Your self-concept says a lot about who you are — to yourself and the world. It impacts your emotions and behaviors and can define the level of success you achieve.
In other words, your self-concept is a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, what are you prophesizing to yourself?
Luckily, it’s not set in stone, and you can re-frame how you perceive yourself and become one with your ideal self.
Here’s what you need to know to create an outstanding self-concept (for good and your own good), according to Marisa Peer, the formidable hypnotherapist and trainer of Mindvalley’s Rapid Transformational Hypnotherapy for Abundance Quest:
- What Is Self-Concept?
- 15 Self-Concept Examples
- Self-Concept Theories
- The Development Stages of Self-Concept
- Self-Concept and Career Development
- Self-Esteem vs. Self-Worth
- What Is a Negative Self-Concept?
- Self-Concept Affirmations
A positive self-concept boosts your confidence and self-esteem. And most importantly, it’s the gateway to your fulfillment and self-actualization.
What Is Self-Concept?
Self-concept is your unique understanding of who you are — from personality traits to ambitions to what you do to make a living. It’s a collection of the identities you carry throughout your life.
Think of these identities as the roles you play. You might be a painter, an entrepreneur, or a teacher. You might have a whimsical cultural background.
These roles are fluid, yet some are more rigid than others. There may be parts of yourself you have identified with since you were a child, like your family heritage or spiritual beliefs. And there may be less familiar parts, like a new hobby or partner in your life.
For example, if you are a mother, it might be a big part of your self-concept, but it’s not the only thing that makes you who you are.
In other words, everything you do, think, believe, and feel makes up your self-concept. It’s the self that you construct (and reconstruct) moment-to-moment.
15 Self-Concept Examples
Self-concept can be positive or negative. Here are 15 self-concept examples.
Let’s start with the positive ones:
- I’m an intelligent person.
- I’m a valuable member of my community.
- I’m a fantastic spouse.
- I’m a caring person.
- I’m a hard-working and competent employee.
On the flip side, negative self-concepts sound like:
- I’m stupid and incapable.
- I’m a useless member of my community.
- I’m a terrible spouse.
- I’m not enough.
- I’m a lazy and incompetent employee.
Some of your self-concepts aren’t domain-specific. For example:
- I am a strong woman/man.
- I am spiritual.
- I am good at [insert something you’re good at].
Simply put, your self-concept can be identified through self-talk, especially when things go wrong.
Self-concept is a complex system, and there are several self-concept approaches to it. Here’s a closer look at the most prominent studies.
According to Carl Rogers, one of the founders of humanistic psychology, self-concept is comprised of these three components:
Self-image is the way you see yourself. It includes your physical appearance, personality traits, and social roles.
However, Carl Rogers clarifies that self-image doesn’t always match reality. Some people’s self-image may be inflated or distorted to a degree.
Self-esteem is the unique value you place upon yourself. If this value is low — you get low self-esteem.
It’s wired around your personal evaluation of your success and stems from your expectations. It also includes your comparisons of yourself with others and your beliefs about other people’s perceptions of you.
Like with self-image, what you believe others think about you doesn’t necessarily match their actual perception.
3. Ideal self
The ‘ideal self’ is a vision of who you aspire to become. When it can’t compete with your self-image, it can negatively impact your self-esteem. Can they actually align?
Yes, they can. While it may be a bit of a path, the closer you get to your vision, the more you will step into self-actualization to become your ideal self.
Self-Concept Maintenance Theory
Self-concept maintenance states that our self-concept isn’t fixed or subject to some divine providential development. On the contrary, we actively shape our self-concept, maintaining and enhancing it based on our experience.
This theory studies:
- Our evaluations of ourselves
- The comparison of our actual selves with our ideal selves
- The actions we take to move closer to our ideal selves
Does it mean that you have no room for moral ambiguity? It depends on your level of self-awareness.
When you regularly assess yourself and your internal moral standards, you are less likely to engage in some unethical activity because it will impact your self-concept. Interestingly, in contrast, some people, given the freedom to benefit from dishonest actions, will engage in it without impacting their self-concept.
Social Identity Theory
Developed by social psychologist Henri Tajfe, this theory states that self-concept is composed of two essential parts:
- Personal identity: Your unique traits and characteristics
- Social identity: Your sense of self based on your membership in social groups, such as religion, political parties, social class, or sports teams
Henry Tajfe explains that since your social identity impacts your self-concept, it also affects your emotions and behaviors. If your team loses a game, you will, at least, feel frustrated and, at most, act out against the winning team.
Multiple Dimensions Theory
Contrary to Henry Tajfe, psychologist Bruce A. Bracken believed that self-concept wasn’t that linear but rather multidimensional. He suggested six independent traits comprising one’s self-concept:
- Academic: Success or failure in school
- Affect: Awareness of emotional states
- Competence: Ability to meet your own basic needs
- Family: How well you function in your family unit
- Physical: How you feel about your looks, health, physique, and overall appearance
- Social: Social skills to interact with others
Let’s admit that Bracken’s theory offers a comprehensive assessment that evaluates these six elements of self-concept in children and adults.
The Development Stages of Self-Concept
Self-concept develops and alters throughout your life, but your early childhood years are the ripest time for your self-concept development.
There are three general stages during early childhood: from 0 to 2 years old; from 3 to 4 years old; from 5 to 6 years old.
Children are like sponges. They learn from their parents, and often we have anxious parents who teach us to be anxious.— Marisa Peer, trainer of Mindvalley’s Rapid Transformational Hypnotherapy for Abundance Quest
Think of this stage from the perspective of “I am and the world” — this is when your sense of self is separate from the world and develops accordingly.
