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How to Improve Self Image and Confidence

Updated on June 25, 2016
Sue Adams profile image

Fellow of the RAD Institute of Choreology. Books published by HarperCollins "Take Back your Health with Body Awareness".

A broken self image diminishes confidence.
A broken self image diminishes confidence.

First impressions are important. A poor self esteem and lack of confidence can be improved with this total psychological make-over to build a more positive self image.

Many clients confide in me that they hate their bodies or that they are embarrassed about particular features. We discuss the problems and assign a slight change of habits. As time goes on people soon begin to see improvements in their comportment and movement style. Even the most dorky clients can learn to look attractive with a change of mind set. How is that possible? First we learn to observe.

Learn to Watch

The first thing to do before working towards an improved self image and self esteem is to polish up your observation skills. By watching others and noticing their postures, movements and expressions, you can learn a lot about yourself. Learn to watch:

  • Is the person you are looking at upright, or are they stooped?
  • Is their head centered on top of the spine, or are they carrying the head in front of themselves?
  • Where is their gaze directed? Are they looking down at the ground?
  • Where are their feet pointing?
  • When sitting down, are they making involuntary twitching movements with their feet and legs?

Seeing Yourself As Others See You

Do you remember how it felt when you heard the sound of your recorded speaking voice for the first time? You thought: “l don’t really sound like that, do l?”, and it was hard to believe. Opening your perception to a more realistic body-image brings about a similar surprise.

Posture And Movement Style

When you see someone with an awkward posture, you will wonder if the person knows that they are walking like a hunchback. Of course they don’t. That person is unaware, does not see him- or herself like that. If they did, they would do something about it. They have a non-existent or miss-informed self image. Through observing others, you will become more aware of yourself. In this way you will build up a more objective self image and may be willing and ready to make a few changes. So what other steps can you take towards improvement of your body image?

Regard yourself from the outside while feeling yourself from within.

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How Do You See Yourself?

Do you find yourself attractive? Are you popular and sociable, or are you introverted, shy or moody?

What is your current self-image? The self- image is the sum total of feedback we get from many different sources. The mirror is only one of them, and not a very accurate one at that.

In fact, the image of the face you see in the mirror is a reversal of how you are normally seen by others.

38 x 60 x 67 1/4H 3 Way Full Length Mirror 1 Ct
38 x 60 x 67 1/4H 3 Way Full Length Mirror 1 Ct

To get the picture that they see of you get a full-length 3 way mirror. Now look at the image in the second mirror to really find out what you look like to an outsider.


Oh Horror!

On seeing a double reflection of yourself you may suddenly notice for the first time that one eye is smaller than the other, one eyebrow lower, or one side of the lips sagging down. The other annoying thing you discover is that if, for example, you try to lift the dropped eyebrow, you find that you are moving the wrong one!

Paris in the Fifties - At Carita's hair salon
Paris in the Fifties - At Carita's hair salon | Source

Two Things Emerge from this Unpleasant Experiment

Firstly, we are used to the way we look. When we see ourselves every day in the mirror, the imbalances are just never noticed because they arose gradually, over a long period of time. Someone who has not seen you in 10 years notices the change. Repeat an ugly movement or expression enough times, and indeed, your body and your face will acquire little pieces of ugliness as permanent features, not adding to a cool appearance.

Secondly, the inability to put on make-up without a mirror and the failure to move the correct side when looking in a second mirror or a video capture program, proves this: motion patterns in the face are programmed, in part, through what we see in the mirror every day. This means that we rely on the familiar mirror image of the face to locate its moving parts rather than sending instructions for movement directly from the brain to the parts we want to move.

Wiet Palar in Amsterdam 1958
Wiet Palar in Amsterdam 1958 | Source

How Do YOU See Yourself?

Are you the cool type, or are you a nerd? What first impression do you think you make on people?

See results

Body Image and Self Esteem - Beyond The Looking Glass

Changing Perception

Having now already changed the perception of your self image a little, what other surprises are there in store? Your image in a double mirror or video is just the beginning of your true self image. More poignantly, as mentioned in the above video, the people we interact with influence our self esteem.

Their comments and reactions to our looks and behavior help establish a particular self image, which affects the self esteem. As relationships change, so too do the body image and self esteem as in Laura's and Joshua's stories that follow.

Damaged Self Esteem

l have known Laura since childhood. The changes in her personality throughout a lifetime reflect her history. Changes occur by chance or misfortune.

At school Laura was outgoing and exuberant, always cheerful and good looking. Unfortunately, she married an abusive alcoholic wife-batterer. Living for seven years with domestic violence Laura completely lost her self esteem. She became withdrawn, introverted, shy, and bad-tempered. Her whole posture and style of moving reflected her denigrated situation. Once the abusive marriage ended, and Laura was able to pursue her own talents and desires again, she became her old happy good looking self once more, and stronger than ever.

Joshua's Story

Joshua is a guy with very low self esteem who always finds excuses for not doing things. He talks like this:

"Oh, I'll never be able to ...because I'm useless." etc.

I tell him: "Don't put yourself down Josh!", you have great talents... (follows a list of his skills). "Remember when you saved that kid from drowning?", you are a great guy Josh!"

Slowly but surely Joshua starts to feel better about himself. His self esteem gauge is on the up.

Put it this way: It is pleasant to be in the company of happy people. It is, on the other hand, very unpleasant to be in the company of unhappy moaners who see everything black. Making people feel happy therefore creates a win-win situation. Compassion, the art of making people feel better, has nothing to do with kindness, generosity, or even being a "good person". Making people feel happy is a selfish act of manipulation to be able to live one's life among happy people. A few encouraging words go a long way towards making someone feel better about themselves. An even more effective and less obvious method is the use of positive body language as explained below.

Body Language

Interestingly, the sciences of human movement behavior like dance/movement therapy and choreology confirm that change works both ways. It can be induced by external forces, as in the abusive example of Laura's case, or positive change can occur from within the individual in question. In other words, if you move in a beaten down way, you are...

  • more likely to attract aggression and
  • act accordingly, in a downtrodden way.

If, on the other hand, your behavior is...

  • positive
  • confident and
  • cheerful

the opposite happens, you attract happy, caring people and feel much better about yourself.

To Sum Up

In order to improve self image and self esteem, see yourself as others see you. In addition, avoid bad company, and if you are confronted with it through circumstances outside your power, keep yourself at a distance. Stay cool. With increased body awareness you can build a self image that you like to show to the outside world for optimum self esteem.

Please share your questions or advice with a comment in the discussion below.


© 2016 JULIETTE KANDO - You may link to this article, but you may Not copy it. Copied content will be reported with a DMCA notice and will be removed.



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    • eswar profile image

      eswar 4 years ago from India

      Very nice topic and wonderfully written, i will come back again to read once more its interesting.

    • IntroduceCroatia profile image

      Ante Rajic 4 years ago from Croatia

      Awesome hub, made me think about exercises.

      Voted up.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Great hub, I have never given up on exercise, I think it is so vital to looks and long life. Voted up!

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