Segment Two Your Self-Image
- I. To demonstrate the importance of a healthy self-image.
- II. To identify the causes of a poor self-image.
- III. To reveal the manifestations of a poor self-image.
- IV. To give you fifteen methods for improving your self-image.
- V. To encourage you to choose, and then remain on, the road to a healthy self-image.
Chapter 3 - The Thieves
GENUINE OR COUNTERFEIT
After his arrest, his portraits were sold at public auction for $16,000—over $5,000 each. The irony of the story is, it took Emmanual Ninger almost exactly the same length of time to paint a twenty-dollar bill as it took him to paint a $5,000 portrait.
Yes, this brilliant and talented man was a thief in every sense of the word. Tragically, the person he stole the most from was Emmanual Ninger. Not only could he have been a wealthy man if he had legitimately marketed his ability, but he could have brought much joy and many benefits to his fellow man in the process.
He was another in the endless list of thieves who steal from themselves when they try to steal from others.
THIS THIEF WAS A SNOB
“you stole from a lot of wealthy people during your years as a thief, but I’m curious to know if you remember the one from whom you stole the most?” Barry, without a moment’s hesitation said, “That’s easy. The man from whom I stole the most was Arthur Barry. I could have been a successful businessman, a baron on Wall Street and a contributing member to society, but instead I chose the life of a thief, and spent two-thirds of my adult life behind prison bars.” Yes, Arthur Barry was truly the thief who stole from himself.
YOU KNOW THIS THIEF
A third thief I would like to talk about is obviously you.
I’m going to call you a thief because any person who does not believe in himself and fully utilize his ability is literally stealing from himself, from his loved ones, and, in the process, because of reduced productivity, he also steals from society.
Since no one would knowingly steal from himself or herself, it’s obvious that those who steal from themselves do it unwittingly. Nevertheless, the crime is still serious because the loss is just as great as if it were deliberately done.
So the question is obvious: Are you ready to quit stealing from yourself? I’m optimistic enough to believe that you have started your climb to the top. For you and many others, this book will provide the motivation, inspiration, and knowledge to take you a long way. Let me warn you, however, your education in this field isn’t complete the minute you finish this book. Your body needs nutritional food every day and your mind needs mental nourishment just as often, so keep reading and soon, when you look into the mirror, you will be looking into the eyes of an ex-thief.
THE TELEPHONE RINGS
I’m personally convinced that a healthy self-image is the starting point—the first and most important step to reaching our objectives. After all, if we don’t start, it’s certain we can’t arrive.
“Friend, don’t be disturbed. I don’t want to borrow any money and I have no favors to ask. I just thought I would call and tell you that I think you’re one of the nicest persons who ever drew a breath of air. You are an asset to your profession and a credit to your community. You’re the kind of person I like to be with because every time I’m around you, I feel inspired and motivated to do a better job. I wish I could see you every day because you motivate me to be my best self. That’s all I wanted to say, Friend. Look forward to seeing you soon.” Now, if a close friend called you and said those things to you, what kind of day would you have? Remember, you know the words are sincere because they are coming from a close friend.
Simply stated, it means that when your image improves, your performance improves.
Since you know what this kind of phone call would do for you, why don’t you do the same thing for someone else?
FROM “DUNCE” TO GENIUS IN ONE EASY STEP
He had been told he was a “dunce,” and for seventeen years he acted like one. When he was 32 years old, an amazing transformation took place. An evaluation revealed that he was a genius with an IQ of 161.
Guess what? That’s right, he started acting like a genius.
Since that time he has written books, secured a number of patents, and has become a successful businessman.
Obviously, Victor did not suddenly acquire a tremendous amount of additional knowledge. He did suddenly acquire a tremendous amount of added confidence.
When he saw himself differently, he started acting differently. He started expecting, and getting, different results.
JUST HOW IMPORTANT IS YOUR SELF-IMAGE?
Mildred Newman and Dr. Bernard Berkowitz in their book How to Be Your Own Best Friend ask a penetrating question: “If we cannot love ourselves, where will we draw our love for anyone else?” You can’t give away something you don’t have. The Bible says, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Is self-image important? Dorothy Jongeward and Muriel James wrote a marvelous book entitled Born to Win. They point out that man was born to win, but throughout a lifetime, as a result of our negative society, he is conditioned to lose. They, too, stress that a healthy self-image is critical in the success parade.
You cannot consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way you see yourself.
Your self-image will lead you to the top of the stairway or put you on an escalator to the basement. See yourself as a capable, deserving person and you will be, do, and have.
See yourself as incapable and nondeserving and you have not. Fortunately, regardless of how you have seen yourself in the past, you now have the motivation, method, and capacity to change, and change for the better. Of all the gifts our Creator gives us, surely the gift of choosing the way we wish to be is one of the greatest.