Stage #1: 0 to 2 years old
- Babies need consistent, loving relationships to develop a positive sense of self
- This is when babies form preferences in alignment with their innate sense of self
- Toddlers require gentle but firm boundaries to feel safe and secure
- As their language skill develops, toddlers develop a sense of ‘me’
Stage #2: 3 to 4 years old
- They begin to see themselves as separate and unique individuals
- Children develop descriptive self-images
- Preschoolers become increasingly independent and curious about what they can do
Stage 3: 5 to 6 years old
- They become aware of the needs and interests of the larger group
- Kindergarteners can communicate their wants, needs, and feelings
- Five and six-year-olds can define themselves within the context of the group in a more sophisticated way
Self-concept in middle childhood
Between 7 and 11 years old, children develop a sense of their social selves and how they fit in with everyone else. This is when they start comparing themselves with others and developing a self-concept based on how others see them.
Self-concept at this stage also includes:
- More balanced self-descriptions
- Development of the ideal and real self, as well as a personal sense of self
- Descriptions of the self by competencies instead of specific behaviors
In other words, this is the stage of “I am in the world.”
The development of self-concept in adolescence
This is when your self-concept goes off — you play with your sense of self and experiment with your identity. Moreover, the basis of the self-concept you develop at this stage may stay with you for the rest of your life.
According to science, during this period, adults are less influenced by their peers and chemical changes happening in the brain. They are more self-aware and conscious and can enjoy greater and more free self-expression.
Two important factors influence self-concept and self-worth in adults: success in areas you want to succeed and approval from people you consider significant.
This is the stage of “The world in me.”
Self-Concept and Career Development
Career is one of the 12 major life areas that deserve your utmost attention to create your best life. And your self-concept develops during any career.
According to researcher Donald E. Super, there are five life and career development stages:
- Growth (0 to 14 years old): Develop basic self-concept
- Exploration (15 to 24 years old): Explore various hobbies, activities, jobs
- Establishment (25 to 44 years old): Establish your career and build skills
- Maintenance (45 to 64 years old): Manage and adjust your self-concept and career
- Decline (65+): Prepare for retirement
Though the fifth stage is characterized by reduced output, it can have a tremendous impact on your self-concept. If you have lived your best life, your self-concept is solidified as utterly positive and gives you the ultimate fulfillment.
Needless to say that we aren’t equal in terms of the initial given conditions. For example, you may not have the opportunity to explore yourself and establish your desired career. Yet, your self-concept drives your career development and overall self-actualization.
Self-Esteem vs. Self-Worth
Self-esteem is what you think, feel, and believe about yourself. It’s a very subjective evaluation. As for self-worth, it’s a broader value based on social recognition. It’s how you see yourself as a valuable person, worthy of love, admiration, and respect.
Your self-worth is based on two values — intrinsic and instrumental:
- Intrinsic value: Your belief that you are a good (or not-so-good) person. If you have intrinsic value, then you value yourself uncompromisingly for being who you are. This is your self-love.
- Instrumental value: This refers to your belief that you can do good things. In other words, you value yourself because of the things you do. This is your self-respect.
What Is a Negative Self-Concept?
It’s a negative perception of yourself, your personality traits, and your ways of thinking and doing things. Simply put, you have an inaccurate notion of who you are (or no notion at all).
Paradoxically, people with a negative self-concept can’t stand criticism because they are their own most judgemental critics. And apparently, they also tend to criticize others as the negative perception of others is a mere reflection of their own self-concept.
Examples of a negative self-concept
Think of it as negative statements you repeat to yourself, like:
- I’m so stupid.
- I’m such a loser.
- I never do anything right.
- My life is hell.
- I always fail.
- I will never succeed.
- I’m condemned to be alone.
- Nobody likes me.
- I’m not worth anything.
- I am not enough.
- I am not lovable.
According to Marisa Peer, the formidable hypnotherapist and trainer of Mindvalley’s Rapid Transformational Hypnotherapy for Abundance Quest, one of our greatest pains is the lie we tell ourselves.
The good news is that you can stop this pain by stopping telling yourself these lies and start telling yourself better lies.
Instead of saying, “My life sucks,” say to yourself, “My life is amazing, and I’m an amazing person!”
“Even if it’s not true, if it feels better, you will feel better by telling yourself a better lie,” she adds.
To have a positive self-concept, you must stop looking for your self-esteem outside of yourself. Instead, you want to become your own most cheerful cheerleader.
There is nothing on this planet that will boost your self-esteem in the same way as your praise.— Marisa Peer, trainer of Mindvalley’s Rapid Transformational Hypnotherapy for Abundance Quest
Here are some self-praise affirmations you can say to yourself:
- I’m amazing.
- I’m enough.
- I’m perfect just the way I am.
- Every single part of me is lovable.
- I’m kind and compassionate.
- My life is amazing, and everything is working out for me.
- I’m supported, loved, and never alone.
- I’m a valuable human being.
- I value and respect myself for who I am.
- My future is bright and exciting.
- I deserve to be happy and have everything I desire.
- I’m worthy of love.
- I embrace my strengths and weaknesses.
- I grow, transform, and evolve into the best version of me.
You can come up with your own positive self-concept affirmations — whatever you want your partner, friend, parents, or even boss to say to you, affirm it to yourself.
Rapidly Transform Your Self-Concept
Imagine you wake up one morning and realize that your self-perception matches your reality — you’ve objectively grown into the version of yourself you’ve always envisioned. And it all happened like in the movie Body Swap (or any other identity-swapping film).
Sounds like another Hollywood happy-end story?
Well, it has something to do with Tinsel Town because Marisa Peer has helped many Hollywood stars to change their self-concepts and create their best lives.
She can help you, too, rapidly transform your self-image on a deep subconscious level if you join her in Mindvalley’s Rapid Transformational Hypnotherapy for Abundance Quest.