Life gives each and every one of us a mirror. The image YOU see in that mirror is a product of your own thoughts, imagination and actions. You turn out the way you want to be. Your birth, parents, background or limitations do not define YOU. You define yourself and there are some factors that contribute into the persona YOU create for yourself. These factors include the following:
Perception is the way we view or look at things, issues or the world. It is the way we accept and assess stimuli that are fed to us by the environment and other factors. The way in which, we as individuals, look at life. Perception also means the manner or the view, which we have concerning situations, incidents, ideas, people and experiences. Our perceptions affect our self-concepts. They also affect the way we carry ourselves. The way we perceive the world, that is, the way we feel and see the world, determines what we become as a person and thereby our self-concepts. If an individual perceives the world negatively, he develops a negative self-concept. If he however looks at the world from a positive viewpoint, he develops a positive self-concept.
What you expect yourself to do or not do, contributes greatly to your self-concept. What you expect from yourself when they are within the limits of reality helps you to evolve an acceptable image for yourself. In some cases where your expectations are beyond your capability, capacity and reality on the ground, you may find out that your self-image becomes warped, wrong or exaggerated. This may make you to live in a dream world or make you lose your mental balance. If you expect too much from your self, there is always the tendency that your self-concept suffers. You may end up living a fake life, a life of pretence or being out of reality or being in denial. Too little expectations, however, can turn you into a nobody without a good sense of purpose or a good reason to live. You may end up hating your life, be depressed or in some rare cases end up in suicide or becoming a deviant whose life is worthless to you and therefore make you to become an instrument in the hands of haters and bigots. You may then become a tool that can be brainwashed and controlled to the extent that you destroy others or the community.
We are not created equal or equally talented. We do not have the same characteristics or qualities. We are also created with inherent constraints in our nature and personality. We, as individuals may also develop some habits or go through an experience that limits us as individuals. These limitations can be in speech, behavioural traits or habits. They can also be physical manifestations such as limping, being blind or being challenged in one way or the other. The limitation can also be in areas of intelligence, aesthetic values or physical beauty. Some individuals are lifted by the environment in which they are born or as a result of the social class they belong to. These limitations can affect the way the individual thinks and sees himself either positively or negatively. The shy, introverted or withdrawn individual may be reacting to a limitation within him or her. The overly extroverted individual may also be trying to cope with a perceived limitation. These kinds of behaviour will affect the way both communicate. This is turn will also affect their different self-concepts. Limitations can affect one’s self-concept in many other ways than above. The man that becomes rich or successful aggressively and does not want to see, think or hear about his poor background may be running away from what he perceived as a limitation. The one that is deprived of love while growing up but becomes very rich and turns into Father Christmas who in spite of receiving insults on his giving may be trying to buy favour and love through money. This limitation of his has become an unfavourable aspect of his self-concept.
The individual needs to understand that when limited in any way he must not use it as a means of projecting himself negatively or developing a negative self-concept. There is no limitation that cannot be turned into a positive advantage. The stories of Helen Keller, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Norman Pearle, Abraham Lincoln, Obafemi Awolowo, and M.K.O. Abiola among others show that human beings can always overcome their limitations and develop positive self-concept. The lives of Adolf Hitler, Idi-Amin Dada, Sanni Abacha, Mobutu Sese Seko and other numerous dictators also show the fact that man’s inherent limitations or weaknesses can also be used in creating negative self-concepts or images for the individual. This means that the individual’s limitations can make or mar him depending on the decision he takes. If he looks at the limitations as block barring his way, then his way will be blocked but if he looks at them as building blocks or paving blocks then he will build a place for himself or a path way. He will also be able to evolve and develop a positive and fitting self-concept, which in turn enhances his communication.
