Self-image, as you might have guessed, is the opinion you have about the kind of person you are. It’s what you believe you can and cannot achieve, you do and do not like, you will and will not tolerate etc. And by the time we’re in our twenties, we talk about ourselves as though we’re just reporting the weather – not realising that the way we do and don’t identify ourselves has a HUGE impact on our actions and, in many cases, is the very thing that stops us from achieving our goals (or causes us to self-sabotage once we do).
So why is self-image so powerful? What does your opinion of yourself have to do with your goals?
Well, for one, your brain is always searching for information to validate your beliefs. So if you believe you’re a certain kind of person, your brain will filter the information around you in a way that proves that to be true. And therefore, your belief will be strengthened and you will continue to act in accordance with that belief.
But not only that. As humans, we LOVE being right. And if there’s one thing we always want to be right about, it’s ourselves. Nothing is more uncomfortable than realising we don’t know who we really are, so we do everything in our power to make sure that our reality is consistent with our beliefs about ourselves. We look for evidence to confirm our self-image is right, dismiss evidence that goes against our self-image and self-sabotage so we can hold onto our self-image. Even if we REALLY want to achieve our goal. And it’s actually kinda crazy!
If you’ve been struggling to achive a goal, it’s likely that your self-image is in direct conflict with you achieving your goal. And until you start to see yourself as the kind of person that can achieve your goal, you will create a struggle so you can be right about yourself. Even if you’re determined to achieve it! I’ll give some examples so you know what I mean:
If you’ve been trying to eat healthy but you believe you’re the kind of person that has to eat everything in sight, you’ll eat everything in sight so you can be right about yourself. If you’ve been trying to wake up early but you believe you’re the kind of person that always snoozes the alarm 10 times, you’ll snooze the alarm 10 times just so you can be right about yourself. If you’re trying to be on time but you believe you’ll the kind of person that’s always late, you’ll be late just so you can be right about yourself. And on the rare occasions that you do surprise yourself, you’ll dismiss them as being out of character just so you can hold onto your self-image.
This all happens subconsciously, of course. And consciously, you really will be trying your hardest to stick to your new habit or achieve your goal. But unless your self-image is in alignment with you achieving your goal, you won’t achieve it. Or you’ll self-sabotage when you do. So it really is SO important that you take a look at your self-image and begin to do the work to have it match your goals.