How to Use the Self Concept Method [Examples]

Are you sick and tired of thinking the same thoughts about yourself? We forget sometimes that the way that we view ourselves; whether it be thinking we’re ugly, overweight, unsuccessful, weak or any other horrible thing is just our subconscious minds repeating messaging that we’ve created in our minds. 

Self concept is just that - the image that we have of ourselves. Although it takes some practice, you can change your self concept which can lead to a complete transformation of your life. 

    What is Self Concept?

    Self concept is simply the way that we think about ourselves. This is influenced by a myriad of factors including; the society we live in, our families, friends and social media. We begin to become programmed by these things during our formative years between 1 and 7 where you’re quite literally figuring out who you are. 

    Our self perception influences everything in our lives; our motivation, attitude, behaviour and overall self-worth. When we are feeling negative about ourselves we also happen to project that out to the world. 

    As we grow older, we become more and more convinced of who we are and it becomes harder and harder to change. But there is hope and you can change your entire life by shifting your self concept.

    3 Pillars of Self Concept

    There are 3 main pillars of self concept that were created by renowned psychologist Carl Rogers:

    1. Self Image: Self image is how you perceive yourself in this particular stage of your life. This can be how you perceive yourself physically, your social roles and personality traits. This can be inflated either in a positive or negative way. 

    2. Self Esteem: This is about how much you value and accept yourself - it’s developed in the way that you compare yourself to others, how you interact with others, what you think others think of you and the role you play in society 

    3. Ideal Self: Your ideal self is who you desire to be; it’s the person that you dream of become or are even working towards. These are the qualities that you envision yourself to have if you were living your ideal life. 

    Other Examples of Self Concept

    • How your culture has moulded your identity
    • How you view your own personality traits: introversion or extroversion
    • How your passions give you a sense of identity
    • How your political beliefs are ingrained in your personality
    • How you see your personal role in relation to others: parent, friend, sibling, partner, ex
    • How you position yourself in the workplace 

    How To Change Your Self Concept

    Self concept is malleable - this means changing your self concept could be the key to changing your life. Think about it; if you really believed that you were worthy, attractive and successful; how would you feel, what would you look like, how would you present yourself to the world, what would others think of you? When you have a negative self concept you are projecting that insecurity onto the world. 

    The best way to change your self concept is to pinpoint and identify exactly what it is that you think about yourself. This is the first step to understanding what subconscious thoughts you need to start shifting. 

    Get out a journal or even answer these questions in the notes app on your phone - this is shadow work - it will help you to identify and understand where your self concept has come from.

    Step 1: Self Image: What do you think about yourself?

    • What do you think about your body? Why do you feel this way? When was the first time you felt insecure about parts of your body? What made you feel that?
    • What do you think about your facial features? What would you change and why? Can you find beauty in these features? What is your favorite feature on your face?
    • What is your favorite physical attribute? Why do you love that about yourself? Is this something you can focus your energy on and project confidence about?
    • What personality trait do you admire in yourself? 
    • Who do you feel yourself around most? How can you bring this energy around other people?
    • Who are you in a social setting? Is this who you want to be? Why do you act this way?
    • Have you put yourself out there as much as you’d like to? Why/why not? What are some ways that you can put yourself out there more?

    Step 2: Self Esteem: Do you value yourself?

    • Do you like yourself? What about you is likeable and unlikable? Why do you think these things? 
    • Do you think you add value to other people’s lives? What is an example you can think of where you brought value to someone? (it could be as simple as taking the time to listen to someone’s problems)
    • What do you think the first thing people see when they look at you? Why do you think this? Is this a positive or negative thing? Has anyone ever actually said this to you?
    • How do you think people perceive your personality? Is this reality or is this what you’ve been telling yourself? 
    • When is the first time someone else made you feel insecure? Did that person do so intentionally? Why did this hurt you and how did it affect you moving forward?
    • How do you see your role in society? Do you feel valued? Why/why not? 
    • How can you become someone that you look up to? 

    Step 3: Your Ideal Self: Who do you wish to be?

    Picture the best version of yourself and ask: 

    • What do you look like? What physical qualities do you see that you love? 
    • How do you dress and present yourself to the world?
    • How do other people perceive you? What’s the first thing they notice about you when you walk into a room?
    • What is your inner dialogue like? What do you say to yourself when you look in the mirror?
    • What qualities do you have?
    • What is your personality like in social settings?
    • Who are you in the workplace? What’s your role in society? 
    • Who are you surrounded by?
    • Why do people around you admire you and see you as successful? How did you get there?
    • What does your life look like?

    Step 4: Work on Self Chatter 

    After you’ve answered all of the above questions you have identified any issues that you have with self concept. Once you’ve identified these issues, it’s time to work on your subconscious thoughts or self chatter - this is where you continuously convince yourself of who you are. 

    Your subconscious mind is on a constant loop so you need to make the effort to practice thinking positive thoughts about yourself and try to embody your “ideal self”. For example, when you look in the mirror focus on your positive attributes - speak to yourself and tell yourself that you’re beautiful - eventually your subconscious mind will believe you and your self concept will begin to shift.

    It takes around 30 days to create new neural pathways, so don’t give up. Keep working on becoming the best version of yourself. Even if all of the things you’ve listed haven’t come true (yet) you will start to become more happy, more bright and the world will receive you in this way. 

    There are other self healing modalities that can also help you to unearth your self concept and start shifting your life including:

    Final Thoughts 

    Shifting your self concept is the key to changing your life. When you’re stuck in a constant loop of insecurity and self sabotaging thoughts, it’s really difficult to make any meaningful change. When you’re able to identify any issues that you have with self image or self esteem you can start to chip away at all of the negative self chatter that you have on a daily basis. After 30 days of practice you’ll start to notice shifts in your mindset and then shifts in your outer world and the way that people receive you. Try this for 30 days and see if it works for you!

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    Author Bio

    Just a journalist who fell into spiritual practice by accident. I wanted to share the lessons I've learnt in a cool place and write in a way that appeals to all generations. I cover all things spirituality with a special interest in pop culture trends.