15 Steps to a Healthy Self Image

The following comes from Zig Ziglar’s book, See You At the Top. I heard this tonight at an association I frequent. Thanks to Dev for this little gem. (And yes, I’ve been in the whole “self improvement” mentality lately. See #3 and 13 to find out why.)

1. Take inventory of your worth.
If you had a friend who lost his legs in an accident, but got $10M for it, would you trade places with him? Probably not, so count that as part of your worth. Remember: Self worth has nothing to do with how much money you have.

2. Make sure your appearance is good.
Keep yourself well groomed, hygienically sound, and looking sharp. The quickest, cheapest way to increase your self image: dress sharper. Go out and invest in a couple of good quality dress shirts, polos (double mercerized cotton is great), dress pants/slacks and shoes. Looking good automatically boosts your self image because, hey, if you dress the part, how much harder is it to play it?

3. Read biographies and autobiographies of successful people.
I’ve been doing this for the past two months and it has totally turned my life around by changing almost entirely the way I look at things. (For an example, check out my synopsis on Richard Branson’s Losing My Virginity: Part I, Part II, and on collecting assets.)

4. Listen to speakers, preachers, and teachers who build mankind.
It’s tempting to eschew a teacher because he doesn’t hold the same beliefs at you. Still, more often than not, if you can overlook the parts you disagree with, you’ll often find that listening to these people is incredibly educational, uplifting and rewarding. Here’s an example: ever listen to Joel Osteen? Like his theology or not, you have to admit that he’s a great motivator and uplifter of people. Same for people like Robert Kiyosaki and Tony Robins.

5. Begin any goal with small, easy steps, then increase the difficulty.
Success begets success. When you see yourself succeeding in little things, it makes it easier to go to the next level and begin succeeding there.

6. Smile and complement others.
Build people up constantly. You’ll find that this works as a feedback loop, and as you uplift others, you yourself will be uplifted.

7. Do something for someone else wholeheartedly.
Expect nothing in return, ask for nothing in reward, and accept nothing in return. “It is better to give than to receive.”

8. Deliberately associate with uplifters and good-finders.
No one can long be positive associating with people who drag them down, so make an effort to find people who are positive and uplifting, people who go out of their way to find good in people. Clubs like the Toastmasters are a good way for anyone to start finding uplifters and good-finders in their area.

9. Remember all the good about you.
Make a list of all your positive qualities in a card. Carry that card with you and read it to yourself a few times a day. Brag about yourself to yourself. Be confident in who you are, without being arrogant.

10. Make a list of all the past victories in your life.
Again, success begets success. A lot of times we minimize what we’ve accomplished while maximizing what others have done. We compare our worst to their best. Think of the good you have done and the victories you’ve been part of.

11. Avoid adult programs, soap operas, and horoscopes.
You can’t continually see man at his worst and feel good about yourself.

12. Learn from successful failures.
See how often successful people failed before they succeeded. The only difference between you and someone who’s succeeded in the long term is that they’ve probably failed a lot more than you.

13. Join an organization with worthwhile goals that encourages public speaking.
One of the best, quickest, and most efficient ways to improve your self image and performance is to join an organization that has worthwhile goals and encourages public speaking.

14. Look at people in the eyes when you talk to them.
This is surprisingly one of the hardest things to do. When you look at people in the eye, they can see how honest you are and how proud you are of doing whatever it is you’re doing. If they can’t look at you in the eyes it’s because they usually have a low self esteem, normally because they feel (whether justly or not) that they have something to hide, something which is best not seen.

15. Earnestly and honestly work towards being physically fit.
It’s no secret that people who are physically fit, or are working towards that goal, have more stamina, are happier, and exude more confidence than those who are not fit and are not working towards that kind of goal. You may not be fit and may not be working towards that type of goal, but still be positive. How much more so will you be when you combine your naturally good disposition with the psychological and biological advantages offered by good health?

