Young Adult Self-image and Self-esteem: Saying “I am…”

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Ivana Pejakovic, B.Sc, MA

Your self-image doesn’t always have to do with the objective and factual…in fact for most of us…the picture we have of ourselves doesn’t come close to anything of our true potential. The picture you have of yourself is simply a way you learned to think about yourself. This is why someone you think is smart may think and say, “I can’t do it, I screw up all the time.”

The best way to understand your self-image is to pay attention to your sentences that start with “I.”

I never… OR I want to…
I can’t… OR I can…
I won’t… OR I will…
I don’t know… OR I’ll learn…
I’ll fail… OR I’ll do it…
I’m not… OR I’m…

Some of these sentences have the potential to end in positive and others in negative. Your beliefs about yourself are ALWAYS mirrored in how you speak about yourself.

Sentences that start with “I” or “I am” are your beliefs about who you are and what you can do. They can literally raise or tear down your self-esteem.

Your self-esteem

It’s easy to confuse “I can’t…” with “I don’t want to put in the effort.” If you have a habit of not putting in effort, your negative self-talk will not only get you to think you’re ‘lazy’ but overtime you’ll talk yourself into thinking you can’t accomplish much (it will become your self-image).

It may be more than that…

“I don’t want to put in the effort,” may have to do with your value system. You may feel something is important to do because it’s what you’ve been told, but that doesn’t mean it matches your personal value system. If it doesn’t match your values, it explains why you have low motivation to work towards a goal you were told is important.

Before you speak poorly about yourself and create a bad self-image…think about what’s really important to you.

In the meantime, work on building your self-esteem with these simple steps.

4 Tips to build self-esteem…
1. Refuse to speak badly about yourself. Start your sentences with “I” and finish them with positive endings.
2. Live with compassion. Everyone makes mistakes and there’s no reason why you won’t. Your options are to see the humour in them by learning from your mistakes or to live in despair.
3. Don’t let failure keep you down forever. You’re not your achievements. People are much more likely to remember you by how you treat them then by what you’ve accomplished. Focus on treating others well.
4.Understand your personal value system.

Best Wishes!

Ivana, Toronto Self-esteem Life Coach

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