Muriel Cooper
Psychologist in Mornington

Self-image and self-esteem


Maintaining a healthy self-image

Articles about gaining and maintaining a healthy image and regard for yourself.

I feel good about meI think we often get confused about all the things we are supposed to be, or have.  Like self-confidence, self-esteem, self-image - and I’ll add another few things – self-worth, self-respect and self-regard.

Are they all the same thing?  And what is the difference between them?

Carl Jung once said, “The things that worry us the most are the things we don’t understand”.  Perhaps if we understood the difference between self-esteem and self-confidence and all the other "selfs", we’d come to the wonderful realisation that we are actually healthy in all our "selfs" except one – so at least we can work on that one and not spend pointless time worrying about all the others.

I think we get all of these confused and we lump them all in the same barrel, so in the pursuit of understanding I think it’d be useful to define what we’re talking about here ...

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.


You are not rude to others, you don't lie to them, cheat, steal, abuse them, put them down, are violent towards them or say negative things about them – so don't do it to yourself! Jesus said "Love your neighbour as you love yourself", so he must have had good self esteem!

1. Understand the qualities that you are trying to change or grow into. What are your values, characteristics and personality traits (Google these things and tick ones you think apply to you) – what would you like to change? When you understand you have good values (and you will) stick to your values – don't compromise – this equals integrity.

Muhammad AliMy favourite quotes that reflect things like body language, self image (you can never be greater than your own self-image), integrity and inner strength.

"Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement."

-- Golda Meir

"You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love & affection."

-- Bhudda

"I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence but it comes from within. It is there all the time."

-- Anna Freud