What is the self, how does one identify oneself, in essence who are you? These are questions that I ponder upon daily. Does your immediate environment play a role in deciding the person you will become, and what happens in cases of emotional trauma, does the self become shattered like a mirror, and how important is one’s identity?
There are numerous facets to the self concept, the author Carl Rogers (1995) believes that there are essentially three different components; self image, self esteem, and one’s ideal self. These three components are key to understanding social phenomena such as suicide and depression, with the hypothetical belief that a stronger sense of self is more resilient and tougher than that which can be considered to be weaker, and as such more easily shaken by traumatic, and at times even minor events.
It is essential therefore to study and break down The Self to its bare elements in order to fully understand and tackle such social problems. This article will deal with the importance of beliefs/perceptions and the role they play in defining one’s self concept.
Self image, according to Rogers does not necessarily have to reflect reality at all. An anorexic person can perceive themselves to be fat; the keyword here is perception, which does not reflect reality at all in some cases.
Perception itself is a highly powerful tool. For instance, research in the psychological field has shown that people that displayed confidence in the work-place were deemed to be more valuable, by their peers than their less confident counterparts, even when evidence proved to the contrary.
This shows us that a person with a more positive self image appears to be more competent to the rest of us “regular Joes” even when proof suggests otherwise. Therefore, positive self-image can either be used to boost one’s social standing or be the cause of a person’s downfall.
This only goes to show that sometimes perception may prove to be more important than knowledge or fact. The way a person views themselves is key to what they may be able to achieve in life. Self image is closely tied to self-esteem; this has to do with how much individual people value themselves.
Self esteem is generally the extent to which we like or approve of ourselves, or how much we value ourselves. Self esteem involves either a positive or a negative review of one’s own self. This self concept is prone to change, a job interview or other anxiety fuelled interactions may fluster one’s esteem, but there are instances where people still tend to believe good things about themselves regardless of their situation, this is termed the perseverance effect.
These concepts are not wholly based on reality but these are taken from a belief system that one holds for themselves. Belief, like perception is a highly powerful tool, the good/bad thing about it is that it does not have to have its roots placed firmly on the rich soil of reality.
(To be continued next week)
Leoma K. Monaheng is a social commentator and philosophical thinker. He writes in his own capacity.