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Tuesday, November 24, 2009


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There are several connotations to the word or phrase “self-concept”:
  • It is perceived personality or an aspect of the personality of the self.
  • It indicates the complete personality of the self.
  • It is one’s own identity. So, self-concept can be called also as self identity.
  • It can be defined as conscious understanding of the self.
  • If the typical question “who am I” can be correctly and completely answered, the answer in itself is self concept.
  • Self-concept is the search of the truth about the self.
  • Without going into in-depth technical debate or technical dissection, self-concept also can be termed as self image.
  • Again, without going into in-depth technical debate or technical dissection, self-concept also can be termed as self-schema. Self-schema is the storage of information about the self, the way one thinks and behaves.
  • Self-concept is normally an outcome of the self-assessments or introspection.
Factors that May Constitute Self-concept

Description of any entity or any system completely can be done by describing many constituent elements of it in a number of different ways.

For example, imagine describing a car to someone. You will try to describe the car by describing many elements or factors of it in different ways. You will describe its physical appearance- its shape, size, style, color, seating capacity, number of doors etc. You may then go to describe its component systems or aggregates- engine, transmission, chassis, electrical/electronic system, safety devices etc. You may also describe the car by the type of its use or function- sedan, station wagon, sports etc. Gas consumption pattern will provide you with one more description of the car. Thus, the more elements and more relevant elements of car you describe, the clearer becomes the concept of that car.

Human being is far more complex. To describe a human being more completely, the characteristics of a person, at least on the following factors must be found out and assessed. Determining self-concept of a person, thus, is not a very simple task because as you may see that the factors given below are quite loaded.
  • Physical attributes (height, weight, hair color, color of eyes, gender etc).
  • Values (fundamental beliefs).
  • Knowledge (intelligence quotient IQ, emotional quotient EQ and spiritual quotient SQ).
  • Paradigms (mindsets or thinking patterns on day-to-day’s numerous things).
  • Skills and competencies.
  • Social behavior with people from various spheres (including at home).
  • Habits.
  • Interests and hobbies.
It will be a good idea also to refer: (Effectiveness Management: HSoftware) or (Life Management: Effectiveness Management: HSoftware), (Paradigm and Paradigm Shift), (Competency Matrix), (Competencies- Life Management) or (Life Management: Competencies), (Personality)

Self-concept Is Three Dimensional
  1. Self part: How I think I am based on my judgment and experience. In this exploration, in addition to the self introspection on many aspects, also I get the answers for those certain things that I alone know about myself and no one else knows about them.
  2. Social part: How I think I am based on others’ thinking or perceptions about me. This comes by way of implicit or explicit feedback from others about me. In this kind of feedback, in addition to the feedback on many aspects, also I get the answers for those certain things that the others alone know about me and I am just not aware of them.
  3. Ideal part: How I wish to become (and so, wish to be seen) and also, what I don’t want to become. This is done by understanding the other two parts, the self part and the social part and then working out the future plan of actions. It is a serious exercise and also needs good amount of my time and attention. It envelops opportunities and threats, hopes and fears, goals and time lines etc.
Time Dimension of Self-concept
  • Self-concept shows relatively more permanent self-assessments on various factors that constitute self-concept. These factors have been mentioned earlier. Example: if a person is laid back type, it is his more permanent trait and so, it is a part of his self-concept. But the same person may not feel well on one odd day and therefore, he acts a bit laid back on that particular day, it does not represent his self-concept.
  • However, self-concept may change with time if one tries to change oneself on any one or more or all of these factors or the change occurs due to factors beyond one’s control.
  • If one wishes to be more effective and efficient to achieve success and growth, one will have to improve one’s self concept from the present (self part and social part, mentioned earlier) to the ideal self concept profile (the ideal part mentioned earlier). This is an important journey- saying that I am here right now and I wish to reach there over a defined time line.
Creating self-concept Is Not an Easy Exercise- It’s Not a Cakewalk

We give below one of the easiest of the hundreds of more difficult to answer questionnaires that are used to uncover some specific aspects (factors described earlier) of the self-concept. Try answering the questionnaire and you get the flavor:

On Myself (Fill in the blanks against each point below with understanding and honesty):
  • What I like best about myself is___________________________
  • I am best at__________________________________________
  • My biggest success was/is ______________________________
  • In my job I enjoy______________________________________
  • My biggest weakness is_________________________________
  • My biggest mischief is__________________________________
  • I feel unhappy when___________________________________
  • I feel most happy when_________________________________
  • I value myself for_____________________________________
  • I feel powerful when I__________________________________
  • I am special because___________________________________
  • I want to become the kind of person who___________________
  • One of my dreams is__________________________________
  • I am________________________________________________
Titles of Some of Well Known Questionnaires/Instruments That Are Used to Determine the Self-concept on Various Factors
Self-concept: Must for Effectiveness, Efficiency, Self Esteem, Success and Growth

