Our self concept

The Self concept is a powerful idea. In truth, it is so much more because it controls the way we view ourselves. This idea is defined as “the way a person thinks about themselves.” It is powerful because of the major influence it has on our lives and our decisions. On the other hand, it is just an idea, one we can change when we understand how it works.

Our Self concept is made up of three parts:-

1) Our Self Image

2) Our Self Ideal

3) Our Self Esteem

1) The Self Image

This often defined as the “kind of person we see ourselves as”. Some people may say “Well, I am a shy person. I don’t like talking to strangers”.

This is a very good example because this is something our parents told us not to do from a very young age. Perhaps causing us to believe that all strangers are bad (depending on the intensity and repetition of this statement). At the time this was very good and valid advice but over time this programming becomes a limiting belief which controls our actions and interactions in the world.

The Self Image is also limited by our habit patterns or paradigms. I may see Myself as a poor public speaker. Not because this is true, but because I have not yet developed the habits of a highly effective speaker. If I attend voice training lessons, seek out speaking opportunities and develop my skills as a public speaker, I will begin to change the way I see and feel about myself. This is sadly true because a lot of us are controlled by our present results. We see or perceive ourselves to be weak in a certain area and this makes us feel inferior, creating a self fulfilling cycle. We wait for physical proof that we can do it before we believe we can. We live from the outside, in. There are much better and more reliable ways of changing the Self Image by using imagination and concentration, we begin to see ourselves as a speaker from the inside out. We build a new image of ourselves as great speakers.

The Self Image is an inner representation of how we see ourselves, it is governed by our subconscious mind and we know that the subconscious mind and nervous system cannot tell the difference between what is real and imagined. So we use our imagination to become better at public speaking, or anything for that matter. (This will be discussed in depth in another article specifically on the Self Image).

This brings us to the second part of the Self Concept -

2) Self Ideal

This is the “me” I aspire to be. My ideal personality. The level of success and achievement we expect from ourselves can be determined by our ambition. Also, the kind of influences we have in life will play a role in this. Our Self Ideal is the Self we want others to see in us. It is the part of ourselves that we compare our actual present selves with.

Sometimes we hold on to a Self ideal that no longer serves us. Not because we are not able to achieve that ideal self but perhaps because we have changed our desires and grown into a new different ideal. Sometimes when we are younger, we may aspire to be like someone else whom we see is held in higher regard. As we grow and develop ourselves, it is important to make sure we have a clear mental image of what we want to be like, what we want to do, have and to become. If we hold an image of our ideal selves and we keep seeing that our current results do not stack up well, it negatively influences our Self esteem.

If we have a healthy Self ideal, one which truly reflects our burning desires, we can shape our daily thoughts, feelings, habits around them. Thus bringing ourselves closer to the ideal in every action. When we are congruent in our Self ideal as well as our attitude (Thoughts, feelings and actions) we develop a positive Self esteem.

3) Self Esteem

This is the product of your Self ideal and your Self image. Self esteem is the result of genuinely liking yourself and accepting both your strengths and weaknesses.

If we have a positive Self ideal and our current results (our present Self image) are moving us toward that ideal, we can develop a positive Self esteem. Negative Self esteem develops when our ideal Self and our Self image are very different. We feel that we should be achieving much more with our lives but for some reason we are not. This creates a gap between what we feel we are capable of and what we are actually doing or our present results. Self esteem develops from having a positive regard for ourselves.

Having a healthy Self esteem is vitally important to all of us. Yet, if we do not understand how Self esteem comes about we can struggle and frustrate our selves even more. Let’s focus today on developing unconditional acceptance of ourselves (Self esteem). If we choose a path, let’s be sure that it is our own path and not that of our family, friends or society.

When our goal is set we focus on thinking in the certain way which always brings results. We see ourselves as capable and creative beings, and then we move forward by ensuring that we feel good about ourselves and our new image, and most importantly, we take action to create our new improved lives. The life we really want can be created but we must first know exactly what that ideal life is. We must have a clear mental image of what we want and dwell upon it until becomes fixed in our subconscious minds. Then the habits needed to step into our ideal lives will be developed and our results will change.

With an understanding of the Self concept we are better able to adjust our Self image more in line with our Self ideal and continuously strive to close that gap and in so doing increase our Self esteem.

Ramon Watson is a dynamic Thinking into Results facilitator with Bob Proctor. He is passionate in providing service and giving people more of the means of life. If you want to improve any area of your life contact Ramon on

Cell (+27)73 980 8461

Or email on ramon@livingyourpassion.co.za

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Posted in Personal development, The subconscious mind, Understanding your mind

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