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Concept of the Self and Self-Esteem Essay (Critical Writing)

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Researches, studies, and even stipulations of the spiritual books have all pointed out that the human being is made up of more than the physical appearance seen from outside. It has been found out that apart from the physical body, the real human being is an inner person that is pure and free from environmental formations. The self is therefore the identity or an individual’s own being as portrayed by a conscious reflection. It is an identity that is separate from the environment. To have a clear picture of what ‘the self’ means, several ways have been designed. Among the most common and widely used ways of self, the approach is self-esteem and self-concept. self-esteem refers to how an individual views himself from an emotional or affective aspect. This refers to how an individual feels about himself and also how the individual values himself. This can also be referred to as self-worth. On the other part, self-concept refers to the way an individual views himself from a thinking or cognitive aspect. Purkey, (1988) refers to it as, “…the totality of a complex, organized and dynamic system of learned beliefs, attitudes, and opinions that each person holds to be true about his or her personal existence.”

While self-esteem and self-concept are slightly different, they are so closely related that some authors even use them interchangeably. In addition, they work so closely that one directly affects the other. Franken (1994) clearly points out that good self-esteem directly corresponds with a favorable self-concept. He further points out that an individual can maximize outcomes if he clearly knows himself because this can assist him to know his strong points and his weaknesses. It is from the self-concept that one develops his motivated behavior. This is because behavior motivation basically depends on the possible selves which are directly dependent on the self-concept. What does this mean to an individual’s behavior and vision? From this, it is possible to rule out that the way an individual views the world and his reaction towards the view dictates the boundaries from which he can estimate his possibilities.

How is self-concept developed? As mentioned in the definition of self-concept by Purkey, it is evident that the self-concept develops from a “complex system of learned beliefs.” This means that self-concept develops through learning from self and from others. When an individual takes an action, he later looks back to reflect on what he has done. In addition, other people around him make their comments concerning the action taken by the individual. However, “self-concept” cannot be considered an innate phenomenon because it is a product of the individual’s environmental interactions and the reflections construed from the interaction. From the reflections of the interaction, one is able to ascertain the level of his capability. In addition, the individual is able to combine his own expectations and the expectations of others and the abilities and accomplishments characterized by others. Basing on this characteristic of self-concept, it is justified to purport that self-concept is changeable and modifiable (Franken, 1994, p. 443).

Franken (1994, p. 443) goes ahead to argue that self-concept, though changeable, is not changed by an individual’s will but can be changed through the individual’s self-reflection. In his view, an individual, through reflection, can acquire a new way of self-viewing that is better than the initial one and through this, he is able to discover possible selves.

Finally, the self-concept is made up of several components. There is the physical component that defines the concrete aspects like the individual’s height, sex, looks, the house that the individual lives in, the type of car he drives, etc. secondly, there is the academic component that defines the individual’s learning abilities. This is divided into overall learning abilities and the strength as portrayed by the individual’s abilities in a given area of study. For example, the individual might be good in mathematics, sciences, languages, arts, etc. thirdly, the social self-concept component is created from the individual’s ability to relate with others and finally, the fourth component is the transpersonal self component which describes the ability of the individual to relate to the unknowns and the supernatural (Marsh, 1992).

These concepts can be clearly applied to my own life. For example, I am able to enter any music concert in the world. This is because I have confidence in myself. I have learned through actions and thus I can reflect on the same actions and also from other people’s comments and their actions to know that I am good at singing. This happened after I started singing in my bathroom. I felt that I have a good voice. My brothers, sisters and friends also heard me signing from the bathroom and kept encouraging me to try going public. So, when the church announced for music competition during Christmas, I reflected on my singing abilities and the comments from friends and relatives. From the reflections, I developed expectations of excelling. My expectations were also based on my friends’ and families’ expectations and thus I gave it a try. I won! Since then, my expectations have been raised. I believe that I can even compete for the best singer in the world.

I have also developed positive self-esteem based on the physical component of self-concept. Having been born from a good family that is wealthy, the physical aspects of my life make me develop a positive emotional view of myself. Living in a good house in a posh estate in Phoenix and owning a beautiful Hyundai sports car has made me develop a good relationship with other people because I don’t view myself as a failure and a beggar who is not worthy of meeting other people. On their part, the other people readily accept to associate with me, a phenomenon that makes me feel wanted. All these contribute to my development of a favorable self-concept and self-esteem.

In conclusion, it is clear that the environment that people live in and the success or failures in an individual’s endeavors act as the basis from which the individual forms his expectations. If the individual meets success in a given field, he tends to raise his expectations. In addition, if from his success the people around discover that he is good at that thing and start praising him about it, he continues having high expectations. This was evident in my singing ability which was developed from the success in my actions and the expectations from other people.


  1. Franken, R. (1994). Human motivation (3rd ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Co.
  2. Marsh, H. W. (1992). “Content specificity of relations between academic achievement and academic self-concept.” Journal of Educational Psychology, 84, 35-42
  3. Purkey, W. (1988). An overview of self-concept theory for counselors. ERIC Clearinghouse on Counseling and Personnel Services. Michigan: Ann Arbor.
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