Having Self-Understanding Could Create A More Balanced Life

A mother’s life often gets tangled in the lives of her family. When a friend asks for an evening coffee date, you respond, “I can’t, I have soccer practice.”

The fact is that your son has soccer practice, but you figure it’s all the same. Well, it’s not the same, you are a distinct person.

It is hard to remember that when you have everything you know about yourself to be some facet of how you fit into your family.

Maintaining this mindset blurs the lines between your special place in this world, with who you are in reference to someone else.

It creates chaos, imbalance, and a lack of self-understanding leads to dismal outlooks.

This may be something you have never thought of, or it could be something you pondered many hours on, but couldn’t untangle what it all meant.

Simplypsychology.org helps us define self-understanding:

The term self-concept is a general term used to refer to how someone thinks about, evaluates or perceives themselves. To be aware of oneself is to have a concept of oneself.

Baumeister (1999) provides the following self concept definition:

“The individual’s belief about himself or herself, including the person’s attributes and who and what the self is”.”

This may sound like a bunch of psychobabble, but once it’s broken down in applicable concepts, an “aha” moment is sure to follow.

Lewis (1990) suggested that development of a concept of self has two aspects, according to simplypsychology.org:

“(1) The Existential Self

This is ‘the most basic part of the self-scheme or self-concept; the sense of being separate and distinct from others and the awareness of the constancy of the self’ (Bee, 1992).

2) The Categorical Self

Having realized that he or she exists as a separate experiencing being, the child next becomes aware that he or she is also an object in the world.”

The existential self is realized through the reaction the world has on your existence. If you push a glass on the floor, and it breaks, you are brought privy to the fact that your existence makes waves on the universe.

This concept begins really early in infancy as a child seeks to manipulate the world around them; whether by touching a ball and seeing it move, or crying and getting you to attend to them.

This is a primitive realization that is easy to take for granted as you get lost in the demands of day to day living.

Know that you are an entity that takes up time and space in the universe and that what you do is felt by all that surrounds you.

Take a moment each morning to recognize your existential self, your place as a meaningful force to the world around you.

The categorical self is what most people think of when you ask who their “self” is. This would start with traits that make you the object you are; such as, “I am a woman”, and “I am an adult.”

You can see how transgender individuals are so unsound or unsettled when they struggle with one of the basic concrete statements of self.

In adulthood, these statements about oneself get deeper with definitions of psychological traits and answers that consider their evaluations of how others see them.

Carl Rogers (1959) believed the self-concept had three different components, as stated on simplypsychology.org:

  • * The view you have of yourself (self image)

  • * How much value you place on yourself (self esteem or self-worth)

  • * What you wish you were really like (ideal self)

Through life experiences and influences, we adopt certain beliefs about ourselves; some healthy and some not.

Your self-image may or may not be how you are in reality. For example, if you are always focused on weight loss, your self-image may be one that thinks you are overweight, when, in fact, you’re not.

The value you place on yourself shapes many things about you, your friends, your appearance, your health. If you feel you are worth investing in all those things, it will show.

Your ideal self is who you wish you were, and depending on how your self-worth is, this may or may not be realistic.

Take time to contemplate how you view your self-image and then look at how you are presenting yourself and see if they are congruent or not.

You are a person of value, a person that matters to your family and the space around you. Create an ideal self that is realistic, positive, and reflective of the person you identify yourself to be.

Not the self that is a great mom, or patient wife, but the self that makes all those roles amazing.

Please let us know in the comments section if you have ever contemplated self-understanding, or if these insights bring any helpful concepts to mind.