What is low self image?

(Photo: Canva)

When you hear the phrase “low self image”, who comes to mind?

  • The classmate who looks away or avoids eye contact when someone talks to them.
  • The co-worker who is hesitant to volunteer for a project or to suggest an idea.
  • The friend who is never satisfied with the way they look, sound, dress, or perform, and is always comparing themselves negatively to others.

What do these individuals have in common?

They have a picture of how they would like to be or how they think they should be, based on certain cultural or societal or family norms, and right now, they don’t think they have achieved that picture.

They are not good enough yet.

They are not as good as their peers or co-workers.

They need to work harder and do more to prove their worth.

While this is not a problem restricted to introverts, many introverts have shared that they have low self-image or low self-worth, which shows up in these familiar ways:

  • Not having boundaries, so they say yes out of obligation or social pressure even when it is not healthy to do so.
  • Not being able to assert themselves and advocate for their wants and needs, so their voice goes unheard and they end up feeling frustrated.
  • Not valuing themselves and their time, talents and experience, so they settle for lower pay or a role that underutilizes their strengths, or underquote when negotiating business deals.

How do you boost your self-image?

Instead of starting from the outside in and telling you to set SMART goals or change your mindset, I am going to suggest that you do the opposite.

Start from the inside out.

Until you change the way you see yourself, you will always struggle to ask for what you deserve, to take up space, and to put yourself out there.

Four beliefs for a healthy self-image

As you begin your journey to a healthy self-image, use these four beliefs to support you:

  1. I am loved, worthy, and enough. (Principle of Unconditional Self-Acceptance)
  2. I am open to receiving more of what is good for me and others. (Principle of Receiving)
  3. There are no accidents, only divine appointments. (Principle of Serendipity)
  4. I am surrounded and supported by good, wise, kind, and generous people. (Principle of Interconnectedness)

Principle of Unconditional Self-Acceptance

This says that I am already enough, just for existing. There is nothing more I need to do to be loved, worthy, or deserving. It’s the kind of love in a parent’s eyes as they look with awe at their newborn – “I love you just because you’re mine. You are beautiful and perfect just because you exist.”

Principle of Receiving

Many of us have been taught that it is more important to give than to receive, and that we must always put others’ interests above our own.

While this is true, it does not mean that we should make ourselves inferior or deem our own wants and needs as less important.

It is important to be able to receive with grace and gratitude, as much as it is to give joyfully and generously. Giving and receiving are part of the flow of life.

If you like to give but are reluctant to receive, you deprive yourself of much of what makes life joyful and pleasurable. You deprive others of the joy of giving. And you run the risk of burning out or making a martyr of yourself.

Principle of Serendipity

Have you ever wished for something, and it turned up in the most magical and unplanned way?

Or thought of someone, and they suddenly contacted you?

Our paths cross those of others for a purpose. When we find ourselves in a position to share some wisdom or life experience with others, it is not an accident. When someone connects us to someone else who is just the right person to help us, that too is not an accident.

When you adopt this magical mindset, your life will be full of surprises and adventures.

Principle of Interconnectedness

Much of society’s ills come from believing that we are alone, isolated, and we are the only ones suffering or having the problems that we have.

Have you ever shared your life story with someone, and found so much understanding, compassion, and a sense of shared experience (“That happened to me too!”)?

The more we put ourselves out there and share our message, our vision, our passion project, our life story, the more we discover that we are more alike than we are different.

This helps us feel less alone in what we are going through (especially the difficult times), and more hopeful about the future (because we know someone else has been through it, and has come out on the other side). There is a sense of community, of kindred spirits coming together and coming alongside to support and cheer each other on. What a gift!

P.S. If you are an introvert with low self-image and need extra support for an important interview, proposal or discussion, you can book in for a coaching session here.