Methods for maintaining a positive self-image
July 15, 2010 7:46 PM   Subscribe

I have a pretty healthy self-image, but there are some things I'd like to improve. What methods have worked for you?

I'm actually quite happy with my life right now, but there are a few things I'd like to improve (mainly boosting my self-confidence in terms of meeting new people and making art). I want to be fearless, not fearful. I want to get out of my own way. I've been in therapy, so I'm familiar with many of the tools that are used to help develop self-esteem and create a more positive self-image. Mantras, visualization, keeping a journal, fake it till you make it, subliminal recordings, self-help books... I'm interested in knowing what has worked for you.
posted by lucysparrow to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Keeping a journal has always worked for me. It's a daily log of your moods and thoughts. It can be as simple as a sentence or two typed up every day in a Word document, or you can actually use a physical journal and write it out in pen or pencil. I prefer the digital version, but then i hate paper.
posted by dfriedman at 7:54 PM on July 15, 2010

If you write at all, I would encourage you to drive about 20-30 minutes out of your town and go to a poetry slam/coffeehouse open mic night. There's very little chance you'll see someone you know, and therefore the emotional risk is much smaller. Sharing your art with others, though, can do wonders for your confidence.

Sip a latte, take a deep breath, and get up to read.
posted by karminai at 8:17 PM on July 15, 2010

I'm big on visualization. I like to take time every day to visualize and feel my life going the way I want it to go, and then I try to maintain those feelings with me throughout the day. The only limit to your self-image is your imagination. Also, a great way to rid your doubts and fears of their power is to express them verbally in a mocking fashion.
posted by Theloupgarou at 8:24 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh, also, spend a weekend and some money to make your bedroom a space that you love to be in.

If you aren't comfortable in your own space, you'll never be comfortable in your own skin.

You'd be amazed at the difference that a vase of flowers or a coat of paint can have on your mood.

You can choose the environment you surround yourself with. If it can be pollution or art, why not choose art?
posted by karminai at 8:30 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The power of yes. I cannot overstate this: Learning to do the things that scare me has made me a new man. By doing the things that frighten me, I've learned that fear is just an excuse. I can do anything I want. The J.D. of today is 10x the J.D. of five years ago, and it's all because I've learned to say "yes' where I used to say "no" because I was afraid.
posted by jdroth at 8:33 PM on July 15, 2010 [10 favorites]

I've realized that with most things the worst thing that will actually happen isn't as bad as the worst thing that I think will happen.

I was the kind of person who would obsess about all the ways something could go wrong. Getting out there and doing things has taught me that while things can and will go wrong they won't be the spectacular, embarrassing failures that I imagine. More like slightly awkward and easily laughed off fodder for great stories to tell at a later date.
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:38 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For all our insight, obstinate habits do not disappear until replaced by other habits... No amount of confession and no amount of explaining can make the crooked plant grow straight; it must be trained upon the trellis by the gardener's art. &mdash Carl Jung

Work on becoming more aware of why you feel your self-confidence needs boosting. That may hold the key for being more free, even cavalier, about your art. If you find yourself in a rut, following those old habits around because it's easy and comfortable, you'll never find the power to explore what you can be like as a confident, energetic woman.

Don't fear change. Fear is the biggest obstacle any of us have to achieving success, happiness, contentedness, even simple serenity. It's so much simpler inside our cocoon of old habits. Wordsworth said, "Habits rule the unreflecting herd." Don't be afraid to reflect on what it is that's keeping you from achieving your full potential.

From someone who is on the other side of having changed nearly everything in my life, twice, I can say confidently that change is good. Pursue it.
posted by netbros at 8:40 PM on July 15, 2010

From Ms. Vegetable:

The corniest thing that really has worked: "self affirmations." I can't tell you how many times I heard that phrase in group therapy.

And they work - if you use them.

Yesterday, for instance, I had a bad day - my boss accused me of producing low quality work and then covering up a mistake I'd made (patently not true, as I found all the emails I'd sent him when I discovered it, and he was in fact the first person I'd told). I took 15 minutes and went to an empty conference room in the office and kept telling myself all these things I like about me.

For instance:
- Mr. Meat and our cat love me.
- I am smart.
- I am an efficient worker.
- I take good care of my family (aforementioned Mr. Meat and cat).
- I have great hair.
- I have a great smile.
- I have a genuine laugh.
- I am a thoughtful person.
- I get my nieces the best presents.
- I make an effort to put good food into my body and exercise regularly.
- I take my medications.

I was able to function the rest of the day. Had I not done this, I don't think I would have. Seriously - corny and effective. They don't have to be detailed, long, and you don't have to have many of them. You DO have to actually believe them.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 9:01 AM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Taking up running worked for me. It's something I never thought I could do, but it turns out I can, and I can actually do it pretty well. So, my recommendation is to try something new, and get good at it. It's easy to forget as adults that we are still capable of learning and growing and expanding into new areas - at least, it was easy for me to forget. The self-esteem boost I've gotten from learning how to push myself and get better at something that doesn't come quite naturally has been invaluable.
posted by something something at 5:28 PM on July 16, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. Excellent suggestions.
posted by lucysparrow at 9:10 PM on July 22, 2010

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