Five Tips for Maintaining a Positive Self-Image
Describe how you see yourself.
Now, describe how you think others see you.
In this day of selfies, cyberbullying, and social media, there is a lot of conversation about self-esteem, with young and old people. How you view your body, your life choices and your strengths or weaknesses is vital to leading a happy and healthy life.
“Your self-image can have a huge impact on your overall well-being;” says Dr. Heidi Allespach, a clinical psychologist in family medicine, internal medicine, and surgery at the University of Miami Health System/Miller School of Medicine. “A negative self-image is often at the heart of many chronic health issues including cardiovascular and gastrointestinal illness, depression, anxiety, and a myriad of other medical conditions.
Eating disorders and childhood obesity are also related to a negative self-image.
“Adolescents and young adults invariably have a difficult time struggling with how they view themselves,” says Dr. Allespach. “Being obese makes it that much harder.”
She emphasizes that achieving and maintaining a positive self-image is a process that occurs over time. Here are five tips to remember:
Treat your body as your temple
Maintaining a positive self-image requires self-care. When you exercise and practice personal hygiene, you will feel better about yourself. Remind yourself that you are worth it – because you are.
Don’t be a self-shamer
“Thoughts create feelings,” says Dr. Allespach. “In order to feel better about oneself and one’s circumstances, it is imperative to learn how to change negative self-talk to more positive, rational types of thoughts.”
Ignore that little voice in your head that criticizes you all the time. Instead, focus on things you like about yourself and on the things and people you are grateful to have in your life.
Strive to be a better you
“If someone perceives him or herself as too heavy, rather than crash-dieting (which is very hurtful to a body), that individual might make “little gentle decisions” to set small goals one day at a time – such as walking two minutes longer than they would have on that day or choosing a healthy side dish during the lunch they eat that day,” Dr. Allespach explains.
Accept your flaws. Shhh … here’s a secret: EVERYONE has them.
Fail forward, fabulously
Here’s another whopper: EVERYONE makes mistakes. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Take the opportunity to learn.
You do you
Comparing yourself to others can be detrimental to your self-image. “When we compare ourselves to those who we feel have more “stuff” – money, looks, youth, health, property, prestige, happiness, etc. – than we do, we automatically feel badly about ourselves,” says Dr. Allespach. “Remember, that perfect person who seems to have it all together, is likely struggling with their own self-image issues too.”
It’s important to remember that it’s normal to struggle with self-esteem and self-image. Be gentle with yourself.
“Treat yourself with the same kindness, patience and compassion as you would your child if they too were struggling with the same issue,” she says.
Written by a staff writer at UHealth