You “see” yourself easily and safely walking the plank on the floor. You “see” yourself falling from the plank stretched between the buildings.
Since the mind completes the picture you paint in it, your fears are quite real.
On the positive side, the successful golfer knows he must “see” the ball going in the cup before he strokes it. The good hitter in baseball “sees” the ball dropping in for a base hit before he swings at the ball, and the successful salesman “sees” the customer buying before he makes the calls. Michelangelo clearly saw the mighty Moses in that block of marble before he struck the first blow.
If you try and lose, you can learn from losing, which greatly reduces the loss.
Obviously, there is little you can learn from doing nothing.
These people serve as their own judge and jury, and sentence themselves to a life in the prison of mediocrity.
Their self-image is that of falling—failing—or striking out. Unfortunately, their mind then completes the picture and another person of ability joins the scrap heap of “could have been.”
The goal of any form of psychotherapy is to change the self-image of the patient.
YA GOTTA BELIEVE—IN YOU
[quote, Dr. Joyce Brothers]
An individual’s self-concept is the core of his personality. It affects every aspect of human behavior: the ability to learn, the capacity to grow and change, the choice of friends, mates, and careers. It’s no exaggeration to say that a strong positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success in life.
You must accept yourself before you can really like anyone else or before you can accept the fact that you deserve success and happiness. Motivation, goal setting, positive thinking, etc., won’t work for you until you accept yourself.
You must feel you “deserve” success, happiness, etc., before those things will be yours.
The person with a poor self-image can easily see how positive thinking, goal setting, etc., would work for others, but not for himself.
Let me stress that I am talking about a healthy self-acceptance and not a super-inflated “I am the greatest” ego.
Since so many people are unaware of the enormous potential that lies within even an uneducated mind, I would like to share a personal experience.
As soon as he seated himself, I knew I had made a mistake because he had been drinking a little and was talking a lot.
He soon revealed he had just been released from prison where he had served eighteen months for bootlegging.
When I asked if he had acquired any knowledge he could use once he was released, he enthusiastically replied he had learned the name of every county in every state in the United States, including the parishes in Louisiana.
Frankly, I thought he was lying so I challenged him to prove what he was saying. I selected South Carolina as a test state since I had lived there nearly eighteen years. My rider, who had a limited education, proceeded to demonstrate that he did know the names of all the counties in that state and was anxious to prove he knew the others as well. I have no idea why he selected this particular project and spent so much time acquiring apparently useless information. The point, however, is that even though he was formally uneducated, his mind was capable of acquiring and storing an enormous amount of information.
So is yours, but I hope you concentrate on learning and then applying usable information to life’s daily opportunities.
One point you need to clearly understand is that education and intelligence are not the same thing.
Three of the most intelligent and successful people I know finished the 3rd, 5th, and 8th grades.
Henry Ford quit school at 14 and Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM, went from being a $6.00 a week salesman to chairman of the board.
Many of the successful people I mention through the pages of this book have even less education, yet they made it—and made it big.
so a limited “formal” education is no excuse and certainly no reason to have a poor self-image. Obviously, education is important, but dedication is even more important.
THE $100,000 FAILURE
One man who earns $100,000 a year could well be judged a failure if he is capable of earning five times that amount.
none of us use all our ability. In fact, very few of us even use most of our ability. One of my goals in this book is to convince you that you have more ability than you think, and then to motivate you to use more of that ability.
opportunity for growth and service lies with the individual. Almost without exception you can measure a person’s contribution to society in terms of dollars. The more he contributes the more he earns.
SERVE NOW—EARN LATER
The oft-repeated philosophy “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want” is another way of saying if you serve more, you earn more.
The only admonition God gives us is that we must not make money or anything else our god because when we do we will never be happy—regardless of how much we have.
Most people don’t have money because they don’t understand it.
Chapter 4 Causes of a poor Self-Image
THE FAULT FINDERS
If self-image is so important, why do so many people have a poor one and what are the causes?
I’m convinced that a poor self-image starts with the fact that we live in a negative society and deal constantly with negative individuals.
The second reason many people have poor self-images: Their ability, appearance, or intelligence has been ridiculed or questioned repeatedly by parents, teachers, friends, and others in authority.
In many cases, these hurts come in the form of insinuations and innuendoes, but they are just as real and devastating as if they were true.
The net result is, we see ourselves through the negative eyes of others.
If your friends, family, and associates find fault like there is a reward for it, you get a distorted picture of the real you.
This segment is written to give you a newer and truer picture of the remarkable person who is going to take you to the top—you.
“Johnny, you’re the clumsiest boy I have ever seen; you are always dropping things.”
“You never look nice— you’re always a mess.”
The destructiveness of this approach should be obvious, but, unfortunately, it is often anything but obvious.
Obviously, there is a vast difference between a “bad” person and a person who does something bad.
