How to Cultivate a Positive Self Image

How we see ourselves has a major impact on how we interact with people around us and interpret what happens in our lives. From physical to mental and emotional, our opinion and sense of ourself as well as our level of self-respect is highly important. Here is a guide about how to cultivate a positive mental and physical self-image and have a healthy level of self-respect.

Positive Physical Self-Image

Our physical fitness and health is very important, but it’s also extremely important how we feel about our body image. The sad truth is that even some individuals who are very fit and healthy feel awful about their body image and consider themselves “fat,” “ugly” or “sloppy.” Advertising that Photoshops unrealistic body proportions on men and women contributes to this, but so does a general culture of perfectionism and self-criticism.

Focus On The Good Stuff

To develop a more positive body image the first step is to recognize and celebrate your positive attributes. What if you feel you don’t have any? You definitely do! Try to see the positive and appreciate yourself physically. Chances are you’ve been through many challenges in life physically, from accidents or sports injuries to long-term issues or health scares. You’ve come out the other side and you’re still standing: that alone is worth a round of applause. Appreciate yourself and look yourself proudly in the mirror. Your body is your friend.¹

Stop Comparing

It’s inevitable you’re going to see images or videos in the media or even see friends and family who you feel are physically better looking or more fit than you. The key is not to become hung up about it. If you want to compliment your cousin on his abs and let that be a motivation to you to hit the gym more that’s fine, but you should never let someone else’s success be a downer for you. You are on your own path and your body is a work in progress. Instead of comparing yourself to others compare yourself to the you of yesterday.¹

Cultivating a Positive Emotional and Mental State

Just as important and connected to encouraging a positive physical self-image is cultivating a positive mental and emotional state as much as possible. Life is going to throw things at us that bring us down, confuse us and make us furious, but at the end of the day there are things you can do to be in a good state mentally and emotionally more of the time than not. The top tactic you can do is to recognize negative self-talk and limiting beliefs and replace them with positive self-talk and beliefs. Don’t just say it either: prove it. Say: “I succeed at what I work at,” then go out and work hard for the week on a project and prove yourself right. Say: “I help those I care about because I am competent and like helping others,” then go out and do that. Following through beliefs with actions is a powerful way to raise your self-esteem and show yourself that you really are better than your doubts and insecurities.

The Buddy System

As crucial as it is to work on your own inner dialog and self-esteem, another big boost in the process is finding friends and colleagues who mutually reinforce your upward cycle. Work and play with people who inspire and challenge you and create a self-esteem team that boosts each other and always sets new heights so that you can keep moving upwards and accomplishing new and great things together.²

Building Deep Self-Respect

Deeply connected to self-esteem, positive body image and an upbeat mental and emotional state is the process of building deep self-respect. We all know how it feels to have someone disrespect us – even just a cashier or a stranger who takes our parking space. It makes us angry and disappointed in others. Think, then, about how it feels to disrespect yourself. Why would you? Think about all the difficult things you’ve gotten through in life and the friends and loved ones you’ve helped and supported. Remember back to all the positive compliments you’ve received and those who believed in you. Envision all the things you want friends and partners to be for you and then be that for them. Build deep self-respect by always being brutally honest no matter what and focus on your positives and progress even while you address and improve on your flaws.³