By Dr. Ari Bernstein

Self-image goes much deeper than what you see when you look in the mirror. Random House Dictionary defines it as “the idea, conception, or mental image one has of oneself.” Self-image and self-esteem are closely linked, as having a negative self-image will negatively influence your self-esteem.

If you do not feel good about yourself or your abilities, you could be unintentionally building a wall between yourself and success in life. If you put little value on yourself, your life can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, where others will not recognize you for your worth, either. But the good news is that it is possible to overcome those negative thoughts, reprogram yourself to believe in yourself, and become the person you want and deserve to be. Here are five tips to get you started with improving your self-image.

1. Identify All Your Best Qualities

No matter how bad you might be feeling about yourself, everyone has something good within themselves. Make a list of all your best personal qualities. This may not come easy at first, but take the time you need until you find every possible positive thing you can say about yourself. Once you have your list, you need to take time every day to review it until your positive qualities sink in to remind you of your value.

2. Transform Your Problems into Opportunities

Another list you should be making is one of your most pressing problems. Define each problem with one sentence. Now rewrite the problem as if you were advising a friend how to use it as an opportunity to overcome. You might find that you already have the answers within you regarding some of the negatives that have been holding your self-image hostage.

3. Enhance Your Appearance

Self-image is conceptual because no matter where you go, you will eventually see your reflection, which is also a visual extension of your self-esteem. It does not cost anything to enhance and take pride in the appearance that you are projecting to others by standing up straight, straightening up your office, washing your car, or cleaning up around your home. Clean up your diet and start getting some exercise, too. You will be surprised how small changes will help improve your appearance and how much better you will feel about yourself.

4. Be Kind to Yourself

Be willing to forgive yourself and accept the blame for your past wrongs and move on. But also, do not forget to accept credit where it is due to you. Start taking note of those internal conversations you have with yourself. How do you sound to yourself during your self-talks? Keep track of each time you think negatively or positively about yourself. Are you criticizing yourself constantly and focusing only on the negatives? It is time to review the positives you laid out previously when identifying all your best qualities.

5. Improve Your Image to Others

Did you know that sharing your talents or helping others is one of the best ways to improve your self-image? It also helps improve others’ impressions of you. Consider those positive qualities and talents you listed earlier on and share those gifts with others who need help or might be less fortunate than yourself.

Start believing in yourself, and good things will follow as your self-image improves. Do not settle for less than you are worth by allowing yourself to fall into a rut of mediocracy. And remember, there is no shame in asking for a little help when you need help finding your direction.