The child then reasons that since he or she is “ugly,” “dumb,” or “inept,” he doesn’t deserve love from others. Then it follows in logical sequence that if others cannot or do not love him, that he cannot—even should not—love himself.
The wise parent will compliment the trait or characteristic he would like to see developed more in his own child.
The third cause of a poor self-image is the tendency to confuse failure in a project with failure in life.
BE FAIR—TO YOU
The fourth cause of a poor self-image is an unrealistic and unfair comparison of experiences. We generally make the mistake of comparing our experience with another person’s experience.
Experience has nothing to do with ability.
At this moment you are doing something that over five billion people cannot do. You are reading this book in English. Obviously, this does not mean you are smarter than five billion other people. It does mean you have had a different experience.
ALL ARE EDUCATED AND UNEDUCATED IN DIFFERENT AREAS
and within thirty seconds slowly but surely drove that car out of the mud. When I expressed astonishment, he explained that he had been raised in East Texas and had spent his lifetime driving out of mud holes. I’m convinced that this man was no “smarter” than I, but he did have a different experience.
Ironically, many of the people we admire for their skills and accomplishments also admire us for the same thing.
I am simply emphasizing that you, too, have a unique skill, talent, aptitude, and experience. You must recognize that a different experience does not mean you are less than another, nor that he is less than you.
Instead of feeling inferior because someone else can do something you can’t, why not concentrate on what you can do that others can’t? Admire the skill of others but remember, in most instances you could greatly improve your own skill by using the same amount of time and effort. Experience is often the only difference.
A sixth cause of a poor self-image is comparing your worst features to someone else’s best features.
One woman did that and ended up at age 38 a scrubwoman on welfare. Then she read Claude M. Bristol’s The Magic of Believing. She started believing and looking at her positive qualities, one of which was the ability to make people laugh.
None of these people “saw” themselves as physically unattractive. They saw the talent or good qualities they had. They did not “compare” their “worst” features to someone else’s “best” features. Instead, they took their own best features or talents and used what they had to get what they wanted.
I’m convinced there are hundreds of glamour girls or matinee idols who would love to have the success and admiration that these four people achieved.
USE IT—OR LOSE IT
Take what you have and use it and your talent will be increased, which brings more rewards, etc.
Many people have poor self-images because they set standards of perfection that are unrealistic and unreachable. This is the seventh cause of a poor self-image.
they never forgive themselves. They feel they must either be perfect—the best—or the worst. Since they failed, they figure they must be the worst.
As Dr. James Dobson so beautifully points out in his book Dare to Discipline, discipline, or rather the lack of it, is definitely a cause of a poor self-image. He points out that it is through the loving control of discipline that parents express personal worth to a child.
The second point concerns the damage done by Sigmund Freud. Freud gave us a built-in excuse or “loser’s limp” when he told us our thoughts and actions originated from early childhood experiences deeply buried in our subconscious mind which we could neither control nor understand and are therefore not responsible for.
With one scientist telling us we came from the lowest form of animal life, and another telling us we are not responsible for our conduct, it’s easy to see how we could see ourselves as “nothing.”
When you combine all these reasons for having a poor self-image, there is little wonder that so many people are so badly crippled by this prevalent and contagious disease.
It is important to recognize the manifestations of a poor self-image so that you can more effectively deal with your own self-image problem (if you have one).
Chapter 5 Manifestations of a poor Self-Image
Those with poor self-images quickly reveal themselves by their critical and jealous nature. They resent the success and even the number of friends others have.
Perhaps the most noticeable manifestation of a poor self-image is the way a person reacts to criticism and the way he reacts to laughter.
They can’t stand it if they suspect that someone else is laughing “at” them. They can’t laugh at themselves and strongly feel that either laughter or criticism from others is a “put down,” an effort to make them “look bad.” Their reactions are completely out of proportion to the act or actions.
A person with a poor self-image is generally uncomfortable when alone or inactive. He has to be going somewhere and doing something all the time.
When alone, he or she keeps the radio and/or TV going, even if they are not watching or listening. Some will even carry their transistor radios with them as they walk, drive, or fly around the country.
As individuals, we will consistently act according to the way we see ourselves. This is why you often see people do some incredibly ridiculous things and take unnecessary risks when they are on the brink of achieving a life-long dream.
For example, a high percentage of athletes who have spent years preparing for the Olympics often have “accidents” in training, or in a preliminary event before the competition starts. They cannot “see themselves” as deserving a gold medal and subconsciously take the necessary steps.
Many fighters, football players, and other athletes injure themselves just before the big event. A student trying to gain entrance to the school of his choice gets drunk or has an all-night date the night before the entrance exam.
A worker seeking a promotion has a violent argument with his wife or a co-worker that upsets him emotionally, and he “blows” his chances for promotion.
