Look, I get it. You want to have a positive self-image.
You don’t want to have a negative self-image or a poor self-image.
And it makes sense. The strategy is to overcome the negative self-image by creating a positive one.
But, how good is that strategy in real life?
Let me tell you, and argue with you, that it’s not that effective actually.
I agree that you should not have a negative self-image. But at the same time, you should not try to have a positive self-image.
In fact, the negative self-image is at the end of the spectrum and the positive one is at the other end.
Both are extremes that you should avoid.
This may make some people squirm and feel uncomfortable. After all, what kind of self-image are you going to have if it’s not positive or negative? That’s a common question in a world (minds?) that classifies everything into black or white.
Well, sometimes things don’t have to (and can’t) be black or white. There is a very needed gray area in the middle that balances the whole thing.
Let me explain to you in this article why you shouldn’t go after that positive self-image (and what to go after instead).
The Negative Self-image That You Shouldn’t Have (And Why)
When someone has a poor self-image, here is what that usually means:
They have negative and disempowering beliefs about themselves. And because of that, they have a low self-esteem. And they suffer from many problems as a result of looking down at one’s self.
Some people are aware that they have a self-image issue. They know that they look down at themselves.
Other people, however, are not aware that they have a poor self-image. They just suffer the consequences of having a negative self-image.
The last group is the worse because they lack self-awareness in addition to their self-esteem issues. That will keep the problem there unsolved.
A poor self-image is bad because it cripples the person. It makes you imprisoned and incapable of not only self-development but also normal living.
It’ll ruin your self-esteem, your self-confidence, your relationship with other people, your communication skills, your personal development and growth, your emotional state, and your own sanity and mental stability.
If you believe that you’re bad and you’re not good enough, you will not work on yourself or on your goals and dreams. If you, from the inside, look down at yourself, why anyone in the world will ever respect you?
The Positive Self-image That You Shouldn’t Have (And Why)
I have problems with positive thinking.
And I have problems with those who want everything to be positive and good, all the time.
Just as you can’t always be feeling good, just as life can’t always be positive and good, you can’t expect that you should have a self-image that is positive and good all the time.
The negative is needed. The negative is unavoidable. And it’s not about not having negative; it’s about how you handle that negative.
And in fact, people who have a self-image that contains nothing but the positive have nothing but an inflated self-image. They usually feel entitled and better than other people.
Usually, they are:
- Narcissists: thinking that they are more way important than other people.
- Oblivious and blind: oblivious to their own flaws and shortcomings. As a result, they don’t improve or grow or actually fix any of their problems.
- Both! That’s the worst case, but it happens more often than not.
A lot of shit happens when you refuse to let the negative finds its way into your self-image. Shitty personalities develop this way. Much more like compensating for having a negative self-image by claiming that they are invincible.
And actually, the absolute positive self-image is an illusion; it’s unattainable. It’s much more like a perfect image that is not reachable by imperfect creatures. And it’s a trap; it’ll kill your personal development and growth.
We already have our dark sides, our weak moments, our own mistakes, our own shit, our own insecurities, our own shortcomings, and our own blind-spots.
Some of that is here to stay. Some of that, as bad as it is, is actually important for you in order to grow and become a better person. Pretending that the negative isn’t there will only make it grow bigger.
A positive self-image that makes you an entitled, deluded, egoistic, and oblivious person is not a healthy self-image at all. (In best cases, just oblivious and not able to grow because you don’t admit your negative traits).
Here is what healthy and what you should pursue instead:
The Healthy Self-image That You Must Have (And Why)
As I said, a negative self-image is extreme, and a positive self-image is another extreme. They are like 2 ends of a spectrum.
You need to have a healthy self-image, and that lays somewhere in the middle.
A healthy self-image usually consists of the following:
- Good, positive, and empowering beliefs about one’s self.
- Becoming aware of your negative and bad and insecure part.
- Cultivating the good, positive side and dealing with the negative side the right way …
Dealing with the negative side the right ways means the following:
- Not seeing the bad things as indicators that you are bad or not good enough or not loved. We all have them anyway! Instead, …
- Seeing the bad things as opportunities for growth. Mistakes that you need to correct. Fallen walls that you need to build. Or maybe insecurities and shortcomings that you need to accept and live with (if they can’t be changed). And …
- Seeing them as imperfections that you will do your best to improve on what can be improved at, and you’ll live imperfectly with the rest of them. Without the feeling that they make you less of a person because you have them.
In brief, admitting the wrong, fixing what can be fixed, accepting the rest, and doing all that without ever letting this “wrong” make us feel that something is wrong with us or that we are not worthy because we have this wrong!
That is not easy.
I understand that I’m telling you to look at the ugly things about yourself and consider them. And then, to not tie them to your self-worth.
For some people, it might mean admitting that they have problems with their social life. Basically, socially-awkward and shy. Yeah, ugly names that they have to call themselves.
That’s a belief about themselves and it’s a part of their self-image.
But then, most importantly, they should not consider this belief as a proof that they are bad and fundamentally broken in ways that make them unworthy of anything worthwhile in this world.
And from that place, they should start working on fixing their social skills problems. (With other problems and negative things that they can’t control or can’t change, they should start accepting it and living with it).
This will lead to a healthy self-image eventually.
They will end up developing positive beliefs about themselves. All that while handling the negative beliefs effectively. (Improvement, or acceptance, without feeling unworthy.)
This is the type of personality that will be secure about its positive traits and also negative beliefs. This is the type of personality that will always keep developing and improving in a healthy way without feeling like it worth nothing.
This type of person might not be feeling good all the time, but generally he feels worthy and works on improving and growing. Not perfect, but yet still feels worthy. Secure about having good traits and also secure about having bad and negative traits.
Improving what can be improved and accepting the rest. All that while feeling worthy within and not allowing the negative to delude him into the land of overcompensating and entitlement.
Sounds like a good self-image to have. Way better than the so-called and highly-sought-after positive self-image.
But, caution! It might be painful at times to be this way, to expose the negative and handle it. But it’s worth it. A healthy self-image is worth the tears, the fear, the pain, the hard work, and the uncertainty.