Improving Your Self-image for Greater Professional Success

Body image has been a significant topic in society for decades. Most of the time, people start to diet and exercise in an attempt to achieve their “perfect body.” 

Nowadays, instead of striving for “perfection,” people are focused on tearing down the unrealistic beauty standards portrayed in the media and combating their negative effects on self-esteem and body image. 

Joining in on the body-positive movement can instantly change the way you feel about yourself, helping you develop a more positive outlook on life. When we feel good about ourselves in our personal lives, it can directly impact our professional success. Discover some of the steps you can take to improve your self-image and start seeing greater success at work. 

The Effects of Positive Self-image 

With a positive self-image, your body and mind can reap the benefits. Here’s how. 

Mental Effects 

A study conducted by UC Davis shows having a positive self-image can increase your confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. When we think highly of ourselves, we’re more likely to be resilient, handle stress and setbacks with ease, and know our own value.

On top of that, people with a positive self-image usually have no problem taking on new challenges. That’s because they are better equipped to set realistic goals and reach them, well aware of their strengths and weaknesses. 

You can imagine the positive impact this would have on your career. No more taking on every assignment because you feel like you have to. Instead, you’re only tackling what you can and being honest about what you don’t feel comfortable handling.  

Physical Effects 

According to the National Institute of Health, a positive self-image can lead to healthier habits and behaviors, which can change your physical appearance. That’s because people who feel good about themselves are more likely to engage in self-care activities like exercise, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep. Usually, people with a positive self-image avoid behaviors that can negatively impact the way they look. This includes smoking, drug use, or binge drinking.

How Positive Self-image Helps Increase Your Professional Success 

When you feel good about yourself, you’re more likely to achieve professional success. With all of that increased confidence comes the drive to succeed at work. Whether that’s the initiative to take on new challenges, the desire to speak up in meetings, or the brain power to negotiate in business settings, a positive self-image can change your career for the better. 

On top of those performance-based benefits, a positive self-image can mean better relationships with your colleagues. After all, no one wants to be around someone who has a negative outlook. 

Why Your Self-image May Be Low 

Low self-image doesn’t discriminate. If you have a poor self-image, it could be because of several factors. 

If you’ve lived through any kind of trauma including sexual assault or abuse, you might struggle with feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-worth. Ultimately, these can lead to a negative self-image (via RAINN). 

Moreover, if you consider yourself a member of a marginalized community, you might be experiencing discrimination and harassment. This can lead to feelings of isolation, shame, a sense of being “othered,” and negatively impact how you feel about yourself. 

Outside of those factors, there are cultural norms to consider, and the messages that ripple throughout society as a result of print, audio, and visual media. They can perpetuate unrealistic beauty standards, which can also lead to feelings of low self-worth, especially if you don’t fit into them. 

Sometimes, having a low self-image comes from our own negative self-talk. When we make a habit of putting ourselves down, it can become a vicious cycle. If we do it long enough, having a negative self-image and decreased self-esteem can quickly become the norm. 

What Is Body Dysmorphia?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, body dysmorphia alters how you see and feel about your body. Usually, people who experience body dysmorphia think negatively about their appearance. This can disrupt their lives in several ways, both physically and mentally. 

Body dysmorphia can be caused by genetic, neurological, and environmental factors. For some patients, the cause may be because it runs in their family. Other times, patients are impacted by body dysmorphia as a result of neurochemical imbalances in the brain. 

Still, body dysmorphia can be brought on by societal and cultural impacts like the media. In other cases, body dysmorphia comes along with established mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). 

Ways to Improve Your Self-Image 

Improving your self-image can be a challenging process, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible. With therapy, self-care, cosmetic procedures, or a combination of the three, you can improve your personal outlook. 


If you’re struggling with body dysmorphia or other mental health conditions, you might require the help of a therapist. They can provide tools and strategies for managing symptoms associated with a negative outlook on yourself.

Getting help starts with finding the right therapist. Those with insurance can typically find coverage in their network, but you’ll want to find someone who specializes in helping patients with self-image issues or even more specifically, body dysmorphia. Sometimes, you can access therapy without insurance. Either way, seeking professional mental help can put you on the path to improving your overall well-being.


Improving your self-image starts with practicing self-compassion and self-care. Treat yourself with the same kindness and concern you would others. Surround yourself with positive influences, including people who love and support you, to get that boost of confidence you need. If those people aren’t currently in your life, seek out relationships with people who will make you feel that value. 

Self-care activities like exercise or meditation can also help you feel more confident and improve your self-image. Making time to do things that give you a sense of happiness and fulfillment can help alter the way you think about yourself. 

Cosmetic Procedures

Cosmetic surgery can potentially help reduce feelings of body dysmorphia and increase a positive self-image in some individuals. Procedures like breast augmentation, rhinoplasty, face lifts, eyelid lifts, and liposuction can improve your self-esteem and in some cases, your quality of life. 

Anyone considering cosmetic surgery should discuss the overall process, procedure, and what to expect before, during, and after, in detail with their doctor. This includes getting an understanding of the potential risks and limitations of the procedure. Cosmetic surgery can improve the appearance of specific body parts, but it cannot address underlying psychological issues that may contribute to dysmorphia. 

Additionally, be aware that cosmetic surgery carries risks such as infection, scarring, and complications from anesthesia. Always consult with your doctor before going through any kind of cosmetic surgery.