Let’s talk about the topic of self-image and how it relates to personal change. Everyone has a concept of themselves – a self-image. You hear somebody say, “I’m just not good at math” or “I’m just not a runner” or “I’m just not musically inclined” or “I can’t sing.” You hear them describe themselves in these kinds of terms. Where did they get those ideas? Who told them these things? How do they know they can’t sing or they can’t run or they can’t do this or that? Where did they learn these things?
We get so convinced of these ideas that we believe them and that becomes who we are. This can happen even in the positive sense. We hear someone say, “Oh, I’ve always been good at art” or “I’m a creative person, I’ve always been a creative person.” How did we get those beliefs in the first place? How did those beliefs get installed in our mind?
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that we do come to this earth with a package of personality traits and talents. Yes, there are certain attributes and strengths that make us unique as an individual. But I believe many of the strengths and weaknesses that we believe we have are self-created, that they were given to us or programmed in us either by our upbringing, or by the people we’ve associated with or by our personal experiences.
We try something once and fail and make a decision in our mind that we’re not good at that. We say things like “I just wasn’t cut out for public speaking” or “I’m just not good at football” or “I’m just not a sports-type person.” We tell ourselves this enough times that we believe it. I feel that the majority of those kinds of ideas are self-created and anything that is self-created can be changed.
Rather than have these beliefs created by default, we can create our own beliefs and concepts about our self. We can stop telling ourselves “I’m not good at this” or “I’m not good at that” and say “yes, I am a creative person, I’m an athletic person, I’m a health nut, I’m a good person, I’m a patient person” instead of “Oh, yeah, I have a bad temper” or “yeah, I’ve always had a weakness for chocolate.” I say baloney! You can change those things and it all has to do with your self-image, what you believe about yourself. That’s what your self-image is and it has a HUGE impact on what you CAN and CANNOT do!
Have you ever been to a hypnosis show where a hypnotist hypnotizes certain members of the audience and they do things they normally would not do such as belt out a popular song or sing opera? Well, this person has never sung opera before or at least never attempted it. How is it now that they are able to sing opera? Does the hypnotist have some magic ability to impart to this person some special talent? No! Anything you see somebody do in a hypnotist show is something that person already had the ability to do but just does not believe it. The only thing a hypnotist does is take away their unbelief and take away their fear and that is how they perform those things. The stutterer begins to speak normally. A shy person becomes extremely friendly and bubbly and able to carry on a conversation.
So when we see people in a hypnotist type show like that do things that they wouldn’t normally do, it is simply because the hypnotist has taken away their fear, has taken away their negative beliefs about themselves. The things you see them do, they already know how to do. They already are able to do them. It’s just that their beliefs limit them. The hypnotist just removes those negative beliefs about themselves and allows them to do the things that they really can do in the first place.
Exercise: Write Down a Description of Your Present and Future Self
Every one of us has these kind of incorrect, wrong beliefs about ourselves. If you sat down and just described yourself right now and wrote down a list of all the attributes about you, the positive and negative, what would you write down? “Oh I’m good at this, I’m not good at that, I’m this kind of person, I’m that kind of person.” Well, I think it’s worth it to sit down and do that. Describe yourself. What makes you you? Describe everything about you: your weaknesses, your strengths, your talents, your limitations, the things you’re good at, the things you’re not good at. Make a list.
Now examine that list and realize that most of what’s on that list is incorrect. Most of what’s on that list was created in your own mind as you grew up. These are programs or thoughts or beliefs that were given to you in one way or another, either by those that you associate with, your family, your friends or your personal experiences and you made decisions along the way about what kind of a person you are.
So examine that list. Now on another sheet of paper write another list of how you would like to be, the attributes, the strengths, the things you would like to have in your life. Now look at those two lists and realize that you have the power within you right now to reprogram your mind, to remove those negative beliefs and influences and to install positive beliefs about yourself.
You Can Change Your Self-Image
This whole list business has to do with self-image, of what you believe about yourself. It’s incredible how powerful that is. If you can realize that you can change those beliefs then you can make a huge change in your life about what kind of a person you are. You no longer need to believe that you are an overweight person, that you’re not an athletic person or a healthy person. That’s a bunch of baloney. It is, especially when you say you have certain weaknesses. Well, you have the same brain as anyone else, the same biological makeup as anyone else. It’s just that you have had things programmed into your mind that take you in certain directions when certain conditions exist.
It’s like the path or the trail that your mind follows when you encounter certain conditions. You can change that path. You can block the old path. A path not used will soon become overgrown. You can erase the old path and create a new path and part of doing that is changing the beliefs about yourself.
I have experienced this in my own life when I have actually made a concerted effort to see myself as another person that had admired. I forced myself, everyday, to say that “today I am going to think, act, walk and talk like that person.” There was a particular person that I admired at that time and it truly was amazing how my behavior changed throughout the day, how certain things never even came up as a temptation to me, how my mind went in certain directions that I normally wouldn’t go and my thoughts and my abilities had changed. That has to do with your self-image or your self-identity, who you believe or think you are in your mind. It’s a very powerful thing.
So the whole idea or thought or thrust about this self-image thing is that you really need to concentrate on your self-concept, what you believe about yourself and realize that if you have old, negative beliefs, you can change those beliefs. You don’t have to believe those things. You can begin telling yourself that, “I am a healthy person. I am a creative person, a musical person. I can sing. I can do this or do that,” whatever it is that you felt in the past that you couldn’t do or did not have the ability or talents to do. Realize that most of that is self-created and most of that can be changed. You have the power within you, so use it!
Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson