Every human being admires to live a healthy and productive life. However, most often, people do not realize that a human being is simply a 'bundle of biology' who is to be processed into a social being by the family and the society (Thompson, Hickey, and Thompson, 2016). It means that to end up with a social human being that lives a better life, an individual has to be shaped by other members of the society. Consequently, two critical social concepts influence the successful process of socialization. These are self-concept and self-esteem. Where people develop a poor self-concept and low self-esteem, they may end up feeling depressed or defeated. Whereas self-esteem esteem encompasses how one values himself or herself and is static, the self-concept is a mental picture an individual conceptualizes of himself or herself and changes with age; improving self both self-concept and self-esteem entails changing personal thoughts.
Self-concept is a sociological phrase describing how someone perceives himself or herself. It is a mental picture established by an individual about who he or she is as a person (Hattie, 2014). It describes the perceptions of an individual's abilities, behavior and unique characteristics. Therefore, the way a person evaluates himself or herself results in a self-concept. The self-concept comprises of personality traits that set an individual apart from others and how one relates to others.
The self-concept describes an individual holistically. According to Bracken and Lamprecht (2003), there are six domains related to the self concept. These are social, competence, affect, physical, academic and family. Social domain entails the ability of an individual to interact with others. Social competence is the ability to attain basic needs, whereas affect domain refers to the state of being aware of own emotions. Likewise, physical domain comprises the feelings about physical condition, health, looks and overall appearance. On the other hand, academic domain entails the ability to excel in school while family describes how well an individual function within the family context.
Self-concept is a dynamic process. During the younger age, the self concept appears to be malleable as individuals are slowly undergoing the process of identity formation and self-discovery (Hattie, 2014). However, as a person grows and develops, the self image gets more enriched, detailed and organized as one establishes a better idea of who he or she is and what is necessary to his or her life (Hattie, 2014). Therefore, self-concept changes as one transition from childhood to adulthood where people begin to develop a better understanding of who they are and what matters to their lives.
Self-concept, being the overall image of an individual, is closely related to self-esteem. Self-esteem is the overall sense of personal value or self-worth. It is how much an individual appreciates and likes himself or herself (Hattie, 2014). Self-esteem is often termed as a personality trait implying that it is stable and enduring (Hattie, 2014). Self-esteem may entail a variety of beliefs about oneself including appraisal of personal appearance, emotions, beliefs, and behaviors (Hattie, 2014). The way an individual believes in himself or herself determines his or her worth or value which is the self-esteem.
Self-esteem, being the overall self-worth, is affected by several factors including the one's self-concept. According to a humanist psychologist, Carl Rogers, many factors can impact on an individual's self-esteem including how one compares himself or herself to others as well as how the members of the society respond to that particular person (Rogers, Smith and Coleman, 1978). For example, if an individual compares with others and realizes that he or she is lacking, his or her self-esteem may be negatively affected. Similarly, when people respond positively to one's behavior, he or she may develop positive self-worth. The act of comparing oneself with others is a process of establishing self-image (self-concept) which consequently leads to a realization of high or low self-esteem depending on how one conceptualizes himself or herself in relation to other members of the society.
Self-concept and self-esteem are interlinked, and it is essential that an individual improves both aspects to living a successful and productive life. According to Hattie (2014), improving self-concept and self-esteem is all about changing thoughts. This is because by changing the way one thinks, the perceptions of life are changed, and in the end, the way one conceptualizes himself or herself (self-concept) and feels about his or her worth (self-esteem) changes. It means that to have a better self-concept and self-esteem, one has to think positively about himself or herself. This can be achieved by managing inner critics, focusing on personal success rather than failures, aiming for effort, not perfection, eliminating negative thoughts and viewing mistakes as learning opportunities rather than life obstacles (Hattie, 2014). These strategies change thoughts of an individual which result in better self-image and worth.
Although self-concept entails identity formation and self-image that changes with age, it impacts on an individual's self-esteem which is relatively stable. Self-concept is how an individual views himself or herself so that if a poor self-image is created about self, then resulting low self-esteem is established. People should change their thoughts from negative to positive so that they can improve their self-concept and self-worth.
Bracken, B. A., & Lamprecht, M. S. (2003). Positive self-concept: An equal opportunity construct. School Psychology Quarterly, 18(2), 103.
Hattie, J. (2014). Self-concept. Psychology Press.
Rogers, C. M., Smith, M. D., & Coleman, J. M. (1978). Social comparison in the classroom: The relationship between academic achievement and self-concept. Journal of Educational Psychology, 70(1), 50.
Thompson, W. E., Hickey, J. V., & Thompson, M. L. (2016). Society in focus: An introduction to sociology. Rowman & Littlefield.
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