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Self-Image in Recovery

Old 09-04-2006, 10:08 PM
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Self-Image in Recovery

What is self-image?
Self-image is:


How you regard yourself.

The mental picture of how you believe you appear to others.

How you picture your physical self.

How you believe others see you physically.

Your idea (positive or negative, rational or irrational) of how you present yourself to others and how you are subsequently judged by them.

A personal assessment of your character, personality, skills, abilities, and other attributes.

A powerful internal mechanism influencing how you feel about yourself.

An accumulation of scripts you have been given (consciously or otherwise) and have learned well throughout your life.



What is involved in creating a self-image?
Your self-image is developed by how you assess the following factors in your personhood:


Physical appearance.

Shape of your body.

Accomplishments. in academics.

Achievement in athletics.

Social skills.

Value system.

Skills, abilities and competencies.

Relationship with family, relatives, siblings, peer group, and others.

Behavior in social and professional situations.

Background and environment from which you came.

Roles played in life at school, home, work and in the community.

Jobs and job titles held.

Goals, ambitions and aspirations for the future.



How does your self-image affect you?
It is from your self-image that you:


Develop labels for yourself.

Develop scripts as to how you believe you should act to fit the image.

If your self-image label is: ...............Then your script says you should:
fat ..............................................over eat and not exercise
drunk ...........................................drink to excess
intelligent .....................................be a good problem solver and decision maker
thin .............................................contr ol your eating and exercise habits, always look chic
competent ....................................be able to handle life's challenges with confidence, be successful in your endeavors
friendly .........................................be easy to get to know, sociable, outgoing
negative .......................................always see the dark, pessimistic side of life
handsome/beautiful .........................have the looks that appeal to others, trendy fashions and hairstyle, pay close attention to physical self
compulsive ....................................act in a compulsive way
depressed .....................................act in a depressed way
loser ............................................act like a loser
winner ..........................................act like a winner

Develop expectations for how you are to act and react.

If you act and react according to the expectations, then you develop high self-concept.

If you act and react differently from the expectations, you see yourself in a negative light, resulting in a poor self-concept.

Develop self-talk by which you continuously reinforce your self-image.

Positive self-talk yields self-affirming behaviors.

Negative self-talk yields self-defeating behavior.

Set goals for yourself.

If self-image is too high or unrealistic, you set goals that are often unreachable or too perfectionistic. You continue to fall short of the mark.

If self-image is too low and unrealistic, you set goals that are too easily reached, never attaining overall satisfaction.

If self-image is realistic, you can set attainable goals leading to overall satisfaction.



What impact does body image have on self-image?
Body image, one part of self-image, is the way people see their bodies in their mind's eye. Body image affects how people view themselves because:


Physical appearance is the external presentation people make to others.

Physical appearance is the first quality by which people are judged.

Our society is very physical appearance oriented, e.g., where thin is in, muscles and flat stomachs are in, etc.

If you feel attractive, you will act accordingly; the reverse is true if you feel unattractive.

Your self-image is affected by the ways others react to your physical appearance.



How does your body image shape up?
The following items are how people assess their body image. Using these items how does your body image shape up? Put an X next to those statements that are true for you


___ I dislike seeing myself in mirrors.

___ I find shopping for clothes unpleasant.

___ I am ashamed to be seen in public.

___ I like to pretend to be invisible in public settings.

___ I am initially shy in social gatherings or when I meet new people.

___ I think my body is ugly.

___ I usually dress in a way to hide my body.

___ I am self conscious about my body in the presence of a person of the opposite sex.

___ I feel that other people must think my body is unattractive.

___ I feel self-conscious in a bathing suit.

___ I avoid social occasions like swim parties, beach picnics, or hotel pools where swim suits are usually worn.

___ I feel that my family and friends are often embarrassed to be seen with me in public.

___ I find that I am constantly comparing my body to those of others.

___ I avoid going out in public because I am so self-conscious about my body.

___ I find it difficult to enjoy activities because I am conscious of my physical appearance.

___ I do not enjoy dressing up for special occasions because I am never happy with how I look.

___ I feel self-conscious sitting in a beauty salon or barber shop because of my physical appearance.

___ I feel self conscious over my weight problem and how it affects my looks.

___ I am always negative and critical whenever I think of my body.

___ I am intimidated by people who have bodies which I believe look better than mine.

If you checked three or more items, your body image is affecting your self-image in a negative way.



Ways to change your body image
It is important for you to keep your body image current so that you will act in a way to reinforce this image, i.e., by eating in moderation, exercising, etc. To help yourself to see yourself as you are:


Begin looking in mirrors frequently.

Keep an old picture of yourself next to a new picture of you on the refrigerator and bathroom mirror so that your new image is reinforced.

Accept compliments on your body size and believe them.

Go to clothing stores and try on clothes.

Treat self to new hairstyle.

Try new make up.

Try out more stylish clothes.

Start new activities that you once shied away from because you felt you were too fat, e.g.: take dance lessons, go swimming, learn to ski (water and snow), play tennis, etc.

Work on improved social skills that enhance your new self-image

Coping.org James J. Messina, Ph.D. & Constance M. Messina, Ph.D
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Old 09-05-2006, 03:00 PM
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I'm an idiot and everybody knows it.
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Old 09-08-2006, 09:09 AM
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Thanks MG I found that really helpful.
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