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Self-concept

Self-concept is the image of ourselves we form in our mind. It's similar to self-image. It's how we perceive ourselves in terms of our strengths and weaknesses. We are not born with a self-concept. The values and opinions of others influence the formation our self-concept, especially in our early childhood.

It is important that we have an ideal self-concept because it determines our behaviour, and thus our interactions with others. How we perceive ourselves on the inside influences our actions, feelings and behaviour on the outside. How we act on the outside is always in accordance with the way we perceive ourselves, that is our self-concept. If our self-concept is one of being a friendly person, we will consistently adopt a friendly attitude towards other people.

As we act in the manner conforming to our self-concept, it’s extremely important that we do not allow it to restrict our thinking and actions. Our beliefs, experiences, and the decisions we make form our self-concept. Very often we cling firmly to wrong beliefs. Changing our false beliefs could mean changing our entire self-concept which is not easy considering that we have held our self-concept unchangingly and constantly for a long time.

If we have a self-concept for a certain level of performance in a particular field, we are always striving to achieve that level in spite of the difficulties or obstacles that are present in our path. We can raise our level of capability in a particular field to achieve our full potential by raising our self-concept in that area. This is understandable as our action is consistent with our self-concept. Change our limited thinking and we change our self-concept which ensures we accomplish much more on the outside.

Our self-concept has a great impact on our feelings, and attitudes. If we believe we have personal shortcomings or there is a bad or weak part in our character, chances are we will avoid interacting with others. We have to think whether these personal weaknesses are real or imagined, or how we can carry out improvements to overcome them, or to view ourselves positively. Then we have to reconsider and alter our self-concept in the light of this new evidence.

The past circumstances and conditions that we experienced may be wrong or exaggerated. Nonetheless, we accepted them as if they were true. Since then, we have never doubted their validity. We just live with the notion that they are true, even if they are not. We have now to recondition our mind by making different choices and decisions, and taking different actions for our future. This then is the way we change our thinking so that we become a different person seeing ourselves in a wholly different way.

Likewise, it would be a very challenging task to change someone else’s self-concept - that is, how he perceives himself – to make him a better person so that he acts consistently with his revised self-concept, for example as a calm instead of an emotional person. Changing his self-concept changes his behaviour does appear pretty simple. However, convincing him that his new self-concept is entirely consistent with who he actually is may not work.

We have a self-concept for every aspect of our life. If we have a poor self-concept in one of our abilities, we are most unlikely to fully utilize the full potential of that ability.