Here’s something that will never change.
People can say whatever they want to say about you, but in the end, it’s your own opinion that matters. It’s the beliefs you hold about yourself that matter more.
In fact, it is recommended that you hold firm and positive beliefs about yourself, because these beliefs come together to influence how you see yourself by influencing your self-concepts.
What is self-concept?
Self-concept is simply how you see yourself based on beliefs you hold about yourself. It begs the question ‘who am I’?
Different factors ranging from success, gender, media, age, appearance, culture, abuse, relationships, etc influence people’s self-concepts.
Depending on whether you see yourself in good or bad light, self-concepts can be both positive or negative.
Ideally, you should see yourself in a good light. While this can be difficult, there are self-concepts you can work on that can have a ripple effect on your overall self-view.
4 self-concepts to work on to be your best self.
Do you believe in your ability to succeed at anything you do? – That would mean you have a high self-efficacy. Whether high or low, self-efficacy will influence how you feel, behave and think when completing tasks.
A high self-efficacy will also have you interested and motivated to do whatever you want to do because you don’t fear failure. The whole idea is for you to believe in your abilities and see challenges as opportunities to learn.
True, successfully completing tasks increases self-efficacy, but this does not mean you should base your self-worth on your successes or failures. Generally, you must have high regard for your capabilities, regardless of whether you win or lose.
According to Albert Bandura, the developer of the theory that emphasises the importance of self-efficacy (Social Learning Theory), there are four processes that develop a strong and positive self-efficacy.
When you successfully complete tasks, you gain what we call Mastery experiences. The more you successfully complete and master tasks, the more you feel capable and believe in your abilities.
Mastery experiences depend on you to develop. That is why it is crucial you put yourself out there, attempt and complete tasks. You will probably fail now and then, but the successful attempts will make you believe your abilities.
Mastery experiences also develops when you try to succeed at new challenges, as this helps you learn new skills. Just always remember that learning is not a straightforward process, so be okay with failing and welcome feedback.
Self-belief goes a long way, but so does people believing in you. Unlike mastery experiences, social persuasion suggests that society can help you believe in yourself.
Through some form of influence, society can persuade you to believe in your skills and abilities. It is almost like when an external voice makes more sense and is kinder than your own voice.
Essentially, this means that being encouraged to do things you doubt you can do motivates you and influences your attitude. So, the next time you can’t be there for yourself the way you need, seek external motivation.
According to social modelling, witnessing other people successfully do something you doubt you can do is encouraging. The encouragement is even more powerful when the person of reference is of the same calibre as you.
Basically, other people’s abilities can have a ripple effect in your self-belief. Just by watching, observing, and even imitating other people’s behaviour, you can directly boost your self-efficacy.
Psychological & physiological response
In your lifetime, you will react to a lot of external and internal factors. You will also react to your abilities and success. How you perform can, and will directly impact your psychological and even physiological state.
That is why it is not unlikely to feel moody and stressed out after failing a task. Thus, it is important to be mindful of how you speak to yourself after failure. Instances of failure should not make you doubt your abilities altogether.
Self-esteem is your overall self-worth. It is determined by favorable and unfavorable beliefs you hold about yourself. Various factors like self-image, identity, confidence, life experiences, etc influence self-esteem.
Self-esteem affects major aspects of your life ranging from mental health; decision making; relationships (intrapersonal and interpersonal).
Having a high self-esteem can be directly linked to a healthy mental health, better relationships, feeling competent, making informed decisions and having high self-confidence.
Low self-esteem on the other hand is disruptive because it directly affects your feelings of worthiness, motivation, and general self-regard.
If you have low self-esteem, it is not the end of you. There are aspects you can work on that can directly improve your self-esteem.
Combat negative thoughts
Everyone experiences negative thoughts through the course of life. The difference between someone with low self-esteem and someone with high self-esteem is the one with high self-esteem identifies, challenges and replaces negative thoughts with good ones.
If you have low self-esteem, you too can also challenge negative thoughts. Starting by reminding yourself that thoughts are not facts, and so they do not define you.
Also challenge negative thoughts using facts. For example, if you think you are unlovable, think about people in your life who constantly show you love and care for you.
Embrace the positive
When you have a low self-esteem, negativity taints almost any self-perception you hold about yourself. So much so you can’t even acknowledge and embrace your good parts.
With a low self-regard, you expect the worst and hardly give yourself the benefit of the doubt. All that needs to change if you want to have a high self-esteem. Starting by acknowledging and embracing your good parts.
Spend as much time celebrating your wins and milestones as you spend being negative about your setbacks and failures. Allow yourself to feel good about yourself, especially when you are warranted to.
I know that the idea of self-love can be hard to grasp, especially when you’ve hated yourself for a long time. Fortunately, love is not always abstract. You can also express it through actionable gestures which can make the concept of self-love comprehendible.
To begin your journey of self-love, start by providing for your needs. Write in a journal; buy yourself things you love; write yourself a love letter; don’t disappoint yourself, etc.
Consistently committing to these gestures and engaging yourself in a high regard will open you up to the idea of taking care of your your intrinsic needs. You will start to see yourself as someone worthy of kind gestures and ultimately develop a high self-esteem.
Develop personal responsibility
External factors can have an enormous influence on whether you have high or low self-esteem. For example, having a high regard for what people think about you and basing your worth on people’s opinions can cause low self-esteem. Especially if the opinions are negative.
