How we perceive ourselves is made up of many of the complex self-schemas which define the self. These include self-knowledge, ideal self, self-esteem, and others. Each is a multi-layered and complex part of the human self-perception. Reimagining how you perceive yourself is not easy and will take a lot of work, but can be very rewarding, satisfying, and life-changing. Let’s break down some of these self-schemas and help you to understand what they are, and how they are affecting your self-image. We will also give you some tips to help in working towards reimagining yourself.

The Self-Schemas

The first thing to understand is how one’s perception of themselves is built. The self-schemas are a stable set of memories and opinions about oneself built up throughout your lifetime. They help define how you think of yourself, your actions, your personality. Let’s delve a little deeper into some of the aspects of the self.

Self-Knowledge

Self-knowledge, as well as self-awareness, is the knowledge that we are conscious beings that exist in the world. This does not really factor into how you perceive yourself, more just explains that you are aware you have the ability to do so. Self-knowledge is a crucial building block to all the other schema, as without self-knowledge you cannot develop or learn any further opinion on yourself.

Self-Concept

Self-concept takes this one step further and can be most simply defined by saying these are simply facts that one thinks of oneself. However, there is a constant mix up when it comes to self concept vs self esteem. Self-concept is very simple, as they are simply learned facts about oneself that can be categorized but not emotional. For example your age, height, job, eye color, or actions. For example “I am a very tall man”, or “I have small feet”. These are simple statements and attach no emotion.

Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is where the emotional self comes in to play, and is really where reinventing the self can begin. Self-esteem is a person’s subjective emotional evaluation of their worth and ability. If we take the two examples used in self-concept we can develop them into statements that involve emotional reasoning. For example, you can change “I am a very tall man” to “I feel really great about my height”. Or, on the opposite side, “I have small feet” can become “I hate my small feet!” As you see, self-concept is factual whereas self-esteem is an emotional evaluation of those facts.

The problem for many of us is that self-esteem can take over all of our reasoning. Self-esteem can completely destroy our self-worth and can cause much sadness and disappointment. The problem is, many of the things related to our self-esteem we cannot change. You can’t change how tall you are, your shoe size, or the shape of your eyes, for example. Of course, some things we can change, but the things that we can’t change can sometimes become people’s sole focus. If you are looking to reinvent how you think of yourself, the first thing you need to do is to stop focusing on things you can’t change and start addressing those you can.

The Social Self

The final concept we are going to discuss is the social self. The social self is the person we are when interacting with other humans. It is made up of social experiences, life lessons, attitudes, and interactions. In essence, it is the part of one’s self-concept which is most directly relating to, influenced by, and important in social interactions.

This is a person we can all also struggle with at times; “why did I say that?”, “I can’t believe I did that!” Fortunately, the social self is something we can gently reinvent. Putting on a completely fake persona in public spaces is not the answer, but it is possible to develop your social self over time. Be conscious of the things you have done which make you cringe or worry and gently bring them into the front of your mind when next socializing. Over time, you can change small parts of the way you act which may make you feel a lot better.

The Ideal Self

One final word on the ideal self. The ideal self is your perception of whom you think you could or should be. This can be influenced by idols, celebrities, experiences, or friends. Do not spend too much time thinking of your ideal version of yourself. This can cause a gulf between how you truly feel and what you think you should feel. If you want to reinvent how you view yourself you cannot constantly view a faux version of yourself and idolize them. Instead, work on small pieces of yourself as discussed here, until you realize you are your own ideal self!

We think there is plenty here to get you started on the path to reinventing how you perceive yourself. Avoid ideals, work slowly, and address what you can change. Before you know it you’ll be seeing yourself in a new light, refreshed and happy.