The famous psychologist, William James, once said, “You’re not what you think you are, but what you think….you are!”
This quote is a bit of a riddle. But at its core, there’s a profound message: you’re in control of your destiny.
We know that it’s not always as easy as it sounds. This is why this post is all about self-exploration. We want to find out if you know who you truly are. It may take you by surprise to realize that you might not be who you think you are.
Interested in finding out more? Then, let’s dive in!
The All-Powerful Mind
Your mind is one of the most powerful tools you have. It can impact our moods, health, and our overall view of life. Your mind is so powerful that it can make you physically ill, even when there’s actually nothing wrong with you.
Let’s say you’re stressed out about a job interview or an upcoming exam. Within a matter of days, all that anxiety will manifest itself into an actual disease.
You may start experiencing digestive problems and your blood pressure will start to rise. Some people even start suffering from nausea, heart palpitations, and sweaty palms.
According to William James, if you create a mental picture of yourself—good or bad—you’ll begin to embody it. That’s how powerful your thoughts can be!
Your schema is the collection of cognitive beliefs and generalizations of ourselves. We gather these from the experiences we go through and the messages we receive from other people. These messages quite often dictate who we are and how we behave in certain situations.
In almost all cases, these perceptions develop without our even knowing about them. Nevertheless, they still have an immense influence on how we perceive ourselves to be. Whatever you believe is true, will inevitably become true for you.
Not all self-schemas are negative. Many of them can be good for your self-esteem and inspire you to achieve more, like:
- I’m talented
- I’m outgoing
- I’m athletic
Then, some self-schemas are incomplete, distorted, or inaccurate. As a result, they force us to view ourselves, our choices, and our entire world in a negative light. They may make you feel hopeless, even worthless at times.
Some of these include:
- I’m lazy
- I’m not successful
- I’m overweight
See the Big Picture
If you’ve experienced any type of trauma or anxiety, you know that a negative sense of self quickly follows. Low self-esteem and negative self-talk also develop soon after. Leaving yourself vulnerable to these feelings of defeat and despair can be dangerous.
The scary part is that this distorted image of oneself can happen to anyone. It doesn’t target the weak or lonely. It also happens to those who are resilient, courageous, or perseverant.
Always remember that you’re more than your self-schemas allow you to believe. Still, it can be hard to see the bigger picture, especially when times are tough.
Below are a few things you can do to provide support to yourself or someone you care about. They’re a good reminder of your self-worth and help you see yourself as your true, complete self.
Question the Accuracy of Self-Schemas
It’s easy to let others determine our perception of who we are, aka our schemas. Yet, the problem starts when we convince ourselves that that’s who we truly are as individuals.
The only way to avoid this is by taking some time to reflect. Ask yourself, “How accurate is this belief? Does it reflect who I really am?”
Remember that if others have drawn up a certain picture of you, it may be incomplete. It may even be 100% inaccurate. No one knows who you are and what you’re capable of except you.
Take Control of Your Thoughts
Were you able to question the truth of certain aspects of yourself? So, you know now that other people’s perception of you isn’t always correct.
Once you recognize that, you can be aware of how unkind you can be to yourself. Don’t worry, we’re all victims of one form of self-sabotage or another.
You may have heard it said that there are times when we are our worst enemies. Luckily, there are ways to avoid falling into that pit.
The simplest thing you can do is to emphasize the positive, no matter how small you may think they are.
Start with some strength-based affirmations, such as:
- I welcome change.
- I no longer feel sorry for myself.
- I’m grateful for all that I have.
- Making mistakes doesn’t make me a failure.
- Giving up isn’t an option.
Allow Yourself to Be Whole
You are the sum of all your parts. You can’t be defined by a mistake you made at work or the successes either.
You are a combination of your strengths and weaknesses, failures, and accomplishments. Allowing them to coexist is the first step to appreciating yourself and all you stand for. The sooner you realize that the sooner you’ll start to feel empowered and truly loved.