Where self-esteem is concerned, don’t let people’s opinions about you dictate you. No one knows you better than you know yourself, and thus, no one should have a say about your worth.
Hold your own opinion about yourself. It all starts with getting to know yourself and making informed decisions for yourself. And because you know yourself, you will be okay with your choices and actions. You will know the motivation and need behind them, and people’s opinion will hold no weight.
Self acceptance is simply accepting yourself with all your attributes. It is loving and being okay with yourself regardless of your flaws, weaknesses and strengths. Failure to accept yourself as you are ultimately means that you reject yourself.
Self-acceptance is the core that makes all these other self-concepts thrive. By being concerned with everything that makes you who you are, self-acceptance influences self-esteem, self-love, self-efficacy, and your general self-view.
Difficult as it may be, it is crucial to first acknowledge your not so likeable traits before you can completely accept yourself. After accepting all your traits as they are, it is crucial you accept any mistakes you make going forward and not see them as your defining points.
Self-acceptance can be difficult to achieve for some people. If you also find it difficult to completely accept yourself, try employing the following strategies:
Getting started with self-acceptance
Everyone makes mistakes, and understanding this will help you not judge yourself based on your own mistakes. It is your your inability to move past mistakes that can make self-acceptance hard, and that is why you should practice self-forgiveness when you feel you have behaved undesirably.
We are naturally harder on ourselves than we are on other people, but you should extend yourself some compassion even when you make mistakes. Read How to forgive your mistakes with compassion.
Treating yourself with compassion can transform how you feel about yourself, your moods and negative views you hold about yourself. Essentially, being compassionate with yourself can help you see yourself as a someone worthy of forgiveness and second chances.
Be honest and realistic with yourself
You are a multifaceted being with both negative and positive traits. And the sooner you accept this, the better.
I know that sometimes it makes more sense to want to be associated with desirable traits but there is no dismissing the negative traits you embody. Rather, own all your facets and define yourself for yourself.
Get to know yourself beyond your undesirable traits and be honest with yourself about how your negative traits play out and do what you can to be better.
Don’t place unrealistic standards and expectations on yourself because society says you should. Instead, acknowledge your reality and be okay with it; with where you are; what you have and where you are going.
Don’t judge yourself
If I earned a penny every time someone judged me, I would be a millionaire. With so many judgements people are constantly throwing at each other, extend yourself the courtesy of not being another judgemental voice in your life.
Somehow, judgements can compel you to not be accepting of yourself. Placing undesirable traits on your head, judgements can define you if you give them the power to. So, be the positive and unjudgmental voice in your life. Affirm yourself and discredit any opinion that does not build you.
Find your tribe
In life, you won’t fit in everywhere. Not everyone will love you, and not everyone will have your best interests at heart. That is why you should find people who love you, accept you as you are, and have your best interests at heart. Through their actions and affirming gestures, these people will show you reasons to love and accept yourself as you are.
The right tribe will encourage you to be yourself, provide you with a sense of purpose, and be a safe space to face yourself and have honest conversations that grow you as an individual.
Surrounded by people who affirm you, you will beat your inner critic with time. Being loved by genuine people who see you for who you are will teach you to love parts of yourself you struggle with.
Perceived-attractiveness is the degree to which you believe you are physically attractive.
Living in a world that upholds physical looks like they are some need we can’t live without, it is crucial you love and accept how you look.
Society praises and upholds certain physical features deeming them desirable so much so people who don’t make the cut end up having poor body and self-image.
In such a society, a positive perceived attractiveness can influence your self-esteem, confidence, mental health and even your relationship with food.
Perceived-attractiveness also influences the way you interact with others and how you present yourself to the world. From the way you talk down right to the way you dress can be directly linked to your self perceived-attractiveness.
To build a healthy self-image and perceive yourself as attractive, do this:
Building a positive body image
Appreciate your body
Before I even get into how every body shape is beautiful, let’s talk about how your body literally carries you through everything. It is the embodiment of your life. When hurt, it heals you.
One of the biggest misconceptions we have about our bodies is that they are just for display. Well, your body is more than that. It is a magical temple that makes up.. what? The biggest part of yourself?
There is so much your body can do and you should appreciate that. It can laugh, it can dream, walk, see, eat and taste (I know I love eating).
Wear comfortable clothes
My confidence increases dramatically when I am wearing comfortable clothes. And by comfortable clothes, I don’t mean baggy or non-figure hugging. I mean clothes I actually love and want to wear.
So I suggest you indulge your style and illuminate yourself through your clothes. Don’t allow the world to dictate what should or should not cover your body. Wear whatever makes you feel good about your body.
Be critical of beauty standards
Living in a digital world where social media is flooded with messages and images that thrives by telling us we are not beautiful enough, it is important you exercise caution.
At the very core, social media is a virtual reality, meaning it can be curated such that it presents images and realities that are not entirely true, so proceed with caution.
Don’t judge your body against unrealistic social media images. You don’t have to take social media’s messages, criticism and unrealistic beauty standards to heart.
Know yourself beyond your body
Your body may be magical and beautiful, but it does not define you. So get to know yourself beyond your body. Learn of your interests, strengths and talents.
Figure out what makes you special. Chase your dreams and find out what your passions are. Be more than your body.