Thinking is the basic ingredient of human life. Human beings are different from animals because we think and imagine. We are what we think because it is our thinking that will dictate our speech and actions. The thinking patterns of an individual drive him and make him what he is? One’s thought patterns and ideas can be changed or controlled and that is why we have conditioning, chemical agents that can change perceptions and indoctrination as process being used to change people’s thinking. The advent of technology has also made it possible for an individual’s view and perception to be manipulated. The moment one’s thinking becomes dictated by other factors such as peer group, family, associations, organizations -secular, religious or otherwise media or other stimuli that come from immediate environment or other environments one becomes a slave to such factors. This makes the individual to lose his self- thinking power and focus. The moment this becomes lost, one’s self image, concept and ideal become other people’s own and not his own. To put it simply, one becomes a photocopy of the original. We all know that the photocopy though looks like the original it is not the original. Thinking therefore, affects your self-concept. This is because you are what you think. The way you think determines the person you become. Your thinking pattern can revolutionize your being and life. The kernel of success and achievement is what you think of your self. Your thinking affects and dictates the painting and picture of yourself, which you create for yourself. This is because as human beings we think in pictures. Our thoughts do have forms. When we develop a thought, the thought takes form and search for like forms and since such thoughts originate from us in the first instance, when they become embellished and mature they return to us. This is because whatever we think exists and whatever exists will invariably materialize or manifest.
As the manifestations of our thoughts become fulfilled, we tend to forget that the source of whatever we have or going through is our earlier thoughts negative and if positive we receive positive manifestations. If the thoughts are negative then we receive positive manifestations. Either of these two affects our sense of self or that of our self-concept. Our self-concept affects our relationships and communication later. If we are positive minded it affects everything and everybody what we come across or that comes across us. The question then is what should be done in order for us to overcome falling into developing negative self- concept for ourselves thereby affecting our interrelationship and communications? What we need to do is to come to recognition that as human beings the only thing that differentiates us from animals is our thinking ability. We also need to know that this thinking ability is not only innate but an ability that we can control or which other people can control. How then do we control our thoughts in a way that they help us to become not only self-aware but also develop a positive self-concept? The answer to this is that we must be responsible. Being responsible means we are ‘response-able’, that is, we do not lose our ability to respond to those things that come to us. We also need to know that the moment we leave the control of our thoughts or give it to another person we become a horse, which is directed by the rider-who, is not our self-or a rider less horse which lacks control and focus.
The last thing we need to realize in order to control the factor of thinking in our self-concept development is the fact that it is our right and duty to control our thoughts. The reason being that there is only one person who gave us our thinking ability. The person is the Almighty God and Creator. He does not seek to control our thoughts. This is the reason for giving us freewill. If the giver of thoughts does not control it or limit it, why should we allow other objects, other people, other gods, other ideas and other factors to limit and control our thoughts? The only person that can and should control your thought is your creator and yourself. This is a fight you must fight in order to evolve a positive self-concept because if your thoughts are not your thoughts then, the picture of you, which you create in your mind is not you. If you are not, then it means you are not living and achieving your potential. You will therefore have a negative self-concept, which affects your communication and interpersonal relationship.
determination or consistency
The individual needs to know that developing a positive self- concept is not a one-day magic or a one-short miracle. Self-concept is a life-long issue and one that transverses the cradle to the grave. It is accrual in nature and like a pyramid it is a step-by-step development. This is where the factor of determination and consistency comes into play. To evolve a positive self-concept takes tact, hard work and a lot of grit; you must have a stick-to-it ness. Your must be consistent and determined.
Consistency and determination help you to focus and stay glued to your idea of self, which you have formed no matter the constraints or problems you are facing. This means that the ability to consistently reinforce positive aspects of your self- concept and the determination to reject, correct and erase the negative areas of your self-concept decides whether you will have a positive or negative concept. The two factors also work negatively. You can be consistent in reinforcing the negative sphere of your self-concept while being determined to suppress the positive areas of your self. No matter what you do however, in the end you need to understand the fact that the image you get finally is your own creation. You will also reap the effects of the image.
We are in this world to experience and go through situations and incidents that will make us mature and grow. These experiences can be good and pleasurable or they can be bad and harrowing. The kinds of experience that you have will surely affect the development of your self-concept. When we go through bad experience it can mature us or it can destroy us. If we go through the experience believing that there is the need for the bad experiences, since one cannot get the sweet juice of an orange without squeezing it; then we come out to such experience chastened, matured and with a high positive self concept. If we take the bad experiences however as punishment or unnecessary, we develop a sense of guilt and this affects our self-concept.
However, if we look at the bad experiences as something that is externally sourced or as something, which we are not responsible for, then we may allow such experiences to destroy our being and change us totally. We may decide on vengeance, become hardened or tune into an unfeeling and non-compassionate individual. In cases like the above, self-concept becomes affected negatively. We then suppress the self we had before the experience and take up a ‘self’ that is not our own. The new self may be bad and this will further destroy our positive self- concept.