I recently posted a podcast episode explaining the ten common ways we subconsciously block ourselves against achieving success. While I recorded that episode, I couldn’t help feeling struck by the many ways that I’ve blocked myself from reaching my own potential without realizing I was doing that.
For one, I’ve been straining to reach my main goal to the point where I’d call myself desperate, which, of course, doesn’t exactly fit with the vibes of abundance and gratitude that I’ve been aiming for. Determination and persistence are totally different from being needy. Besides, there’s a certain feeling of magic that comes along with working towards your goal without feeling desperate (I discussed that in my podcasts on the Law of Attraction, in case you’re interested in finding out more about that).
I’ve been spending an extraordinary amount of time worrying about and stressing out over things I don’t want to occur and about things I don’t have, instead of what I do want to occur and the things that I do have. This feels practical, but not surprisingly it just leads to more of the things that I don’t want. It’s been a real downer to realize that the way that I have been thinking has only perpetuated the issue!
But the thing that struck me the most was the unhelpful beliefs I have about the type of person that I am. For years, I’ve been considering myself as something or another like I’m simply an observer, while all along, I’ve been blocking myself from reaching the goals I have been working towards so tirelessly.
So in this post I’m going to discuss the power of self-image. It’s extremely frustrating to spend significant energy working towards a goal while at the same time you’re unconsciously blocking your attempts. Self-sabotage is the symptom, and self-image is the root cause. So I’ll share how and why to reshape your self-image starting in this post. I hope it’s helpful to you!
Achieving Your Goals Through Self-Image Transformation
Self-image, of course, is the opinion that you have about what type of person that you are. It involves what you think you can and can’t achieve, what you do and don’t like, what you will and won’t tolerate, and so on. By the time people are in their 20s, they talk about themselves so casually that they don’t realize that the ways they identify themselves has a significant impact on their actions. In many cases, it’s the main thing that prevents us from reaching our goals, or the thing that causes us to sabotage ourselves when we do achieve them.
So how do your opinions about yourself relate to your personal goals? Why is your self-image so powerful?
Your brain is always seeking information that can validate your beliefs. So if you believe that you’re a specific type of person, your brain will filter out any information that doesn’t prove your belief to be true. This serves to strengthen your belief and you’ll continue acting in accordance with your belief.
Also, people love being right. And if there’s something we’d like to be right about all the time, it’s ourselves. Few things are more uncomfortable than realizing that we don’t really know ourselves, so we’ll do everything we can to ensure that our version of reality remains consistent with what we think about ourselves. We seek evidence that will confirm that our self-image is correct, we will disregard evidence that contradicts our self-image, and we will sabotage ourselves so we can hang on to our self-image. This is true even if we’re really dedicated to achieving our goal. If that sounds kinda crazy to you, you’re right!
So if you have been struggling in your efforts to reach a goal, it’s probably because your self-image directly conflicts with the concept of achieving that goal. Until you start to view yourself as the type of person that is able to reach your goal, you’ll formulate a struggle so that you can continue to be correct about yourself. This is true even if you’re fully determined to reach the goal! Here are some examples to help you understand what I mean:
- You’ve been attempting to eat healthy foods, but you think that you’re the type of person who needs to eat everything in sight. So you eat everything in sight, in order to be correct about yourself.
- You’ve been attempting to consistently wake up earlier, but you think that you’re the type of person who always hits the snooze button at least ten times. So you hit the snooze button ten times, in order to be correct about yourself.
- You’re attempting to be on time, but you think you’re the type of person who is always late. So you’ll be late, in order to be correct about yourself.
The rare times that you surprise yourself and succeed in some way, you’ll dismiss those occasions as being out of character. This will allow you to hold on to the image you have of yourself.
Of course all of this self-sabotage occurs at a subconscious level. Consciously, you’re truly doing your best to achieve your goals or to stick to your new habits. So unless you align your self-image with achievement of your goal, you will not achieve your goal, or you’ll sabotage yourself when you do reach it. So it’s crucially important for you to take an honest look at your self-image and to begin doing the work so it matches your goals.
Transforming Your Self-Image
Depending on where you are on your journey of personal development, altering your self-image like this may sound to you like nothing more than wishful thinking. But realize that a belief is merely a thought that you have had time and time again. Plus, if you look at the definition of “belief,” it’s an acceptance that something exists or is true, especially if there’s no proof. So if beliefs are literally made-up anyways, you might as well choose to have helpful ones. Right?
Step 1: Choose A Goal
If you don’t already have a goal in mind, it’s time for you to create one.
