A persons self image is a collection of ideas, thoughts and experiences they have in regards to themselves. It is a mental picture of the self which can be subject to change, and when it does it's either through external experiences or through internalizing judgement and/or feedback from others. This is how we create our self concept, it is how we think we look, how we think we come across to others, and more importantly how we perceive ourselves.
The construction of the selfIn early childhood the self image is obviously at its infancy, we haven't gained barely any life experience to properly have an idea of what the self is. We are essentially a blank slate. Roughly at the early of age of 3 years old we begin to become aware of ourselves through experience of other objects within our close surrounding areas realising we can affect objects around us and from there on curiosity ensues. We begin touching things, putting things in our mouth, we explore what's around us. Fast forward a few years to where we have now developed speech and we can now voice our own opinions, more importantly voice our opinions about ourselves. At this age we are a bit more self aware, when we describe our selves we give very definitive labels such as I am tall, I have blue eyes, I have dark hair. Then as time goes on and we become older we learn more about ourselves then these labels become more intricate and they become more comparative using more qualities, traits and evaluations depending on how you think others see you. (think about when you was asked about yourself in a job interview)
High self esteem
This is when we have an overall positive self image, this is created through positive experiences, positive interactions with other people and having the perception of all experiences as positive overall even if they don't seem to be (important). This mentality has an affect on your actions by giving you confidence and conviction with everything you do and with that you will have the ability to not think about what others are thinking and will accept yourself as you are. There are other factors such as...
-Good, strong sense of self
-Having good respect for your own self beliefs and values
-Knowing your self and what you stand for
-Knowing your own strengths
Low self esteem
As opposed to high esteem having low self esteem generally having a poor self image. This is created through bad experiences whether it is through people being negative towards you or experiencing bad situations. Like having high self esteem often it is just the perception of a situation as negative which can keep the person in a negative loop, the more they think negatively the more likely that person will interpret a situation as negative even if its positive.
Other factors are..
-Weak sense of self
-You feel at cause not affect (''Why me?'' as opposed to ''how did I do this?'')
-Little or no beliefs or values
-Low self respect
-Fixation on own weaknesses instead of strengths
Social comparison theoryA theory first coined by social psychologist Leon Festinger in 1954, according to his social psychology based theory it has been said that individuals have a drive to evaluate themselves and their behaviours to eliminate uncertainty. People are often comparing their behaviours and skills to others to have an idea of what is correct and how good they are at their current behaviour or skill level, similar to observational learning. He also theorises that there are two types of social comparisons, an upward comparison and a downward comparison. An upward comparison is when someone compares themselves who are better off, an amateur boxer comparing himself to a professional boxer is an example, this usually happens if someone is looking for a role model or wants to make improvements on themselves.
A downwards comparisons by contrast is when someone who compares themselves to someone who is worse off than them, an example is a well paid sales man comparing himself to a school janitor, this type of comparison typically makes a person makes feel better about themselves, this is why people with low self esteem tend to make downward comparisons.
There are two forms of downward comparisons, the first is a passive downwards comparison when someone who compares themselves to a pre-existing negative situation such as someone who is in financial difficulty comparing themselves to someone who is already homeless, the other is an active downwards comparison where somebody creates a situation were someone is worse off than them this could be with the use of derogatory comments or making sure they feel belittled through humiliation or an ''accident'' giving them the opportunity to make a downwards comparison. Again, downwards comparisons are usually used by people with low self esteem to elevate their sense of self.
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