Studies show that much of what we think about ourselves is based on ideas planted in childhood. Our five, six, and seven-year-old selves will internalize and believe a lot of negativity. And since the roots of most people's poor self-image were planted in those early years, it can be helpful to look at how.
Because often, what we tend to think of as our personality or character, is really another self we created to help us deal with the other people's response to our authetnic selves.
So let's look at three major forces that shape our poor self-image. It’s my hope that when you realize that your poor self-image is based on other people's ideas, it will be easier for you to abandon the masks and false identities.
1. Family and Friends
You may have heard the saying that babies’ brains are like sponges – they absorb everything! It’s more than a saying, it’s a scientific fact and is based on the theory of what’s called, the absorbent mind.
Family is the first place where subconscious opinions about ourselves and the world are formed. In psychology, we learn that a critical period of forming subconscious beliefs is from birth to age six.
If you come from a family that is very protective and sheltering, you may be a more anxious adult. On the flip side, if you were raised in a family that was encouraging and gave you the space to explore the world around you, you are more likely to become a self-confident adult.
There is also the impact that friends can have on our opinions about ourselves. Fiends have a huge influence on the way we see ourselves. You may have heard the saying, ‘You are the average of the 5 people that you spend the most time with.” Consider how your friends today and from your past shaped the opinions you have about yourself.
Culture dictates what’s “normal,” acceptable, and desirable in a society. As you can imagine, those values and opinions will influence how most of us see ourselves.