Self Image and Career

"Think highly of yourself because the world takes you at your own estimate."
 

How does your self-image support your career well-being? Are you intentional about how you present yourself to the world? Is your projected self-image congruent with the real you?

Self-image is the set of ideas held by a person about her qualities and abilities. Self-image is developed and evaluated over time by daily interactions and life experiences,and is greatly influenced by how we are perceived and assessed by others. Self-image and self-concept are interrelated and as terms, are often used interchangeably.

When life experiences have been negative, the mental image held of oneself (self-image)may be the most significant career hurdle they have to overcome on their journey to achievement and success.

A negative self image is developed from a sense of helplessness, loss of control, pessimism or negative thinking, which have become patterns and a way of life. A negative self-image leads individuals to depend more on external events and people to tell them who they are, rather than a solid foundation of high self regard.

While self-concept or self-image is made up of learned beliefs, attitudes and opinions held of oneself, self-esteem is the emotional aspect--the person's feelings of perceived self-worth.

People with low self-esteem often function out of a fear of rejection, making them more likely to be "pleasers" in their relationships, personally and professionally. This often leads to the person taking on too much in an attempt to validate her self-worth. This can become a vicious cycle of over-functioning. First, there is the temporary relief from the adrenaline fix of "doing for others," but that is
quickly followed by guilt, failure and depression from taking on more than can be handled. The result is further feelings of inadequacy that in turn reinforce the deeply held belief that the person is never good enough, and the cycle repeats itself.

Low self-esteem may also affect one's ability to manage conflict and to be assertive--two skills necessary for building the strong interpersonal relationships needed for career success.

Although a poor self-image can result from accumulated criticism or negative experiences,it can be overcome through positive experiences and the development of competenciesin various areas of one's life.

When an individual feels valued and affirmed by positive experiences, self esteem is generally high and self image is strong. Indicators of high self-esteem include:

* an internal locus of control
* the ability to admit mistakes and apply the learning
* having respect and love for oneself
* accepting responsibility for personal perceptions, responses and reactions
* having the ability to demonstrate a strong character
* being able to give and receive love easily
* demonstrating self-respect, self-confidence and self-acceptance
* honouring individual differences and the point of view of others

From a career perspective, it's very important that a person's projected self-image be congruent with her internal one. Sometimes people project a mask to protect how they really feel about themselves. This incongruent way of being takes a lot of energy to maintain; energy perhaps better spent in personal development therapy
to overcome the feelings of inadequacy.

A strong and positive self-image is easily projected when a person knows and feels confident about her competencies, and when she is applying her natural talents, knowledge, skills and experience in all aspects of her life.

Take good care of yourself,

Kathleen

P.S. To check the level of your self-esteem, google Sorenson's Self-Esteem Test 
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