Your self-image is the way you view yourself.
You might view yourself as a parent, construction worker, friend, blonde, sports fan, intelligent, impatient, middle-aged, or even a tired aging worker who can’t get out of the rut that he/she is in. But you’re more than your career, gender, and age.
You’re more than your parents’ opinion, your boss’ opinion, or what your friends think of you.
You’re a unique person with a style, grace and aura that are unique to you!
When “who you are” aligns with what you do, you’re living authentically.
But most of us view ourselves as one way and live another. Authentic people act honestly and congruently. The benefits of this congruency are enormous: success, self-esteem, respect from others, respect for yourself and inner peace.
Those that live lives misaligned with their values, beliefs, and attitudes suffer from heavy anxiety, guilt, and shame. It might seem easier to live up to the expectations of others in the short-term, but the long-term costs are significant. Before you know it, years have gone by, and by now, you spent a good portion of your life, and your energy, on other peoples’ dreams.
Follow these steps to determine your true self and start living life on your terms:
1. Identify your core values. An authentic self-image is one that is aligned with your values. By knowing your values, you’ll gain an understanding of what is important to you. Once you’re aware of your values, you can build a self-image and life that are more meaningful and enjoyable.
* Make a list of your values. Create a long list and include everything that you think applies to you. Then, reduce your list to the ten values that are most important to you. You might struggle to narrow your list to just ten, but ten values are plenty.
2. Determine if you have any conflicts with how you live your life now. For example, you might say that adventure and freedom are two of your most important values, but what if you also strongly favor responsibility and security? Those values could be in conflict.
* When you’re faced with an inner conflict, you’re likely to shut down and do nothing. If you’ve ever been paralyzed while making a decision, it’s possible your values were in conflict. Think back to when you’ve struggled to make a decision and see if it’s true.
* Do you have any values listed that aren’t really priorities for you but you thought they were? We often carry around perspectives instilled by our parents. Here’s a newsflash: they may have been wrong. Take the time to determine your values for yourself. Disregard what society says you should value. You’re an individual.
3. Create an action plan for each value that you truly want to embody from now on. Imagine one of your values is generosity and kindness. You could create a budget and savings plan that incorporates that value. You might plan to start a fund and begin putting some money away every week, visit less expensive stores, and search for free entertainment options available on the weekends. And then find a worthy organization that you can contribute to, not just with your money, but with your time, energy and spirit.
4. Make a list of activities you enjoy that are in alignment with your values. For example, if generosity is a priority, like we mentioned, find an enjoyable way to spend your time helping others. If health is a value you cherish, you could join a soccer team or a yoga class. Find your favorite sport and participate.
5. Evaluate your actions at the end of each day and feel if they are in alignment with the real you. Think about the instances when you failed to live according to your values. Likewise, contemplate the times you were able to live according to your values and self-image, particularly when doing so was challenging.
Create a self-image that is in alignment with your values. First, it is necessary to identify and choose your values. Next, construct a life that allows you to live those values consistently and to thrive. Authenticity eliminates many of the common emotional ailments in life, but it’s not always the easiest choice.
Be bold enough to choose the person you want to become and live accordingly. The benefits are enormous. What are your values?