A man on probation will often commit some senseless deed and end up back in prison. what it does prove is that he cannot “see” himself as a member of a free society. His self-image is such that he knows he doesn’t “deserve” freedom.
The examples are endless, but I’ll leave it by saying that a major cause of much senseless and erratic action is simply a manifestation of a poor self-image.
GOOD IMAGE = GOOD SALESMAN/GOOD MANAGER BAD IMAGE = BAD SALESMAN/BAD MANAGER
(1) The salesman won’t work nearly as hard. Here’s why. He makes a sales call and is rudely invited to take his sales efforts elsewhere.
The salesman with the poor self-image doesn’t like himself, and the prospect (in the salesman’s mind) doesn’t like him either. Now the salesman indulges in self-pity and goes through the “Poor little me—nobody loves me” routine and heads for the coffee shop, home, or office to regroup or lick his wounds.
The salesman with the healthy self-image—who likes himself—reacts altogether differently. He understands that he has not been rejected personally, but that his business offer has been refused. So when he is rebuffed, he completely understands that the prospect has a problem, so he immediately and confidently talks to another prospect who doesn’t have a problem.
(2) The salesman with a poor self-image is reluctant to try to close the sale. He talks on and on with never a suggestion that the prospect should take action and buy something. You see, there is a certain risk in asking someone to buy. If the prospect says no, the salesman’s ego suffers, so the salesman protects his ego by not attempting to close the sale.
He just talks and hopes the prospect will finally say, “I’ll take it” without the salesman having to risk an ego injury by asking for the order.
I’ve personally seen prospects challenge the salesman with a, “You’re not trying to sell me something are you?” and the salesman protests with an enthusiastic, “Oh, no, no.” (If he reacts this way, as if he’s not trying to sell something, then he’s just a professional visitor.)
The salesman with the good self-image makes a sincere effort to close the sale because he knows the worst that can possibly happen is a refusal. He also knows that a refusal is seldom, if ever, fatal and he just might make the sale. As a matter of fact, he fully expects to make the sale. Why? He believes he deserves the sale—as well as the success.
He knows the Norwegian word for sell is selje, which literally means “to serve.”
(3) The salesman or office worker with a poor self-image doesn’t move successfully into management. Again, he fears rejection by others.
The person with a healthy self-image moves into management very well. He exhibits a cautious confidence that shows he is qualified and will do the job. He is short on promises but long on fulfillment. He understands the difference between serving and being servile. He neither seeks nor avoids confrontations and meets decision-making head on. He understands that he was promoted because management has confidence in his ability to either handle the job or grow to the job. He knows where to draw the line between confidence and arrogance. More importantly, he can be firm on principle but flexible on method. He understands that ideas don’t care who have them and is secure enough within himself to recognize and give full credit to the ideas of associates and subordinates. He draws the line between being friendly and being familiar. He doesn’t get “all shook up” when he makes a wrong decision, because he knows in most cases the worst decision is no decision, so right or wrong he makes decisions. Then his self-image is such that he can act decisively and yet not feel threatened when he is either mistaken, challenged, or has to ask for help on specific matters.
GOOD IMAGE = BETTER PARENT, MORE HONEST PERSON
The new coach, hoping to gain instant acceptance, promises more than is expected and more than he can deliver.
In the sales world, we find insecure salesmen with poor self-images are the ones most guilty of over-selling, over-promising—and under-delivering.
The tragedy here is that the same worker, if he doesn’t get the raise and recognition he deserves, will often become resentful and bitter and feel that “no one understands or appreciates him or what he does.” The net result is a negative effect on his performance and a reduction in the possibility of a future raise or promotion.
In the family, a poor self-image is manifested by parental reluctance to discipline the child. The parent hides this under the mask of “It hurts me more than him because I love him so much.”
Actually, the parent is often fearful of turning the child away and causing the child to withdraw or withhold its love.
The unfortunate truth is, this creates a problem for parents and child. The parent loses control, respect, and some love.
The child loses confidence in the parents and the security that goes with it.
This is the first step in the loss of respect for authority, which leads to rebellion against authority.
The student who habitually comes to class late, makes a grand entrance, forgets his books, talks loudly or to other students at inopportune times, or asks “silly” or unrelated questions is acting in perhaps the only way he feels he can act in order to get the attention he wants and desperately needs.
COWARD—CASPER MILQUETOAST— IMMORALITY OR A POOR SELF-IMAGE
The youngster with a healthy self-image simply will not get caught in the trap of an early and/or unhealthy relationship with members of the opposite sex. He or she is smart enough and has enough self-esteem not to be “used,”. and “everyone else is doing it.”
This youngster understands the difference between happiness and pleasure, and refuses to “sell out” a lifetime of happiness and virtue for a moment of dubious pleasure and obvious immorality.
