How to align your self-image to your growth

When life makes you grow, ensure you raise the bar accordingly.

Photo by Larry Crayton on Unsplash

As tough as 2020 has been, surely has taught us something. As a result of our resilience and adaptability, we have outgrown some of our fears, doubts and limiting beliefs, proving them insubstantial.

What I notice, though, is that unless I ask my clients questions that shine a light on their actual growth and how they’re going to maximise it, they keep behaving the same, not raising their bar at all.

Our self-image (that is, our perception of ourselves) determines how we operate in the world, the boldness of our actions and the outcomes they generate. Ensuring our self-image is aligned with whom we have grown into is critical to raise the bar to an appropriate and fulfilling level.

How to re-align our self-image

By comparing our beliefs, fears and doubts with facts, evidence and results.
Evidence will tell you if they were real or not and will motivate you to let go of the obsolete and limiting ones.

Let’s say, for example, that at the beginning of the year, you dreaded the lockdown, felt frightened to work from home without the usual structure or felt uncomfortable to be with yourself. What impact have these thoughts had on your mood/behaviour/performance?

Observing yourself now from an external, objective perspective, how many of these fears/doubts/limiting beliefs proved substantial? What does the evidence say about them?

Dr Susan Jeffers, the author of the outstanding “Feel the fear and do it anyway” evergreen, says there’s only 10% of probabilities that our worst-case scenario actually happens

I was delighted to see how some of my clients felt intimidated by the scale of their challenges in March and, to their surprise, overcame them brilliantly throughout the year. Their fears truly evaporated.

What can we do with such awareness?

The truth is, if we’ve grown, that means new opportunities are available for us that were not perceived as accessible before. Unless we reflect on that, we depreciate our efforts and leave better options unexplored. The confidence we’ve acquired must be recognised, utilised and maximised by asking ourselves questions such as: what opportunities are available for me now, that I couldn’t see before? If the pandemic — or any tough circumstance I’ve been through - has reshaped who I am, what will I do differently from now on?

Follow this process to re-align and embrace your new self-image:

An example of how you could go through this process: 1 — observe your beliefs, 2 — replace them with empowering ones, 3 — explore a wider set of options.

Tip: you can follow the same process to align your self-image with your new skills too. You’ve learnt new things this year, read new books, developed new habits. What can you do now that you couldn’t do before? What opportunities have opened up for you?

To maximise your rewiring brain capability and turn this work into actual changes in your behaviour, do not just think about all this, instead bring it to life. That may mean writing about it (ideally on paper), talking about it aloud or discussing it in detail with a wise friend or a coach. Old thinking patterns are hard to rewire, so quality time and consistency are vital to change.

Keep asking yourself:

· What have I learned in 2020? What’s different compared to what I knew about myself in 2019? How has my behaviour changed? Why?

· What fear/doubt did I have at the beginning of the year that has no longer reason to exist? How does this realisation make me feel?

· Now that I’ve let go of fears, doubts and limiting beliefs, what opportunities are available for me that were not available before? What will I do about them?

· What will I do differently in the other pivotal areas of my life now that I’ve raised my self-image?

· How will I express my-new-self in 2021? What do I commit to and by when?

To ensure your self-image and behaviour are consistently aligned with your growth, I’d recommend guided-journaling. I specify guided because the brain is by default attracted by existing details, so you need to intentionally direct its attention to something less tangible (and therefore more energy-consuming), such as exploring the self. To help my clients focus on what’s essential versus what happened, I’ve created a growth-oriented, guided-journal which I’m happy to share with you. Send me an email at bruna@brunadepalo.com with “Guided-Journal please” in the subject, and it will be on your way straight-away as an incentive to stay true to yourself.

So, are you ready to embrace your self-image and live up to your potential?

Let me know in the comments below.

Neuroscience-based Executive, Leadership and Career Coach, Founder of Think and Act differently Ltd