Updated: Oct 16, 2020
Self-image sets the boundaries of individual accomplishment. Maxwell Maltz
The development of a positive self-concept plays a significant role in life success and happiness.
If you see yourself in a positive and healthy light, your life experiences will be positive and healthy.
It doesn't mean, of course, that your life will be free of challenges and adversity, just that you will have a healthier approach to dealing with them.
If your opinion of yourself is shaky and fragile, you will find life's challenges overwhelming and, at times, insurmountable.
To possess a positive or healthy self-concept, you must:
· Know yourself
· Love yourself
· Be True to yourself
It is more important than ever to build a solid personal foundation consisting of self-knowledge, self-love, and self-confidence to meet the challenges we face.
A healthy self-concept is more than having high self-esteem. While high self-esteem is essential, the term itself can be misleading. Self-esteem is quite simply how we 'feel' about ourselves, and our behavior reflects those feelings. What we think determines how we feel and how we feel determines how we behave.
Self-esteem encompasses our 'beliefs' about being valuable and capable. It consists of your self-image, either positive or negative, at an emotional level.
When based on emotion, self-esteem can be wavering and vulnerable to threats. Likewise, if it's obtained mostly from external factors, such as an attractive physical appearance, or being popular, you can feel on top of the world one day and find yourself disillusioned or disappointed on the next.
In many ways, self-esteem is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Those with a positive self-image will continually reinforce that image with new successes, while those with a negative self-image will find new failures to bolster that image. If your self-esteem needs strengthening, then you must find ways to support it.
We can often place the blame for low self-esteem on people in our past, such as our parents, teachers, or other important people. However, once we reach adulthood, we need to take responsibility for our self-concept.
A healthy self-concept must be derived from within. Instead of being dependent upon validation from external sources, or the opinions of others, self-esteem must result from self-reflection, self-analysis, and self-acceptance.
A robust positive self-concept allows individuals to open themselves to new opportunities and challenges, both personally and professionally. People who lack self-esteem are less willing to move from their safety zone and miss opportunities in life, love, and success.
What constitutes a healthy self-concept?
· The ability to know yourself; to be able to assess your strengths, weaknesses, talents, and potential.
· The ability to be honest with yourself and be true to who you are and what you value.
· The ability to take responsibility for your choices and actions.
· The ability to love and accept yourself as you are, knowing that you can improve and develop any aspects of yourself that you choose.
Developing a healthy self-concept takes deliberate planning and focused effort. It takes acknowledging your value as a human being and then working to acquire the skills needed to confront the many challenges and adversities we encounter in life.
Five Ways to Develop a Healthy Self-Concept
One way to boost your self-concept is through self-talk. Psychologists have found that negative self-talk is behind depression and anxiety. It is important to emphasize to ourselves both positive self-statements and mental pictures. Do this several times every day until it becomes a habit, and you do not need to force yourself to imagine a positive self-concept, but instead allow it to become a reality.
A second important step is to decide what you can and cannot control. Change and act on the things that are in your control and release the things that are not of your control. You can manage your eating and exercise habits, but you cannot change your body type. You can control your hygiene and appearance, but you cannot control whether others find you attractive. You can control how you feel about yourself, but you cannot control how others think about you.
Third, set up a competition you can win. Only compete to improve yourself, not to beat someone else. Always setting meaningful, achievable goals for yourself allows you to keep improving yourself and can also build your self-esteem by reinforcing your achievements.
Fourth, become a positive person. When you ponder a decision or change in your life, then think of everything that could go right. Emphasize the positives even when something unexpected occurs. Recognize that mistakes are opportunities to try again. Keep the setback in perspective. Most mistakes are not personal tragedies, but rather problems you now have the chance to solve. Success is often the tail of a string of failed attempts to get it right.
Finally, accept responsibility for yourself. Finding self-confidence requires taking responsibility for your happiness and recognizing that you are a product not only of your genetic code and your environment but of the choices you make. Release the blame for your past, and do not dwell on others who may have contributed to your low self-esteem. That was yesterday. You and you alone are responsible for the person you will be today and tomorrow.
Building your self-concept is crucial to your success and happiness. If you follow these five steps, then you should be able to give your self-esteem a boost.
When you possess a healthy self-concept, nothing can rattle you, or take you off your stride. You are confident, poised, and assured because you know you are equipped to handle whatever comes your way.
So, what do you think – do you have a healthy self-concept? Do you know yourself? Do you love yourself, unconditionally?