Self-Esteem vs Self-Image

Jazmine Bahr · Dec 25 2015

In today’s society where celebrities flaunt their wealth and people on Instagram and Facebook appear to live such happy and fulfilling lives, it’s easy to feel a little jealous and competitive.

Trying to keep up with the Jones’ often leaves people feeling inadequate and unaccomplished. The real danger arises when our inner self-esteem doesn’t mesh with the self-image we project to our family, friends and colleges. The wider the gap between these two realities the more lonely and depressed we feel.

I’d like to take a few moments to work through the difference between the two and how we can start to merge them into one.

Deepak Chopra explains, “There is a difference between self-esteem and self-image. The reason people have all this plastic surgery is because they have actually forgotten themselves and are identifying themselves with their self-image. The real Self within you is beneath no one. It’s immune to criticism and it’s fearless. Do not confuse your image with your Self- your self-image is what other people think of you, and your Self (esteem) is what you think of you.”

When you base your value on what others think or say you are selling yourself short. You have no idea what others are using to pass judgement on you: their values, their story, their biases, their prejudices, their own feelings of inadequacy etc. The bottom line is, it doesn’t really matter and it’s none of your business.

You are your business. What are your values, where did you come from, what are your gifts and passions and what is your story? Are you living consistently with these things? When you begin to understand and accept your uniqueness at a deeper level this is when you will start to live life as your true Self, and begin to share the special gifts you hold with the world.

When a person fails to find his/her sense of Self from within, they tend to depend on external factors to validate who they are. You may be surprised to discover that people who appear to “have it all” (money, houses, cars, respect and plenty of friends) often feel empty and lonely inside. Tragically these things are nothing but props which help to bolster a poor sense of Self. In the end, they might feed a person’s ego but do little to raise your internal value meter. They are merely a quick fix with very little enduring staying power. The elation one feels is short term at best.

Unfortunately, in our society many people have a hard time being by themselves. This causes people to end up in relationships not for love, but out of fear. Being alone is a sign of failure. Funny enough, it’s really quite the opposite. The ability to be alone and enjoy your own company is a huge success. Once you have achieved the ability to do this, you unlock the ability to truly offer your Self and all of your gifts to another human being. If you are unable to do this, you run the risk or being crippled by criticism and held hostage to the approval of others. You find yourself in need of constant validation from your partner. Your sense of value rises and falls on their approval or disapproval.

Here are some things I have found that help me to build and maintain a healthy Self:

1) Positive self-talk (Stop playing the tape of negativity and replace it with positive affirmations).
2) Do your best all the time (Your best is not always going to be the same, and that’s okay).
3) Take an honest inventory of your gifts, strengths and passions and focus on these.
4) Don’t hang out with people you envy, but with positive people whose lives you admire.
5) Get off the perfection bandwagon, it doesn’t exist!
6) Give your self permission to fail and learn from it.
7) Be willing to adjust your self-image as you learn more about yourself.
8) Set realistic achievable goals for yourself.

Erasing years of negative self-talk takes patience, time, and effort. So take the time to discover your passions and values and build on these qualities.

Today is the day to take back your pride; you are a uniquely talented individual. Healthy self-esteem begins with your acknowledgment of that fact.