“Good Old Joe” has the “I must be a nice guy and never offend anyone” kind of self-image syndrome.
As an adult he has a tendency to tell people only what he thinks they want to hear.
he patiently waits an extra hour while the doctor sees other patients.
He doesn’t argue with the boss nor object when a co-worker takes credit for work he has done.
Chapter 6 Fifteen Steps to a Healthy Self-Image
no one on the face of this earth can make you feel inferior without your permission, and you will like yourself too much to give that permission.
[quote, Booker T. Washington]
“I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.”
To begin with there are three reasons why you should like you as you are.
First reason: COMMON SENSE DEMANDS IT.
a woman received $1,000,000 because a drug had caused her to lose her sight.
another woman was awarded $1,000,000 because of an airplane accident. Doctors say she will never walk again.
Would you swap places with her?
Since you would not take a million dollars for your eyes, a million dollars for your back, or a million dollars for your legs, you are already worth over three million dollars and we just started on your personal inventory.
ONE OF A BILLION!
As a matter of fact, of all the billions of paintings painted since the beginning of time, this was the only one exactly like it in existence. It was a Rembrandt original. Its rarity gave it value. Second, Rembrandt was a genius. He had a talent that occurs only once every hundred years or more. Obviously, it was his talent that was being recognized.
Then I started thinking about you. Since the beginning of time, billions of people have lived on the face of this earth. There are several billion people on earth today, but there never has been and there never will be another you. You are a rare, exclusive, different, and unique being on the face of this earth. These qualities give you enormous value. Please understand that even though Rembrandt was a genius, he was a mortal. The same God who created Rembrandt created you, and you are as precious in God’s sight as Rembrandt or anyone else.
In addition to having a rare talent, Rembrandt used that talent by lifting his paint brush every day. Since his birth there have probably been hundreds of Rembrandts in every field of endeavor who have never lifted their paint brushes or gotten off their seats to make their marks.
Let’s pursue this thought just one more short step. If you had the only car in town you would have an extremely valuable possession unless you parked it in the garage and left it there.
Since you do have the only you in existence, you are valuable, so take you and your talent and use it. Just remember, God created you and gave you talent for you to use, not to bury.
The second reason: SCIENCE EXPLAINS IT.
You have the capacity between your ears to store more information than can be stored in dozens of man’s most sophisticated computers. In your mind you can store more information than you will find in the millions of volumes in the Library of Congress.
Scientists tell us that if man were to attempt to create a human brain, it would cost billions of dollars, would be bulky in size, and would require lots of power to operate. Its construction would involve the most brilliant men in the world and yet with all of its size, cost, and power requirements, this man-made brain would not have the creative capacity God stored between your ears.
Seriously now, you wouldn’t try to convince me, yourself, or anyone else that you’re not a remarkable person with more than enough capability to climb the stairway to the top, would you?
SELLING YOU—YOUR MIND
You might say, “Well, if I’m so smart, how come I’m broke, or at least badly bent?” That’s a good question.
I would sell it to you for, let’s say $100,000, so I would profit enormously. However, you would have made the bargain purchase of all time. Never again would you look in the mirror and make any deprecating comments.
As a matter of fact, you would give yourself quite a little pep talk. I can almost hear you say, “Now look friend, I have a hundred thousand bucks invested in you and you are really something. Yes indeed, you can do it.”
Never again would you say anything unkind about a mind worth so much money. Nor would you believe it if anyone else said anything unkind about your $100,000 mind.
BEST OF ALL
The third reason: THE BIBLE VERIFIES IT.
“God loves you—whether you like it or not!”
man was created in God’s own image, only slightly less than the angels. Jesus Christ said, “What I have done, ye can do also and even greater works than these.”
Success is easy—after you believe—and since you are on your way to believing, you are on your way to succeeding.
Look at it this way. If you are a parent with growing children, how do you feel when one of your children says degrading things about himself or herself? “I am a nothing, a nobody” or, “I can’t do anything right.” Do statements like that make you happy? Do they cause you to swell with pride or do they break your heart and make you shake your head in despair? How do you think our Heavenly Father feels when we who are His say ugly, deprecating things about ourselves?
GOD DON’T SPONSOR NO FLOPS
“You are somebody because God doesn’t take time to make a nobody. And once you learn how much you matter to God, you don’t have to go out and show the world how much you matter.”
Research clearly indicates that the way we look has a definite bearing on the way we feel, as far as our self-image and self-confidence are concerned.
Both men and women feel more confident when they know their appearance is good.
your outward appearance does affect your image and your performance.
The outside appearance is enhancing—or crippling—the potential of the person on the inside.
Regularly read “Horatio Alger” stories. Read the biographies and the autobiographies of men and women who used what they had and got a great deal out of life by making contributions to life. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to read the life stories of Henry Ford, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mary Kay Ash, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Mary Crowley, Andrew Carnegie, Booker T. Washington, etc., and not be inspired.
