I’ve read hundreds of books on psychology and the functioning of the human mind. Perhaps my most significant discovery was learning about the role of self-concept in human performance and behavior.
Your self-concept is the “master program” of your subconscious. Every thought, feeling, emotion, experience and decision you’ve ever had is permanently recorded on this mental hard drive. Once recorded, these impressions influence the way you think, feel and behave from that point onward.
Reprogram yourself for greater success
The key to achieving your full potential is to raise your self-concept and develop new habits of thinking about what’s possible for you. Let’s look at the three parts of your self-concept and how you can improve them and develop any habit you desire.
Your ideal self
The first part of your self-concept is your self-ideal. This is the ideal image you have of yourself. High-performing, successful, happy people have very clear, positive self-ideals. They have definite ideas of the values and attributes of the people they admire and want to emulate.
Develop positive role models
Researchers once found that many people who accomplished great things had — when they were young — been avid readers of the biographies and autobiographies of successful people. It seems you have a natural tendency to identify with the hero in any story you read, watch or hear. When you continually immerse yourself in the stories of people who’ve accomplished wonderful things, you unconsciously identify with them and absorb their values and virtues into your own personality.
Your values shape your personality
The values you choose to live by shape your personality and achievements as much as or more than any other factor. When you take time to develop absolute clarity about the values and qualities you admire most, you begin to direct your whole personality and determine the results you achieve in the future. As a result, you attract different people and opportunities into your life. You start to move more rapidly toward achieving your most important goals.
How you see yourself
The second part of your self-concept is your self-image, which says that the way you see yourself on the inside largely determines how you perform on the outside. So if you see yourself as positive, popular, productive and successful on the inside, that’s exactly how you’ll act on the outside.
One of the most important habits you can develop is feeding your mind before every important situation with positive images of yourself performing at your very best. Take a few moments, and imagine yourself succeeding brilliantly at what you’re about to do. Hold that picture in your mind for as long as you can. Then relax and let it go. Later, when you’re in that situation, your subconscious mind will remember the picture and give you the words and actions that correspond to the picture you created a short time before.
The core of your personality
The third part of your self-concept is your self-esteem. This is the emotional component of your personality. Many psychologists today agree that your self-esteem is the most important part of your personality and largely predicts your success or failure in every area of your life.
Your self-esteem is affected by many factors. One of the most important is the distance between your self-image, the way you see yourself in the moment and your self-ideal, the way you’d ideally like to be in the future.
Whenever you feel your current performance and behavior are consistent with the best person you can possibly be, your self-esteem goes up. But whenever your current performance seems to be inconsistent with the person you’d most like to be, your self-esteem goes down.
The best definition of self-esteem is “how much you like yourself.” The more you like yourself, the better you do and the better you do, the more you like yourself. The most powerful words you can use to take control of your personality and build your self-esteem are “I like myself!” The more you repeat those words to yourself, the happier and more confident you’ll feel, the better you’ll perform in whatever you’re doing, and the more your self-esteem will go up. The higher your self-esteem, the faster and easier it is for you to develop the million-dollar habits that enable you to accomplish extraordinary things.