Developing a personal identity:
This is an ongoing process beginning at birth; learning that takes place in the early years lays the foundation for how we see ourselves during later growth. Making positive statements (particularly throughout childhood which is the most important stage for healthy maturation of the mind) and affirming efforts, achievements and attributes is a vital part of nurturing and reinforcing this development of self. This then leads on to the development of self-esteem and self-judgement. Encouragement of your efforts is fundamental to building self-identity and self-esteem; a healthy self-identity and self-esteem fosters a positive disposition and attitude.
The science of the self:
The Static Self - what is the "self"?
- Self-concept - Your knowledge, feelings and ideas about yourself.
- Self-schema - The mental framework that represents and creates information about who you are.
Key sources of information that enters our self-concept are:
Introspection! This is how we examine our own conscious thoughts and feelings.
Other people's expectations and evaluations about us.
Self- Motives: Shaping the self:
- Self-assessment (curiosity about ourselves)
- Self-verification (seeking consistency in ourselves)
- Self-enhancement (feeling better about ourselves) - this is the most important/prominent self-motive!
How do we self-enhance?
Self- serving bias- This is any cognitive or perceptual process that is distorted by the need to maintain and enhance self-esteem, or the tendency to perceive yourself in an overly favourable manner. In other words, individuals tend to ascribe success to their own abilities and efforts, but ascribe failure to external factors (they reject the validity of negative feedback in order to protect their ego from threat/injury). The use of self-serving biases becomes stronger when failure is made public (visible to others).
We are critical about information we gain.
We spend time on processing positive and negative feedback from others in order to make changes to ourselves.
We forget failure feedback - forgetting our past failures to self - enhance
The self-fulfilling prophecy has a great impact on shaping our self-concept. The self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behaviour - an expectation about a subject (e.g. a person or event) can affect our behaviour towards that subject, which causes the expectation to occur.
e.g. Let's say you're starting a new job but you've never done that type of work before. You may have a strong belief that you can't handle the responsibilities of the job and therefore make negative statements towards yourself about the work you are doing. As a result, this has a negative impact on your work performance, and your negative expectations have affected your behaviour to the point where your original prediction becomes true.
Because of this, we believe that our prediction must have been correct which only encourages our confidence of inadequacy in future predictions. To actually take control of this you need to become conscious of the statements you are making about yourself and eliminate any negative statements, you can even change these statements around and add positive language to it, changing the way that your subconscious mind processes the information. The subconscious mind is the most powerful tool we have to shape our own destiny, so don't fill it with things that are self-destructing and just completely untrue.