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  • Writer's pictureKyla Blackwood-Murray

Be authentically you

Why a positive self-image can make or break you

We all have our own perception of our abilities, our limitations, our bodies and our values. What we often don’t see is that our perceptions become our truth. The view we have of ourselves is what we reflect to the world in our mannerisms, poise, attitude, voice, posture and appearance. We tell the world: “This is me!” and the world believes us.

As we prepare to say goodbye to 2021, lets revisit the perceptions we have about ourselves and say goodbye to the ones holding us back from achieving everything we’re capable of.

Perception is key

It all starts here: What do you believe about yourself? Are you intelligent, beautiful, ugly, talented, kind, selfish? What are you capable of? Our childhood experiences and media influences play an important role in defining how we see and feel about ourselves. But is this a true reflection of who you are? Often we berate ourselves for not getting it right, not doing enough, not being important enough, comparing our beginning to another person’s ending, feeling unworthy or feeling unattractive.

This famous quote emphasises just how much our attitudes and perceptions influence the course of our lives:

"Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right." - Henry Ford

What we perceive is what we become.

You only have one chance to create the best first impression. Your visual appearance and presence affect what people believe about you. Others' perceptions of you are based on what you choose to wear, on how you project your voice, the words you use and your ability to communicate with others.

Have you ever walked into a room full of strangers and noticed a lull in the conversation as people took you in? In that moment, you had the opportunity to project the image of yourself you wanted people to see. How did you use it?

Building a positive self-image

Think back to a time in your life when you felt positive and stood confidently in your skin. Remember how good it felt? What were you doing at the time? When did your feelings about yourself start to change?

Maybe you felt really happy when you were doing weekly dance classes, or volunteering at a local community outreach. Maybe you felt confident when you were making progress on your career path, and then you had children and decided to put your career on pause. Understanding where our negative self-image comes from may help us to gradually change it. We grow and develop every day. Our worlds evolve. Take those experiences and memories and create a new ‘happy place’ for yourself. You are still that capable, beautiful person.

Don’t be fooled by the illusion of “perfection”. Social media will try to tell you that other people are happier, more successful or more beautiful than you, but this simply isn’t real. Try searching #instagramvsreality if you need convincing.

You are more than enough just as you are. Accept yourself. Love yourself - warts and all. Be proud of who you are. Celebrate your imperfections because those imperfections are what make you perfectly unique. Practice gratitude for your uniqueness. There is no one else in the entire world like you.

Start with your visual image

Choose clothing that suits your body shape and colouring. We all have different body shapes, heights and weights. We also we have varying temperatures of warmth and coolness in our overtone, undertone, hair, skin and eyes. So selecting the perfect garments specifically for your silhouette and colour direction can boost your confidence.

Let’s talk about grooming - clean and tidy hair, manicured hands and nails, ironed and clean clothing, age appropriate clothing, makeup suitable for the occasion and lifestyle – all contribute to the way you feel about yourself and the image you project.

Facial expressions can make or break what you are trying to portray. Be friendly and approachable.

Remember how your teacher always told you to sit up straight? Well posture plays an important role in our visual image too. Sitting up straight and tall portrays a quiet strength. Crossing your arms over your chest can be perceived as you manifesting that you feel superior to others, or that you are bored or intimidated.

Keep your body language open, relaxed and warm. Smile. Show you are engaged when others are speaking. And don’t forget your hands! Your hands speak a language of their own. You can communicate so much by the way you use and move your hands.

It’s impossible to tick all of the visual image boxes every day (well, at least for me it is!), but by taking small steps every day to improve your visual image, you will start to feel more positive about yourself and more confident in the image you are projecting to the world.

As we say goodbye to a tumultuous year, we owe it to ourselves to stand tall, hold our heads high and walk confidently into 2022.


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