combination is what makes us ourselves with a gift to share that no one else but us can. It’s finding that more and more, we can look in the mirror at the end of the day, know that we showed up, and appreciate who we see looking back (a perfectly imperfect and messy human).
A cool thing about building this practice is that we don’t need another award, promotion, degree, or certificate to get started, nor is it bestowed upon us by others. There is no “right” way to build it, and we can start wherever we are and go from there. As an added bonus, the efforts we make to build the practice will have a ripple effect, supporting the others around us in building their own positive self image.
To help build a practice of positive self image, here are three tools (or, as I like to call them, Real Life Skills) that I’ve found helpful:
- Real Life Skill #1: Life is Messy + thoughts on applying it
- Real Life Skill #2: Emotions and Feelings + thoughts on application
- Real Life Skill #3: Solid Foundation
These tools help by slowing the internal record playing “hey — just another reminder that you stink!”. This aids us in sidestepping our own judgment and inviting in more clarity for viewing ourselves and day-to-day life, and then seeing what might help us continue to build.
The more we practice building positive self image, the more forward momentum we develop. The more forward momentum we develop, the easier it becomes to get up more quickly when hard times in life hit and we fall down (which will happen, guaranteed). And less time down? That feels good.
Positive self image isn’t a place to get to — it’s a practice we can build. Always and whenever.