How to Change Negative self Images

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Since the turn of the 20th century, when Sigmund Freud became the pioneer of psychoanalysis and the forefather of psychotherapy, many forms of therapies and counselling have developed. All have one thing in common; the desire to help, by understanding and application, those suffering from emotional or mental disorders that prevent them enjoying a happy, healthy life. Beyond a doubt, those with negative self images would welcome help to change and this help is available. To change, it is necessary to understand the causes of negative self images, such as previous experiences, and then to use the power of the mind to alter these perceptions form negative to positive. That is one of the best ways of helping people to change negative self images.

Cognitive therapy is just one of those ways. With the power of thought, behavior can be influenced. Previous experiences can produce a detrimental self-perception, causing individuals to hold onto attitudes and emotions that create negative self images. This therapy helps people to learn to recognise and question where, what and why negative self images persist, and to alter responses to these, thus changing their self perceptions. Cognitive therapy usually involves hourly sessions with a therapist, over a period of months.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, which began in the 1960s, is a mixture of cognitive and behavioral therapies, in which the therapist teaches the person how to relax and to change thoughts about him or herself. It also involves, along with 10-15 therapy sessions, "homework." This can take the form of a journal or affirmation diary, or tasks to complete between sessions that lead to positive thinking and action, and thus, to change towards a positive outcome.

These two forms of therapy require a formal approach in that they use a professional, have a lengthy time scale and cost money. But they both contain a common-sense nucleus that any individual can take and use on an everyday basis. Changing negative self images requires an honest self-appraisal to identify the origins of the negativity, and some firm and constant processes to alter them. Every person is capable of doing this, safe in the belief that they are unique and special, and that THIS is the self image to strive for. It is not about what you thought you were, but about how great you are and can be.

Simple things like keeping a daily journal in which is entered one good and positive attribute each day, can help a person to change and to view themself in a good way. For example, a woman who feels she is too fat may write that her kindness to everyone she met that day showed how worthwhile she is. She will note the positive responses from others and so begin to alter negative self images. Or the man who is too shy to ask a girl for a date can set himself the task of speaking to and smiling at four people each day and noting the results of his positive behavior. There are many more ways for a person to use that will help to change negative self images. Writing down a list of personal characteristics, accompanied by the positives in them, can provide a perception-changing, thought-altering mantra. It takes time, honesty and dedication. Look at these, for example:

"I am taller and skinnier than anyone I know." = "I can wear great clothes, look good and see over the heads of other people."

"I am too fat." = "I have a comfortable lap for children to rest on, and I smile a lot."

"I talk too much because I am nervous." = "I chatter away and that puts people at ease, so they feel happy to join in."

And so on. Whether professional or personal, there are many ways of helping people to change negative self images, but the first step begins with the person. It is totally possible to achieve this change: where there's a will, there's a way.

More about this author: Dolores Moore

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