Read the story of Ertha White, daughter of an ex-slave, which appeared in the December, 1974, issue of Reader’s Digest, and you will be inspired to be more and do more. We read about others succeeding, we visualize ourselves doing the same thing.
Listen to the speakers, teachers, and preachers who build mankind. When you hear people like Colin Powell, Fred Smith, Paul Harvey, John Maxwell, Mamie McCullough, and Naomi Rhode, you will get a lift in many ways. I’ll say more about this in the Attitude segment of the book. As a rule of thumb, you are safe to assume that any book, speaker, movie, TV program, individual or recording that builds mankind will build you and your self-image.
Build a healthy self-image with a series of short steps.
One reason many people never attempt new things is their fear of failure.
If possible, start any new venture with a phase or portion you are confident you can handle, then transfer that initial accomplishment from one area of success to another.
The young man credited an improvement in self-image with his improvement in performance. As he “warms up,” he “sees” himself successfully clearing the lower heights until he “sees” himself successfully clearing greater ones.
Start in an area where you know you can succeed. Once success is accomplished there, move another step, and another, and another. Each step gives you added confidence and your self-image improves your performance, which improves your self-image, which improves performance, which improves… psychologist David McClelland calls this “accomplishment feedback.”
Remember, if you have been making an overdraft on the bank of confidence all of your life, you cannot realistically expect to bring your account up to date in one day or by reading this book just one time. The longer and more regularly you take the necessary steps and follow the recommended procedures, the bigger your account in the confidence bank of a healthy self-image, and the bigger the confidence account, the greater the accomplishment.
Join the smile and compliment club.
When you smile at people and they smile back, you automatically feel better.
Even if they don’t smile back, you will feel better because you know the most destitute person in the world is the one without a smile.
When you sincerely compliment a person or extend him a courtesy, he is going to receive a direct benefit and like himself better. It is impossible for you to make someone feel better and not feel better yourself.
One of the best ways to make anyone else feel better is to spread optimism and good cheer.
Another way to make someone feel better is to “properly” answer the phone. Many people answer the telephone with a gruff “Hello,”
My personal approach is this: When I answer the telephone at home, I answer it by singing a little ditty, “Oh, good morning to you,” or I might say, “Howdy-Howdy-Howdy,” or “Good morning, this is Jean Ziglar’s happy husband,” or “Good morning, we’re having a great day at the Ziglar’s and hope you are too.”
I do this because that is generally the way I feel. Again, the reason is simple. If I don’t feel well, but act that way, I will soon feel that way. Also, I have a responsibility to the person who is calling. If I am optimistic and cheerful, the chances are much stronger that I will give a lift to the person calling.
Do something for someone else.
Visit a shut-in or someone in the hospital. Bake a cake for an invalid. Participate in a reading or visitation program for the aged or senile. Go shopping for a shut-in. Baby sit for a young mother who needs to get out of the house. Spend a few minutes on a regular basis teaching a functional illiterate to read. Become a volunteer with the Red Cross, or a den mother, or help little ones cross a dangerous intersection to and from school. Be a big brother to an orphan. Take some fatherless kids on a hike in the woods or spend time with them in a guidance role. For a hundred different ideas and suggestions along these lines, let me urge you to read Try Giving Yourself Away by David Dunn.
You must accept no compensation, and the person or persons you assist should not be in a position to do anything for you in return.
This I guarantee. If you will do something for someone who is unable to return the favor, you will get a lot more than you can possibly give. In so many cases, what you give will mean much to the recipient, but the feeling you get when you do something for someone who cannot do for himself is indescribable.
You will realize that you are truly fortunate, that you do have a lot to be thankful for, that you can make a contribution, and that you are, in fact, somebody.
In short, you will stand tall in your own eyes, which is the bonus you get because you took what you had and unselfishly used it for someone else’s good.
[quote, Charles Dickens]
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else.”
Be careful of your associates.
Deliberately associate with people of a high moral character who look on the bright side of life, and the benefits will be enormous.
As an example, I’m convinced that if every doctor, teacher, lawyer, policeman, politician, civil service employee, military person, etc., had to sell for a living for three months and then had to attend an enthusiastic sales meeting once a week, our great country would be even greater.
Over the years I have seen hundreds of men and women from all walks of life enter the sales world as shy, introverted, incompetent individuals and within a matter of weeks become confident, competent, and far more productive people.
Here’s why. In many cases these people had lived in a negative environment, surrounded by people who dumped negative garbage into their minds and told them what they could not do. Their entry into the sales world meant a dramatic change in environment and associates. Now everyone started telling them what they could do. They heard positive statements from trainers, managers, and associates. They saw daily results on all sides as a result of this approach. Since it was more fun and more profitable for them to like themselves, they almost immediately started changing their self-image.
