Muriel Cooper
Psychologist in Mornington

Self-image and self-esteem

 

Woman with high self-esteemPeople are very much influenced by the way you move and the way you talk, but these things don’t just affect how others see you, they have a profound influence on how you see yourself.

For example, the two most influential pieces of body language are eye gaze (level and steady), and tone of voice (strong and low). When you avoid looking at people or whisper instead of speaking out – you feed a message to yourself that you are submissive and inferior.

When you speak about yourself to others, in a way that is negative and puts you down – you send entirely the wrong message to your brain, and reinforce to it that you are inferior.

Here are five tips on these two crucial things.

1. Watch your body language

  • Stand tall or sit erect.
  • Walk briskly and don’t drag your feet.
  • Don’t close off to people by crossing your arms in front (a protective ‘warding off’ gesture.
  • Don’t fiddle (pick at your fingers, twiddle a pen etc.).
  • Maintain comfortable personal space (don’t hang back or crowd others)
  • Use assertive gestures (e.g. not angry like fist waving; submissive like hands up and out with a shrug, or critical (finger pointing). Instead, use open-handed gestures and if angry, open hand, downward and across slashing gesture.
  • Smile, smile, smile - this has a positive effect on others but also reassures the you inside that things are OK. Smiling also triggers your brain to release feel-good Beta-endorphins – natural feel good chemicals.

2. Dress to impress yourself

  •  Don’t leave your best clothes in the wardrobe or closet waiting for an occasion. Wear them every day. Enjoy the effect this has by appreciating yourself in the mirror

3. Take care with your grooming every day (if you simply can’t - get help, you may be depressed)

  • Make sure you’re taking care of yourself
  • Teeth Brushed
  • Hair done etc.

4. Watch your tone of voice (towards others and yourself)

  • Lower your tone of voice
  • Speak more slowly (this will help people take you more seriously)
  • Speak assertively and firmly
    • Don’t end sentences with a question in your voice (upward inflection)
    • Use a strong tone of voice plus as above (low and slow, but not ponderous)

5. Never, ever put yourself down when speaking about yourself to others

  • It’s called your ‘explanatory style’, how you explain yourself to others. When you put yourself down to others – you put yourself down to yourself. Watch for this and avoid it. Speak about yourself in positive terms – if it’s not good – don’t say it! And;
  • Never, ever put yourself down when speaking to yourself (self-talk).
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