No topic is more interesting to people than people. For most of us, the most interesting person is the self.
Our self-concept is built upon our perception of ourselves based on the knowledge we have gained over a lifetime of experience. This is based on what we know about our values, our life roles and our goals, skills and abilities.
Henry Longfellow would say “we judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done”.
I was thinking of what Longfellow said and suddenly it was clear in my mind: so if I think I am capable of doing something, I will have a good self-perception. Thinking that I am perfectly capable of losing weight, it will be my driver to accomplish that goal. Yay! Now, accomplishing my goal will influence the others perceptions about myself because others are judging by what we have already done, right? Wow, that’s enlightenment.
I do not know if you caught the key words here. Good self-perception, that’s the key. Yes, the good self-perception is the foundation of everything.
In order to develop a
healthy, good self-perception, first, we need to be aware of our rights. Manuel
J. Smith has this “Bill of rights of assertiveness” that can give us internal
fortitude and can be a reminder that we are worthy of respect. Reading to
myself this list of rights, out loud, pretending I was another person talking
to…me, I was able to listen every single word and understand, and comprehend,
and made me improve my believes about who I am and the value I bring in the
Here is the list of all 10 rights that Manuel J. Smith is presenting
in his book “When I Say No, I Feel Guilty”.
Read them out loud:
Assertive Right 1: I have the right to judge my own behaviour, thoughts and emotions and to take the responsibility for their initiation and consequence. The behavior of others may have an impact upon me, but I determine how I choose to react and/ or deal with each situation. I alone have the power to judge and modify my thoughts, feelings and behavior. Others may influence my decision, but the final choice is mine.
Assertive Right 2: I have the right to offer neither reason nor excuse to justify my behaviour. I need not rely upon others to judge whether my actions are proper or correct. Others may state disagreement or disapproval, but I have the option to disregard their preferences or to work out a compromise. I may choose to respect their preferences and consequently modify my behavior. What is important is that it is my choice. Others may try to manipulate my behaviour and feelings by demanding to know my reasons and by trying to persuade me that I am wrong, but I know that I am the ultimate judge.
Assertive Right 3: I have the right to judge whether I am responsible for finding solutions to others’ problems. I am ultimately responsible for my own psychological well-being and happiness. I may feel concern and compassion and good will for others, but I am neither responsible for nor do I have the ability to create mental stability and happiness for others. My actions may have caused others’ problems indirectly; however, it is still their responsibility to come to terms with the problems and to learn to cope on their own. If I fail to recognise this assertive right, others may choose to manipulate my thoughts and feelings by placing the blame for their problems on me.
Assertive Right 4: I have the right to change my mind. Nothing in my life is necessarily constant or rigid. My interests and needs may well change with the passage of time. The possibility of changing my mind is normal, healthy and conducive to self-growth. Others may try to manipulate my choice by asking that I admit error or by stating that I am irresponsible; it is nevertheless unnecessary for me to justify my decision.
Assertive Right 5: I have the right to say, “I don’t know.”
Assertive Right 6: I have the right to make mistakes and be responsible for them. To make a mistake is part of the human condition. Others may try to manipulate me, having me believe that my errors are unforgivable, that I must make amends for my wrongdoing by engaging in proper behavior. If I allow this, my future behaviour will be influenced by my past mistakes, and my decisions will be controlled by the opinions of others.
Assertive Right 7: I have the right to be independent of the good will of others before coping with them. It would be unrealistic for me to expect others to approve of all my actions, regardless of their merit. If I were to assume that I required others’ goodwill before being able to cope with them effectively, I would leave myself open to manipulation. It is unlikely that I require the goodwill and/ or cooperation of others in order to survive. A relationship does not require 100 percent agreement. It is inevitable that others will be hurt or offended by my behavior at times. I am responsible only to myself, and I can deal with periodic disapproval from others.
Assertive Right 8: I have the right to be illogical in making decisions. I sometimes employ logic as a reasoning process to assist me in making judgments. However, logic cannot predict what will happen in every situation. Logic is not much help in dealing with wants, motivations and feelings. Logic generally deals with “black or white,” “all or none,” and “yes or no” issues. Logic and reasoning don’t always work well when dealing with the gray areas of the human condition.
Assertive Right 9: I have the right to say, “I don’t understand.”
Assertive Right 10: I have the right to say, “I don’t care.” As a child, you were probably given things based on your behavior. Good manners may have garnered an extra smile or perhaps a favorite treat from adults. If, however, you were taught that good manners meant never saying “no” or questioning others, you may have carried that mindset into your adult life. By emphasizing these “Bill of Rights” in your mind, you will begin to understand yourself and the mental walls you’ve created over the years more completely. You will realize you don’t always have to say “yes” or have all the answers.
Knowing all these rights and talking to myself about them, gave me the courage to stand assertively. Use these rights as a step towards respect for your own needs and wants…and for a good self-perception, indeed.
Another way to develop a strong self-perception is by using positive self-talk. Aha, here comes the craziness…or not?
The self-talk is the act or practice of talking to oneself, either aloud or silently and mentally, the dialogue that we have with ourselves that can confirm and reinforce both positive and negative beliefs. This dialog can be positive and motivational or negative and demotivating.
Studies suggest that
80% of the talking we have with ourselves is damaging. When we say, hear or
think damaging statements, we are in effect seeding our unconscious with ideas
that take root and grow into a negative and unhealthy self-perception. Negative
self-talk creates a negative self-perception, which hinders one’s ability to be
But we want to have a good self-perception, remember? Can we change this negative self-perception?
To change our self-perception we definitely need to change our self-talk.
1. Let’s stop saying harmful things about ourselves to ourselves (“I am stupid”, “I cannot do anything right”, “Don’t bother trying because you will fail anyway”, “Your best will never be good enough”)
2. Let’s start saying statements that are positive and encouraging. Let’s use words that promote a strong and healthy self-esteem (“I am a strong and confident”, “I am worthy and deserving of respect”, “I easily can obtain everything I want”, “I am important, my views are important, my life is important”, “I trust and believe in myself”, “I will never let my inner critic, other people destabilise me”, “I am in control of my life”)
Notice the internal shift you experience when affirming this kind of statements. They will give you a stronger positive inner voice and a sense of empowerment… and a good self-perception, indeed.
As a conclusion, no, we are not crazy if we practice self-talk. I am constantly doing it and I strongly recommend it for you, as well. Please ensure it is a positive self-talk, which empowers you and makes a good self-perception.
As a life coach, I cannot let you go without homework. Do not roll your eyes, as you will thank me later.
Make a list of five of your strengths (e.g. courage, creativity, self-discipline, etc.) and make another list of five things you admire about yourself (e.g. the way you have raised your children, your perseverance, how fast you were promoted, etc.).
How is your self-perception now? Good?
Bonus: Make the last list of five greatest achievements in your life so far (e.g. graduating from high school, buying the house of your dreams, earning 7 figure income per year, etc.).
How do others perceive you?
You are welcome!