I have been fascinated for a long time about how our state of mind plays such a powerful role in our personal and professional lives.
Think of how recent studies have shown that standing in a "victory pose" or "power pose" dramatically increases our chances of landing jobs before an interview. It's such a small act, yet it presents such a massive boost to our own image of ourselves-whether we consciously realize it or not.
Science backs it up-if you change your self-perception, you can change your life. By recognizing the ways in which we can change our own thinking about ourselves, we can drastically change the outcomes of our work lives, romantic lives, and social lives. It may seem like sorcery, but the proof is in the bioscience.
So how can you change your self-perception? Starting now, there are two big things you can do to drastically alter the way you think about yourself-and change the path your life takes.
1. Recognize That It's All in Your Head
We can get a little far out with this, but it boils down to one thing-reality is what you make it to be. Every interaction, conversation, process, and personal thought that happens over the course of the day-both good and bad-plays out in your head as much as it plays out in reality. You might be in an elevator with a co-worker, but your brain is also going through this conversation on its own. What matters is the way you perceive these things to be happening. It's here that you want to try and make change happen.
One of the best ways to start changing the way you look at the world is to take in content that will help you think differently. Self-help books, motivational books, inspirational memoirs-these are all things that will help your mind start to work a little differently, and change its internal process bit by bit. You may not necessarily need to take what you read to heart, but just exposing yourself to that form of content is enough to get your brain working differently.
In the same vein, avoid "negative" content. This is not necessarily content that is violent, gory, or excessively sexual. Rather it's "negative" because it doesn't add anything to your life. You aren't making yourself a better person by consuming nothing but poorly-written novels or bad summer movies. You're just coasting-and if you're coasting then you're not growing, and that growth is a step towards improving your self-perception.
2. Change Your Inner Voice
Think about the ways you talk to yourself. In the morning when you're getting ready, or when you're cooking dinner in the evening. How about after your boss comes after you with a minor screw up that was made? Or when your partner is upset about something that isn't being done at home? Think about the kind of language you use when you talk to yourself after these experiences. Do you use negative words and chastise yourself? Or do you say you'll try again harder, and that it's no big deal?
Step outside your own head for a moment and think about how you would react if these same experiences were happening to a loved one. Imagine that this loved one came to you with a story from work today-their boss got mad about a PowerPoint slide that had a typo, and they felt awful about themselves. They put themselves down and called themselves horrible names. Is that something you'd allow your loved one to do, or would you step in and tell them that it's no big deal, people make mistakes, their boss was a jerk to overreact?
Now-why not do the same for yourself?
The next time you catch yourself using negative self-talk, try and take a step back. Breathe deeply. Relax. Remember to be kind to yourself, even if it is "just in your head." Remind yourself that you'll try harder next time, or that whatever mess up you've experienced isn't that big of a deal in the long run. Practice self-forgiveness, and you'll find that your self-image starts to improve vastly.