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The construal of the self, as well as the evidence of my existence, is largely identified by culture and environment. Therefore, the inner identification and realization of the self are possible only through interacting with the surrounding environment. The way you respond to the environment and other individuals characterizes your personality and witnesses your existence. At the same time, the surrounding people often neglect the actual needs and inner attributes of a person to impose their morale, ethical and cultural views on behavior and cognition.
Because I was born to a family of strong moral principles, my personal perception of the self is closely related to these principles and values. In particular, I consider equality, respect for each other, and democracy as a priority for living and interacting in society. In such a manner, I will be able to continue discovering the self and facing change to adapt to new environments.
Since my childhood, I have been surrounding with love, care, and appreciation for my achievement. My parents strived to educate me in a morally strict fashion and, therefore, my personal perception is associated with these principles. Hence, the family environment was the first stage of shaping the self with democracy, respect for traditions, and the highest moral and ethical principles. Therefore, my parents, the surrounding environment are the witnesses testifying to my existence, apart from my personal outlooks on life. I exist because I communicate with people and apply my knowledge to co-exist with other members of society.
In order to communicate successfully and meet the requirement of the new settings, I had to reconsider my attitude to life because it was difficult for me to understand new rules of social interaction. In this respect, Matsumoto and Jung (2008) state, “being in the ‘public eye’…takes on special meaning for humans, because we know that others can make judgment about us” (p. 10). In this respect, morality shaped in my childhood is a kind of measure, a cognitive ability that makes me feel uncomfortable when some of my perceptions are distorted.
Therefore, this is one of the principles of how my personal outlook and environmental patterns are combined for me to adapt to a new setting. It also helps me discover the differences between inner attributed principles and outlooks on life and the ones that were gradually developed as I was integrating into various social structures.
While communicating with people, I often refer to my personal experience to shape my attitude toward this person and define how their conceptions differ from mine. Therefore, cognitive and emotional abilities play an important role in shaping attitude to the environment. It also outlines the behavioral response to people with various backgrounds. For instance, as a person with a strong affiliation with a family, it was difficult for me to understand other people for whom family symbolized a different notion.
I also realized that I urgently needed interdependence and reliance on people because I had always been dependent on my family. In fact, I did not receive an equal reaction and immediate response to my needs and concerns since most of my peers consider themselves as independent personalities who can rely more on themselves. According to Markus and Kitayama (1991), independence of the self is typical of the American culture.
Despite the fact that I grew up in the United States, my family preserved the morale of the Eastern traditions and, therefore, I felt isolated. Nevertheless, gaining experience in communicating with other people changed my perception of the self because I discovered some benefits of being an independent person.
Our consciousness reshapes so as to be able to understand other people’s attitudes and beliefs. In such a way, one dimension of our self changes so as to meet social expectations. Obodaru (2012) makes an interesting assumption: “most people, across cultures, have the ability to think not only about what was, is, and will be but also about what could have been if something in the past had happened differently” (p. 34). With this in mind, I realized that our thinking could contrast an alternative path developing self-representations that I can become. More importantly, it also allows us to understand the self in a specific realm and under various circumstances. It also discloses our possibility to adjust to new situations and develop new behavioral patterns.
In conclusion, it should be stated that the development of the self is an important part of adequate co-existence with society. Self-discovery should not necessarily to change personal beliefs and values to meet social concerns and requirements and fit in the existing cultural environment. All you need is to build an alternative path of self-development that would be congruent with your personal vision of life. The principles I value most of all – respect, equality, and support – identify my life position that could be developed along with new opportunities. My cognitive ability can allow me to interpret other cultural environments in accordance with my personal principles. Despite my inner perception, my beliefs are products of outer influence as well that were imposed by my family and surrounding people.
Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the Self: Implications for Cognition, Emotion, and Motivation. Psychological Review. 98(2), 224-253.
Matsumoto, D., & Jung, L. (2008). Culture and Psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Obodaru, O. (2012). The Self Not Taken: How Alternative Selves Develop And How They Influence Our Professional Lives. Academy Of Management Review, 37(1), 34-57.