Your self-concept says a lot about who you are. It impacts the way you feel about yourself, your self-worth, and can even affect the type of success you achieve.
Even if you don’t know what self-concept is, your self-concept is actively influencing your life. And that’s because your self-concept has everything to do with the way you perceive yourself.
So, what is self-concept? How does it impact your confidence and self-esteem? And most important of all: can you change your self-concept to be more successful?
What Is Self-Concept?
Self-concept is your internal sense of who you are. It’s your unique understanding of what makes you, you.
There’s a lot tied up in our self-concept. From personality traits to ambitions to what we do to make a living, our self-concept is a collection of the identities we carry throughout our lives.
How do you develop self-concept?
“I’m a mother,” you say. “Is that my self-concept?” Well, being a mother might be part of your self-concept. But it’s not the only thing that makes you who you are.
You might also be a painter, a hiker, or a reader. Maybe you do yoga or work in the garden. Maybe your parents were born in Japan. Maybe you have plans to open a restaurant or want to learn to fly a plane.
Everything we are, do, think, believe, and feel makes up our self-concept. It’s the self that we construct (and reconstruct) on a moment-to-moment basis.
Parts of our self-concept are more fluid than others. There may be parts of yourself you have identified with since you were a child, like your family heritage or your spiritual beliefs. And there may be parts of your self-concept that are less familiar, like a new hobby or partner in your life.
Let’s dive a bit deeper to explore how we can further develop our self-concept.
What Are the Three Components of Self-Concept?
Can this complex world of “self-concept” be broken down into 3 different parts? According to one of the founders of humanistic psychology, Carl Rogers, it can.
Throughout his rigorous studies of human psychology, he suggests that self-concept is comprised of these three components:
Our self-image is the way in which we see ourselves. These traits we see include our physical appearance, our personality traits, and even our social roles.
However, according to Carl Rogers, self-image doesn’t always match reality. Some people’s self-image may be inflated, in either a positive or negative way.
Self-esteem is the unique value we place upon ourselves. These levels of value vary depending on how we evaluate ourselves. These personal evaluations come from expectations we set for ourselves, how we compare ourselves with others, and how we believe others feel/think about us.
3. Ideal self
The “ideal self” is a vision of who one would like to be. Unfortunately, one’s ideal self and self-image don’t always match up, which can, in turn, negatively impact one’s self-esteem.
But this isn’t how it has to be; your ideal self and self-image actually can align. While it may be a bit of a path, the closer you get to your ideal self, the more you will step into self-actualization and realize that you really can become your ideal self.
This article will help you to more clearly navigate down that path of becoming your ideal self and having a self-concept that balances all three of these components.
What Do You Mean by Self-Concept?
So, what do you mean by self-concept? What innumerable concepts of yourself do you choose to identify with?
Well, that’s the fun part — and perhaps the funniest part of living as a human. You get to decide who you are; you create your self-concept every moment of every day.
You get to decide what your interests are, what you are passionate about, why certain aspects of life make your heart sing, how you treat yourself and others, and how you perceive the world.
No one else can create your self-concept. Nope, that’s all you.
How does self-concept influence behavior?
With this ability to completely define your own self-concept, possibilities are endless.
Think of the morals of your favorite hero of all time. Do you love Gandhi’s peacefulness? Martin Luther King’s ability to stand tall for what he believes in? Mother Teresa’s compassion and charity? Wonder Woman’s bravery?
Guess what? You can incorporate these beautiful values into not only your self-concept but your whole being. You become whoever you believe you are, and you design yourself anew every moment.
In this exciting way, having an inspiring self-concept can radicalize your behavior in the best way possible.
But what about those negative concepts we may have about ourselves? Read on to dig deeper into those and learn how to transform them into something you are proud of.
Is Self-Concept the Same as Self-Worth?
The short answer is: no. But let’s take a look at why.
Self-worth has a lot to do with the way we value ourselves. There’s judgment tied up in our self-worth. And whether we judge ourselves favorably or poorly affects the way we view ourselves.
Self-worth is a part of our self-concept, but it’s not the same thing. Self-concept encompasses all the identities that make us who we are, while self-worth is our perception of our own value.
How you define worth impacts yourself-concept
While self-worth isn’t quite the same as self-concept, the way you define worth can hugely impact them both.
The reason so many of us suffer from a lack of confidence and poor self-esteem is that we’re using totally arbitrary means to judge ourselves.
Some people judge themselves based on the shape of their bodies. Others judge themselves by how much money they make. We judge ourselves in comparison to others, and if we think we’ve come up short, our self-worth suffers.
“Wow, he’s in great shape. I wish I looked like that.”
“She got the promotion? I must not be working hard enough.”
“He’s always going out. I wish I had more friends.”
What’s worthy or unworthy in your eyes affects the way you see yourself. What you value changes your definition of who you are.
So, ask yourself: what’s important to me? What do I value? What do I use to define myself?
Learn to Respect Yourself for More Confidence
One way that we can improve our self-worth and our self-concept is by learning to respect ourselves.
When you respect yourself, you not only affirm your self-worth, but you also teach others that you are worthy, too.
When you’re comfortable in the skin you’re in, you glow. Seriously. People can see and feel the love you have for yourself. But cultivating more self-love isn’t an instantaneous switch. If it were that easy, we’d all be glowing!
More self-love is really about present moment awareness and acceptance. Many of us look at ourselves and want to be different. We look to the future for a moment where we’ll be better—improved in some significant way.
We reject our present moment selves as “not good enough.” The key to self-love? Change the dialogue from, “not good enough,” to “yes, good enough. Right here. Right now. Just as I am in this moment.”
Having more respect for yourself means respecting the person you are today—not the person you plan to become.
As Marisa Peer, Author of Mindvalley’s Uncompromised Life Quest says, “to be happy you have to make peace with your past, love the present, and feel so excited about the future.”
While yes, you may reach those goals you’ve set for yourself in the future, that doesn’t mean you can’t love the process. It doesn’t mean you can’t love the person you are or congratulate yourself on how far you’ve already come.
Everyone is a work in progress. The key is accepting the process and loving yourself through it.
5 Know Your Worth Quotes to Improve Your Self Esteem
If you’re looking for a little boost to your self-esteem, these know your worth quotes should do the trick. And hey, maybe you know someone else who needs some extra love today. Be sure to share your favorite quote with someone who needs to hear it!
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.—Ralph Waldo Emerson
To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.—Thich Nhat Hanh
Find the love you seek, by first finding the love within yourself. Learn to rest in that place within you that is your true home.—Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
To love yourself right now, just as you are, is to give yourself heaven. Don’t wait until you die. If you wait, you die now. If you love, you live now.—Alan Cohen
You have so much power to keep yourself well. You have so much power to live a full, happy life. You have so much power to attract love, to have loving relationships, to be successful. Don’t give your power away. How you’re going to feel in life is really all up to you.—Marisa Peer