Everyone needs to feel good about themselves. But such feelings are not acquired automatically. They begin to be felt as a growing child develops a sense of his or her place as an individual in the social structure of a family. The initial feelings are generated by the child’s perceived relationship with his or her parents and how they treat him or her. The child knows that it is good to be cared for and loved, so initially that produces a good self image. But then as the situation in the home changes, another child or more enters the social circle and the issue of competition is felt, the initial good feelings may be impaired or threatened.
Or the busy schedule of the parents begins to interfere with the caring attention that they can give to the child, and he or she may begin to wonder why and conclude that something must be wrong with him or her. And this effort to be loved and to be accepted in one’s social circle continues as the child’s circle of other individuals expands to include other relatives, other children outside of the family, classmates in school, and associates in the work place. An individual is constantly striving to achieve and to maintain a good self image.
What makes a good self image?
Part of your self image is generated by how you are treated by others. But it is also affected by what you see when you look into a mirror. In one’s struggle to achieve and to maintain a good self image, when that image is damaged or impaired, it is natural to begin to wonder what is wrong. And one of the first places an insecure person may look for an answer to this question is in a mirror. They may conclude that there must be something wrong with the way I look that causes people around me to reject me or to be mean to me or to withdraw their love from me. Individuals who are going through such a crisis of appearance may go to a lot of effort and expense to try to improve how they look so that they can win the acceptance of those who are important to them in their social circle.
Or if they are a child with limited resources to make some changes that they think might help to solve this problem, they may become depressed or very angry with their inability to improve their social situation and their self image. We all know individuals who are struggling with poor self images or we have gone through times of such struggles ourselves. Perhaps we’ve seen the struggle in our teen-aged children as they try to find their places in a very critical crowd of other teenagers. Or we face the issue and the questions as we try to adjust to a broken marriage or a lost job.
And in many cases where an individual is struggling with a poor self image, he or she seeks to find something that will enable him or her to escape the bad feelings, something that will dull the pains, cloud the bad image in the mirror, or attract some attention that may for a moment provide some experience of being accepted. For many girls and women that personal commodity is sex. For many boys and men the solution to this problem is found in drugs or violence.
What do you think helps a person to develop and to maintain a good self image? What can a person do to correct a poor self image? What should parents be doing to help their children grow up with a good self image? Let’s talk about this.