Knowing Your Mind: Defining Your Concept of Self

self concept definition

For many people, knowing who you are isn’t enough to define their overall concept of self. Many components go into what you see as your self-concept definition, and many ideas may or may not be fictional.

When you think about how you see yourself, many things probably come to mind. Several individuals will respond with their occupation, living situation, marital status, and the number of pets they have but there is much more to consider when defining who you are.

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How Do You See Yourself?

How you see yourself is crucial because it can have a multitude of repercussions in your everyday life. As well as your long-term goals.

While many of us will have a positive concept of who we are, that is not true for everyone, and some individuals may be searching for ways to better themselves.

Understanding your current concept of self can be a cornerstone for how you would like to change or improve yourself over time. Defining your concept of self is also a frequent psychological tactic used to create a baseline for future personal development.

If you cannot describe how you see yourself and you are also struggling to make improvements in your life, you may want to pause and work on how you look at yourself first.

Once you have a clear concept of self, you will be in a much better position to see what you’d like to change.

Why You Need to Define Yourself

Defining yourself can be a significant milestone in your personal development as an individual over time.

It can also help you to examine your definition of yourself against the reaction and feedback of others to find things that need improvement.

Many of us think we have a defined picture of who we are, but when pressed to verbalize it we will falter and be unable to create a clear overall picture.

If you are serious about defining yourself and making radical self-improvements, consider writing down your concept of self in detail.

By writing down how you see yourself you are giving yourself a significant advantage in your quest to further develop who you are.

Once in writing, you can begin to see weaknesses and flaws, as well as strengths that you can use as you undertake the journey that is self-improvement.

Of course, the only way to indeed change your self concept definition is to accept who you are at this present moment and dedicate yourself to change. Many individuals struggle with change, and this can be a common problem as you step outside of your comfort zone in different situations.

There is a such a thing as your “fictional self,” and this is where you live a life that does not wholly honor who you are and what you need to feel whole. For those that live a life untrue to themselves, they may feel inexplicably incomplete and be unsure why.

Living a life compatible with only your fictional self can drain you of energy and cause you to lose the excitement you used to have in life.

You may find it easier to fulfill the expectations of those in your life for example, but if you are playing that role at the expense of your authentic self, you may be doing yourself a huge disservice.

Self-Concept Theory

The Self Concept Theory is defined as “the totality of our beliefs, preferences, opinions, and attitudes organized in a systemic manner towards our personal existence.”

This quote may be a hard definition to swallow at first. But if you have written down a description of how you see yourself. Then you may begin to start picking it apart to see how the definition holds true.

The Self Concept Theory also readily admits that the understanding of one’s self may be the most complicated part of psychology. And it has by no means become a perfect science.

The number of ways that people see themselves is exponential. And your concept of self may change from one day to the next.

For others, their concept of self may remain stagnant for periods. And that may be considered good or bad depending on the person.

It is also possible that our brains are so complex. And our abilities, preferences, and personalities so diverse that we may never fully understand ourselves. Much less the nature of how others see themselves over time.

By examining your personal existence and comparing it to the values and concepts you hold most dear. Then you may be able to begin to understand how your mind works and build your concept of self differently.

Many individuals think about themselves in a negative light. And this can lead to other negative feelings in their lives as well as adverse outcomes. But the reverse may also be true.

Those who remain primarily positive during their everyday lives. May not only experience more happiness but may also be less deterred by unfortunate events.

One of the parts of the Self Concept Theory is that our concept of ourselves is learned. This does not mean that another human has taught us how to think of ourselves; instead, it says that our concept of selves is acquired through a series of experiences.

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Learning and Our Concept of Self

By learning through experience, our concept of self is shaped and altered. Both by emotional and environmental factors on a regular basis.

When we receive verbal or written feedback from others in the form of grades at school or performance reviews at our jobs, our sense of self is amended.

The reason our sense of self is altered is because of new information.

And the experience of socialization with others which triggers the resulting development. The feedback helps to shape our behaviors, but it also forms the way we see ourselves.

When the feedback is negative, this may have more of an effect on our concept of self. Because it challenges how we see ourselves and our actions.

When we receive negative feedback on a performance review for a job we thought we excelled at. It defies our belief that we are both a good employee and good at our job. Which is inevitably part of how we see ourselves.

When feedback is positive, it affirms our concept of self to some extent. And this can be very gratifying in the same sense as any reward would be.

When others provide evidence in some format that corroborates our concept of self. Then we feel validated and confident about who we are.

Self-Concept as an Organized Function

It is possible to have a clear concept of yourself that includes numerous views.

You can see yourself in both a positive and negative light, sometimes in the same moment. No matter how many ways that you can see yourself. Keep in mind that there is one view that is the root of your concept of self.

When you receive feedback that is in line with how you see yourself. Then it is less likely that you will voluntarily change that belief until evidence is presented to contradict it.

For many, changing how you look at yourself can be a lengthy process as evidence and feedback are sorted. While others readily turn at a much quicker speed.

The process of collecting information and comparing it to your own beliefs that make up your concept of self. Is an organized process that we repeat over and over millions of times in our lives.

Starting when we are very young, and extending throughout our lives. We consider information and decide how and if we should amend our beliefs.

For many, their belief system is directly tied to who they are. And is a partial basis for their concept of self. Belief systems may be difficult to change; however, change can occur and typically does in small increments.

When individuals refuse to change their beliefs. It’s because the information presented to them is not congruent with their current concept of self. Instead of considering changing their concept of self in some small way. It is often much more comfortable to reject the new information outright.

The Dynamic Self Concept Definition

As we face new life experiences that may be challenging or enjoyable. We are also met with the inevitability that our concept of self will change whether we want it to or not.

Our response to these events in our lives can have a profound impact on how we see ourselves. And how we choose to move forward.

When faced with a specific situation it may be difficult to consider your concept of self-prior to taking action. However, after the situation has passed. Then it will be far easier to find flaws and faults in your logic or to praise yourself for your choices.

This change in our concept of self is evidence that how we see ourselves is dynamic. And how we react to certain situations may change over time based on how we look at ourselves now.

Finally, developing your self concept definition is not an item to check off on your to-do list. But instead, it is a constant flow of small changes and alterations that we may not realize are happening.

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Last update on 2022-06-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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