What is self-image?
Learning to understand yourself and discovering which combination of traits makes you unique is one of the most important tasks in your life. Your self-image is how you (often unconsciously) think about yourself. It determines your behavior and affects your self-confidence, self-esteem and self-evaluation. It is important that your self-image matches reality. When your ideal self-image differs a lot from how you see yourself, this leads to a reduced feeling of happiness and a lower quality of life.
Happiness reduces the risk of illness and improves quality of life. For example, a self-image can be overly positive, causing one to overestimate oneself. But it is also possible that people underestimate themselves in a negative way. Resulting in someone missing opportunities or holding back him/herself from performing daily activities. You self-image can change, depending on the stage of life you are in and on your life situation. The formation and development of your self-image (self-understanding and self-knowledge) is a complex and lifelong process. It is mainly formed by the interaction with others.
Everyone does it, comparing oneself to others. You constantly compare yourself to others in respect of behavior, character, appearance, status, talents, opinion, qualities and skills. That comparison can both be positive and negative. Then, you reflect on your own behavior, feelings and thoughts. This is also called social comparison. You can compare yourself upward or downward with others. In an upward comparison, you compare yourself to people who you think are better (off). In a downward comparison, you compare yourself to people who are worse (off) in your perception.
For example, if you have a chronic / serious illness and you compare yourself to someone whose illness is at a more advanced stage, you can be happy that your illness has not yet advanced that far. But you can also become anxious that the same will happen to you. Upward comparison can create positive feelings, if it motivates and inspires you to achieve a goal. But it can also lead to feelings of frustration and envy if it turns out that the goal is too ambitious for you.
The formation of self-image
Your self-image is influenced by several factors: biological, psychological, social, cultural and historical factors. Some examples are your physical, cognitive, emotional and spiritual development. In addition, the generation in which you were born, the parenting style of your parents, the society and culture in which you grow up, social relationships and roles, your life experiences and the life experiences in your family line. Whether the above factors influence your self-image depends on your life situation / phase and how you interpret the information. All factors are interrelated. Which factor dominates the formation of your self-image can change during your life.
Do you see what factors influenced your self-image? Is your actual self-image in line with your ideal self-image?