Self Image – Your Guidance System

How do you see yourself? Every person has a mental image of themselves.  We each carry our self- image with us at all times and it effectively sets the boundaries of the possibilities that we see for ourselves.  This therefore means that you have a set limit for what you think you are capable of doing.  This in turn can control what you are willing to try to accomplish because it is outside of who you define yourself to be.

Often this works to our benefit because it can keep us on track with engaging in the behaviors that we have always practiced to be successful.  If you are someone who works hard and who does what is needed to perform well and achieve what you put your mind to achieving, then your self-image is no doubt supporting you, your mindset and your daily practices.

However, what can sometimes happen for many of us is the exact opposite.  We can find ourselves in a position where our image of self is not helping us to be the kind of person we need to be.  It could be limiting the chances that we are willing to take because the level of effort feels overwhelming and it feels like we are moving too far beyond what we believe we are capable of successfully doing.  When this feeling emerges, we can set ourselves up for an internal battle.  When that struggle starts happening we can wind up engaging in self-defeating behaviors that sabotage our attempts to achieve what we have identified for ourselves.

To change our self-image, there are some specific actions that we can take:

  1. You have the power.

Start by recognizing that you are who you decide to be.  Recognizing that you have the power to change your image of yourself sets you up right away to achieve success in this area and reminds you that no matter how hard it might seem, it is possible.

  1. Self-Awareness is crucial.

Develop awareness of how you are thinking and become clear about how you see yourself.  You should be able to identify the statements that you routinely use to describe yourself.  The goal is to change or eliminate those statements that set up limited thinking patterns in your mind.

  1. Focus on your success stories.

Identify the previous successes that you have had in your life.  Focus on them and use them as replacements for the defeating thoughts that you would otherwise keep running through your mind.  You will need to engage in this consciously at first until you are able to make it a mental habit that you default to readily.  It will likely need daily practice to create the impact that is needed.  This helps to develop the success mechanism within you.

  1. Many of our fears are not real.

Many of our fears are concerns about things that have not yet happened.  Therefore, many of our fears are not about real things. Instead they are focusing on things that exist only in our imagination at that point.  We therefore have the potential to imagine a different outcome and set that as the destination that we want to reach.  This will give us something else to work towards and increases the chances of that positive outcome becoming our reality.

  1. Our mistakes do not make us failures.

Many of our imagined future failures are born out of our exaggerated perception of some past mistake of error.  It is important for us to note that our mistakes do not mean that we are failures.  Simply because something did not go as we hoped it would in the past, does not mean that we have not learnt or grown to a point where we could do differently and have a different outcome.  Past experiences do not have to limit present or future capabilities.

We are the product of our perceptions.  Every time we believe that we can do or achieve what we want, we will go on to make it a reality.  We have the power to use our imagination constructively to create the self-image we want so that we can in turn, realize the future we envision.  If we consistently think well of ourselves and have confidence in our ability to be successful, then we will achieve. If we think in negative terms, we will fail.  Everything depends on our image of our self.


Marjorie Wharton is a trainer, facilitator and coach who works with individuals and organizations to help them improve their performance.  She is based at the Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business in Barbados.  For more of her writing visit







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