When reading life advice, you'll sometimes come across discussions of how your self-concept influences your success.
And there are good reasons to think this is true, which means it's important to understand what your self-concept involves and to consider whether it needs to be amended.
But what exactly is self-concept? As it turns out, this is a complex thing, and it's one that is in constant flux.
In this guide, we'll give you the basic information you need to learn about your self-concept. We'll start by unpacking the notion of a self-concept, considering how you should understand your own self-concept and the role of disregarded self-acceptance.
From there, we'll turn to the science behind our self-concepts, before exploring how you can begin the hard but rewarding work of understanding and building a self-concept that works.
Finally, we'll look at how you can enhance and improve the results of that work by tapping into the power of your subconscious.
In a nutshell, your self-concept is the broad idea you have about your identity – who you are in all ways.
This self-image includes things like how you see your body, how you conceive of your emotional life, your view of your social self, and your spiritual side.
Anything that is core to your understanding of who you are and the role you play in the world becomes part of this self-concept. And it can support your happiness, but it can also undermine your self-esteem.
How, then, do you come to know the details of your own self-concept?
When reflecting on this, be sure to focus not on your ideal self (i.e., the fantasy of who you could be in the future) and concentrate instead on who you really are right now.
Ask yourself how you feel about the main parts of yourself. For example, try writing a few sentences capturing your perspective on the following:
Feel free to add any other heading that captures a major aspect of your identity.
Your self-concept is the sum total of all you write, and you'll probably notice that it contains both good and negative thoughts about yourself.
And negative thoughts about yourself can be dangerous, obscuring your understanding of who you really are.
If you don't like who you are – or there are large parts you don't like – you can become disengaged from your real self.
Your self-concept then becomes all about comparing yourself to the ideal. For example, you might hold people in the media as a yardstick.
So, your sense of yourself at this point is all about lack – what you don't have, who you aren't, what you don't know how to do. This often leads to the thought “I don't know what to do with my life anymore.”
In such cases, it's wise to work to untangle your self-concept from your aspirations and from a lack of self-acceptance.
We'll briefly consider the science of how self-concept works, then look at how you can rebuild a healthy self-concept.
The self-concept theory is a combination of psychology and neuroscience. Experts typically conceive of self-concept as a “mental picture” we build of ourselves and our position in the world.
It is made of distinct beliefs, such as “I am a reliable daughter”, and “I am happiest in small groups of close friends.”
We tend to emphasize things that make us different from those around us, as well as our key relationships, and which social groups we identify with.
Psychologist Carl Rogers analyzed the self-concept and discovered that in addition to being about who we are (i.e., how we see ourselves), it's also closely related to our self-esteem and aspirations for the future.
However, as noted above, if these aspects of self-concept divorced from what's true or what's likely to be possible, we can become stuck in an unproductive and unfilling place.
Work on the science of self-concept also emphasizes that a positive, accurate self-concept improves well-being and cognitive function.
You feel better about yourself, and you also feel empowered to take action to get what you want.
And as you'll see in our suggestions below, making healthy changes to your self-concept is easier when we practice positive reinforcement.
In other words, when we decide how we want to change, we should aim to live in accordance with this, reaffirming to our subconscious that this new self-concept is now our reality.
Let's now look at the practical steps you need to take to make this happen.
We're now going to show you how to strengthen your self-concept – how to build self-confidence by seeing yourself in a different light.
We'll suggest four distinct ways to do this, and you may pick out ones that make the most difference to you or practice all at the same time.
The only way to work out how to nurture your self-concept is to play and experiment, so give yourself permission to learn by experimenting.
Positive affirmations are a wonderful way of building positivity and confidence in all areas of life.
Affirmations are statements that you can repeat to yourself (ideally in the mirror) to help yourself take on a new belief or conviction.
They are yours to design as you see fit, which means they may refer to very general changes or to extremely specific things.
For example, “I love and I am loved” is a valid affirmation for building a compassionate presence in the world, but so too is “I will be my best self at this job interview.”
When supporting self-concept, your affirmations will often refer to the core traits you most want to embody – such as confidence, honesty, compassion, and assertiveness.
It can be tough to find your strengths. Many of us have blind spots about our positive qualities or had formative experiences that fill us with self-doubt or even self-loathing.
This is why other people are one of your greatest resources when strengthening your self-concept.
To use feedback to find your strengths, keep a log of the positive things others say to you.
Which traits come up and again? How do people describe you? This feedback is all already there – you just have to tune it into you and build it into your daily awareness.
Of course, it's also perfectly fine to solicit feedback. For example, you might approach a close colleague or a good friend and ask what they think are your top five qualities.
Self-compassion means treating yourself as you'd treat other people you love. In other words, where you'd affirm someone (or not criticize them), give yourself that same affirmation.
And if you'd respect someone else's need for a break or self-care, you should respect those same needs in yourself.
Your self-concept is determined by how you think about yourself and how you treat yourself, so practicing self-compassion feeds positivity straight into your self-concept.
In addition to the above suggestions, being self-compassionate might involve:
Improving yourself by strengthening your self-concept has a lot to do with building confidence and faith in your own abilities.
Trust that you can do anything you want to. If you doubt yourself, challenge yourself to come up with five examples of times you exceed others' expectations and were able to rise above adversity.
There is abundant evidence that you can do whatever you need to, and you'll do it again!
It can also be helpful to face what you'll do if things don't work out – to defuse your anxiety by realizing that you can survive even challenges or experiences of failure.
Our negative fantasies hold a lot of power, and we can boost our self-confidence by creating battle plans that will work if the worst happens.
You now have a solid understanding of what a self-concept is, as well as some of the psychological research explaining the different parts of your self-concept.
You've also started to think about how to strengthen your own self-concept – a project that will bring you greater happiness, confidence, and success.
But if you want to make this work (and its benefits) one step further then self-hypnosis for confidence might be the right approach for you.
It can help you develop a proactive, assertive attitude – one that not only allows you to initiate new projects but also helps you to move past any initial difficulties or failures.
Self-hypnosis for confidence encourages hard work, optimism, and a way of seeing yourself that helps you put your best face forward.
Our self-hypnosis program works by tapping into your subconscious, which hosts all your fundamental beliefs about who you are.
Through suggestion, you can then reframe those beliefs into a positive picture of yourself that focuses on your major strengths and abilities.
Self-hypnosis is a private, self-directed process that only facilitates the kind of change you want – and people sometimes see such a change in just a couple of sessions.
So if you want to feel stronger and happier, why not give it a try?