5 Ways to Change Your Self-concept Before It Becomes a Self-fulfilling Prophecy

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Are you struggling under the burden of societal or familial expectations?

Do you feel like a fraud simply because what you are on the inside is not consistent with what you do on the outside?

Do you struggle with believing in your God-given potential?

Is your life filled with performance anxieties and nothing appears real?

Do you struggle with self-sabotaging behaviour simply because you don’t truly believe in your own value?

Then it’s time to work on your self-concept.

According to Author Brian Tracy, your self-concept is a combination of your self-ideal (the way your life should be if you were at your best), your self-image (the way you see yourself now based on your previous experiences) and your self-esteem (how you feel about yourself).

These weave themselves together to produce a powerful force that can determine the direction of your life and the fulfilment of your potential.

In order to ensure they are working for you and not against you, you need to pay careful attention to these 5 things:

1. Conversation

Conversation here implies your inner dialogue, the way you talk to yourself every day.

For some people, the most destructive, self-esteem ravaging voice can be found in their own head. They are experts at talking down at themselves. They are pretty good at selling themselves short and undermining themselves.

They tend to confuse humility with stupid self-depreciation, which is an inward disguise for a victim mentality.

The great thing is that we spend a great deal of time speaking to ourselves every day. My concern, however is the content of such conversations. Are they helpful? Do they acknowledge the good things that are in you? Are they honest? Are they excellent such as to inspire others if they were to eavesdrop?

You can’t call yourself an amateur and expect to perform like a virtuoso. You can’t call yourself an incurably bad person and expect to act like a good one.

Be careful about the words you use in describing yourself. They are creating your destiny depending on their content.

Always speak in terms of who you want to be (your self-ideal).

Muhammad Ali said,

“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.”

That’s cocky but attractively confident.

2. Imagination

Solomon says it right,

“Be careful how you think, your life is shaped by your thoughts.”

Again,

“For as a he thinks in his heart, so is he.”

Our subconscious minds is shaped by imagination (pictures) and words. If you knew this, you did be careful about the pictures you paint in your mind.

Why do you think athletes spend as much time in mental preparation as physical preparation? One aspect of peak performance coaching for athletes is rehearsing a race in their imagination and seeing themselves winning.

Why is it that public speakers cherish the imagination of impacting their audience and a standing ovation before they get on stage?

They are all leveraging the power of imagination because they understand we cannot perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way we see ourselves.

Muhammad Ali is one of my favourite examples of a winner’s imagination. He said,

“The man with no imagination has now wings.”

Perhaps, one of his most inspiring words was this,

“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you are not, pretend you are.”

If Einstein’s word is to be believed that “our imagination is a preview of life’s coming attraction”, then you need to be careful about the thoughts you nourish. Will you be happy if they suddenly become real?

3. Inspiration

I particularly leverage this a lot. Don’t be surprised. I’m often hit by discouragement but never depression. Depression is that state you get to when you cultivate a sense of learned helplessness about your situation.

Zig Ziglar delivers it like a holy grail,

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

I make sure to cultivate my mental diet on a daily basis with words that inspires me. True, I’m a sucker for motivation and it’s because I know i need words to live.

The bible is right when it said that men need more than food for their lives. They need spiritual and inspiring words.

What a great help to draw inspiration from the bible. The psalmist wrote,

“Unless your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction.”

I don’t consider myself an excellent bible scholar but I’m wise enough to know that I need its inspiration.

What a delight also to feed on Les Brown, Brian Tracy, Jim Rohn, Zig Ziglar, Charlie ‘Tremendous’ Jones, John Maxwell, James Allen, Marc Chernoff, Sam Adeyemi, Anthony Robbins, Robin Sharma, Napoleon Hill, Brendon Burchard, Brian Sher, Stephen Pressfield, Seth Godin, John Mason, Darren Hardy, Joel Osteen, Rick Warren. God bless these guys!

4. Interpretation

An important part of your happiness and self-esteem comes from your own interpretation of your circumstances. Context determines content.

You can either give life to yourself or hurt yourself by the way you interpret circumstances.

To the person lacking self-esteem, rejection is interpreted as a blow to self. To the winner, rejection is a sign to try again another time, with a different approach or call on another prospect.

Have you felt rejected in a relationship? Don’t let it hurt you. It doesn’t mean you are not lovable. It doesn’t mean you are a bad person. You just have lessons to learn. Learn them so you don’t become bitter. Bitterness is a sign of poor self-esteem.

It’s also not the time to close up. That’s self-preservation, another route to unhappiness and low self-esteem. When you have healed and learnt you lessons, allow yourself to love again.

5. Selection

Be careful who you give your ear-time and your eye-time. They often can control your life. That’s subliminal programming.

Give yourself to popular media and advertisements that tells you need something to be complete or happy and you will come away with feelings of inadequacy. And that’s because they spur you to engage in unhealthy self-comparison.

Much of what is shown in the media these days is cheap dirt on your mind. You know how it is. First they dirty your mind and then sell you soap.

To maintain a healthy self-concept, be careful of subscribing to the philosophy of soap operas carefully written to increase prime time ratings. Life is not a season movie or college romance. It’s real. Stop practicing unhealthy fantasies or escapism.

Guard your heart is my advice. Be careful of consuming media content that contradicts your values. They have a subtle way of winning the war over your beliefs and actions.

Let’s have a conversation
Have you understood the ways in which your self-concept shapes your destiny? Leveraging on the 5 tools, how do you intend to shape your self-concept so that you create the life of your dreams?

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