How to Communicate with Ourselves and Use Affirmation to Build Our Self Concept

When you look into the mirror, do you like who you see there? Some people avoid mirrors like a plague for hating what they see in there. In an Emotional Intelligence workshop I participated in few years ago, one of our task was to look at the mirror, to look at ourselves in the eyes, and said positive things about ourselves and affirmative words. We were directed to say affirmative words with conviction that we would be successful in our lives. Many participants, including me, faltered when faced with the deceptively simple task. Some cried. I almost cried myself.

It seems that most of us have some issues with our self-concepts.

According to Burns, self-concept is how we respect ourselves, value ourselves, and accept ourselves. It encompasses all our beliefs and our assessment about ourselves. Our self-concept will determine who we are in reality, but also who we are in our minds, what we can do and what we will become. Taylor said that self-concept is the core of our personality and will affect all our behaviors and how we adapt with our environment.

Self-concept is not genetic, but a result from learning from our environment. It is mainly affected by how our parents raise us, our experiences in life, the good and the bad, our interaction with people around us, and how we treat ourselves. Someone who are raised with demanding parents with high expectation, who are not very sociable and perhaps a social outcast, and facing failure in some aspects of their life have greater chance to develop a negative self concept. People with negative self-concept tends to have low self-esteem, prone to depression, and is generally less happy with themselves and their life.

Our negative self-concept is augmented by ourselves. Sometimes it is very hard to belief in ourselves. We are our own worst enemy. We criticize ourselves harsher than others do. We berate ourselves for smallest mistakes. Have you ever said to yourself “Stupid, Stupid, Stupid, why do you do it?” over and over again when you make a mistake? It is sometimes easier to forgive other people than to forgive ourselves.

The good news is that self-concept is dynamic, instead of static. We don’t have to accept our fate to have negative self-esteem even though everything seems to discourage us. There are certain things we can do to improve our self-concept. We can change ourselves and how we think about ourselves.

Buddha said Nirvana is a state of mind. If we change how we think, we will change our world.

So, what can we do to improve our self-concepts? We can have POSITIVE talk with ourselves. Make a habit of looking at the positive side of ourselves. One way we can do it is to look at ourselves in the mirror, look at ourselves in the eyes, and say five things you like about yourself today and five good things you expect to happen. Do the same before going to bed. Say five good things which have happened to you that day. Use affirmative words instead of negative ones. Say, “I am beautiful instead of I am not ugly,” “I want to teach my students well today,” instead of “I don’t my students to hate me.”  Read motivational books and quotes, learn from others who have succeeded.

It might sound stupid at first, but slowly we’ll see ourselves changed. We will start to belief in ourselves more, we will see ourselves in more positive lights. It might look like a steep and long road, but it is a journey worth taking. It took me years to rebuild my self-concept and started to like myself after being bullied in high school.

We have to live with ourselves for the rest of our lives. It is time to be friends with ourselves. As Oscar Wilde said, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”

Some reference:

Motivational Quote:

Improving Self Esteem: