By Julie Fuimano, Personal & Career Coach
Special to NurseZone
In a recent coaching session, Barbara, 49, referred to herself as a girl. I questioned her about this reference to herself in this way and in doing so it became clear to her that her self-image needed to be updated. She is very much a woman.
Language matters. Everything you say – especially to yourself – reinforces your behavior. So if Barbara continues to think of herself as a girl, she acts in ways that reflect her self-concept. This behavior shows up in her adult life in different ways such as not sticking up for herself, not being able to say “no,” and approaching things timidly. These actions then produce certain unpleasant and undesirable results in her life. By shifting her self-image, she taps into her personal power. Her approach to life will be different seeing herself as an adult woman. As an adult woman, she has a lot more power to impact her environment, her life, and her relationships as she will certainly behave differently.
Often your self-image is a snapshot of who you were at some point in time which may or may not be who you are today or even who you want to be. When you carry an old self-image, you will never match up to that person because the person you are right now is not the person you were. Each day, you are anew and each day there is an opportunity to recreate the person you are becoming. By holding onto an old self-image, you are living in the past. “Living in the past makes the present go away.”
An outdated self-image is one way you learn to get in your own way of achieving success. Seeing yourself as you were at some point in your life holds you back from moving forward and embracing life as it happens. Change happens constantly, even to you—your body, mind, spirit and your environment. When you hold onto things from the past including old hurts, old goals and dreams, as well as out-dated beliefs and other people’s ideas of who they want you to be and what they think you should do with your life, it’s like carrying old baggage with you on your life journey. Life is like a journey of a thousand miles. Each one of the old things that you carry forth with you on your journey today can be likened to a chain wrapped around your ankle. So not only are you looking behind you if you’re living in the past, but you’re also dragging stuff along that you need to let go of. It’s extremely draining and cannot possibly be fulfilling. Life is meant to be effortless and fun. Carrying all those chains is heavy! And it prevents you from flying.
Letting go of past stuff frees you to focus on the now and to look ahead to a bright future. Wouldn’t you prefer to be enjoying what’s happening right now rather than hold onto something that happened at another time and place in history?
Your self-image might also be a reflection of what others see of you. In other words, you might be projecting the attributes of the person you think you should be based on social standards or by pleasing others. This is not real. Your true self is hidden and you are like the actor on stage, although this is the stage of your life! This way of behaving is difficult to maintain because you never know whether the decisions you make are in your best interest. Looking outside yourself for validation of how you
should be or act is very draining and it does not allow you to stand in your own power. You actually give your power away to some external person or thing.
You need to create your own rules, chart your own course and be the person you want to be – the person you are meant to be. Learn to seek approval from yourself and to honor the true you. When you learn to look inward using self-discovery techniques - accepting whatever you discover about yourself without judgment - you learn to act in ways that honor you, creating and holding yourself to high standards. You are wonderful and you don’t need others to tell you who you should be and how you should live. Stop hiding beneath your fears and unleash your true nature, your true self. The person who you are is so much more than just an image.
Self-image is a function of the ego. You must take care to simply see yourself as you are and not how the ego would have you be. You don’t want to compare yourself to anyone or judge yourself. Think of the image as simply a snapshot, or picture. There is no attachment to how it should be; it simply is a reflection of who you are. It is the reality of you as you are today, which is ever-changing so your image needs frequent revisiting.
By becoming more aware of how you think, how you see yourself, and how you relate to life, you learn to have more compassion for yourself and others. You are the most important person in your life and it is you - your Inner Self - who requires your approval and consideration. When you update your self-image, you discover how truly amazing you are and how wonderful life is right now. If there is something you’d like to change or do better, then you can take the actions necessary to correct, edit, or change yourself. Each day is a new opportunity to create and recreate yourself. This is your life. You only get one chance to be here now to make a difference. And the way to live your best life is to remain aware of the present, let go of what came before, and keep your eye on the horizon while navigating through life today.
Are you ready to unleash your power and create what you really want in your life, career and relationships? Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN is a Success Coach working with people just like you who are ready to get out of their own way and bring out their personal best so they can increase their personal effectiveness and learn to speak their truth. She is the author of “The Journey Called YOU: A Roadmap to Self-Discovery and Acceptance,” the manual for effective living. To explore how coaching would work for you, call (610) 277-2726 or email Julie@nurturingyoursucess.com
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