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You are who you are. Or are you? Can you really change you if you want to?

Jun 14, 2021

Genetics vs environment

The nature vs nurture debate continues. Are we like we are due to genetics, or due to environmental factors?  And where does our self-image fit in to all this? Is that done and dusted at birth? Or do our parents, family, teachers and friends have an influence, as well as the images we see in the media and social media which we might try to relate or aspire to?

I think as parents, we perhaps don’t realise how much our children are like sponges – they soak up what they see and hear and as their parents, until a certain age, they don’t question anything, they think our truth is the truth. The way we talk to our children, as well as how we describe them to others in front of them, is all taken in. This is self-talk in it’s infancy (if you’ll pardon the pun) because as a child, you are internalising how you are described and that becomes your ‘truth’ – who you believe you are. I agree of course that yes, we are born with certain propensities, but I think these can be exaggerated and exacerbated by the way we are described by those around us.

Speak and you shall be heard

Recently as I sat in a café, there were a group of Mums nearby with their young children. They all got a chance to natter as their little ones became more focused on their food and I heard one say: “Harry has such a loud voice, don’t you darling? He can never seem to talk quietly and just makes so much noise wherever we go.” Now, I get it, maybe Harry is a noisy child. Perhaps he wants to ensure he is heard, maybe he’s a younger sibling so feels he needs to be loud so he's listened to. Perhaps he genuinely is a vocal little soul but if you want to ever help him to be consciously aware of the volume and how he can turn it down, it’s to use positive language such as: ‘Harry is getting so much better at being quieter when we’re out and about. He has a great quiet voice.’ I know the Mum was merely describing and commenting but even this is all absorbed by little ears.

You often hear parents say: “He’s so forgetful,” or “She’s such a serious little thing, always so responsible.” Unwittingly, we are pre-conditioning our children to believe something about themselves, before they’ve even had a chance to make their own mind up. With these descriptions permeating the child’s subconscious mind, they’re being defined as a ‘type’ of person, so it’s no wonder they gravitate towards behaviour which reinforces this image of them – it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You hear people saying: “I’m hopeless at planning anything,” or “People say I don’t know how to have fun, I do, it’s just that I always seem to be the one organising everything.”

As much as these influences may have an effect on us as children – when perhaps we’re too young to understand the power of our thinking, once we reach adulthood we’re more than capable of running our brains in order to be the type of person we want to be, leading the life we want to lead. Of course, some of what we believe is so deeply embedded, it can feel like it’s definitive – pre-destined, but it is possible to make the change in our belief about ourselves, by changing the way we think about ourselves.

The world accepts me at my own evaluation of myself.

How we feel about ourselves on a day-to-day basis determines how others perceive us and treat us. People’s treatment of you will match your self-image. Have you ever been taken for granted? For example, colleagues at work volunteering you for a common scenario such as: “Oh Lara will organise the leaving card and present, she always does.” ‘Lara’ always wanted to organise the card because it sat more emotionally comfortable with her but maybe there comes a time when she no longer wishes to do it – it’s a case of put up or shut up. We can only be taken for granted whilst we allow people to do that.

If you want to be different, if you want to change something about yourself, you can start Day One tomorrow. Maybe you want to have more confidence – to uplevel your self-belief; maybe you want to be bolder and challenge yourself; perhaps lack of organisation is holding you back and you want some order in your life so you can move forward; maybe you’ve been stuck in a funk for a long time and you need to break the cycle and move on. It is possible. You can do it. And I’m going to help you.

These five tips, if followed daily and with intention, can help you to get your self-image to a place when you’re ready to take on anything:

  1. To increase self-esteem, it’s important to create a more deserving self-image. Place more value in yourself than what others think of you. This can be done in a number of ways such as writing down an assumptive affirmation - the type of person you want to be but ensure it is in the present tense. As you don’t feel like that type of person right now, your brain will be doing all it can to make it so. Read frequently – this will help you move towards that new healthy dominant thought you are reinforcing regularly.
  2. Self-talk can be detrimental to our self-image: “I’m the kind of person who…” Stop ending the sentence with words such as ‘worries’ or ‘is over-sensitive’ and instead use words such as ‘feels empowered to make decisions’ and ‘is great at communicating with others.’ Ditch the self-deprecating language too – stop using words such as only / just / small / little. Be proud, be bold! Fake it ‘til you make it if needs be. ‘Go big and go large’ I believe is a saying used…
  3. Lessen the time you spend with Pity Parties – the moaners and whingers only fuel negative thoughts. Instead surround yourself with positive and inspiring people, those people who live a life where on a conscious level they’re thinking about where they are in life, what they’re doing and where they want to be next; these people exude the qualities that help attract success, in whatever form this may be for them.
  4. Who do you admire? Who inspires you? Do some research and check out the kind of books they read, the podcasts they listen to and the TED talks that inspire them. They started from where you are, and they may well have done the same research about someone they looked up to. Maybe find a way of getting in touch with them and ask if they have any advice for you – you never know who might respond. Finding a mentor can also help you to learn and understand what you can do to uplevel your self-image.
  5. Finally, write in your Victory Log every day. You don’t have one? Then get one. Whatever that victory is for you – getting out of bed when you’d rather curl up in a ball; maybe giving your first presentation as a new manager; perhaps travelling long distance on your own for the first time. When you’ve done it, log it. Read back on your victories regularly to give you a boost and ensure you continue to have faith in yourself and your abilities.

All of this takes work – self-improvement is a work in progress but when you do it, you reap the rewards. If you invest the time, effort and money in the thought work, listening to podcasts, watching inspirational talks, reading books and coaching, you will reap the dividends.

Let nothing and nobody define you – they can only do this with your permission. As Mark Twain said:

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”

Be you and be awesome.

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 Do you have a healthy self-image? 

If you feel it needs some work, the Mindset Coaching Membership can help you understand the tools and strategies needed. With Masterclass Teachings + Coaching + Accountability, we will help you to create the future you want. Find out more here.

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