self-image | personal development series

Hello! My name’s Maggie, and you’ve happened upon a new post on Chickadee Lover Maggie. I’m happy to welcome you to my blog! This is the place where I share what I’m learning, what I love, and what makes me laugh. I hope you find something here that interests you!

Well, this is the third installment in my self-esteem study series! That’s not counting the series introduction (here), where I talked about my experience with self-esteem and didn’t actually learn anything about it. lol I guess I’ll still need to do that for the series finale! (Funny how I didn’t start with that… would that have made more sense?)

You can read this series out of order, as I didn’t really build upon the last post in such a way that it would be confusing. However, I would encourage you to read all of them! It’s a really positive, helpful series where I’m sharing my findings on self-esteem so we can learn more about what we might want to work on in our personal growth journeys. 🙂

A little disclaimer: At this point in my research on self-esteem, I’m thoroughly mixing up all of the interrelated personality terms. There are apparently some that mean the same thing, others with a slightly different definition, and so on. Therefore, I’ve chosen the four that make the most sense to me, which helps me to narrow down my research and focus on those in particular.

Now it’s time for a quick review of the four self-esteem elements!

self-esteem: a personal evaluation of our worth

self-efficacy: acknowledging how likely we are to succeed

self-compassion: treating ourselves with kindness and understanding

self-image: the big-picture view of ourselves & how we view others perceiving us

What we see in the mirror and how we think about ourselves overall is self-image. This can be based on fact, or it can originate from false beliefs. It embodies all of the qualities of our personality and understanding of ourselves: what we see, what we believe others see, and what we desire to see. It’s a mashup of who we think we are and who we want to be.

The six proposed dimensions to self-image are how we see our…

  • physical appearance
  • personality
  • intelligence
  • skills
  • values
  • sexuality

It would take a detailed self-evaluation to determine if you have a positive or negative self-image, since it is not one thing in particular. You may be strong in four areas and generally weak in two, or the other way around. A very important thing to remember about personality psychology is that we are constantly changing! So if you were to evaluate yourself today, then answer the same questions in a week, they’d be different. There may be a recurring theme, but you certainly wouldn’t get the same results every time.

Now a moment from our sponsors (me):

The more I learn in this series, the less I think I know. It’s the self-esteem paradox. 😂

Here’s a really interesting example of self-image from my own life. When I was fourteen, I had extra weight on me and when I looked in the mirror, I wanted to lose weight. Years later when I was nineteen, I lost weight when I changed my diet and exercised more. When I looked in the mirror, I wanted to gain weight. Whether I had extra weight or I’d lost the excess, I couldn’t locate my goal weight… but that’s because my self-image was stuck in a negative body image mindset.

I thought I wanted to be skinny and my thinking would change because I’d lost weight. What I actually needed to lose was the negative beliefs and thinking patterns! Those were heavier on me than any amount of body weight.

It’s interesting to think about the idea of our self-image as having the three components I mentioned earlier: what we see, what others see, what we want to see. By becoming aware of this, we can begin to learn about whether or not our self-image is based on reality.

The easiest way for me to do this is to take a step back and look at myself – my past experiences, my current behaviors and habits, etc. – from a friend’s perspective. It can feel strange to do at first, but it’s really helpful to get out of my own head and challenge myself to look at me – Maggie – from a different angle. I know that I will feel very wrapped up in misconceptions and past feelings about myself that I’ve claimed as who I am, which usually results in my self-image not even closely matching what others see.

When I base how I see myself on how others have acted in the past, that can be detrimental. For example, if I’m evaluating how fun I am to be around on how one person mistreated and excluded me years ago, I’ll feel like a pretty un-likeable person. However, if I see myself the way my closest friends see me – worth being around, with a good sense of humor and a fun personality – I’ll feel really good!

I know our knee-jerk reaction and instinct is to latch on to the negative experiences we’ve had and bad ways we’ve felt. But they don’t have to define us. We can acknowledge that they happened without claiming them. That happened with me yesterday – I had a moment where I felt really down, and usually that’s reason for me to stay down for the rest of the day and have low self-efficacy in the weeks to come. But I didn’t want that to happen, so I separated how I felt about that situation in my mind: it was something that happened and wasn’t an even that represents how I feel all the time. This is so important to do!

It’s crazy how much our feelings and situations control our lives. Becoming aware of our thoughts, tendencies, and false beliefs is the first step in making huge positive changes in our self-image, self-esteem, and our personality in general.

Thanks so much for reading! Writing this series has definitely opened up my mind to the specific things I can focus on making changes in, which is awesome and eye-opening. That funny quote I shared about the paradox of self-esteem was true, but I really am learning a lot! I just have to filter out the things I didn’t understand or confused me so I can make these changes. haha

Special thanks to this article for teaching me about self-image!

What are some examples from your own life of positive and negative self-image? What have they taught you about yourself? Let’s chat in the comments!

27 thoughts on “self-image | personal development series”

  1. Wonderful post! I used to hate every part of me, but I’m learning to appreciate myself. For example, I used to not like my eyes because I thought they looked funny and cross eyed. Then one day, I turned on all the lights in our room, opened the blinds and took a good look at my eyes. I found out that my eyes are a gorgeous shade of blue and the color changes depending on what I wear. Also, I found out that constantly applying lip balm makes my lips look better which changes my whole face. You know, stuff like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Ivory! Woww that is so inspiring to read ❤ It can be hard to pinpoint what it takes to build self-image, but you quickly found out how: starting small! It's often the little details of life that have the biggest impact. When we're in tune with the seemingly minor elements, all of the big things slowly come together ❤ Thanks for sharing this part of your story.

      Liked by 1 person

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