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  • Writer's picturegaelle Chatenet

Change your self-concept, change your life

What is self-concept and how is it created?

Your self-concept is the sum of all the beliefs you have about yourself. All the qualities you believe you have or lack.

Your self-concept influences everything that goes on in your life because it determines who you think you are, what you think you can/cannot do, what you feel you deserve or not. Your self-concept determines how you act when interacting with other people, how you act in ANY given situation. Once you understand this, you understand the importance of a good self-concept. Needless to say, you want to have a self-concept that will serve you and bring you closer to your goals in life not hinder you or prevent you from achieving what is important to you.

How is self-concept created:

From our earliest experiences, self-concept was created from the responses we got from parents and caregivers to our behaviors. From praise or critics that were made. From labels that were given to us. How different it is to grow up as ‘the naughty one’ or as ‘the smart one’. All the labels that were put on us by others determine the image we created of ourselves in our minds, and consequently, what we expect of life, of ourselves and of others.

Later on, school, friendships, successes and failures reinforced the beliefs we have about ourselves.

Society and culture also play a strong role in self-concept, because they tell us what is acceptable or not. How we should be. What we should want, how we should feel. The feeling of not fitting in with these unspoken rules can be a big blow on a person’s self-concept. They might end up feeling they are not ‘normal’ or that they can never fit in. And remember that what we believe about ourselves, we will make come true whether positive or negative… If you have a strong belief in your capability, failure will only be seen as a setback, something that you can fic by trying again. If you have a strong belief in your Incapability, failure will just be the proof that you were right all along about not being able to get anything done.

Your personal experiences will come to add new sides to your self-concept and as your self-concept evolves, your brain will select and delete experiences so that everything happening in your life will seem to validate what you believe about yourself. This is how you end up with statements like ‘I ALWAYS….’ Or ‘I NEVER….’. Always? Never? Really? Can you think of ONE exception? Maybe another one…? When you hear someone or yourself use these words: always, never, all the time, everyone, everything, when talking about a problem in their life, you know it is coming from a state of generalization and it’s time to start looking at counter examples and change the narrative that is holding you back.

Your qualities:

Everyone has positive qualities they are sure they possess. You know that you are kind, or smart, or generous and you like that about yourself. These qualities not only support your actions in daily life, acting along with these qualities will make you feel good and more confident.

Then, there are the unwanted qualities: the ones you are sure you possess but that you do not like about yourself. When you act along those qualities you feel bad, it brings you down and makes you feel bad about yourself. But if you strongly believe they are part of who you are and cannot be changes, you will also feel stuck and helpless to change.

There are the qualities that are more ambiguous, that you feel you sometimes are or aren’t. And you might want more or less of them. Or you might want to be able to have them when they are useful only.

Finally, there are the qualities you believe you lack. The things you wish you were but think that you are not. Truth is, if you can know you want to have them and you know how it will feel to be them, then they are already there within you and it will be quite easy to become them and add them to your self-concept.

This is what happens with NLP transformations. You can learn to assess your own beliefs about yourself, remove the unwanted qualities that are stopping you from doing what you really want and acquire the qualities you wish you had (They are already there! REALLY!).

Once you start to align your thoughts, actions and feelings all the parts of you look and work in the same direction and you can finally feel whole and move forward.

Think about it:

  • Which qualities do you like about yourself?

  • Which qualities do you wish you were more of?

  • How would being those qualities change your experience of life?

  • Which qualities do you wish you were less of?

  • How would

not having those qualities change your experience of life?

Your self-concept is something you can have full control over, something you can change and improve to make your life experience better. You don’t have to be the victim of a self-concept that was decided for you. Learn how to work on it with a coach or therapist and take control of your narrative.

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