My point is this. If every person were regularly exposed to this kind of environment and to people like this, just think what it would do to their self-image and to their attitude. Obviously, we can’t require others to change their associates, but you can choose to associate with people like this. Do it and the results will be fantastic. Pick out those people who are optimistic and enthusiastic about life and I’ll guarantee you some of it will “rub off” on you.
Remember, you acquire much of the thinking, mannerisms, and characteristics of the people you are around.
This is true whether the people around you are good or bad.
To build your self-image, make a list of your positive qualities on a card and keep it handy for reference.
Ask your friends to list the things they like about you and keep that list handy.
He was walking down the street talking to himself and someone stopped and asked him why he did this. He replied that he enjoyed talking to intelligent people, and, more importantly, he enjoyed listening to intelligent people talk. I’d say he had a healthy self-image. Brag on yourself from time to time. Get in your own corner.
Make a victory list to remind you of your past successes. The list should include those things that gave you the most satisfaction and confidence.
This list should extend from childhood to the present time. It can cover everything from whipping the school bully to making an “A” in a difficult course
As you periodically review this list, you will be reminded that you have succeeded in the past and that you can do it again. This builds confidence, which builds image, which builds success, happiness, etc. Actually, these last two steps reaffirm the fact that you are for you instead of against you.
To build a healthy self-image, there are some things you must avoid.
Pornography is the primary one. Literally everything that goes into your mind has an effect and is permanently recorded. It either builds and prepares you for the future or it tears down and reduces your accomplishment possibilities for that future.
Psychologists say that three viewings of Austin Powers, American Pie, South Park, Eyes Wide Shut, or any of the “X-rated” films or television programs has the same psychological, emotional, destructive impact in your mind as one physical experience.
The people who have seen these “shows” are in agreement; they were sexually stimulated and viewed themselves with less respect. The reason is simple. These films or programs present mankind at its worst, and when you see your fellow man degraded, you, in effect, see yourself degraded. It is impossible to view mankind at its worst and not feel that your own value has diminished, and you can neither be nor do any better than you think you are or can. Ironically, most X-rated films are advertised as “adult” entertainment for “mature” audiences. Most psychologists agree they are juvenile entertainment for immature and insecure audiences.
This same imagination of yours, when applied to the daily soap opera, is devastating because over the years the “soaps” have progressively featured everything from incest and adultery to trial marriage and wife-swapping. Combine this with the enormous waste of time and the “drug-like ability” to hook you into tuning in tomorrow to see what happens, and it spells bad news with a capital BAD. For your information, tomorrow the star of the soap opera, and at least one of his or her buddies, will either be in trouble, headed for trouble, or just getting out of trouble. When you view life in this negative perspective over a long period of time, you identify with the situations which most nearly parallel your own. After a time you will even find yourself thinking, “I know exactly how ‘he’ or ‘she’ feels, because that’s exactly the way my ‘John’ or ‘Sue’ has done me, ‘the dirty dog.’”
The horoscope “hooks you” in a similar fashion and with an even more devastating effect. Many people think it’s “harmless” to read the horoscope because they “don’t believe any of it”; it’s just something to do. The truth is, you will eventually become fatalistic as a result of it.
Incredibly enough, some people will not make decisions or take trips if their “horoscope” is not in tune.
The Bible says the horoscope is Satan’s, so when you read the daily horoscope, you are reading Satan’s Daily Bulletin.
To improve your self-image, learn from the successful failures like Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth.
Ty Cobb was thrown out more times trying to steal than any man in baseball history. Babe Ruth struck out more times than any man in baseball history. Hank Aaron, who broke Babe Ruth’s record, struck out more times than 99% of the players who make it to the major leagues. Nobody—but nobody—considers them failures and few people even remember their failures. Virtually everyone remembers their successes. Enrico Caruso’s voice failed to carry the high notes so many times his voice teacher advised him to quit. He kept singing and was recognized as the greatest tenor in the world. Thomas Edison’s teacher called him a dunce and he later failed over 14,000 times in his efforts to perfect the incandescent light. Abraham Lincoln was well known for his failures, but nobody considers him a failure. Albert Einstein flunked courses in math. Henry Ford was broke at age 40. Vince Lombardi became the most revered coach since Knute Rockne, but at age 43 he was merely a line coach at Fordham University.
The odds are strong that the leading salesman in 90% of the sales organizations in America misses more sales than most salesmen with the company. Walt Disney went broke seven times and had one nervous breakdown before success smiled on him. Actually, these people succeeded because they kept at it. As a matter of fact, the major difference between the big shot and the little shot is this: the big shot is just a little shot who kept on shooting.
One of the best, quickest, and most effective ways to improve your image and your performance is to join an organization with worthwhile goals that requires you to participate by speaking.
