A wee while back I was looking at building self-worth and came across an post on wikiHow. I look at the advice in part 1, Getting your Head Right before and today I thought I would give the second part a shot. So this bit is titled, “Mastering a Positive Self-Image” and I can already feel my heart sink a bit because below the title is a picture of a guy looking in the mirror and I can see a kind of determined, confident, slightly smiling face. Oh dear.
Let’s have a look at the recommendations.
- Tell yourself that you matter.
I am already finding this challenging to summarise. So this is about helping to change my negative self-view by challenging that vocally. Apparently I do this by giving myself pep talks at set times (multiple!) telling myself I am special (tick), wonderful (uhm), lovable (ok) and loved (oh ok). So this is like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy whereby you pretend to be something and then it does eventually become self-fulfilling. Well I certainly feel a plonker staring into my own eyes in the mirror but I guess if I focus on certain aspects (does fixing computers make one wonderful?), I can do his.
- Prove to yourself that you matter.
Ok so now I have to prove it as well as tell myself, surely this should be step one? So this is acting on my self-worth “by recognising and acting responsibly”. Recognising my responsibility is to face up to the fact that I am in control of my attitude, reactions and sense of self-worth. I also need to accept responsibility for my circumstances.
It can certainly seem that at times I am not in control of my situation. I might be in a situation where I am having a sensory overload and need to escape from a place, but I guess I am old enough and wise enough to know that doing certain things are going to challenge me so that if I decide to go ahead, I could plan an exit strategy first. I have a busy weekend coming up, perhaps I should look at the timetable other people have drawn up and see how I can cope if it becomes too hard.
- Forgive yourself.
I think this is straight forward one to understand but challenging to implement. I actually believe in a no blame culture, which to my mind still means looking at where things went wrong but only from the point of view of seeing if it could be avoided in the future. Unfortunately that is not the experience that I had when growing up. I learnt from a young age to blame my mistakes on other people or situations (by example) and that continues to be the general cultural today too. We need to avoid looking weak by not accepting we were wrong. But while it is a knee jerk reaction to me, I am becoming better at accepting my responsibilities. I now no longer need so much to be perfect, so I try to tone it down and be good enough. If I make mistakes so what? That is how we learn. If I am becoming overwhelmed by being bombarded with questions, then it is my responsibility to tell the person asking the questions what is going on for me and agree to take a break. This does mean being open and honest which isn’t always easy I admit.
- Work on your resilience.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks and challenges. I can easily lose sight of how to get out of a situation and regain my equilibrium. What feels like constant demands can whittle down my energy levels until it feels like I have barely enough to survive let alone pull myself out of a situation. An example of this was when after describing all the challenges that were being heaped on me recently and sapping my energy and creativity. A friend asked what I really wanted at that moment and the answer was peace and quiet away from people. She suggested I keep focussing on that and eventually I would worked out a way to achieve that. She was right, and by doing so I remembered ways of dealing with the pressures and stress. I could do with focussing on the outcome more rather than the blocks with are in the way.
- Break the habit of trying to please everyone all the time.
Yep this used to be me. I would do anything for anybody just because they asked me to. Mostly it was fine, but occasionally demands would clash and I would get myself all twisted up trying to fix it. This was okay until something happened to me and I couldn’t fulfil anything and I really felt bad for letting myself and others down. It took a life threatening illness for me to realise the world didn’t fall apart if I couldn’t do something and that it was also okay to ask for help myself. Nowadays I try to keep life simple but now I need to be clear why I am doing it and also the cost it will have on me. It is also about focussing on the big picture I think. Individually each demand or request for support (a bit of reframing there) might seem fine, but each will have a cost and over time, the accumulation will affect me.
I am still not very good at saying no, but I am getting better.
- Heed opportunities.
I once read that people who keep trying new experiences keep themselves young. Now I think that is all about attitude rather than physical health but I am a firm believer in trying new things before making a decision about whether I like it or not. I am autistic, so trying new things does not come easy but since I don’t have a great handle on feelings, it seems to be the only logical position to keep. Still it isn’t easy, anxiety will kick in and fear can be overwhelming but I think I do okay. The bit that needs work for me though is the “turn challenges into opportunities”. I am not very good at reframing something on the spot and might need to go away and work through the issue. Sometimes I never really come back to addressing the problem because it feels too hard. I suspect that is the point when I could be asking for help.
- Budget your money.
This seems to be about looking at all financial opportunities and thinking through the consequences. I am not great about keeping a tight track on our money, but I think I do a reasonable job. I think I have most bases covered.
In summary then, this are the things I am taking away from this review into mastering a positive self-image:
- Look in the mirror and say nice things about myself.
- Recognise situations and behave responsibly but planning ahead.
- Don’t blame others or my situation for things I am responsible for.
- Focus on the goal rather than the barriers in the way when challenged.
- Keep the bigger picture in dealing with requests for support.
- Look at challenges differently and make them opportunities.
- Review if I need to be more on top of our money situation.
I have to admit, it feels like a bit of a challenge but then it is also an opportunity to grow more positive. Keep focused on the end goal.