There is something so powerful about the way we see ourselves. It simply predicts everything we do and everything we don’t. This is best illustrated by the breakthrough experience of Dr. Maltz* when he was conducting successfully plastic surgery operations on some of his patients but still they didn’t believe they looked better.
This made him discover that these people were more “scarred on the inside” which is; they got so much suggestion from their environment (parents, colleagues, etc.), especially in their childhood, that they are ugly. This made them whatever changes they do, they will still believe they don’t look good.
This doesn’t apply only on the physical look but it also in every dimension of our lives. If we were told so much that we were bad students or we can’t learn easily, we unconsciously start to accept this until one point it becomes an unshakable belief. Once it is a belief, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy which is, we always act in alignment with who we believe we are.
When we were kids, we were told all kind of things from being bad kid to being shy to being unorganized to being bad students and the list goes on and on. For every one of us, however, there have been specific negative things which we were told until they became a complete belief and dictated some aspects of our self-image.
The challenge about such a poor self-image (or aspects of the self-image) is that whatever we will do, have, or become, it will not make us feel better as long as we are scarred on the inside. By this I mean as long as we feel powerless or hopeless, not good enough or not beautiful enough.
So what is the solution?! Every process of change starts with a very first step which is awareness. Self awareness in this case is key to reflect and become conscious of all these negative suggestions that we were told which became beliefs.
The best thing you could start doing is to really list all the negative things you believe about yourselves. Write down every negative trait you can think of. Then the second step is to really challenge these self beliefs to check if they are really true. Belief is like a tabletop with four or more legs, the legs being the facts that support this idea. Therefore, we need to take the legs out of this tabletop by looking at opposite facts which defeat these beliefs. For example, if you believe that you are a “shy person”, look for all the different references which prove this to be wrong. If you believe you are an “angry person”, remember all experiences where you acted in a peaceful way in a challenging situation. The more you do this, the more you take out legs of this self-limiting belief.
The next steps would be to create a new empowering self empowering belief and take some baby steps towards making it real which is by creating legs to support it. Another method Dr. Maltz to help his clients which proved to be very successful was a small exercise of visualization where they see themselves in their imagination acting in contrast to their self-limiting beliefs. Within a short period of time, their self-image improved and they started feeling much better of themselves.
Maybe someone would say: But is this really worth the effort?! The answer is simply YES. It is indeed worth it, because until that moment when we take these “scars” out, we will always be chasing something on the outside to make us feel significant or loved or just feel better about ourselves. But remember:
Not even the whole world of cosmetics, plastic surgery, money, fame, success or love will make us feel better as long as we are scarred on the inside.
* for more information on Dr. Maltz experience and the power of self-image, check his book: “Psycho-Cybernetics”. It is full of insights and strategies on self-image. Check it in your local bookstore or on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Psycho-Cybernetics-New-More-Living-Life/dp/0671700758/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1325321676&sr=1-1
Another good book on the power of beliefs is the classic “The Magic of Believing” by Claude M. Bristol. Should be available in local bookstores. Link on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Believing-Claude-M-Bristol/dp/0671745212