Self-Esteem or Self-Image
These two phrases are very much buzzwords today. In fact, they have been for quite a while, and are probably here to stay. They are often used interchangeably, and do indeed mean very similar things. Self-esteem is the way we feel about ourselves and self-image is the way we see ourselves. It is not referring to how we see ourselves physically, but how we view ourselves mentally. No-one is born with a self-image. We form it from the experiences that we have from birth onwards, both positive and negative, and also from the way others treat us and talk to us.
If your parents always tell you how wonderful you are, you will probably grow up feeling good about yourself. If your teachers keep on telling you that you did not do the work correctly or well enough, you will probably grow up feeling very inadequate and unsuccessful. Our self-image will affect how we feel, how we behave, how we relate to others, how well we do at school and even how hard we try. People who have a good self-image are less likely to engage in self-destructive behavior patterns like substance abuse, or become involved in abusive relationships.
How can we improve our self-image if it is negative? We tend to view ourselves as a general picture of who we are. Actually we can break our self-image down into numerous picture frames. Try to look at yourself realistically by identifying all the positive aspects of yourself and all your weak areas. Applaud yourself for all the positive qualities and strengths that you have. Now separate your weaknesses and write down all the areas you would like to work on. Do so one at a time, step by step. If you stumble, get up, dust yourself off, and carry on going! Even the longest journey begins with the first step, and is taken one step at a time. Don’t wait till the end to applaud yourself, but even for having the courage to begin.