Only after you know what you are, you will be able to take the next step for what you wish to become. With exploration of self-concept, you get introduced to yourself in a much better way, for the first time. You start knowing your current strengths and weaknesses. Also, now, you can define your new destinations. Then, your journey of improvements starts to shape up the new you- your stepped up self concept. Now, you know where you stand, in which direction and how much to travel, what is your destination and you can decide how to reach the mile stones on the way along what time lines.

The distance between where you are now and where you target to arrive defines the degree of self esteem and happiness at any given point of time. More the distance, less is the self esteem and happiness. Less the distance, more is the self esteem and happiness. Arriving there gives maximum self esteem and happiness.

Determining your self self concept from time to time is a never ending exercise since after you reach a destination, you become a different person and then to the new you, a new destination yet to conquer appears as your next ideal part of your self concept.

Lack of Self-esteem or Lack of Self-worth

Lack of self-esteem or lack of self-worth is one of the causes of stress.

Feeling of lack of self-worth emanates from a lopsided pattern of thinking or from your destructive view of the self.

At times it is because of constant comparison of one’s achievements with those of others by self or by other people making one feel less of an achiever. Some of such people also get into a habit of always feeling awed by others’ achievements and creating an inferiority complex in themselves. For them grass is always greener on the other side or neighbor’s wife is always more beautiful than mine syndrome.

Other times it is setting up unrealistic goals and not achieving them.

Some people look down upon their successes all the time. They rate their achievements as insignificant. They believe that they could have achieved more than what they did so far. They are unnecessarily harsh on themselves.

A habit of only looking at failures more than looking at the successes and discounting most of the successes as not worthy of being called as successes also leads to lack of self-worth.

It also happens sometimes that one has not really done an objective assessment of one’s success or achievements and has created a false feeling of being a loser because of one reason or the other. It may be fictional all you know.

We also come across situations when the person stressed due to lack of self-esteem is aware that he had not been putting in efforts towards achieving something that will boost his self-worth. This often time happens due to apathy towards life due to laziness or lack of will power.

In all of these situations one thing is sure that the feeling of lack of self-esteem will suck any person into a vicious circle that can be called as diminishing spiral of self worth. The feeling that I do not achieve much most of the times will further put a brake on one’s actions and that will further result in non-achievement. Thus it constructs a diminishing spiral and generates lots of stresses all along.

One needs to break this diminishing spiral. For this it important to think straight and objectively about the self. Shun the fictional and destructive thinking.

From now onwards, start thinking more about what you achieve on an every day basis and reduce thinking about what you could not achieve. Count your achievements or successes of the day, howsoever insignificant they may seem to you or to others. They are your successes and so, count them. Also think about those strengths of yours which helped you achieve those successes. It will be good habit to write them down as your daily journal and keep on accumulating your successes into this journal.

In addition, try to recall all of your previous achievements and successes from your childhood till today- the day from which you have decided to review your achievements on a daily basis. Document all of these life long achievements also in your journal.

Include even your normally termed very small achievements. Examples: "I told my kid a nice story that delighted him". "I help my wife in cooking". "I completed the official assignment in time today". "I bargained and saved money in today’s purchases". "I checked my anger throughout the day". "My interpersonal relationship with my boss improved significantly today because I came to his rescue in a top level meeting". "I enrolled myself in an evening MBA course". "I did not get promotion but I did get a good raise".

As you keep adding your new successes and achievements in your journal on a daily basis, also revise or re-visit your previous achievements and successes by reading and re-reading them. It is your affirmation system- affirming to you that your are good, you are a winner.

By doing this you are shattering your own bleak picture that you had imagined about yourself and bringing in the desired brightness.

That is the start of reversing the spiral. You have now arrested it’s tendency to diminish and now it will start increasing in the right way. It will turn into a positive spiral and your self-esteem or self-worth will start improving day by day. In days, the improvements will be more synergistic.

And finally, the continual improvements in your self worth will pull you out of the stresses and strains.

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Training in "Self-concept" is conducted by Prodcons Group's Mr Shyam Bhatawdekar and/or Dr (Mrs) Kalpana Bhatawdekar, the renowned management gurus, consultants and trainers- par excellence, with distinction of having trained over 150,000 people from around 250 organizations.

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