This guest post has been written and submitted by Ivana Pejakovic, Life Coach in Toronto.
Your self-image is your perspective of yourself. It’s how you see yourself, it’s your attitude towards yourself and it’s how you think about and evaluate yourself.
Much of your self-image was shaped by how your mom saw herself. This is a natural process many girls follow. As a little girl, all you wanted is to be like your mom (with a few individual exceptions). You wanted to wear her clothes, put on her make-up, use the same gestures, be a part of the things she was a part of, and you wanted to do all the things she did. Your mom’s behaviour was your blueprint for how to live in the world. And it felt great!
Now, your daughter pays attention to how you think and behave as a:
- romantic partner
- professional woman and financer
Your satisfaction with yourself in these different areas often predicts the level of satisfaction your daughter will have with herself in the same areas.
As she grows older, she starts developing her own identity, however, her identity will very much be influenced by what she observed and learned from you. In her 20s, she will become more like you in terms of her schema of the world and of herself.
What you said and modeled as possible for a woman to do is what she’ll accept as the truth. If you repeatedly said, engineering is a man’s field; chances are great she’ll never be an engineer. If you modeled that girls need help taking care of themselves, chances are she’ll need help taking care of herself. If you stayed in abusive relationships, chances are she’ll find an abusive relationship of her own. Why? Because this is the blueprint for life she has adapted.
While you can’t control everything in your daughter’s life, you can help quite a bit by acquiring a healthy self-image. This isn’t only important for your daughter but for your own quality of life too. You can’t help your daughter before you help yourself.
3 steps to build a healthier self-image:
1. Try new things: This is more than just getting a taste for new experiences; it’s about challenging yourself and building confidence. Women who regularly try new things (and stay away from their comfort zones) radiate more self-assuredness and self-reliance to daughters. They also live happier and more fulfilling lives. Of course, many daughters use this as an example to follow.
2. Voice of criticism: Turn off the voice of criticism and the negative self-talk by becoming aware of the thoughts you think and how they put you down. Do you find it easier to believe your self-criticisms than self-praise? Unfortunately, the thoughts you have are not as private as you may think. They are reflected in your behaviour and in your words. During this time your daughter is watching and learning from you about what it means to be a woman.
3. Journaling: Journal your victories, successes, your strengths, and your great choices. What you focus on will shape your self-image. Even failures are important because they create your successes. How you perceive your failure, however, determines how you see yourself. Setbacks are a part of the success process but are independent of who you are and of your value as a woman. What you think of your failures, is what your daughter will think of hers.