Be sure that it’s as clear and specific as you can make it. Avoid being vague. “Lose weight” is a vague goal, while “lose 5 pounds in 2 months” is a clear and specific goal. “Wake up early” is a vague goal, while “Wake up at 6:00 a.m. every weekday” is a clear and specific goal. “Be better with money” is a vague goal, while “Save $200 every month” is a clear and specific goal. Be sure that it’s something you truly want to achieve You’d be surprised at how many goals people set just because they think that they should have them!
Step 2: Increase Self-Awareness
Once most people set a goal, they usually try to figure out how they’re going to achieve it, and just get to work at it. And that’s precisely why most people usually fail at working towards t their goals for long! If you have beliefs that will undermine you, you need to root them out before you start working towards your goal.
This step aims to uncover all the beliefs you have regarding the type of person you are related to your goal. Begin thinking about the things you say to your friends and family about the type of person you are when it comes to your goal. Think of statements that begin with things like “I’m not the type of person who can…”, “I can’t go on without…”, “I’ve always struggled with…” and things like that.
This step also includes noticing things you say to diminish yourself in an effort to help other people to feel better about themselves. One example of this would be if somebody pays you a compliment about your healthy eating, and you answer with something like, “Oh, I don’t always eat like this…” in order to make them feel better. I personally do this all the time, and it’s not helpful.
Step 3: Create a New Self-Image
Now that you have looked at how you identify yourself, it’s time for you to create a new self-image for you to live up to from now on. Remember, although it’s human nature to desire consistency with your past behavior, you don’t have to analyze your past for information about who you are. It’s a great habit to look instead to the future!
It may be challenging to come up with the beliefs that you should have so you can reach your goal without sabotaging yourself. So it’s helpful to think of somebody you know, whether in fiction or in real life, that would have an easy time achieving the goal. Make a list of all the beliefs that they have about the type of person that they are.
For example, if your goal is to get up at 6:30 a.m. each morning, think of somebody you know who gets up that early. They likely believe things like they’re a morning person, that they know how to wake up at 6:30 a.m., and that they can wake up early even when they feel tired. (By the way, that last one is among the most helpful beliefs that you can have about yourself if you want to consistently get up early.)
Step 4: Act Like That Person
Next, you need to start acting as though you’re actually the person you’ve imagined. In a future podcast episode, I’ll discuss how I did this with several of my own goals. Begin imagining yourself as that type of person, and start doing the things which that type of person would do. As you act according to the new self-image, be sure to consciously remind yourself that the new behavior is normal and expected for you. If you do things that are against the grain of the new self-image, remind yourself consciously that the behavior is out of character for you.
It may sound forced, But it truly makes a significant difference. Eventually, you won’t have to remind yourself consciously of these things. You’ll have repeated the thoughts about yourself so many times that you’ll find they’ve become your new autopilot.
Also, know that when you start to act like this new person, you’ll notice that well-meaning and loving people in your life will try to force you back to your old self. Most people (including me) want everybody around them to act in a predictable way, so they have a sense of certainty as they go about their days. So if you start to do things that you didn’t do before, people may say things like, “That’s so unlike you!” or, “Do you feel okay?” or, “You’ve really changed,” or, “Why are you doing that all of a sudden?” or, “Here we go again.”
At this point, you have a choice: you can go back to being your old self, which is the easy option (this is especially the case if you are a people-pleaser). Or you can say, “I’m not like that anymore” (or come up with an excuse for your new behavior if you aren’t comfortable giving such a direct response). After a while, people will come to accept the “new you.”. Besides, it will start to bore them if they just keep on making the same old comments! All this to say that there will be a period of time in which people will try to get you to go back to being the same person you used to be. But don’t give in. You’ve got this!
Step 5: Persistence To Succeed
The last step is to persist until you succeed. It will take you some time to adjust to your self-image. This is especially true if you’ve held the belief that you’re a certain type of person for an extended period time. This is normal and it”s to be expected. Just keep at it. And it’s okay if you make mistakes and stumble around. But don’t use this as evidence that you aren’t capable of making this change. You definitely are!
Beliefs you have about yourself can prevent you from achieving your goals, and the beliefs you have about yourself can help you achieve your goals. This can happen without you even realizing it! You can change your self-image to align with your goals. The experience will not always be a smooth and easy one.
Besides your self-image, there are other beliefs that can block people from achieving their goals. One example is the belief that they will be abandoned if they make a lot of money. I haven’t explored that type of beliefs in this post because I feel that self-image is not commonly discussed the way that I discussed it here, and I really wanted to focus on this. But in a future post or podcast I will cover blocking beliefs more thoroughly. Just so you know!