Edit: In retrospect, I should have probably added a 16th step: work. Whenever someone does something for you which you can do for yourself, your self esteem goes down a bit. Make a habit of having people do things for you which you can do for yourself and your self image will go down the drain. (Ever go to a welfare line and try to look at the eyes of people there? Most of the time, sadly, the thing you see the least of in their eyes is pride: most of them have attrociously low self images, and you will never earn more than your self image dictates you should.) Likewise, when someone gives you something which you can earn for yourself (gifts are an exception most of the time), they are inadvertantly denying you the chance to earn it. All of us, to a certain extent, tie the work we do and the things we accomplish to our self image, so a quick way to raise your self esteem is to work for what you want.


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6 thoughts on “15 Steps to a Healthy Self Image

  1. very glad you were able to put this up.

    I had written this down but my handwriting isnt exactly….topnotch.

  2. If self image involves listening to preachers, wearing a polo neck and avoiding horoscopes, then I don’t want it. All of this stuff is just band aids over real issues. Keep a list of your good points in your pocket? How needy and inadequate do you feel? This article is just fluff.

  3. Aaaaaaannnnd he misses the point entirely. I’m guessing you’re about 13 years old and are “raging against the machine.” That’s OK: everyone goes through that. God knows I did, badly. I even wrote bad goth poetry. Really, the stuff was terrible.

    Remember: don’t get so tied up with the words’ definitions that you totally miss their meanings. When you grow up you’ll hopefully understand what the words mean, not just what they say. (And I say hopefully because age and maturity don’t always travel together, sometimes one travels alone.) Also, I highly recommend you go see a psychiatrist about your “issues”, although you’ll probably just grow out of them when you’re about 17. Again, hopefully.

    Now, why did you feel so threatened by a list you disagree that you had to lash out against it, I wonder? Oh, you’re probably right: I find that I need to work on such things as self improvement, because I’m constantly challenged in the process of achievement, but you — well now, you have no need for the such! After all, why would you need to when you haven’t done anything with your life?

  4. Some really interesting points here.
    Number 14, though really is not good.
    Looking people in the eye is a cultural thing. In some cultures it is considered offensive to look people in the eye.
    Generally, if someone insists that you look them in the eye when they talk to you, they they are trying to control you.
    If someone looks you in the eye when you talk to them, then they are probably NOT listening to you but are merely looking at you. More usually, if someone is really listening to you, then they are likely to look down and slightly away from you with an ear turned toward you. In this way, they are ‘listening’ to you with their ear while their brain processes your words

  5. Douglass: I hesitate to agree with the “cultural” statement (since I can’t think of any cultures in which looking someone in the eye is considered a bad thing), but I’ll have to disagree with the others.

    Generally, if someone insists that you look them in the eye when they talk to you, they they are trying to control you.

    I find in my business dealings that a shifty expression, where I can’t ever really look in someone’s eyes, causes me to not trust them. There’s a saying that goes “the eyes are windows to the soul,” and for good reason: when someone can’t look at you in the eye, they often have something to hide. This may be caused by dishonesty or by a low self esteem, but they’re trying to not reveal something. Furthermore, when you’re looking at someone’s eyes, that usually indicates that you ARE listening to their words, and not distracted by something else.

    I will, however, agree with you in that insisting that a person ONLY look in your eyes will result in an attempt at control. Of course, I’m not talking here about a hypnotic gaze, but rather, the casual look in the eye that occurs when an important statement is revealed. (This may be a simple “hello”, in which the look may reveal a respect for and attentiveness towards the person, or it may be something more serious, in which case the eyes can be used to reveal the seriousness of your statement.)

    More usually, if someone is really listening to you, then they are likely to look down and slightly away from you with an ear turned toward you. In this way, they are ‘listening’ to you with their ear while their brain processes your words

    While I understand what you’re saying here, the fact is that this is not always the case: occasional eye contact should be made to show the person that you are listening to them and to reconnect with the person. Not looking at them and listening to only their words means that you’re leaving out a large portion of their communication, since it’s not only about what they say or how they say it, but about body language — what they do while they’re saying it — that really counts.

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