Many people can express themselves reasonably well in private conversation but are frozen with fright at the thought of standing up and making a speech to a group of any kind. They “see” themselves as falling flat on their faces and looking foolish.
One of the fastest ways to change that image is to join Toastmasters or Toastmistresses, International, or take our three-day Born to Win seminar or the Dale Carnegie Leadership Course. As a former instructor for Carnegie, and now for our own company, I have seen some remarkable image changes take place as individuals acquired the ability to stand up and express themselves. It’s not necessary to become an orator, though I’ve seen a number of former wallflowers develop considerable ability as speakers. Initially, we had difficulty getting some of these people to stand up and speak up. As their confidence grew, however, we had another problem. That’s right. We had difficulty getting some of these same people to sit down and be quiet.
Look yourself—and them—in the eye. Almost without exception the man on the street as well as the highly educated professional, will tell you they like people who will “look them in the eye.”
I plead guilty to this feeling and chances are strong that you feel the same way. There are many people who are unaware of the other person’s reaction to people who avoid eye contact; hence, they don’t look directly at another person even when engaged in direct conversation. There are even more people whose self-image is such they feel “unworthy” and “are not good enough” to look directly into the eyes of another.
To overcome this feeling (if you have it), start with the process of looking yourself in the eye when you have any occasion to be in front of the mirror. You should also set aside a few minutes each day for the sole purpose of deliberately looking yourself in the eye. As you do this, repeat some positive affirmations of what you have accomplished (use your victory list from Step Ten). Then repeat many of the things other people have said to you or about you that were positive. Concentrate on comments regarding your integrity, cheerfulness, honesty, character, compassion, persistence, thoughtfulness, good nature, spirit of cooperation, etc., and not on physical appearance unless you feel you are unattractive. In that event, those compliments become valuable image builders.
The second phase of “eye contact” for image building involves small children. When the opportunity presents itself, talk and play with the small fry and look them in the eye as you do so. One enormous fringe benefit here is that the children will love you more and their acceptance enhances your self-acceptance.
The third phase of Step Fourteen is to concentrate on looking your peer group and associates, as well as those who might work at lesser positions, in the eye at every opportunity. This gives you even more confidence for the final phase, which is to look everybody you meet or greet directly in the eye. (I’m obviously not talking about a “staring” contest.) Overall, this procedure does a great deal to build your self-image and it’s a tremendous “friend maker.” Note: In some cultures, it is considered rude, especially for a young person, to look an older person in the eye unless he or she is told to do so. Be sensitive to this.
Alter your physical appearance when possible, practical, and desirable.
Formerly obese people constantly tell me how much their image improved when they lost weight and were able to wear attractive clothing, participate in group activities, get active in sports, run up two flights of stairs. My own image improved when I lost thirty-seven pounds.
There are also occasions when plastic surgery can be quite helpful in building one’s self-image. This is especially true in case of an unusually large or long nose, protruding ears, harelip, or oversized breasts that cause back problems, etc. This area, however, often involves psychological considerations which have to be dealt with on an in-depth and personal basis.
Once you accept yourself, it will no longer be a matter of life or death for others to accept you.
At that point you will not only be accepted, but you will be welcomed wherever you go.
The reason is simple. They will be accepting the real you and the real you is much nicer than the phony conformist who tries so desperately hard to become somebody he isn’t.
When the real you is accepted, a lot of things happen. Your conduct changes for the better and your morals improve. Much of your tension disappears because you are secure within yourself, and the little things that formerly “bugged” you will be put in perspective. In short, you “won’t sweat the small stuff.” Your bank account in self-confidence will grow, communication barriers will be removed, and your family relationships will improve.
REMOVE THE SYMPTOM AND SOLVE THE PROBLEM
It is beyond a doubt that most problems, whether they be economic, social, or marital, are not really problems but rather symptoms of problems. Drugs, alcoholism, pornography, homosexuality, obesity, and in most cases vulgarity, profanity, and promiscuity, are merely symptoms of deeper difficulties.
The small boy or girl inside of each social rebel says, “You wouldn’t notice me before, so I’m going to do some things that will make you notice me.
In my work with the schools around the country I am constantly told that the students who are regularly late to class, “forget” their textbooks, provoke arguments, give “smart” answers, try to be “cute” in everything they say or do, etc., are simply demonstrating or manifesting a poor self-image. What these kids are really saying is, “Notice me please, love me please, accept me, recognize me—I’m a person.”
You will make a lousy anybody else, but you are the best “you” in existence.
Once a person accepts himself, it isn’t imperative that others accept him. He is not “destroyed” if others reject him. He can be his own man or woman without being overly concerned about the rejection of others.
Once you accept yourself for your true worth, then the symptoms of vulgarity, profanity, sloppiness, promiscuity, etc., disappear.
There, my friend, goes much of your problem.