Our ‘self’ concept is largely influenced by our interactions with others.
This starts from when we are infants just realising we are a different object then those around us. It continues with our interactions with parents, teachers, role models, and peers.
Self concept is also created by our environments and experiences.
Why is self-concept such a big deal?
Self-concept is a huge field of study in psychology. It helps psychologists understand how humans develop, and how important our social interactions are.
For example, self-concept is the subject of many psychological ‘scales’ and questionnaires used to evaluate a child’s cognitive and language development, or an adolescent’s identity issues.
Bracken, a well-known school psychologist who developed several of the most-used scales, put it this way — self-concept “influences an individual’s current behaviours, and predicts an individual’s future behaviours”.
Can my self-concept change?
Self-concept tends to change with age. As children and adolescents, our self-concept can be flexible, as we are still figuring out who we really are and constantly comparing ourselves to others. As older adults, however, our self concept is more fixed. We know our personal values and are more self-aware.
There are also life changes that can heavily affect our self-concept. These include things like:
Your self-concept is an incredibly useful tool for helping you see where things are ‘not quite right’ for you. An example of this is when we look at our ideal self versus our present self-concept. If you always have an ideal self in mind that is vastly different from your daily self-concept, it is quite likely you have low self-esteem and could use learning some self-compassion.
Self-concept can also help us see how much a life change or trauma has affected us. Sometimes life change strengthens and clarifies our self-concept. But if you feel you’re losing your self-concept, it could be the experience has triggered an identity crisis and it’s time to seek support.
If you feel you have no self-concept, or that your self-concept changes all the time, then it can be a useful indicator of a personality disorder.
Can a counsellor or psychotherapist help me with self-identity?
A qualified counsellor or psychotherapist helps you not only understand your self-concept, but handle all the issues that can arise from problems with self-concept.