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What is Self-Image?

What is Self-Image?

What is Self-Image?

Self-image (or self-concept) is the foundation of personality. It summarises the beliefs a person holds about their own abilities, potentialities and limitations.

It is the basis of people's habitual emotional state, which drives all behaviours and therefore external results.

Self-Image Shapes Behaviour

Everything we do is an expression of our self-image: the way we dress, the way we speak, the jobs we apply for, and the ones we don't.

Our self-concept places limits on our behaviours, often self-imposed.

People rarely behave in ways that contradict their self-image; when they do, they feel fake, perform badly, and quickly return to behaviours that correspond to their self-image.

Origin of the Self-Image

When babies are born, they know practically nothing; all they know is how to suckle and startle at loud noises, or being dropped.

Children very quickly start to assemble a self-concept to describe themselves to themselves.

It is formed from information given to them by parents, siblings, friends, teachers, relatives, and media, including books and films and their own decisions, often made at a very young age.

These decisions then crystallize into firm beliefs. For example, failing at a math problem might lead a child to think, "I'm no good at maths." This belief can crystallize into a conviction, shaping their motivations and actions for life, avoiding math and never developing the skills, thereby living as a non-mathematician, fully convinced that's "just the way I am".

Subconscious Beliefs Asserting Themselves

Beliefs can be classified into two different types: conscious and subconscious. You are aware of your conscious beliefs, like your views on the current government or the existence of God. However, many beliefs are subconscious.

Mental Habits

Just as we have physical habits, like tying shoelaces in the same way every day, we have mental habits that we repeat daily without ever consciously thinking about them.

Bad Habits

Some of our thinking habits are bad because they limit our self-concept, imposing unnecessary restrictions on what we allow ourselves to believe we are capable of.

These are self-imposed limitations, not genetically mediated, and they do not truly represent our potential. They are, instead, expressions of our false beliefs about what we can and cannot do.


To improve our emotional state and perform better in all areas, we need to gain a proper perspective on our potentialities and identify and eliminate the subconscious limitations we have imposed on ourselves.

Take the Brakes Off

If we can take the brakes off our personality, we will be able to actualise our full potential, which is our ultimate aim.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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